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Carolyn Chernenkoff, B.S.N.

William Chernenkoff, M.D.
co-therapists in marital & sexual counselling

Relationships didn't come with instructions . . . . until now.




Communication is the key, husband-and-wife therapists say SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD
By Linda Barnard, Toronto Sun

Sizzle is part of having it all for baby boomers, therapists say - SEX LIFE BEGINS AT 40, LADIES
By Linda Bernard, Toronto Sun

Employee / boss relationship can create problems THE PITFALLS OF OFFICE ROMANCE
By Tina Quelch, Special Toronto Sun

Longtime couples can expect second honeymoon, researchers say - HANG ON FOR THE LONG HAUL
By Joanne Richard, Toronto Sun

By Sharon Doyle Driedger, Maclean's

By Sharon Doyle Driedger, Maclean's

By George Bentley, Leader Post Weekender

SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD, BOOK EXPLAINS...Chernenkoffs publish guide to happier relationships
By Scott Larson, Saskatoon Sun

By Ken McGoogan, Calgary Herald

By Anne Alexander, The Edmonton Sun

By Dan Zakreski, The StarPhoenix



Communication is the key,
husband-and-wife therapists say

By Linda Barnard, Toronto Sun


Men fake it, too.
It could be the result of one beer too many, a psychological problem, or simple pressure to perform. One failure, and the heat is on. Before you know it, say sex therapists Bill and Carolyn Chernenkoff, "emission impossible."

The line is typical of the good humor used by the Saskatoon couple, married themselves for 44 years, in their work to help some of the 50% of Canadians who experience marital or sexual distress. Besides their practice, Carolyn, and Bill, get their message across both on regular CBC radio broadcasts, and in their new book, SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD (Verbal Dance, $16.95). And the 13-letter word is "communication".
Although ejaculatory failure is the least common problem they see, it's similar in character and treatment to a far more common complaint, female inability to orgasm.


"Search party"
There are several potential causes, the Chernenkoffs say. She may have been raised hearing sex is dirty or wrong; her partner may be controlling or domineering; or she may be experiencing overwhelming stress from home, work and kids. "She's so annoyed through the day, the last thing she wants is him in bed at night," says Carolyn.
"Instead of all the millions of pleasurable sensations during sex, they focus on reaching orgasm and get more and more frustrated," she says. Adds Bill: "He's working so hard, it becomes a search party for an orgasm and takes away desire."

The Chernenkoffs' therapy focuses on teaching the couple to satisfy the woman sexually without relying on an orgasm. She is encouraged to take control and decide what makes her feel good. "The male can't give the female an orgasm, like a gift-wrapped present," says Carolyn.

Trained by famed U.S. sexperts Masters and Johnson, the Chernenkoffs counsel the couple together in the same room. Bill talks to the man and Carolyn works with the woman. Both act as facilitators when the couple talk to each other. They find this approach makes patients feel more comfortable discussing these intensely personal issues.
In their 31-plus years of counselling, the couple say little has changed when it comes to the kinds of sexual difficulties men and woman face, with one glaring exception.

"What I do find is in the last couple of years, we are seeing more people who are depressed, and sexual problems are complicated by depression," Carolyn says.

"This isn't the February blahs kind of depression," Bill adds. "This is clinical depression, when people complain life is meaningless, they can't sleep, they cry a lot, are always tired and have difficulty concentrating. Is this a trend? I don't know, but it's a definite and sudden change after 31 years," says Bill.

Bill, who is a medical doctor, often prescribes one of the new Prozac cousins, antidepressants called seratonin reuptake inhibitors. They often improve patients so dramatically, no sexual therapy is required.

But for couples who do need more work, the Chernenkoffs say they can often see a reversal of sexual problems within a nine-day course of counselling. The only prerequisite, they say, is that the couple truly want to be together. "We can't make people care for each other," says Carolyn. "They have to say I'm here because I want to be."

