1. Recognize sex is healthy for both of you.iStock/kupicoo
"If sex is becoming a chore, try to blot out the negatives and realize instead that your bedroom athletics have a lot of positive health benefits,” says Brett McCann, senior lecturer in sexual health at the University of Sydney in Australia. “Recent research shows sex lowers the frequency of fatal heart attacks, burns calories, and decreases breast cancer in men.” Other research has suggested that for young men, having frequent ejaculations decreases the risk of prostate cancer in later life, and that people who have regular intercourse have better stress responses and lower blood pressure.
2. Forget your flaws.iStock/BraunS
If you want your sex life to be steamy, you need to love your body again. One way to feel more confident is to “disguise” common body-image issues. Why not? Celebrities and movie stars have the same flaws we do, but images are touched up and many wear shaping undergarments. Here are two bedroom ideas: A black negligee can make most tummies disappear. Candlelight is great for making any body look more beautiful. And don’t forget, many men are just as concerned about their bodies. The key is to simply relax, have fun and make the other person feel special.
3. Experiment with something new.iStock/Minerva Studio
Try novel ways to get sexually connected again, says sex and relationships therapist Pamela Supple: • Start foreplay early. Linger over a morning kiss rather than giving him a perfunctory peck; whisper something naughty in his ear; massage his shoulders briefly when he gets home. By increasing your emotional connection during the day, you’ll gradually increase your level of arousal all day and into the night. • Don’t forget the power of touch. Learn how to give a good massage (tip: rub your hands together first so they’re not cold). And have fun experimenting with some edible massage oil in, say, chocolate or vanilla. • Enjoy each other. “Have a bath together; cuddle on the couch and listen to music; experiment with sex toys; buy the Kama Sutra if you’re game, and laugh as you try new positions in different rooms,” says Supple. “Start slow and see how far you go.”
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4. Baby-proof your sex life.iStock/PeopleImages
If you’ve just had a baby, vaginal tissue is tender and hormones are haywire. So sex is probably the last thing on your mind. “Often it takes months or up to a year for women to feel comfortable about sex again,” says Supple. “And some men find themselves depressed because, all of a sudden, much of the focus is on the baby and there’s no time left for him.” So how do you baby-proof your sex life? Start slowly and create opportunities for sex to happen. At least twice a year, have a weekend away, and if you can, take a one-week holiday with just your partner every year. If you feel guilty about leaving the kids, remember they will benefit from having happy parents. “Think of time alone together as an investment in your relationship,” says Supple. She also recommends planning “sex nights.” Once or twice a month, hire a babysitter and go on a date with your partner—no matter how tired or unsexy you feel. “Go to dinner or a movie, come home with the kids hopefully asleep, turn off your phones and TV, and leave the worries of work, bills or anything else at the bedroom door.”
5. Change your medications.iStock/MarsBars
If it’s depression that’s ruining your libido—either depression itself, or antidepressants, which can dampen sex drive—tell your doctor about it. “Quite often, switching to a different anti¬depressant, or adjusting the dose of your current drug, is enough to get the libido pumping again,” says McCann. You also need to be frank with your partner, he adds. “Depression can completely kill sexual desire, so don’t feel guilty and force yourself to go further than you want to. Accept that you’ll need to move gradually; start with some kissing in bed, and see where that goes.” McCann points out that while antidepressant medications can affect the intensity of the female orgasm or cause men to take longer to ejaculate, these problems are often nowhere near as bad as untreated depression. “At least when people treat their depression they can start to have sexual thoughts again. If it’s untreated, they can go for months or years before feeling the desire for sex.”
6. Be honest about how it feels.iStock/kupicoo
For women, there are a few below-the-belt issues that can affect sexual drive, with perimenopause and menopause at the top of the list. “A lot of women suffer vaginal dryness in silence,” says McCann. While men’s sexual problems are often visually obvious, “men can’t easily tell if a woman is in pain during intercourse. And many women feel embarrassed to tell their partner sex hurts.” Try a lubricant such as K-Y or Astroglide. And tell your doctor about any pain or discomfort you experience during intercourse.
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7. Try a natural aphrodisiaciStock/romrodinka
Oysters and chocolate? It’s still not certain they work, but they might. These may also be worth a try: • Pomegranate juice. A study in the International Journal of Impotence Research found men were better able to maintain an erection after drinking it every day for eight weeks. • Coffee. If rodents are anything to go by, coffee could boost our sexual desire. One U.S. study found that caffeine-stimulated rats were more “sexually motivated.”