So You Want More Sex but Don’t Want to Hurt Your Partner’s Feelings…

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By Courtney Kocak

If you’ve been in a sexually intimate relationship for longer than a year, chances are you’ve experienced being in the mood when your partner isn’t—or vice versa. Having unequal libidos, at least occasionally, is a super-common long-term relationship issue.

My boyfriend and I just celebrated our two-year anniversary. It’s the best relationship I’ve ever been in by far, and I love him to pieces, but there’s no doubt about it: Sex columns (and columnists) imitate life. Just ask Carrie Bradshaw.

So I reached out to a few of my favorite sexperts for their advice on how to solve this common quandary. How do you ask for more sex… without hurting your partner’s feelings?

1. Talk about it.

“First of all, stop worrying about hurting your lover’s feelings when asking for more sex,” says certified sexologist and couples’ counselor Anka Radakovich. While it’s important to be kind to your partner while discussing any sensitive topic (more on this in a minute), mismatched sexual desire is a common problem with couples, especially in long-term relationships where needs and desires can change over time. Radakovich stresses that the important thing is to talk about it. “Never be afraid or ashamed of discussing sex with the person you’re having sex with!”

Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, agrees that communicating your desires and preferences is key. “Relationships are full of compromises, and your sex life is no different,” she points out. “In fact, many couples aren’t on the same sex schedule, but there’s no reason you can’t let it be known that it’s important to you.”

Radakovich warns that failing to address it will only breed resentment, which happens to be one of the biggest relationship killers out there. Who knows, your partner might tell you that they are completely stressed by a work situation or confess that they’ve been dealing with another issue that you didn’t even know about—the only way to find out is to talk about it.

2. Have the convo IRL, if possible.

“As uncomfortable as it may be, having a face-to-face conversation with your partner is the best way to go,” says sex researcher and neuroscientist Debra W. Soh, Ph.D. “Delivery is everything,” she says, noting that it’s a good idea to introduce the subject when neither of you is feeling rushed.

Radakovich agrees “Bring up the subject when both of you are relaxed and happy,” she says. “Or take a tip from the swinger crowd: Give them a nice back massage. Swingers know how to relax people… including other people’s wives,” she jokes. But it’s a seriously good tip! “A massage will relax anyone, creates intimacy, and the next thing you know, they might be down—or up!—for some long-awaited sex.”

3. Give the good news first.

This one’s extra important: You don’t want to put your partner on the defensive. To this end, Soh suggests starting off on a positive note by talking about what you like about your sex life. Besides, conjuring up some erotic memories might be just what the doctor ordered to help get your partner in the mood.

4. Speak for yourself.

Soh also recommends using “I” statements as another anti-defensive measure and all-around good relationship practice to get into so that your partner doesn’t feel like you are placing blame on them.

“My No. 1 tip when it comes to talking about sex in general without hurting your partner’s feelings is to make sure you’re not putting them on the defensive by blaming them,” Morse says. “Rather than saying, ‘You never want to have sex,’ or ‘We never have sex,’ lead with why you feel like having more sex would be beneficial for both of you.”

When your interests are aligned, you’re definitely more likely to get an outcome that both of you are psyched about—and then you can build a habit or routine based on that positive feedback loop.

5. Ask about your partner’s preferences.

Finding that alignment can come from discovering what would enhance your partner’s experience, Morse says.

“If your partner never seems in the mood, ask them what makes them feel sexy, what times of day they prefer to have sex, or which ways they would like you to initiate,” she says. “Even if it comes down to setting the alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning or setting up sex dates, at least you’re working toward a more satisfying, sexier solution.”

6. Be specific about your wants.

Because clarity is crucial when you’re trying to suss out relationship discrepancies, Soh encourages you to be as specific as possible about exactly what kind of sex you want to be having—and how often.

“Sex is such a huge part of our lives, and it’s important to feel fulfilled,” she reminds us. “If it isn’t a topic you usually talk about, doing so will hopefully open up the dialogue so that your partner will feel comfortable telling you about any concerns they have too.”

7. Find a win-win solution.

Ultimately, Morse advises sex-thirsting partners to proceed with a spirit of empathy and cooperation. “Tell them how much you love feeling close and intimate with them and how you could work together to make sure you’re both getting your needs met.”

This advice reminded me of the wisdom How to Keep Your Marriage From Sucking author Amiira Ruotola dropped on a recent episode of my podcast, “At the end of the day, it’s not like one of you gets to win. You either both win or you both lose.”

So use these tips to talk to your partner about how to achieve a sex life that works for you both… I know I will.

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Men, like women, can have post-sex blues

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By Cheryl Platzman Weinstock

After sex, men can sometimes experience a myriad of confusing negative feelings, a phenomenon called post-coital dysphoria (PCD), which can interfere with relationships, researchers say.

The research team analyzed responses from over 1,200 men to an anonymous international online survey that asked whether they had ever experienced symptoms of PCD, which can include tearfulness, sadness or irritability following otherwise satisfactory consensual sex.

The men, aged between 18 and 81 years, were primarily in Australia and the U.S., but the sample also included men in the UK, Russia, New Zealand, Germany and 72 other countries.

The study team, led by Joel Maczkowiack, a master’s student at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, found that 41 percent of the men reported having experienced PCD in their lifetime, with 20 percent saying they had experienced it in the previous four weeks. Between 3 percent and 4 percent of the men reported experiencing PCD on a regular basis.

“I would like to think that this study will help males (and females) reflect on their experience of sex, as well as encourage communication between partners about their experience,” Maczkowiack told Reuters Health by email.

“In addition, we hope that this type of research will help people whose experience of sex is dysphoric (or dysphoric at times) to know that they are not the only ones who feel this way. In this sense, we hope this study normalizes a variety of human experiences following sex,” he said.

Past research has found that PCD is common among women. This is the first time it has been documented in men, Maczkowiack said.

PCD can occur despite satisfying and enjoyable sex. One man in the study reported that PCD made him feel “self-loathing.” Another reported, “I feel a lot of shame.” One participant said, “I usually have crying fits and full on depressive episodes following coitus that leave my significant other worried . . . .”

The study, published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, found that PCD may be related to previous and current psychological distress and past abuse, including sexual, emotional and physical abuse in childhood and adulthood.

Emotional abuse was the most common form of abuse reported by the men both before and after age 16, researchers found. Sexual abuse in childhood was reported by 12.7 percent of the men and sexual abuse in adulthood was reported by 3.5 percent of the men. Their most common reported mental health concern was depression (36.9 percent), followed by anxiety (32.5 percent) and bipolar disorder (3 percent).

Current psychological distress was the strongest variable associated with lifetime and four-week PCD. Higher levels of psychological distress were more strongly associated with PCD.

The data for this study was collected from February to June 2017 and drawn from a larger questionnaire that examined the post-coital experience of men and women.

“While this research is interesting, the study of PCD needs psychometrically valid instruments, said Rory Reid, an assistant professor of psychiatry and research psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study.