"Today, an equal number of men and woman make the call booking an appointment for marital therapy," says Carolyn. "That's a change from several years ago, when it was most often the woman who suggested counselling."
"It's the most difficult, delicate thing for people to talk about, and we accept that," says Bill. They understand when up to half of the callers cancel that first appointment. "They're afraid of what the therapist will think of them, will they think I'm weird? And, of course, they're not." Perhaps they wonder what sex therapy involves, if they will have to be sexually intimate in front of the counsellors? They won't.

"Emotional roadblocks"
"We set up roadblocks - often emotionally based - that stop us from enjoying sex," Bill says. The Chernenkoffs use counselling to remove them, generally with great success. The only proviso is that the couple continue the work at home, and that they keep talking.

As for the most common male sexual problems, premature ejaculation tops the list, with impotence a close second.
"Impotence is happening more," Bill says, citing everything from stress to blood pressure and other medications as the culprits. "Every male, at some point, will have a loss of erection. It's quite common. But most men don't know that. They're afraid, and fear creates more problems."

The Chernenkoffs teach the couple how to give and feel pleasure without intercourse. "Once that happens, the pressure is off, and amazingly, the erections come back," Carolyn says.

But the common thread throughout all their therapy, and the many sexual problems detailed in their new book, is the need to keep talking. When it comes to that, the Chernenkoffs practice what they preach in their own marriage.
"We teach couples to use the same skills we do," says Carolyn. "It has to be worked at every single day."
"The way I found to deal with it is to sit down and talk about it," says Bill. "That's the 13-letter word."




Sizzle is part of having it all for baby boomers, therapists say - SEX LIFE BEGINS AT 40, LADIES
By Linda Bernard, Toronto Sun


Life begins at 40, the saying goes - a passionate, exciting love life, that is. Sex gets better for women over 40, the experts say.

"This generation wants it all," says Carolyn Chernenkoff, who, along with her physician husband, Bill, runs a sex-therapy clinic in Saskatoon. And for baby boomer women, having it all includes a sizzling love life.

"What we do see very often are women coming for counselling because the man has a problem," she adds. "Women in that age group are doing just fine. They're very sexual, and that can be very overbearing for the male partner. He's winding down and she's winding up."

The Chernenkoffs usually advise these couples to change their approach. The woman is encouraged to ease off a bit in her physical demands, while both are taught how to sexually fulfill her without actual intercourse. That takes pressure off the man, and ensures the woman's satisfaction.

More confident
A recent survey for Living Fit magazine backs up the Chernenkoff's belief that women over 40 are enjoying more and better sex than they did in their 20s. Of 200 women over age 40 who were surveyed across the United States, a whopping 85% said they were more comfortable, confident and aware of their sexual needs now than when they were younger.

The other myth exploded in the survey was that menopause marks the end of women's sexuality.
Half reported menopause increased their desire, and more than one-third said their orgasms were better.
That's true, say the Chernenkoffs.

Physical changes no barrier
Bill says physical changes that can accompany menopause are easily dealt with today. About 15-20% of females suffer some dryness of the vagina after menopause, which can make sex uncomfortable, but it can be remedied with hormones or creams. "Hormone replacement therapy (estrogen) can bring desire back, too," he says.

"While removing the fear of pregnancy can boost desire in some women, that's rarely an issue thanks to the liberation of the pill," says Carolyn. "Instead, they find the biggest boost for a woman's sex life comes where the kids move out."

"Very often these women have kids who go to bed later than they do and it's hard to have privacy," Bill says. "When the kids leave, they get that back."


Employee / boss relationship can create problems

By Tina Quelch, Special Toronto Sun


Dr. Bill Chernenkoff and his wife Carolyn, co-therapists in marital and sexual counselling in Saskatoon, also deal with love at the office.

They say office relationships can work but only if the partners are equal power-wise.

"Office relationships should be a horizontal liaison, no pun intended," Bill says.

"Vertical liaisons, meaning an employee/boss relationship, do not usually work out. Somebody's going to be hurt, probably both people."

But Carolyn adds that employees have to take responsibility, too. "In the case of Jennifer, she should have sat down with her co-workers and the boss to explain the stress and difficulties the situation was creating to see if he was willing to change," Carolyn explains.

