The benefits of sex extend beyond the bedroom. In fact, a roll in the hay can improve your heart health, boost your immunity, and more. Plus, regular romps with your partner create an intimate connection that’s crucial for a healthy relationship.
But if you’re not always in the mood to hit the sheets, you’re not alone. Many women have fluctuating sex drives, which may be a result of larger issues, says Ian Kerner, PhD, a psychotherapist and sex therapist in New York City. "In some ways, sexual desire is a barometer of your overall health," he explains. "If someone comes in with a low libido, it can often be an indication that something else is going on emotionally or physically.”
So how can you break through these bedroom barriers and create more heat between the sheets? Read on to find out what women really need to feel happy and healthy in their sex lives.
1. An Honest Sexual Health Talk With a Partner
No one likes the uncomfortable, "When was the last time you were tested?" talk, or a discussion about previous partners or birth control. But women are happiest in bed when they feel safe, so don’t be afraid to ask about your partner’s sexual history. You can even put a positive spin on the discussion, says Dr. Kerner. You might say something like, "I find you really sexy, and I'm interested in a relationship with you. But for me to fully enjoy myself, I want to talk about about our sexual histories and get on the same page about safety." If your partner isn’t open to the discussion, he or she may not be the right person for you.
2. The Right Products to Make It Comfortable
While it's widely known that women of a certain age tend to experience vaginal dryness, the truth is that even younger women can struggle with it. To make things more comfortable, try using a lubricant; just be choosy about the kind you purchase since there are key differences among them. Kerner, who recommends the natural, water-based lubricant Sliquid, also stresses the importance of foreplay so you can lubricate naturally. "You could be aroused physically but not mentally, or vice versa, so you may just need to give yourself more time to warm up," he explains.
3. The Ability to Ask for What You Want in Bed
It can be intimidating to share sexual desires with a significant other. “If you feel uncomfortable, frame what you want in the form of a fantasy," suggests Kerner. For example, you could tell your partner you had a daydream about how you two used to make out like teenagers. "Try to use arousing, stimulating language,” he says. “Doing so will help lead you to the kind of sex you'd like to have."
4. A Workout Routine That Strengthens Sex Muscles
Kegel exercises can work wonders to strengthen the pelvic area, making for better and more intense sex and orgasms. When boosted, the kegel muscles, which wrap around the vagina and anus in the shape of a figure eight, help strengthen your pelvic floor, which supports all your pelvic organs. Doing the exercises properly can deliver results such as heightened arousal during sex, better blood circulation, and even the ability to produce more lubrication.
5. Trust and Emotional Security
It's hard to have a carefree romp if you feel disconnected from your significant other or worried about your partner's fidelity. If you think your partner may be having an affair, it’s important to address it. To start the conversation in a non-confrontational way, Kerner suggests saying something like, "I feel like we haven't been connected lately, and you're always on your phone or texting. It just makes me feel a little unsafe in the relationship.” Then explain that you want your relationship and sex life to be a priority because you value them.
Both new and long-term relationships can suffer if a woman doesn't feel good about her body going into a sexual encounter. While it's easier said than done, try not to worry about stretch marks or a few extra pounds, and focus on staying in the moment. "You want to be in a relaxed place where your brain really deactivates, so you can experience full arousal and orgasm," says Kerner. Consider changing the lighting if it’s not flattering, or finding lingerie that makes you feel sexy.
7. The Right Diet for a Healthier Body and Increased Sex Drive
Studies show that loading your plate with certain foods can help you feel sexier. Research from Texas A&M University in College Station shows that phytonutrients found in watermelon can relax blood vessels, which may in turn boost your libido. The same effect can be seen from foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges and carrots. Research shows that the vitamin increases circulation, which may help improve sex drive in women.