The study used a few questions to measure PCD, but there is ambiguity in those items, Reid said in a phone interview. “They lack precision and there was no specificity about frequency in responses as to exactly how often was ‘a little’ or ‘some of the time’,” he noted.

“Future studies of PCD need to utilize qualitative approaches where participants are interviewed about their PCD experiences so we can further understand this phenomenon, why people might experience it, the extent to which it is causing individuals psychological distress, and whether it is negatively impacting their romantic relationship,” Reid added.

One of limitations of the study was that the men self-reported their emotional response to previous sexual experiences. “This information can be difficult for participants to recall,” Maczkowiack, said.

“The findings of this study could influence marital therapy by normalizing different responses. In addition, it may open up communication between partners,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Here’s how marijuana use affects sex drive

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by Philip Perry

Do you and your lover sometimes have a glass of wine or two to help set the mood? Alcohol, while it can soften inhibitions, may also cause trouble when it comes time to perform, especially for men. Some turn to cannabis as an alternative. Unfortunately, research on how marijuana affects sexual performance is conflicting.

Some studies say it inhibits capability while other say it enhances it. A new, large-scale study finds that marijuana use increases the sex drive and probably doesn’t inhibit performance. Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted the study and published their results in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Cannabis has been thought an aphrodisiac in the folk medicine traditions of many cultures throughout history. Today, a small but growing segment in the West are using it to help enhance their sex lives. One California woman is even selling “Sexxpot,” a low-THC variety (the psychoactive component) said to increase female sexual desire and pleasure.

As for men, though online forums and advice columns praise it as a “natural Viagra,” some studies have found that cannabis may actually inhibit performance. Previous work has also suggested that chronic use inhibits sex drive. A 2009 study found that everyday use may make it difficult for some men to achieve orgasm. While a 2011 review concluded that chronic use may lead to a higher risk of erectile dysfunction.

This new study however seems to undermine the case for inhibited performance or libido. Stanford researchers analyzed the responses of 50,000 Americans who took part in the CDC’s National Survey of Family Growth. They looked at the years between 2002 and 2015. Each participant was between ages 25 and 45. The average age for both men and women was actually 29.5.

Respondents indicated how often they smoke marijuana, either monthly, weekly, or daily, and how many times they had sex in the last 12 months. Assistant professor of urology Michael Eisenberg, MD, was the senior author. “Marijuana use is very common,” he said. “But its large-scale use and association with sexual frequency hasn’t been studied much in a scientific way.”

“What we found,” Eisenberg said “was compared to never-users, those who reported daily use had about 20 percent more sex. So over the course of a year, they’re having sex maybe 20 more times.” Women who didn’t smoke pot had sex an average of 6 times per month. While those who were daily users did it 7.1 times per month. With men, non-potheads had sex 5.6 times per month, while daily users did it 6.9 times per month.

According to Eisenberg, “The overall trend we saw applied to people of both sexes and all races, ages, education levels, income groups and religions, every health status, whether they were married or single and whether or not they had kids.” Researchers called it a “dose-dependent relationship.”

The more people used marijuana, the more sex they had. These findings also alleviate some of the anxiety surrounding performance inhibition. “Frequent marijuana use doesn’t seem to impair sexual motivation or performance,” Eisenberg said. “If anything, it’s associated with increased coital frequency.”

There are of course, some caveats. For couples who are trying to have children, several studies have found that chronic pot use can cause a man’s sperm count to plummet. Toking just once a week can sink the number of swimmers a man has by about a third. There’s also still a lingering fear among some experts that chronic use can lead to ED.

It’s important to note that the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, merely a strong correlation. Smoking marijuana doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be having more sex. There may be another factor or factors that are influencing the two. For instance, those drawn to marijuana may also be less inhibited or thrill-seekers, who are naturally more inclined to seek out sexual encounters.

Eisenberg says he thinks marijuana’s positive correlation with intercourse isn’t just a tendency among the less-inhibited. He points out that the number of sexual encounters rose steadily with increased use. If these findings prove correct, certain synthesized cannabinoids or elements in marijuana, may someday be used as a medical treatment, to foster libidinous feelings in those who find that their desire has waned. Eisenberg cautions, “We don’t want people to smoke to improve sexual function.” But he admits, “it probably doesn’t hurt things.”

To learn how a segment of young women using marijuana to improve their sex lives, click here:

Complete Article HERE!

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It’s time to reimagine consent in our romantic lives

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Often we talk about consent in terms of power: who has it and how are they wielding it? What if we thought of it in terms of attention?

‘New ways of consent can re-shape our relationships—and our entire culture.’

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Since the short story Cat Person was published in the New Yorker late last year, my friends and I have spent a lot of time talking about bad sex. If consent is a spectrum with an enthusiastic, joyful yes at one end and sexual assault at the other, bad sex lives in the middle. There are lots of reasons why so many women have had so much bad sex: an impulse to please, the shame or discomfort of acknowledging your own needs, a misplaced hope that if you just go along with it, a bad experience might eventually get better. We are women in our twenties and thirties and forties and the question underlying these conversations is the same for each of us: what is the value of my desires?

We’re getting better at talking about consent when it comes to sex. The #metoo movement has encouraged people of all genders to really imagine what an enthusiastic, joyful yes can look like—and to understand how prioritizing mutual pleasure makes sex better for everyone. But we’re missing an opportunity to consider how these more sophisticated ways of practicing consent might re-shape our relationships—and our entire culture.

One way I’ve tried to reimagine consent in my romantic life is by creating a relationship contract with my partner. It’s not a legal contract and there are no penalties when one of us doesn’t do what we’ve agreed to. It’s really an opportunity for the two of us to sit down together and discuss our expectations about everything from chores to date nights to sex. When I first wrote about our contract, I was surprised by the strong responses it elicited. Some people – often young straight women – loved the idea. Others accused my partner and me of being “robots” or “unromantic nerds.” But these readers are missing the point: being heard is the most romantic thing I can imagine.

Of course these critiques sound a lot like the complaints of those who think talking about sex beforehand – and actually asking the person you’re with if they’re into whatever you’re doing—ruins the experience. At the heart of these accusations of “ruining romance” is the notion that you shouldn’t voice your needs or desires: mutual understanding should happen all on its own—in sex and in love.

When I was young, I assumed that once I found the right person, I wouldn’t have to ask for anything—he would just understand me. I probably don’t need to say that this approach didn’t serve me well. For one thing, the assumption that the right person would know what I wanted – intuitively, telepathically – prevented me from ever bothering to figure it out for myself. In this fairy tale model of consent, mutual understanding requires nothing more than the machinations of fate to bring partners together. This promise of being uniquely and perfectly understood is seductive—and it’s baked into our language: the right person “completes you”; they are “the one,” or “your other half,” or your “soulmate.”