"Another concern is to be sure to keep the relationship private. There should be no personal interaction going on between two people in the office," says Bill Chernenkoff.

"Or even the parking lot," Carolyn adds.




Longtime couples can expect second honeymoon, researchers say - HANG ON FOR THE LONG HAUL
By Joanne Richard, Toronto Sun


It's going to get worse before it gets better, but don't despair.

All you have to do is hang in for 25 years and you and your mate can be reliving your honeymoon.
According to a recent study at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, the first few decades of marriage are the toughest. Following the initial high of just-married, there's a downhill decline in marital happiness and satisfaction, researchers report.

The marital happiness phenomenon doesn't surprise co-therapists Carolyn and William Chernenkoff. They've been married 44 years and have been on a perpetual second honeymoon for the past many years.
"Life couldn't get any better. There's a tremendous feeling, a liberating feeling, when the children leave home. Responsibilities aren't as pressing," echo the Chernenkoffs, who've been empty-nesters for about six years.
They say there's a light at the end of the tunnel as long as you work through all the problems along the way. "There are so many benefits to reap if you've weathered the crises and handled the stresses through the years," says Carolyn. "It draws you closer."

However, the Saskatoon therapists warn that if conflict is the norm, and hurts and pain are left to fester, then don't expect miracles after 25 years.



By Sharon Doyle Driedger, Maclean's


By day, Ian, a 59-year-old Vancouver businessman, met tight deadlines, soothed upset customers and managed a tough work crew in the high-pressure construction industry. But what made him most anxious was his inability to perform at night - in bed. Not long after he became impotent five years ago, Ian sought the help of a sex therapist.


The diagnosis - stress - has become a familiar one to sex experts. While no statistics are available, sex therapists say that in the past five years, they have seen a significant increase in the number of clients like Ian who are experiencing sexual difficulties as a result of chronic stress. Many are two-income couples in their 30s and 40s, often with young children, but stress is also affecting singles and twenty somethings. "These are very normal individuals," says Saskatoon sex therapist Carolyn Chernenkoff. "Everything had been working fine before they came under so much pressure - but sex and stress are not good bed partners."

In times of stress, the body produces fewer sex hormones - testosterone in men; progesterone in women. That reaction once served a useful purpose by restricting population growth during times of crisis, such as family and drought, explains Dr. Peter Hanson, Denver-based author of The Joy of Stress. "Way back when, it was a good thing that the sex drive went down," says Hanson. "The modern reality, of course, is that it creates a whole host of new anxieties in the human race."

The most common sign that stress is affecting sexual activity is a lack of desire. But stress may also lead to such physical symptoms as impotence in males or an inability to reach orgasm in females. "The distress affects the overall relationship and the enjoyment of the sexual function within that relationship," says Dr. William Chernenkoff, who works as a co-therapist with his wife, Carolyn. And because many people do not realize that stress is dampening their relationship, some - both men and women - seek an outlet in extramarital affairs. "They find that they have lost interest in their partner or their partner's response has decreased," explains William Chernenkoff. "So they check themselves out in a new relationship."

The Chernenkoffs maintain that communication - the word behind the title of their new book, SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD - can help diffuse the pressure for stressed-out couples. They and other specialists advise couples suffering from work overload to schedule time for intimate moments together - even if that means spending a night in a motel. They also recommend that couples learn relaxation techniques. "People live at such a fast pace," says Vancouver sex therapist Blenda Steward. "They don't know how to slow down when they move into the bedroom."

Ian, who now enjoys a satisfying sexual relationship with his wife, says that he uses breathing exercises and reading to take his mind off the pressures of work before heading into the bedroom. "When you have a high stress level," he says, "the first thing to go is your sexual ability."



