Even if your sex life is fine, who wouldn’t want it better? Quite often, surprisingly small sexual and lifestyle changes can produce noticeable benefits quickly. These quick fixes might make you sex life more enjoyable.
Use a lubricant. The myth is that only older women need them. Wrong. Wetter is better at any age. Lubricant immediately increases erotic sensitivity and arousal. It makes intercourse more comfortable for the woman and entry easier for the man. If you insert fingers or play with sex toys, lubricant helps that, too. If your lube dries out, just apply a little more. And if you’re a woman over 40 or a man involved with an older woman whose experiencing menopausal vaginal dryness, lubricant is a godsend. Don’t squirt lube directly onto the genitals. That can feel cold and jarring. Squeeze some into your hand, then apply it. Lubricants are available over the counter at pharmacies. They’re usually displayed near the condoms. I’ve always liked Astroglide.
Do it earlier in the day. Sex is not strenuous but it takes energy. Most couples fall into bed late at night and do the horizontal bop when they’re tired. But sex is less fun when you’re exhausted. Try making love in the morning or early afternoon when you have more energy. This often makes a pleasurable difference, especially for older couples.
Light candles. Play music. Do you do it with lights on or in the dark? Try candles. Candle light provides a soft shimmering glow that sets a romantic mood. Do you do it in silence? Try music. It masks ambient noise, helps lovers relax, and as it soothes the soul, it also excites the erotic imagination.
Try something new—anything. Biochemically, lust is triggered by release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. As your dopamine blood level rises, so does libido. What raises dopamine? Novelty. That’s why new lovers are so exciting, why hotel and vacation sex are often more arousing than sex at home. So try something different. Make love in a different place or with different ambiance—another good reason to use candles and music.
Take a sex toy to bed. One-third of adult American women now own at least one vibrator, but vibes are used most often for solo sex. Now an increasing proportion of lovers are playing with vibrators and other toys together. Shop together for toys that pique your interest. Many sites sell sex toys. My favorite is Mypleasure.com.
Take a pain reliever beforehand. Americans’ leading medical complaint is pain. Pain not only hurts, it’s also distracting, which can interfere with sex. If you have achy joints or chronic injuries, an hour before you climb into bed, take a standard dose of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), assuming, of course, that you can do this safely. With age, aches and pains increase and pre-sex pain relief becomes even more useful.
Use pillows. Speaking of aches and pains, sometimes lovemaking causes them. This happens when lovers, especially those over 40, hold one position for a long time, for example, when men provide cunnilingus, which can strain their necks, backs, shoulders, and arms. Pillows can make a tremendous difference. For more comfortable cunnilingus, place a pillow or two under her hips to raise her pelvis. In addition to standard pillows, you might also try bolsters or foam wedges.
Try one-word coaching. The most powerful erotic word is “yes.” Even those who find it difficult to discuss sex can usually say it. The next time you make love, when your partner does something you enjoy, say, “yes” or “ahhh.” When your partner’s moves are less than thrilling, remain silent. It rarely takes long for partners to provide more of what elicits a “yes” and less of what’s greeted by silence. You quickly get more of what you enjoy and never have to complain.
Pull out your calendars. When people fall in love, they can’t keep their hands off each other, but the hot-and-heavy period lasts only six months to a year. Then one person typically wants sex more than the other, usually the man, but in one-third of couples, the woman. Desire differences can drive people crazy and ruin sex. No wonder they’re a leading reason why couples consult sex therapists.
To resolve desire differences, sex therapists recommend scheduling sex in advance. When couples do this in good faith, the higher-libido lover no longer has to grovel, and the lower-libido partner no longer feels besieged. Over time, resentments fade, and as conflict subsides, relationship and sexual satisfaction improve.
To schedule sex, the first issue is: How often? Of course, that’s up to you, and there’s no right or wrong. But according to the landmark “Sex in America” survey, the most common frequency among couples age 21 to 40 is once a week, and for those over 40, two or three times a month. Decide on a frequency you can both live with then get out your calendars and schedule it.
Inevitably, however, the lower-libido lover objects, saying, “What if we have a sex date and I’m not in the mood?” After the hot-and-heavy period, mood rarely has much to do with it. Most lower-libido spouses are surprised to discover that when they no longer exhaust themselves fending off nightly advances, they feel surprisingly open to sex at the times it’s scheduled. Still skeptical? Try scheduling for a few months, and if you don’t like it, stop. For more on resolving desire differences, read my article.
Finally, if a desire difference has poisoned your relationship, consider sex therapy. To find a sex therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, or the American Board of Sexology.