There’s some interesting research on “implicit theories of relationships” – which is really an academic way of describing the metaphors we use to think about love. One study found that those who thought of love as “perfect unity between two halves” (an idea as old as Plato) were less satisfied with their relationship after a conflict than those who framed love as “a journey with ups and downs.” Another study (charmingly titled “Great Sexpectations”) found that partners with high “sexual destiny beliefs” experience lower relationship quality. In other words, we are happier with our relationships when we assume that sex is something we get better at together.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that straight women are the ones most eager to reject the fairy tale of effortless mutual understanding. Same-sex couples tend to be better at communicating, which means that women in same-sex relationships are having (significantly) better sex than straight women. And same-sex partners distribute domestic labor and caregiving responsibilities more fairly than those in different-sex relationships. Maybe it goes without saying that women do more of the housework and childrearing in heterosexual relationships—and that this decreases their relationship satisfaction—but I’ll say it anyway.

The Oxford English Dictionary provides two definitions of the word “consent”: to “give permission for something to happen” and to “agree to do something.” The first – giving permission – is essentially what sex educator Jaclyn Friedman calls the gatekeeper model of consent. This model requires the person with the least power—the most vulnerable person in a relationship—to be the one to set boundaries. It also normalizes the idea that the one with more power will maximize that power in an attempt to get what they want. The second definition – agreeing to do something – sounds more mutual, but only slightly. Both definitions are the equivalent to checking the “terms and conditions” box on a new software download and hoping for the best.

But consent hasn’t always been so one-sided. The etymology of the word gets closer to the culture of consent I’m imagining. The Latin consentire literally means “to feel together.”

Often we talk about consent in terms of power: who has it and how are they wielding it? But we might also think of it in terms of attention. One reason romantic idealism is so appealing is because it suggests that love is an adequate stand-in for attention; if you are perfectly matched with someone, you don’t have the obligation of really bothering to know them.

What would it look like if we built a culture around the idea of “feeling together”? If we began with the assumption that we should shape our relationships – sexual, personal, even professional – with another person, bearing both our experiences in mind?

“Feeling together” requires us to acknowledge that privilege is, by definition, an imbalance of attention, an absence of care. And it implies that it’s the responsibility of those with privilege and power to offer more attention, to give more care. What I love about this version of consent is that demands intimacy. It ties us more tightly to one another by suggesting that empathy is not a burden, but an opportunity.

Complete Article HERE!

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6 reasons why sex is important in a relationship

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By Gabrielle Kassel

I want to start by saying that sex doesn’t need to be a part of every relationship. It might be important to you to wait a certain amount of time or until a particular life milestone (like, say, getting married) to have sex. Or, as Liz Powell, PsyD, an LGBTQ-friendly sex educator, coach, and licensed psychologist, points out, “There are people who are asexual who are in relationships where sex is mutually unimportant or undesired, and those relationships are just as valid, loving, and intimate as any others.”

But for people who do decide to have sex be a part of their relationships, it’s super important. Because when it comes to sex—both having it and talking about it—you and your partner need to “navigate, communicate, and compromise,” says Shadeen Francis, a sex, marriage, and family therapist. Are you in-tune with each other’s needs and wants? Do you trust your S.O. enough to be vulnerable with them? And to handle your bod with respect?

Beyond the emotional benefits, there are also a slew of health perks that come with doing the deed. And that helps your relationship, too—because when your stress is down and confidence is up, it’s the perfect environment for your love to *flourish.* (Bonus: The physical benefits aren’t reserved for penetrative sex alone, says licensed clinical psychologist Sarah Schewitz, PsyD. “It’s important to realize that there are a lot of ways of being intimate physically: deep kissing, hand jobs, mutual masturbation, even watching porn together,” adds Powell.)

So while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to just how important sex is in a relationship, the experts agree that it is.

Keeping reading to learn 6 expert- and science-backed reasons why sex is important in a relationship.

1. It gives you an emotional high

The blissful afterglow is one of the main reasons people do mega-intense workouts. And, it turns out, you experience a similar high after sex, thanks the release of feel-good hormones.

Here’s how it works: Sex releases dopamine in the brain, which increases your ambition and sense of happiness; testosterone, which improves your performance at work; and endorphins, which reduce your stress level and minimize pain. “All of these hormones together play a complex role in human pair-bonding and are essential in maintaining the glue of a relationship,” says psychologist and relationship expert Danielle Forshee, PsyD.

Plus, a study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that having sex promotes overall well-being and fosters positive emotions, particularly within 24 hours of gettin’ down. So, in addition to the immediate gratification, the physical encounter with a partner creates a sort of lasting “hangover” that can strengthen your relationship, mood, and emotional bond.

2. Sex can help relieve stress

By now, you’ve probably tried the de-stressing staples: deep-breathing, massages, hot baths, and even hotter yoga. But why not add sex to the mix? “Sex releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, which promotes relaxation and stress relief,” says Francis. “And oxytocin also combats cortisol, the main stress hormone,” says Schewitz.

In fact, researchers have found that sex is similar to eating pleasurable “comfort food” in its ability to reduce tension by stimulating the brain’s reward system. And orgasm isn’t necessary to reap the benefits: Your body releases oxytocin after only 20 seconds of skin-to-skin contact, so any sort of physical touch is beneficial.

While the reduction in stress is beneficial to both parties individually, it’s beneficial to the relationship as a whole, too. “Even if stress is not relationship-specific, it can interfere with how good you feel in it,” Francis says.

3. It can boost your confidence

Sex may not give you an automatically turn your BDE levels all the way up to Rihanna, but “it can be an incredibly confidence-boosting, body-loving moment for some people,” says Francis. “Most of us have some degree of insecurity, whether it be something about our physical body or not. But being validated by someone that we love and trust can help build confidence.”

That dopamine rush we’ve talked about also helps boost your mojo, says Courtney Cleman, CFA and co-founder of The V. Club, a wellness and education center in New York City. “The more we have dopamine, the more we feel good and we feel good about ourselves,” she says.

That’s key, because your self-image has an impact on your sexual satisfaction. A 2012 review of research on the topic found that “body-image issues can affect all domains of sexual functioning,” from desire to arousal to satisfaction.

4. You’ll both get a better night’s sleep

In addition to increasing oxytocin and decreasing cortisol, sex also improves your sleep because you release a hormone called prolactin when you orgasm. This chemical can lead to deeper sleep and more time in the REM stage—the part of the sleep cycle when your brain and body are re-energized and your dreams occur.

A good night’s sleep is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, in no small part because increases your mental wellbeing. And increased mental wellbeing means less irritability, which means you pick fewer fights with your partner.

For a bonus bae-boost while you snooze, scooch close to your S.O. before you doze off. According to research from the University of Hertforshire, people who go to sleep touching report the highest rates of relationship bliss.

5. The intimacy extends beyond the bedroom

“[Sex creates] an intimacy feedback loop,” says Cleman. “The more intimacy you have in the bedroom, the more intimacy you’ll have outside the bedroom, and vice versa.” Research backs this up. A series published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that sex predicts affection and affection, in turn, predicts sexual activity.