By Sharon Doyle Driedger, Maclean's


"There are some good things about Tantric sex," states Saskatoon sex therapist Carolyn Chernenkoff. "It really does stress equality and it seems to stress sensation." Her husband and co-therapist, Dr. William Chernenkoff, believes that Tantra's attempt to develop oneness with a partner is probably "therapeutic" - if not scientific. In fact, the Chernenkoffs believe that Canadians suffer more from lack of time than lack of technique. "If most couples had the luxury to take the time to enjoy their sexual relationship," says Carolyn, "they could have wonderful sex - even without Tantra."




By George Bentley, Leader Post Weekender


It's amazing how much trouble a little three-letter word can cause in relationships.
But if the word starts with an "s", ends with an "x" and has "e" stuck in the middle, in can spell big trouble unless steps are taken to improve a much bigger word - c-o-m-m-u-n-i-c-a-t-i-o-n, say the authors of a new book on relationships.

Carolyn and Bill Chernenkoff have spent the last two decades working as co-therapists in marital and sexual counselling. They've treated 4500 plus couples and singles.

For the last five years, they've also been sharing their expertise over the airwaves with regular appearances as part of the Relationship Column on CBC Saskatchewan's AFTERNOON EDITION.

It was those radio spots that brought a recurring theme to the fore. After counselling, clients would often ask if there was any sort of written material they could take home with them.

The Saskatoon husband-and-wife team's on-air work only increased the requests.

"We got numerous people saying they'd caught the last few minutes of the show on the radio. They wanted to get more information or would ask how they could hear the other shows in the series," says Bill.

"Our answer was you can't hear them."

Or at least that was the only response until the Chernenkoffs decided to do SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD, distributed by Centax Books of Regina. The book is a transcription of almost two dozen of the Relationship Columns the couple have done over the last few years on CBC.

"So by doing the book, people got a chance to read what they missed," says Bill.

Few are as well-qualified to talk about sex as the Chernenkoffs. Not only have they been married for 44 years, but Bill is a doctor and Carolyn a nurse. In addition to their private practice in marital and sexual counselling, they lecture on Human Sexuality at the University of Saskatchewan, College of Medicine.

Also on their resume is a stint studying with world-famous sex researchers Masters and Johnson in the United States.

Both experience and research have taught the counsellors that a significant portion of the population might, one day, need some help.

"Fifty per cent of couples are going to have some marital or sexual problems at some point in their relationship. Seventy per cent of that group could be helped if they just had access to accurate information," says Carolyn.
It's not that there aren't books out there already.

There are a number of good volumes on the market, but for one reason or another not everyone finds them approachable, says Bill. Some are a little too much like textbooks.

"But you also get a lot of people still afraid to pick up a book that has sex in the title," he says.

"It's the same way they feel about going down to the local store and buying condoms. It just makes them uneasy."
Part of the problem is not that many people are comfortable even talking about sex.

"They may be able to talk about all the other areas of the relationship, but when it comes to sex the topic is still taboo. We get people who'll come in, for example, and say death was talked about in the house where they were raised, but not sex," says Carolyn.

Even those couples who pride themselves on being able to communicate aren't always entirely truthful.
"When they say they're communicating well, they're sending out a lot of words, but not the emotions and feelings that go with them," says Bill.

"Perhaps the biggest challenge, then, in dealing with sexual problems is simply admitting they exist.
"Otherwise, the stresses created by the problem can easily spill over into other parts of the relationship. So the sooner it's addressed, the better and also the greater chance things can be put right," says Carolyn.
SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD - the subtitle is A Guide to Healthier, Happier, More Loving Relationships - doesn't read like a psychology textbook - and it's not intended to.

The conversations are light and easy reading while still making the points.

"People have also told us they find it easier to read in dialogue form rather than us lecturing at them," says Carolyn.
The conversations also bring in the points of view from both genders. All too often books written by individuals are discounted by members of the opposite sex because "that's just what man/woman thinks."

The book is divided into three sections, The Sex Part - where the issues of distress and dysfunction are discussed - Life and Love - focusing on relationship issues - and Getting the Glow Back - how to improve the relationship.
At the end of each "show" - the topics range from faking orgasm to love at the office - the Chernenkoffs have compiled actual quotes heard from those who've come in for counselling over the years. Like, "we have a flawless marriage, we just don't have sex" and "I have no problem reaching an orgasm as long as my husband is not in the room."

