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A quickie with Dr Beverly Whipple

February 2nd, 2009

Dr Petra

This week my Quickie interview is with Dr Beverly Whipple, who has a long and impressive career as a sex researcher and educator, and who is best known for her work on female physiology and the G spot.

Dr. Beverly Whipple, a certified sexuality educator, sexuality counselor, and sex researcher, is the co author of the international best seller, The G Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality, which has been translated into 19 languages and was re-published as a Classic 23 years later in 2005. Her other co-authored books are Safe Encounters: How Women can say Yes to Pleasure and No to Unsafe Sex, Smart Women, Strong Bones, Outwitting Osteoporosis, and The Science of Orgasm (2006, Johns Hopkins Univ. press). Her next book, due out this year is called The Orgasm Answer Guide (also published by Johns Hopkins University Press).

Dr. Whipple has appeared on over 250 radio and TV programs and has been featured in many magazines. She has delivered over 600 talks and keynote speeches, published over 160 research articles and book chapters. In 1982 and 1983 The Philadelphia Magazine named her one of the People to Watch.

She is the recipient of many awards, including the Hugo Beigel Research Award for research excellence and the best article published in the Journal of Sex Research, the NJ State Nurses’ Association Award for Excellence in Research, the Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, the Public Service Award, the Kinsey Award and the Bullough Award for the most distinguished book written in 2006 from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and the Professional Standard of Excellence Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT). She is also a Fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. The New Scientist has named her one of the 50 most influential scientists in the world (2006).

Dr. Whipple is a Professor Emerita at Rutgers University of New Jersey. She has a BS in Nursing from Wagner College, a Masters in Counseling, a Masters in Nursing, and a PhD in Psychobiology, with a major in Neurophysiology, from Rutgers University.

Her concern with women’s health derives naturally from her over forty years of helping women to feel better about themselves, as a nurse, a nurse educator, and researcher. Her research focuses mainly on women’s health issues and the sexual physiology of women.

Dr. Whipple is a member of a number of Honor Societies and received the Alumni Achievement Award in 1983 and was named An Alumni Fellow in 2007 by Wagner College. Dr. Whipple was the President of AASECT (1998-2000), was the Vice President of the World Association for Sexology (2001-2005), was on the Board of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (2002-2004), was the President of SSSS (2002-2003), is now the Secretary General of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) (2005-2009) and is on the Board of the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (FSSS).

Dr. Whipple lives in Voorhees, New Jersey with Jim, her husband since 1962. They have two grown children and five grandchildren.

What have been your proudest achievements?

Helping women to realize that there are many paths to sensual and sexual pleasure, that there is not one female response, and that all women are unique and all women find pleasure and satisfaction in different ways.

In addition, documenting that women with complete spinal cord injury do experience orgasm and that the areas activated in their brains during orgasm are the same areas as are activtated in women without spinal cord injury, as demonstrated with fMRIs of the brain. Also documenting that some women experience orgasm from imagery alone.

Meeting Dr Ernst Grafenberg’s medical assistant Dottie Hoffman (who was 92 when we met and taped our interview) was so affirming and made me feel so proud that we named the G spot or Grafenberg spot after Dr Ernst Grafenberg. When she died this year, her daughter gave me two of Dr Grafenberg’s original Grafenberg rings (which were the the first IUDs) as well as many photos of Dr Grafenberg. I will donate the tape of our meeting to the Kinsey Institute along with my other archives.

I have been invited to speak about sexual health in 82 countries. I feel I have helped people all over the world to learn about and feel good about sexual health.

What do you still have left to achieve?

There is still so much that we do not know about women’s sexual responses (yes plural), and women’s sensual and sexual pleasure. I have so many research questions that I would like to answer through laboratory studies.

Who are your heroes/role models?

Dr Ernst Grafenberg
and Dr Vern Bullough.

Tell me one thing about you that might surprise me

That one of my greatest pleasures is being with our family and our grandchildren. That I have never had a cigarette or a cup of coffee in my life.

What do you do to relax?

Spend time with our family. Learning to knit. I just knitted neck scarfs for our youngest granddaughter’s stuffed animals I love to read

What makes you happy?

Seeing others enjoy themselves. Helping people to laugh.

What projects are you currently working on?
Laboratory studies of women with PGAD (Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder), co-authoring a book. Someday I would like to put photos in albums and all the clippings about my research into albums.

What are the main problem areas in sex/relationships we need to deal with currently?

Helping people to be aware of, acknowledge, and communicate what they find pleasurable to their partner. Helping people to talk with each other not to each other.

What can’t you live without?

My husband and family

What sex education did you receive when you were a child/teenager?

Don’t do it!!!!

What do you consider to be the main innovations in sex/relationships over the past century?

I really believe that our research findings with the g spot, female ejaculation, women who experience orgasm from imagery alone, and that women with complete spinal cord injury can experience orgasm have helped women all over the world.

What are the main threats to our sex/relationships lives today?

Lack of education.

Is it possible to have great sex?

Yes

Describe an average day/week in your job?

I am retired and do over forty hours a week volunteer work for the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). I also exercise about an hour a day with my husband at our community fitness center. I also love it when our family is with us. We love sharing our grand children’s activities.

What are the main things people worry about in relation to their sex lives?

Am I normal???

What causes those worries?

Lack of education about the various ways people experience sensual and sexual pleasure and lack of self-permission to feel good about yourself and the variety of ways you experience sensual and sexual pleasure.

Thanks Dr Beverly. If, after reading this, you’d like to know more about Dr Whipple’s research you can find links to scientific papers here.

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