“This loop is particularly beneficial to people who have physical touch as one of their primary love languages,” says Francis, referring to the concept introduced by Gary Chapman in his best-selling book. “If intimate touch is how you express love and receive love from our partners, then sex is a gateway for how you share affection and love,” she says.

6. Post-sex cuddles are the best (but really)

Getting all snuggly-wuggly with your boo is not only one of the greatest parts of the relationship for some people (it’s like a blanket burrito, but better), it can also make your relationship stronger. A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that kissing and cuddling after sex leads to a more satisfying and happier relationship. (Oxytocin FTW, again). But of course, to reap those post-sex benefits, the sex has to come first.

Complete Article HERE!

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Relationship Boredom Isn’t Necessarily A Problem, Therapists Say

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  • A relationship won’t always be passionate and spontaneous, therapists say. It’s normal to sometimes feel bored in your marriage.
  • But there are ways to spice things up, like planning to do something “illicit” with your partner.

If there’s one “problem” relationship experts hear over and over again, it’s this: The passion has faded. The routine has replaced the spontaneous.

Yet most of those experts will tell you this generally isn’t a reason to freak out. If there is a problem, it’s in how you’re handling the boredom.

Over the past few months, I’ve asked sex and relationship therapists to share their top strategies for keeping the passion alive in a romantic relationship, and preventing ennui from creeping in. Here are the best tips I heard:

Accept that the waxing and waning of passion is normal

Couples therapist Rachel Sussman puts it bluntly. “Were we really put on this earth to have a monogamous sex life for 50 years and have passion the entire time for our partner?” she said when I interviewed her last year . “I don’t think so.”

So when couples come to see Sussman complaining about the lack of passion in their relationship, she wants them to know: This is normal.

People are worried “that something’s wrong with them,” she told me. They think “maybe something’s wrong with the couple; maybe something’s wrong with them individually.”

Chances are, there’s not. “People think, ‘Oh, [passion] should just be there,'” Sussman said. ” No ! It shouldn’t just be there. You have to create it.”

One strategy Sussman recommends? Scheduling sex dates, right there on the calendar.

Plan to do something ‘illicit’ in your relationship

Tammy Nelson is a sex and relationship therapist, and the relationship expert at Ashley Madison, a website for people seeking affairs. Nelson told me the “fantasy of an affair” is simply that “you’ll have that impulsive excitement.”

But affairs come with risk , like potentially destroying your partner’s trust in you and wrecking your own self-image.

So Nelson proposes that people aim to have that impulsive excitement within their own relationships. “You have to have an affair with your spouse,” she said. Meet like strangers at a bar one night, for example.

As Nelson said, “You have to make something about your marital sex feel dangerous.”

Make your own life more exciting

Ruth Westheimer — a.k.a. “Dr Ruth” — says boredom is the single biggest threat to a romantic relationship.

Perhaps surprisingly, Westheimer advises anyone in this situation to focus first on themselves.

In her 2015 memoir, ” The Doctor Is In ,” she recommends spicing up your own life as a way to combat relationship boredom: Visit the theater, join a book club, take an online course.

“By investing in yourself in all these ways, you’ll find that the fog of boredom will lift and the bright light of joie de vivre will being to light your life.”

And if it doesn’t, it might be time to seek professional guidance, either individually or as a couple.

Complete Article HERE!

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The five rules of good midlife sex

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It’s been said that sex in midlife is like going to the gym: you know you should probably do it a couple of times a week, but work, children and a mountain of life admin always seem to get in the way, leaving you too tired to bother (and vowing to do it next week instead).

But, just like regular exercise, research shows that continuing to have sex in later life improves your overall health and immunity, reduces your risk of depression and heart disease, makes you smarter and look younger, as well as strengthening your relationship.

“In theory, we should all be having more sex in midlife because the stresses of the child-rearing years have eased off, couples know each other’s bodies far better and those body hangups that can preoccupy younger people seem less concerning,” says Janice Hiller, a consultant clinical psychologist and relationship therapist. “However, couples may have also spent years becoming increasingly tired, neglecting their relationship or resenting each other. But it’s worth getting things back on track for your health and happiness.” 

So, how can you maintain a midlife sex life?

Have a sex schedule

Ask any busy midlifer and they’ll tell you there are only a few sex-windows in the week – the mornings are generally too rushed (especially if you have children to get off to school and a train to catch), evenings go by in a blur of cooking and box-sets, and weekends seem to be increasingly full of neighbour’s BBQs and DIY. So what’s the answer?

In four words: have a sex schedule. Researchers from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, announced this week that – while crushingly unromantic – scheduling in a time and date for sex each week (and sticking to it, as you would a work meeting) is the key to keeping your sex life going. The researchers interviewed almost 1,000 couples and found those who were “thorough and dutiful” in their sex schedules had more satisfying and regular sex lives as a result.

According to Barbara Bloomfield, a Relate therapist and author of Couples Therapy: Dramas of Love and Sex, middle-aged women increasingly have what’s called ‘reactive arousal’, whereas middle-aged men still have ‘primary arousal’. “This means a man will be able to just look at something he finds attractive and feel aroused,” says Barbara. “Whereas reactive arousal means women need time to become aroused, by being cuddled, kissed and plenty of foreplay.

“Long kisses – around 15 seconds – are incredibly effective in improving libido. I’ve advised this technique with many of my couples through Relate and while it’s very simple, it works. So rather than just having a peck on the lips, enjoy longer kisses.’”

Get an early night

And not because of why you think. A recent US study published in the health journal Menopause found women over 50 who slept for fewer than five hours a night had less satisfying sex lives. “When you’re tired, your sex drive is the first thing to go,” says nutritionist Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.

She recommends increasing your levels of magnesium, which has muscle and nerve-calming properties and is found in fish, dark green leafy vegetables and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Or try a supplement like Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Magnesium (£16.50 for 30 capsules). 

Stay healthy…

The healthier you are, the healthier your sex life will be. “Feeling healthy and fit will make you feel sexier, so as well as getting enough sleep, follow a balanced diet, don’t drink too much, manage your stress levels and exercise regularly,” says Marilyn. “Good fats, found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and oils, are important for boosting libido because sex hormones like testosterone are manufactured from the cholesterol contained within those foods. 

“Foods rich in zinc, like spinach, beef and kidney beans, also play an important role in the production of sex hormones.

… And keep your relationship healthy too

It sounds obvious, but you have to be happy together to want to have sex in the first place: “I often find in clinic that things like feeling disrespected or undermined outside of the bedroom have just as much of an impact on libido, if not more, than things like tiredness or hormonal changes,” says Janice Hiller. “So if a couple are having therapy for a poor sex life, I’ll often get them to work on issues outside the bedroom first.

“The most common issues I see are women who feel they’re not listened to and men who feel their partner complains or gets angry with them, which causes them to retreat further. So I tell couples to talk through their problems in a calm, non-threatening nor demanding way, and express how they’re feeling about certain things.

“Once they’ve worked through those problems, the sex one tends to resolve itself.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Nearly half of British women dissatisfied with sex lives, survey finds

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Those aged 25 to 34 were the least satisfied

 

By Olivia Petter

More than one in four British women report being unhappy with their sex lives, new research has found.