If nothing else, they are hoping people will start talking more openly about sex. And, in order to do that, "what they need to start with is good factual information," says Bill. "Dialogue is key, the more we talk about sex and good healthy sex, the better," he says.

Once open communication starts between couples, it can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.





...Chernenkoffs publish guide to happier relationships

By Scott Larson, Saskatoon Sun


If you thought sex was a three-letter word, think again.

A new book, SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD, A Guide to Healthier, Happier, More Loving Relationships offers a different perspective.

The book is authored by Carolyn and William Chernenkoff, co-therapists in marital and sexual counselling in Saskatoon.

The impetus for the book comes from a regular radio show the therapists did with Colin Grewer on CBC Radio's THE AFTERNOON EDITION and contains transcripts from 23 of those programs.

William says the book came about after many of the couples they counselled wanted something they could take home with them.

"We get a lot of couples asking us if we have any information they can read," he says.

The book is divided into three sections - The Sex Part, Life & Love and Getting the Glow Back.

Chapters include topics like faking orgasms, couples who have never had intercourse, sex as an obligation, love at the office and what makes successful relationships.

"It's an enjoyable experience, and you can smile while you learn something," says Carolyn.

At the end of each chapter are humorous, insightful quotes from people the Chernenkoffs have counselled over the past 31 years.

"Sometimes they say something that is profound," Carolyn says. "It's funny, but it reveals something about the relationship too."

The Chernenkoffs have been co-therapists who have treated more than 4,500 couples and singles during the past 31 years for all kinds of sexual distress.

They have studied with Masters and Johnson, taught Human Sexuality at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine and have been regular guests on radio and TV shows for the last eight years.

Carolyn says the book is helpful to anyone who has ever been in a relationship, not just for those that are experiencing trouble.

"The first part of the book looks at sex problems, but the second part is how to improve a terrific relationship and make it even better," she says.

The Chernenkoffs, who have been married for 44 years, will head to Vancouver for two weeks after Christmas on a promotional tour of the West Coast.

The book is published by Verbal Dance of Saskatoon and distributed by Centax Books and Distribution of Regina.
Oh, and if you don't know what the 13-letter word is, it's revealed in the last chapter of the book.






By Ken McGoogan, Calgary Herald


Let's talk about sex. That's what the Chernenkoffs do all day.

They're "co-therapists in marital and sexual counselling."

William is a doctor, Carolyn an ex-nurse, and both of them studied with Masters & Johnson in St. Louis, Mo.
They turn up in this space because of SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD (Verbal Dance Publications, $17). It's a paperback distillation of what they've learned the past 31 years while treating more than 4,500 couples and singles "in every imaginable kind of sexual distress."

The Chernenkoffs, who are based in Saskatoon, swung through Calgary recently to promote their book. It's a collection of transcripts, really, arising out of a weekly radio show they did for several years.

If the format is something of a space-waster, the book nevertheless manages to cover everything from premature ejaculation to the mythical G-spot, the faking of orgasms, "going outside the relationship" and dealing with childhood sexual trauma - all in a light-hearted fashion.

That reminds me. Probably you're still wondering about that 13-letter word. Try COMMUNICATION?
"That's what sex is really all about," Carolyn said.

William put it this way: "Good sex begins with your clothes on."


By Anne Alexander, The Edmonton Sun


So, how's your sex life?

If it's not great, you're not alone. About 50% of Canadians face some form of sex distress, say Saskatoon-based sex therapists William (Bill) and Carolyn Chernenkoff.

The pair of medical professionals (he's a family physician, she's a nurse and both have trained at the Masters and Johnson Institute in St. Louis) are not only co-therapists for couples with lagging libidos, but have been married to each other, for 44 years.

"Our own sex life is great," says Carolyn.

"Terrific," adds Bill. "We have 131 years of sexual experience between us."

