Sexual satisfaction means you’re happy with the quality and quantity of sex in your life. For loving couples, it also means you‘re happy with the amount of closeness and intimacy you have with each other.
In many relationships, the topic of sex is sensitive, particularly when it’s about not being satisfied. Often when one partner expresses their feelings of displeasure, it’s viewed by the other partner as a personal attack.
Nearly 40 percent of women say they’re having problems with sex. These problems include a lack of desire, arousal, orgasms, and pain during intercourse. Some of these problems may have a medical component. To learn more about what those are, read this.
Why Your Desire for Sex Can Change
It’s very normal for your needs and feelings about sex to change throughout your lifetime. Roles and responsibilities within the household or at work can change and put more demand on your time. Your body also changes. This can affect your emotions, mind, and spirit and in turn impact how you feel and think.
A lack of excitement for sex can also come from underlying problems, such as:
- Not having an emotional connection to your partner
- Not being able to communicate your needs and preferences
- Not resolving disagreements or fights
- Unresolved emotional hurts and woundedness
- Depression, anxiety, and underlying medical problems
These are not easy topics to discuss, which is why many couples avoid them. But if don’t talk about them, there’s a good chance frustration and resentment will build and lead to other problems in your relationship.
Talking to Your Partner About Your Sex Life
In a perfect world, our partners would know what we like in the bedroom. But the reality is they don’t always. And if we don’t share our thoughts and feelings, they may assume what they’re doing is pleasurable, when it’s really making sex very routine-like, frustrating, or unexciting. Great sex starts outside of the bedroom. It involves spending time together talking about needs, wants, and desires.
Below are basic guidelines you can use to make sexual communication with your partner easier, and more successful.
- Clarify with yourself what you enjoy about your sexual relationship and what you would like to improve. You may consider writing this down and practicing what you want to say. Highlighting both the positives and what can be improved is a good way to make the conversation feel less like an attack.
- Pick the right time and place to talk – and make it clear no judgment should be passed. If you or your partner is tired, frustrated, stressed, or angry, save the conversation for another day. Make sure you have the conversation outside of the bedroom, too.
- During the conversation, don’t attack or blame the other person, and don’t interrupt. Concentrate on your own feelings and use “I” statements when you talk. Make sure you encourage your partner to share their feelings or interests too. It's really important to provide validation to your partner at the end of each conversation. This heart felt practice sends your partner the message of “I love you and I care about what you say and feel.”
- Set a time limit for the conversation and give each other the opportunity to process what was said. Make it clear there doesn’t have to be a decision on any particular activity, but that you each remain open minded.
- Check back in after a couple days. Touch base to find out what they heard, what they're feeling, or if there’s anything they want to talk about.
If it’s really hard to talk to each other calmly and respectfully, it might be a good idea to see a marriage counselor or sex therapist to help.
Your Lifestyle and Its Impact on Your Sexual Health
For some people, a decline in their sexual health may be an indication there’s something wrong with their personal health. Below are a few health improvements you can work on to live a healthier (and maybe friskier) life.
- Eat together and healthier. Eat your meals with your partner at the table as often as you can, and enjoy each other’s company and conversation. The Mediterranean diet offers a good eating plan that focuses on consuming more plant-based foods at every meal – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and more. If you’re interested, learn more about the Mediterranean diet here.
- Exercise your body. Regular exercise can improve how your body looks and the way you feel about it, make you happier, and boost your sexual desire.
- Get more sleep. When you're tired and stressed, your cortisol levels fluctuate and both sex drive and sense of excitement can be affected. Read our article on natural ways to help you sleep better here.
- Be careful with alcohol. One glass of wine might relax you and make you feel in the mood, but too much can actually reduce sexual desire, arousal, orgasm, and the ability for men to keep an erection.
When Sex Is a Physical Problem
There may be a situation where physical or medical issues are the culprit for sexual problems. Some of the issues may have easy solutions, like using vaginal lubricants if you don’t produce enough of your own. Others may call for help from a physician.
It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if any of these things are true for you:
- Find that sex hurts
- Don’t have orgasms
- Can’t sustain an erection or ejaculate too soon
Author credit: Elizabeth Hansen, PsyD, was a contributing author for this article. She is a health psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in West Allis, Wisconsin. She provides consultation liaison services and bariatric consultations, and also has an interest in the area of sexual health. Dr. Hansen has expertise in providing psychological testing and has worked with couples and families regarding relationship issues and divorce.
The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.