The survey by Public Health England (PHE) of more than 7,300 women investigated problems relating to reproductive health and included an unsatisfactory sex life within this umbrella.

The report revealed that those aged 25 to 34 were the least satisfied in bed, with 49 per cent complaining of a lack of sexual enjoyment.

Dissatisfaction was slightly lower for women aged 55 to 64, less than a third of whom reported experiencing unfulfilled sex lives – however, it was not clear whether this was because they were enjoying sex more or simply having less sex.

Health officials found that women who experienced unhappiness in their relationships, had been diagnosed with STIs and had difficulty communicating with their romantic partners were more likely to have low sexual function.

Meanwhile, positive sexuality (defined by PHE as experiencing high levels of sexual satisfaction, sexual self-esteem and sexual pleasure) were associated with use of contraception, improved relationship quality and an absence of STIs.

For young women specifically, a healthy sex life was also linked to less alcohol use, improved mental health and a positive attitude towards education.

The report also found that nearly a third of women surveyed had suffered from severe issues relating to sex, such as heavy periods and menopausal symptoms.

Dr Jane Dickson, vice president of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare, commented: “The importance of having a healthy, enjoyable sexual life cannot be overstated as this strongly contributes to general wellbeing.

“However, there is still much stigma and embarrassment when it comes to sexual function – especially when we are talking about women’s sexual pleasure. Society still relegates women’s sexual pleasure to the background.”

Public health consultant at PHE Sue Mann added that a fulfilling sex life is fundamental to women’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

“Our data show that sexual enjoyment is a key part of good reproductive health and that while many women are reporting sexual dysfunction, many are not seeking help.”

The research also found that there is a strong stigma associated with reporting sexual and reproductive health issues.

“This is particularly true in the workplace where many women do not feel comfortable speaking to their managers about the real reasons for needing to take time off work,” Mann continued.

“We want to empower women to educate themselves about good reproductive health and to feel confident speaking about it.”

Complete Article HERE!

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We know the very best time to have sex…

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By Anna Breslaw

You climb into bed, shimmy up next to your S.O., and pucker up—only to find that they’ve already cashed in their ticket to Snoresville. If you’re in a long-term relationship, chances are it’s a familiar scenario, particularly if your partner is of the opposite sex. As the Daily Mail reports, a 2015 study of 2,300 people by the sex toy brand Lovehoney found that male sexual desire peaks between 6 and 9 a.m., aligning with the highest spike in their testosterone levels over a 24-hour period, while female partners desire sex most between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Is one partner *right*? Is there an optimal time to have sex? In an attempt to puzzle it out, I look back at evolutionary biology.

“Early humans weren’t having sex at night until we discovered fire, about 1.6 million years ago,” says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and senior researcher at the Kinsey Institute. According to her studies, ancient man actually had sex in the middle of the day: “They would wake up, eat, have sex, and then socialize.”

“Early humans weren’t having sex at night until we discovered fire, about 1.6 million years ago.” —Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist

As fun as that sounds, it wasn’t exactly an afternoon delight—the sole purpose of intercourse was procreation, and the constant threat of predators meant it had to be quick.

These days, we’re not constrained by the threat of a looming mastodon, and morning and night sex each boast some compelling benefits. AM sessions strengthen your immune system by ratcheting up your levels of IgA, an antibody that protects against infection, according to Debby Herbenick, PhD, a sex researcher and Indiana University professor. Obviously, this would come in handy for flu season.

On the other hand, both men and women experience an increase in prolactin, melatonin, and vasopressin after sex—all hormones that are linked to increased sleepiness. So if you have trouble falling asleep at night, sex might help—and conversely, if you have a hard time waking up in the morning, an early roll in the hay probably isn’t doing you any favors (unless you have the luxury of time to laze about while you recuperate).

It’s totally normal to have a night owl/morning person dynamic, and it doesn’t mean you’re sexually incompatible on a deeper level.

For the most part, though, the health benefits of sex, like mood-boosting dopamine, improved heart health, decreased stress, and stronger emotional bonds with your partner, apply to both AM and PM sessions. (Heyo!)

So the best time to have sex is really whatever the best time is for you and your partner. “Some people are talked and touched out at the end of the day,” says Shannon Chavez, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and licensed sex therapist. “Other people are finally decompressing from work and ready to relax and focus on sex.” It’s totally normal to have a night owl/morning person dynamic, adds Dr. Chavez, and it doesn’t mean you’re sexually incompatible on a deeper level.

Better yet, these peak desire times are usually malleable for both genders. One way to align your sex drives is a technique Dr. Chavez calls sexual conditioning. The idea is to find a time that works for both of you. (According to the Lovehoney study above, the second-most popular block of time to have sex—for both genders—is between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m., so that might be a good place to start.) The more often you have sex during this time, the more you’ll come to want sex at this time. “Positive sexual experiences that happened at night, or in the morning, or in a certain environment, will create a stronger arousal response in the future,” explains Chavez. You know what they say, practice makes perfect…

Complete Article HERE!

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Want better sex? Try getting better sleep

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[O]ne in 3 American adults do not get enough sleep. Sexual issues are also common, with as many as 45 percent of women and 31 percent of men having a concern about their sex life. While these might seem like distinct concerns, they are actually highly related.

How are sleep and sex related? I’ll state the obvious: We most commonly sleep and have sex in the same location – the bedroom. Less obvious but more important is that lack of sleep and lack of sex share some common underlying causes, including stress. Especially important, lack of sleep can lead to sexual problems and a lack of sex can lead to sleep problems. Conversely, a good night’s sleep can lead to a greater interest in sex, and orgasmic sex can result in a better night’s sleep.

I am a sex educator and researcher who has published several studies on the effectiveness of self-help books in enhancing sexual functioning. I have also written two sexual self-help books, both based in research findings. My latest book, “Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters – and How to Get It,” is aimed at empowering women to reach orgasm. More pertinent to the connection between sleep and sex, my first book, “A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex,” was written to help the countless women who say they are too exhausted to be interested in sex.

The effect of sleep on sex among women

The reason I wrote a book for women who are too tired for sex is because women are disproportionately affected by both sleep problems and by low sexual desire, and the relationship between the two is indisputable. Women are more likely than men to have sleep problems, and the most common sexual complaint that women bring to sex therapists and physicians is low desire. Strikingly, being too tired for sex is the top reason that women give for their loss of desire.

Conversely, getting a good night’s sleep can increase desire. A recent study found that the longer women slept, the more interested in sex they were the next day. Just one extra hour of sleep led to a 14 percent increase in the chances of having a sexual encounter the following day. Also, in this same study, more sleep was related to better genital arousal.

