Sex is important—you'd be surprised at all the unexpected health benefits regular sex offers
. "Investigate and learn how sex is fundamental for our physical and mental health and serves much more than reproductive and gratification functions," suggests William Kolbe, EdD, author of The Rejuvenating Power of Masturbation
. "One way to do this is by exploring both solo and paired sexual activity to stimulate your major endocrine axis and nervous system, which manage all your major body functions." The sex hormones are involved in maintaining muscle and bone mass, male and female characteristics, sex drive, as well as certain cognitive functions and memory, he adds. Understanding how your body works is a good first-step into truly enjoying sexual activity.
Insure you're in optimal health
It's important to remember that sexual health and general health go hand in hand. "Prevention and treatment of typical chronic diseases are clearly associated with better sex,"adds Alyssa Dweck MD, ob-gyn in New York City and author of The Complete A to Z for Your V
. "For example: Are you too tired for sex? Get checked for anemia (low blood count) which can cause significant fatigue and shortness of breath for some, and treat if needed with iron-rich foods or iron supplements." If you're suffering from vaginal dryness and pain during sex, she also notes that untreated hypertension
(high blood pressure) or coronary artery disease may be the cause. "Insure you don't have diabetes and treat if you do, as out of control sugar levels can lead to chronic vaginal yeast infections which can cause itching, discharge, inflammation and discomfort during sex
Go back to the basics
"When people have let there be a growing distance in their intimacy—and this can be as simple as kissing and cuddling—being affectionate and intimate with one another becomes awkward," explains Nikki Martinez, PsyD, psychologist and clinical professional counselor. "It might seem like you will never be able to overcome this feeling, but nothing could be further from the truth—you just need to go back to the basics of where your attraction for one another started, and work your way up." In other words, act young—make out, but don't have sex. Create anticipation and attraction and the rest will grow and follow, she says.
Set the mood with foreplay
You've most likely heard about the importance of foreplay, but a recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research
backs this point up even further. Researchers found that both male and females experienced more pleasurable orgasms when sexual arousal and desire was peaked through foreplay
. But this foreplay doesn't have to be sexual in any way. "The relaxation of getting a massage, spending time together or enjoying a candlelit dinner definitely help spark your sex life if you're having a drought," says relationship and etiquette expert and author, April Masini
OK, we agree that this one sounds bizarre, but a study in Sweden
found that women had more difficulty achieving orgasm when their feet were cold. This is definitely a good reason to ask your partner for a relaxing foot massage before foreplay—or at least to get toasty together by the fire!
Make a bedroom bucket list
Masini suggests doing this activity over a bottle of wine, with the plan to carry it out over the next six or twelve months. "Just brainstorming and discussing what you have always wanted to do and never brought up, is sexy," she explains. "You can make an oral list, a written list or put your wishes on note cards in a fishbowl and once a week, or once a month, dip in and do what's on the card you pull out." This is the kind of thing that works at any age—don't buy the myths about sex after 50
Rent a hotel room for a night
Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
Hotel sex is tried and true, Masini says, whereas your home has implications that aren't sexy—from your kitchen that reminds you of all of the dishes that need to be done to your bathroom where you might find those pesky beard trimmings you've been complaining about. "Getting out of the house, out of town or out of the country if you can afford to do so, is a great way to spice things up," she says. " If it works (and it will), make it a regular thing, switching up the get away."
Find out what's holding you back
Masini suggests working backwards from what may be stopping you from having the sex life you want. "If it's stress, break it down and name your top three stressors, and then knock them out," she says. "If it's feeling that you're a little overweight, join a gym and get rid of that extra weight by working out and then eating well." The gym itself can be a libido stimulator
. If it's kids, she recommends getting a regular babysitter or get your kids a regular sleepover date at a relative's house.
Masturbation is a mainstay of both modern sexuality—and modern sex therapy. Not only does it help you understand what you like and what feels good for you sexually, but research also suggests that it's good for your health. Studies have found that masturbation can stave off depression
, reduce the risk of cervical cancer in women
and lower the risk of prostate cancer in men
. "Masturbation is a means to kindle our eroticism, explore our erogenous zones and enhance our libido," says Kolbe. "The better we love ourselves, the better we can love others."
Make sure you know your letters "G", "A" and "O"
No, we're not talking about the basic alphabet, but rather the lesser known "hot" spots similar to the G-spot. "There is another spot named the A-spot past the G-spot, just above where the cervix is located in the vagina, and another on the opposite side below the cervix, known as the O-spot," says Steve McGough, DHS, director of Research & Development at Women and Couples Wellness, LLC and associate professor of Clinical Sexology at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. "If your partner learns how to properly stimulate these areas both with their fingers, and through intercourse, it will take you to a completely new level of experience."