Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones wants to get you talking about sex. In fact, she wants everyone talking about sex. The 52-year-old Charlotte mother of three is an OB/GYN who delivers babies, does pap smears and is on a mission to help women everywhere improve their sex lives. She’s so passionate she was tapped to do a TED talk this fall: It’s called Shedding Sexual Shame (and maybe some of your clothes along the way). She’s not afraid to talk about anything – and she wants you to feel the same. Welcome our newest FACE of Charlotte, Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones!
Describe your practice.
I call myself a general OB/GYN with an expertise in sexual medicine. I also work a lot with couples. If a woman is having an issue, sometimes we ask the man to come to his wife’s appointment, and that’s when we get some really good stuff. When the men come it’s so much fun, and the men come because they really want to have good sex.
How did you come to be known as Charlotte’s own Dr. Ruth?
I’m very interested in sex and sexual function and people having good sex. It’s a complex conversation that a doctor can have with a patient, and a lot of us don’t have the time or the expertise to have that conversation, but I’ve been learning about it – and talking about it – since 2007. For the last 10 years, I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to take care of these problems. Plus I just really love to talk about sex!
Why do you love talking about sex so much?
Because I really believe a fulfilling sex life is the root of being a human being. If you get to the point of having good sex, other things may not matter as much — like did you take out the garbage. But it also allows you to have talks about other tough topics, like finances and how to raise kids. If you can talk about sex, you can be honest about the tough stuff.
Are women having enough sex?
No! I don’t think women are having enough sex, and they’re not having enough quality sex. And I know the men would agree with me! What I have come to discover is it’s both people coming together and getting what they want and being comfortable asking for what they want. If you’re running with a partner, it’s easy to say speed up, slow down, but we’re not as comfortable in the bedroom saying I really like this touch, or I don’t like that.
Why is that?
That’s my TED talk — it’s all about sexual shame … that voice in my ear that says if I ask for this they’ll judge me, I’m not the right size, I don’t look the right way … and that starts at a very young age. If you can fix the ability to talk about it — if you can overcome your sexual shame and openly talk to your partner — it opens the door to do many things.
How do you suggest people do that?
I think it starts with knowing what you like. Many women don’t know what their bodies look like and don’t know the proper names of their body parts. They don’t know what touch feels good to them.
What are the most common issues you hear about?
The biggest issue is a low libido — women who say I don’t want to have sex. And it’s not a certain age, it’s a universal problem. Data supports that.
Are women more open about things these days?
Not really. In a weird sort of way we have access to all this technology, and we can learn about and see new things all the time, but to me, being open is saying to your partner, “I learned about this and want to do this,” and I don’t see that as much. We still seem to be hesitant — even silent — about what we want. When you go to a restaurant you order the wine and the appetizer that you want. We need to do that in bed too.
What is the key to a good sex life for women?
It’s all about being open and honest and making sure that you have figured out how to have an orgasm, because that’s not a natural thing for women. For guys, it’s obvious, but for women, we have to figure it out. To do that, we have to be willing to explore outside of what you think is good sex. If it’s the same way every time, you’re gonna get bored. If you can learn to incorporate different positions, toys and other things, then it’s like you’ve opened Pandora’s box. And that can be a lot of fun! I have a podcast that I love and use it as a homework assignment for a lot of my couples — “Speaking of Sex with The Pleasure Mechanics.” They have more than 100 episodes, and there is not a subject they won’t talk about. It’s a great way to start a conversation with your partner.
What should moms be talking to their teenage daughters about?
I think we should be talking to kids at a very young age about what their bodies do normally. You always hear about the dangerous parts of sex, but we never talk about pleasure, and most of the sex we have should be for pleasure. That’s the piece that is missing as kids are brought up. This is a beautiful, fabulous, amazing thing, and you should really feel connected to somebody before you share it.
You’re obviously comfortable talking about the stuff that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. What makes YOU uncomfortable?
I’m pretty open about most stuff. I wear my heart on my sleeve.
Ever been in a particularly awkward setting? Did someone want to talk shop at a fancy dinner … that kind of thing?
Sometimes people purposely say something around me to be inflammatory, but I don’t get uncomfortable. If someone seeks me out in a public setting and they’re being really brave in talking about sex, then I make a point to try to have a private conversation with them.
What is your single best piece of advice for women?
Put yourself first!
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are the three things you can’t live without?
Definitely can’t live without my green smoothie that I have in the morning. The great outdoors — hiking, biking, running. And air travel.
Thank you for the straight talk, Doc! And thank you to the uber-talented Piper Warlick of Piper Warlick Photography for today’s gorgeous photos!
Meet more amazing Charlotte women in our FACES section. Prepare to be inspired!