While this study was conducted with college women, those in other life stages have even more interrelated sleep and sex problems. Menopause involves a complicated interaction of biological and psychological issues that are associated with both sleep and sex problems. Importantly, a recent study found that among menopausal women, sleep problems were directly linked to sexual problems. In fact, sleep issues were the only menopausal symptom for which such a direct link was found.

nterrelated sleep and sexual issues are also prevalent among mothers. Mothers of new babies are the least likely to get a good night’s sleep, mostly because they are caring for their baby during the night. However, ongoing sleep and sexual issues for mothers are often caused by having too much to do and the associated stress. Women, who are married with school-age children and working full time, are the most likely to report insomnia. Still, part-time working moms and moms who don’t work outside the home report problems with sleep as well.

While fathers also struggle with stress, there is evidence that stress and the resulting sleepless nights dampen women’s sexual desire more than they do men’s. Some of this is due to hormones. Both insufficient sleep and stress result in the release of cortisol, and cortisol decreases testosterone. Testosterone plays a major role in the sex drive of women and men. Men have significantly more testosterone than women. So, thinking of testosterone as a tank of gas, the cortisol released by stress and lack of sleep might take a woman’s tank to empty, yet only decrease a man’s tank to half full.

The effect of sleep on sex among men

Although lack of sleep and stress seems to affect women’s sexual functioning more than men’s, men still suffer from interrelated problems in these areas. One study found that, among young healthy men, a lack of sleep resulted in decreased levels of testosterone, the hormone responsible for much of our sex drive. Another study found that among men, sleep apnea contributed to erectile dysfunction and an overall decrease in sexual functioning. Clearly, among men, lack of sleep results in diminished sexual functioning.

I could not locate a study to prove this, as it stands to reason that the reverse is also true. That is, it seems logical that, as was found in the previously mentioned study among women, for men a better night’s sleep would also result in better sexual functioning.

The effect of sex on sleep

While sleep (and stress) have an effect on sex, the reverse is also true. That is, sex affects sleep (and stress). According to sex expert Ian Kerner, too little sex can cause sleeplessness and irritability. Conversely, there is some evidence that the stress hormone cortisol decreases after orgasm. There’s also evidence that oxytocin, the “love hormone” that is released after orgasm, results not only in increased feelings of connection with a partner, but in better sleep.

Additionally, experts claim that sex might have gender-specific effects on sleep. Among women, orgasm increases estrogen, which leads to deeper sleep. Among men, the hormone prolactin that is secreted after orgasm results in sleepiness.

Translating science into more sleep and more sex

It is now clear that a hidden cause of sex problems is sleeplessness and that a hidden cause of sleeplessness is sex problems. This knowledge can lead to obvious, yet often overlooked, cures for both problems. Indeed, experts have suggested that sleep hygiene can help alleviate sexual problems and that sex can help those suffering from sleep problems.

Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that both sleep hygiene suggestions and suggestions for enhanced sexual functioning have some overlap. For example, experts suggest sticking to a schedule, both for sleep and for sexual encounters. They also recommend decreasing smartphone usage, both before bed and when spending time with a partner. The bottom line of these suggestions is to make one’s bedroom an exclusive haven for the joys of both sleep and sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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Should sex toys be prescribed by doctors?

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Talk about good vibrations

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[T]hey are far more likely to be found in your bedside drawer than your local surgery, but sex toys can bring more than just benefits in the bedroom; they could boost your health too.

So should GPs stop being shy and recommend pleasure products? Samantha Evans, former nurse and co-founder of ‘luxury sex toy and vibrator shop’ Jo Divine certainly believes so. Challenging stuffy attitudes could change people’s lives for the better.

“I have encountered several doctors including GPs and gynaecologists who will not recommend sex toys because of their own personal views and embarrassment about sex. However, once healthcare professionals learn about sex toys and sexual lubricants and see what products can really help, they often change their mind.”

Samantha says increasingly doctors are seeing vibrators as the way forward for helping people overcome intimate health issues.

In 2015, she was asked to put together a sexual product brochure for the NHS at the request of Kent-based gynaecologist Mr Alex Slack. The document contains suitable sex toys, lubricants and pelvic floor exercisers that can help with a range of gynaecological problems.

But sex toys can also be beneficial for many other illnesses too, Samantha reveals.

“Often people feel their body is being hijacked by their illness such as cancer and being able to enjoy sexual pleasure is something they can take back control of, beyond popping a pill. Using a sex toy is much more fun and has far fewer side effects than medication!”

Here are just some of the reasons it’s worth exploring your local sex shop (or browsing online) to benefit your health:

1. Great sex is good for you

One area sex toys can help with is simply making sex more enjoyable, helping couples discover what turns them on.

“Having great sex can promote health and wellbeing by improving your mood and physically making you feel good. Using a sex toy can spice up a flagging sex life and bring a bit of fun into your life. A sex toy will make you feel great as well as promoting your circulation and the release of the “feel good factors” during an orgasm.”

2. Sex toys can rejuvenate vaginas

Some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of the menopause are gynaecological. Declining levels of the hormone oestrogen can lead to vaginal tightness, dryness and atrophy. This can lead to painful sex and decreased sex drive.

But vibrators can alieve these symptoms (by improving the tone and elasticity of vaginal walls and improving sexual sensation) and also promote vaginal lubrication.

Sex toys can also be useful following gynaecological surgery or even after childbirth to keep the vaginal tissue flexible, preventing it from becoming too tight and also promoting to blood flow to the area to speed up healing, says Samantha.

3. Sex toys help men too

Men can benefit from toys too, says Samantha. She says men who use them are less likely to be burdened with erectile dysfunction, difficulty orgasming and low sex drive.

“They are also more likely to be aware of their sexual health, making them more likely to notice any abnormalities and seek medical advice,” she points out.

Male products can help men overcome erectile dysfunction, following prostate surgery or treatment, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injury and neurological conditions by promoting the blood flow into the erectile tissues and stimulating the nerves to help the man have an erection without them having to take Viagra.

4. Sex isn’t just about penetration

There’s a reason sexperts stress the importance of foreplay. Most women just cannot orgasm through penetration alone no matter how turned on they are. Stimulating the clitoris can be the key to satisfying climaxes and sex toys can make that easier. Vibrators can be really useful for vulval pain conditions such as vulvodynia where penetration can be tricky to achieve.

“By becoming aware of how her body feels through intimate massage and exploration using a vibrator and lubricant and relaxation techniques, a woman who has vulvodynia can become more relaxed and comfortable with her body and her symptoms may lessen. It also allows intimate sex play when penetration is not possible,” says Samantha.

5. Vibrators can be better than medical dilators for vaginismus

Vaginismus, a condition in which a woman’s vaginal muscles tense up involuntarily, when penetration is attempted is generally treated using medical dilators of increasing sizes to allow the patient to begin with the thinnest dilator and slowly progress to the next size. But not all women get on with these, reveals Samantha.

Women’s health physiotherapist Michelle Lyons, says she often tries to get her sexual health patients to use a vibrator instead of a standard dilator.

“They (hopefully) already associate the vibrator with pleasure, which can be a significant help with their recovery from vaginismus/dyspareunia. We know from the research that low frequency vibrations can be sedative for the pelvic floor muscles, whereas higher frequencies are more stimulating. After all, the goal of my sexual rehab clients is to return to sexual pleasure, not just to ‘tolerate’ the presence of something in their vagina!”

