Sex: Uncovered

Par Dan Delmar le 27 novembre 2008

For the last two decades, Dr. Laurie Betito has been shining a light into the dark, dirty and sometimes depraved corners of the human psyche. “Better communication, better sex,” is her motto and beginning this week, she will help take readers of The Métropolitain on a journey to new heights of sexual enlightenment.

Without being sensational, raunchy or inappropriate, Betito, 44, has been helping Montrealers have better sex and healthier relationships as the host of Passion on CJAD 800; a radio program that has consistently dominated the competition in its 10 p.m. nightly timeslot and recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. She’s a psychologist and sex therapist with her own private practice and she’s on a mission to demystify issues relating to sexuality that most in media consider to be taboo.

“I believe sex has to come out of the closet,î she said. “It’s on everybody’s mind but no one wants to talk about it. People have concerns and can often feel very abnormal, when all they need is some information.”

A native of Casablanca, Morocco, she is the president of the Sexual Health Network of Quebec, formally known as Planned Parenthood; a non-profit group that aims to “provide access to accurate and comprehensive information regarding sexual health to youth across Quebec... through education, including the prevention of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.”

STIs – a revised and more accurate term for STDs – are on the rise. As Betito points out  “one in five teens do not use protection during their first time; many believe that a girl cannot get pregnant while losing her virginity. By the age of 20, nearly half of all young adults will not use condoms on a consistent basis. Over 100,000 abortions are performed every year in Canada. These are troubling statistics. Not giving teens the means to reduce the risks that come with sexual activity is nothing short of irresponsible.”

She is bothered that in Quebec – a province known for having a supposedly open attitude toward sexuality – sex education courses are not offered in most schools. It’s up to teachers who specialize in other subjects to give the occasional lesson.

“We end up having a lot of misinformed adults,î Betito said. ìWhat I would like to see is across-the-board, comprehensive sex education. Other provinces have adopted that, why shouldn’t we?”

With two pre-teens girls of her own, the consequences of risky behaviour hit home. She encourages parents to answer any and all questions their kids may have about their bodies and their sexuality. Using “teachable moments,” parents can relate advice in a casual way, on an ongoing basis, without avoiding the topic for years and saving it all for “the big talk.”

A tabloid cover of an anorexic teen actress being displayed at the grocery store, a news report about gay marriage being banned in some American states, or the underage daughter of a politician choosing carry a pregnancy to term; all excellent lead-in topics to begin an ongoing dialogue about sexuality, says Betito.

“Statistics clearly show that children whose parents talk to them regularly about sex delay sexuality and, when they do engage in sexuality, they’re more likely to use protection.”

Betito frequently takes anonymous questions from readers or listeners of Passion and uses them as case studies to inform the public about a very wide array of topics: Dating, divorce, senior sexuality, fetishes, pornography, orgasms – nothing is off-limits.

As a patient of hers observed on RateMDs.com, “she listens compassionately and always offers valuable insight. In the time she has been my therapist, she was never less than on top of everything I was throwing at her. She brought me from a very desperate place to a healing and almost peace-filled place... I got to know a part of me I never knew was there before.”

“Expect open, honest answers from me,” she said. “I want to offer my help, direction and insight into sex and relationship concerns that many of us deal with on a daily basis. And if you’re going through something that is less common, know that you’re not alone.”

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