And the thrill is far from gone. Like the Ever Ready bunny, it keeps on going.

Sex is the most overrated part of a relationship. Not that it isn't important, but the Chernenkoffs say that sex will happen quite nicely and naturally if the rest of the relationship is in proper working order.

"The best aphrodisiac is an interesting and interested partner," says Bill. "Hormonal attraction can last a couple of hours, a couple of weeks, maybe even a couple of years. But it is always short-lived."

Carolyn adds, "What happens behind the bedroom door is only a reflection of everything else in the relationship."
"There are many excellent "textbooks" about the mechanics of sex - how-to manuals that tell you what to put where, and when. But very few books focus on building a foundation for good sex," says Bill.

Their book, SEX IS A 13-LETTER WORD, A guide to healthier, happier, more loving relationships (Centax, $16.95) does not shy away from graphic explanations of sexual function and dysfunction, but it concentrates on the root of a good relationship: communication. (Count the letters in the word. Get it?)

"No matter what the sexual dysfunction is, the most common problem is the breakdown or non-development of communication," says Carolyn. "Our clients tell us this in phrases like "I feel alone" or "I feel isolated." Sex is thrown in and expected to work, but it doesn't if communication doesn't work."

"Women are more likely to recognize this," says Bill.

"Most females say, 'I want to have a closer relationship.' Usually, the fellow says, 'I want more sex.' In order to get more sex, he has to develop better communication."

"That doesn't mean that women come in for therapy as expert communicators," adds Carolyn.

"They think they are. But they aren't communicating. Women ask questions - "What do you want for supper? What do you want to do?" They spend so much time asking about his feelings, they don't know how to share their own."
Communication problems can manifest in sexual performance, or lack of it, say the therapists.

For women, the most common are: inhibited sexual desire (loss of lust), anorgasmia (inability to reach orgasm), vaginismus (the muscles contract so that intercourse is impossible) and sexual aversion (fear of sex).

The four most typical male dysfunctions are premature ejaculation, impotence, inhibited desire and ejaculatory failure.  To treat these symptoms, the Chernenkoffs start by building communication between a couple, based on equal power, control sharing and vulnerability.

Their book is presented as a series of advice scripts from radio shows broadcast in Saskatchewan on CBC.
The Chernenkoffs will sign copies of their books tomorrow at SmithBooks in Phase II, WEM, from 7-9 p.m. and Friday, 6-9 p.m. at Cole"s in Phase I of WEM. 

And, do feel free to ask them about that "S" word.



By Dan Zakreski, The StarPhoenix


Saskatchewan residents are very satisfied with the quality of their lives - but not their lovers, says a national poll by the Angus Reid Group and the Royal Bank.

The two firms surveyed 1,502 Canadians by telephone in October on more than 20 issues, including family, leisure, friendships, career, religion, money and romance.

While a majority of Saskatchewan and Manitoba respondents expressed satisfaction with the quality of their lives and the prospects for the country, they were less than enthusiastic about their love lives.

"Survey participants in the two provinces indicated that the area where they are least satisfied is their love lives," the poll showed.

"Forty-nine per cent said they were very happy with the amount of romance in their lives - the lowest in the country."
Terrible news? Not so, say marital and sexual therapists William and Carolyn Chernenkoff.

After 31 years as counsellors, the couple say the apparent willingness of the survey respondents to identify their love lives as a problem area is actually a good sign.

"Fifty per cent of all couples have some marital or sexual distress at some point in the relationship," Carolyn said Wednesday. "In Saskatchewan, we're being proactive by identifying the problem and doing something about it. You could say we're ahead of the rest of the country again."

The classic points of friction with couples are women wanting more intimacy and men wanting more sex. Carolyn says couples need to realize you cannot have one without the other.

"Good sex begins with your clothes on," she said.

"Sex," adds William, "is a 13-letter word - communication."

"The way people deal with relationship problems has changed since the 1970s," William said. "Both men and women call for appointments now, where it used to be primarily women.

"Both men and women are also willing to talk openly about what they want," he added.


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