Samantha Evans’ sex toy starter pack

1. YES organic lubricant

“One of the best sexual lubricants around being pH balanced and free from glycerin, glycols and parabens, all of which are vaginal irritants and have no place in the vagina, often found in many commercial sexual lubricants and even some on prescription.”

2. A bullet style vibrator

“This a good first step into the world of sex toys as these are very small but powerful so offer vibratory stimulation for solo or couples play, especially if you are someone who struggles to orgasm through penetrative sex.”

3. A skin safe slim vibrator

“A slim vibrator can allow you to enjoy comfortable penetration as well as being used for clitoral stimulation too. Great for using during foreplay or when penetration is uncomfortable.”

Complete Article HERE!

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6 Essential Resources for Victims of Sexual Assault

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This Sexual Assault Awareness month, share these resources who a friend who may benefit from them.

By Katie Mitchell

[I]n the past year, more people have felt empowered to speak openly about sexual assault. As most survivors know, sexual violence is an all too common of an issue and rape culture permeates our everyday lives. As we continue to consume stories about sexual harassment, rape and violence, it’s important to not forget that survivors deal with the aftermath of assault long after an article goes viral or an interview is aired. Often times, it takes survivors decades to heal properly, but healing is possible. Below, find six resources for sexual assault survivors.

National Sexual Assault Hotline

RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, has an online hotline for survivors, their friends, and their family. When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. The trained staff member will give you confidential support and connect you with local resources, referrals, and provide basic information about medical concerns.

On Campus Resources

In recent years, there have been changes regarding how sexual assault on campus is handled. If you’re a student on a college campus, consider visiting the Center for Changing Our Campus Culture, which is an online resource that provides student-specific information regarding rights, instructions, and guidelines for when a sexual assault happens on campus, from how to file a complaint against a school, to how to help bystanders.

Anti-Violence Project

The Anti-Violence Project (AVP) is an organization specifically for LGBT and HIV-affected folks. AVP offers support groups, legal assistance, and even “arts expression groups” for victims of hate violence, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence. AVP’s direct action work is primarily in New York City.

The Network/La Red

The Network/La Red aims to end partner abuse in LGBT, BDSM, and polyamorous communities. Survivors can read through their manuals, which outline  how to identify partner abuse — especially how to distinguish consensual BDSM behavior from abuse. This organization even provides free, short-term housing for those in need residing in Boston.

Therapy

Therapy can help sexual assault survivors with their healing journey by acknowledging what happened and learning new coping skills. Most therapists have specialties, so when you’re choosing a therapist, consider asking them if they have experience working with sexual assault survivors. Therapy for Black Girls is great resource to find therapists in your area.

Healing Retreats

While most healing retreats aren’t specifically focused on sexual assault, it is so common that it’s likely to be what led several participants to the retreat. At healing retreats, you can relax, meditate, journal, do yoga, and much more in a non-judgemental environment with others who are focused on healing themselves as well.

This Sexual Assault Awareness month, share these resources with a friend who may benefit from them.

Complete Article HERE!

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Keeping the spark alive in long-term relationships

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by Whitney Harder

[I]t’s a well-known fact that sexual desire ebbs and flows throughout the life of a long-term relationship for a number of reasons. Questions like “What factors increase and decrease desire?” and “How can couples work through those factors?” have long been topics of interest for researchers and clinicians, but dozens of studies respond to those questions with different answers.

Research by University of Kentucky Associate Professor Kristen Mark brings decades of findings together to help researchers, clinicians and couples understand where the science stands in a new issue of the Journal of Sex Research.

First thing’s first: It’s okay to have low or changing desire, and it doesn’t mean your relationship is headed toward a dead end.

“Maintaining desire is complicated and multidimensional, but low desire is not necessarily indicative of relationship issues,” said Mark, director of the Sexual Health Promotion Lab and faculty member in the UK College of Education’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion.

If relationship issues aren’t causing the drop in desire, what is the cause? Mark and doctoral student Julie Lasslo identified several nonclinical factors in their study and how couples can work past them:

Gendered Expectations

Gender differences are often assumed, with expectations placed on men to always be ready for sex and expectations placed on women to be the gatekeepers of sex. “Women may express having less desire than men, but often that’s because women are not taught to pursue sex or that sexual desire and pleasure should be important to them,” Mark said. “Alternately, men are expected to be the pursuers of sex and to always be ready and willing. When they don’t fit that stereotype, it can be particularly difficult to address within the relationship.” Those expectations are played out across society, especially in pop culture, and can create issues for long-term relationships. What can couples do? Communicate with each other and acknowledge that these societal factors exist and may be contributing to the difficulty around desire—some may be entirely unaware of the influence of societal expectations.

Self-expansion is another important factor. When two individuals try to become one—how many think of a long-term relationship—”that’s a desire killer,” Mark said. It’s important to maintain a level of autonomy, where each individual focuses on expanding themselves, to have space for desire to grow. “Sexual desire is like fire, and fire needs air,” Mark said. “By becoming completely enmeshed with a partner, abandoning all autonomy, the excitement of the unknown is entirely removed from the relationship; and this can be problematic for maintaining sexual desire.”

In fact, individual sexual desire fluctuates over time, no matter what the relationship is like. Sexual desire is not a stable trait, “and if individuals and couples anticipate the fluctuation, there will be much less of a negative impact,” Mark said. For example, desire may decrease when someone experiences a job transition or faces uncertainty about their future, and may increase when children leave for school or college. “There are a variety of factors that impact individual-level sexual desire, many of which may have nothing to do with the relationship,” said Mark. “Having the expectation that these natural fluctuations exist helps to prevent negative influences of sexual desire discrepancy on the relationship.”

Individuals wanting to maintain desire in their long-term relationship can also focus on their own psyche, working to manage stress and improve confidence. “If someone is tired, stressed and lacking personal confidence, it is understandable that they may not want to have sex,” Mark said.

Of course, other factors include sexual compatibility, attraction and attitudes toward sex. So, what does all this mean? It means that desire is no simple issue, and a simple one-size-fits-all approach to the issue, such as medication, can be short-sighted, Mark said.

To help other researchers build on this topic and to help couples think about what impacts their own desire, Mark and Lasslo developed a conceptual model comprising individual, interpersonal and societal components, with individual and interpersonal factors interacting and societal factors serving as the context in which sexual desire is experienced.

“But there are still gaps to fill,” Mark said. “There’s definitely a need for more research on the complexity of sexual desire, particularly the similarities or differences of sexual desire experienced in sexual minority relationships and racial minority relationships.”

Some of Mark’s current research with her interdisciplinary team in the Sexual Health Promotion Lab is aimed at filling these gaps.

Complete Article HERE!

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8 sexual questions to ask your boyfriend or girlfriend before you get it on

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It is important to ask a few questions before getting jiggy with someone new.

Couple laying back to back in bed

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[N]o, you don’t need to treat it like a job interview unless of course that’s your thing.

But there are a few things you should find out about the person you are about to get intimate with.

Perhaps it is checking they are happy to partake in certain kinks or all important questions about sexual health and protecting yourself against unwanted pregnancy.

Lianne Young, qualified nutritionist and sex and relationship therapist, is on hand to help you work out what needs to be asked before you get it on.

1. What kind of relationship is this?

Lianne explains why this should be your first question: ‘Firstly, the most important questions to ask will help you work out if your chosen partner is looking for an emotional or physical relationship.

Make sure you are both on the same page because if one of you is looking for more or less from the relationship then it may be wiser not to jump into bed together and make things more complicated.

Sex therapist Lianne also suggests asking what they see as a relationship, for example, is it exclusive dating or can you date others?

And, if this is an emotional relationship, she suggests making sure your life goals match up before you get too involved.

Do they want children? What do they want out of life? What are their life plans?

While you wouldn’t ask the ‘kids question’ to someone you were just engaged with physically, going too far down the path with someone who wants something entirely different to you can end up hurting.

‘After all,’ says Lianne, ‘would you invest in something if you knew it was only temporary? Probably not.’

2. What protection shall we use?

‘Got a condom?’ might not be the sexiest of questions but it is the most important question to ask.

Whether it is just purely a sexual relationship or long-term commitment, once you have established where you stand it is important to both decide what protection you are going to use.

Strawberry condom in handbag

At all times use precautions and, particularly if this is a casual relationship, never believe them if they say they have regular health checks so have no STIs.

‘Remember condoms can break, so you will also need a back up plan.

‘Also, maybe one of you is allergic to latex or silicon-based condoms so you need to make sure you have the necessary protection ahead of time.’

3. Do you want to try…?

Sex is best when everyone is on the same page.

While you may want to do x, y or z in the bedroom, it is important to check that your partner is comfortable too.

Consent is incredibly important, so make sure you both agree on what you expect will happen and what you’re both happy to do or have done.

‘Remember, when it comes to sex, no one has a road map to get you to your final destination – the orgasm,’ says Lianne.

‘Talk openly about what you like so your partner can satisfy you and vice versa.

Do you like doggy style?’

‘The most important one is to remember sex is about fun not just about reproduction and it’s ok to enjoy yourself.’

If you’re a bit too shy to say these things face to face, sexting might be an easier what to start the conversation.

But always remember that what they might say to you over a text message, may not be something they would be happy to do in reality.

Start a conversation about it: ‘You said in messages you would like to [xxx], shall we try it?’

4. Does that feel good?

There’s no good you getting cramp in your tongue, thighs or whatever body part you’re straining to pleasure your partner if they are lying there wishing it would be over.

Check what you’re doing feels good for them and get them to instruct you if it could be better.

Same goes for you, if you’re not feeling a certain move let your partner know.

Be kind though ‘That feels awful’ will probably kill the mood where as ‘move your [xxx] left/right/wherever’ will help you and them out.

5. Is there anything you don’t like?

Lianne says it is important to ask because: ‘You need to know each others’ boundaries and have respect for one another.’

6. Do you play safe?

Photo Taken In Sofia, Bulgaria

If you are in a long term relationship, Lianne does not advise asking about someone’s sexual history – including their ‘magic number’.

‘It’s history plain and simple. It’s the future you should be concerned about.

‘However, if it is just a physical one then these questions are important to ask.

‘How many other partners do they sleep with, and do they play safe each time?’

Complete Article HERE!

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What is good sex?

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Here are six sexual health principles to follow

by Silva Neves

Sex is one of those topics that everybody talks about and everybody has opinions about.

[W]hat I mostly hear in my consulting room is that people don’t have good sex education and they compare themselves to what they think others do in bed.

In the absence of good sex education, what we have left to rely on is pornographic films, which is entertainment and not an accurate depiction of everyday sex, or your friends lying about their sex life being amazing.

Deep down, many people are confused about what good sex really is, and many people wonder if their sex life is good enough.

Some people criticise their sex life as ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’. Some people ask me questions like: ‘Am I normal for having a fetish?’, ‘Am I unhealthy for having lots of sex?’, ‘Do I masturbate too much?’, ‘Should I feel more sexual?’, ‘Am I strange for not liking penetration?’ And so on and so forth.

When we talk about sex, we tend to focus on the particular acts rather than on the broad view of sexuality: human sexuality is rich and varied and there are thousands of ways to have sex and be sexual. One person’s favourite sexual activity can be another person’s repulsion. How can we even begin to identify what is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy without falling into the trap of being opinionated, judgemental, critical and shaming?

I invite you to think about your sex life differently. If you want to know if the sex you’re having is good or bad, stop focusing on sexual acts and instead think about sexual health principles. There are six of them:

1. Consent: Consent can only be expressed from a person aged 16 or over, with a fully functioning brain. Consent cannot be expressed from a person who has impaired thinking under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example. Consent to exercise your sexual right to have sex with whomever you choose should be unambiguous. If there is doubt, take some extra time to have a conversation with your sexual partners to make sure the cooperation between you is clear.

2. Non-exploitation: This means to do what you and your partner(s) have agreed to do without any coercion using power or control for sexual gratification.

3. Protection from HIV, STIs and unwanted pregnancy: It is your responsibility to make sure that you are at low risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Often it requires a honest conversation with your partner, and an explicit agreement on how you are going to protect each other. If you have a STI that is infectious, it is your responsibility to put protection in place that won’t knowingly infect your partner(s).

4. Honesty: Being honest and upfront with your sexual desires and sexual needs is important. Everybody is different, and human sexuality is diverse. It is likely that your partner may not know all of what you like, need or want sexually. In fact, some people are not in touch with their own sexual landscape and all the parts of their body that is erogenous. Being able to express to your partner what you want or need is important. It can be difficult and it is a courageous conversation to have, because you can risk hearing your partner saying that they don’t like what you like. When couples stay in a place of honesty and truth, often they can work some things out between them to achieve a fulfilling sex life.

5. Shared values: It is important that you and your sexual partner are ‘on the same page’ about what is acceptable and what is not. Our values are important to us because it informs us on what specific sexual acts means to us and contributes to our motivation for having sex. Conversations about values can clarify important aspects of your sexual health which will help with giving consent to have sex.

6. Mutual pleasure: Pleasure is an important component of sex. For good sexual health, it is crucial that you make sure that what you do bring you pleasure and at the same time, to be able to hear what your partner finds pleasurable. It is a good idea to talk about it with your partner because it is not possible to assume. We usually feel good when we bring pleasure to our partners and we also feel good when we feel pleasure ourselves.

You can stop thinking about being a ‘good bottom’ or a ‘good top’. You can stop worrying about your kinky sex life being healthy or not. If you move away from opinions about specific sexual acts, there is no judgments to be made and you can ensure your sexual life to be good by meeting the six principles of sexual health.

Complete Article HERE!

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