Sex Ed in Small Doses

Prescriptions for Sexual Self-Confidence, Self-Esteem, and Knowledge

How to Rekindle Your Sexual Spark

Is it time to marshal your resources and get back in the game?

If the terms non-existent, apathetic, begrudging, hit-or-miss, or boring describe your sex life, it may be time to marshal your resources and get back in the game.

Solo and partnered sexual activity have measurable physical and emotional benefits, like improved circulation and sleep, reduced stress and pain, improved pelvic tone, and a greater sense of well-being. People with partners often report that sexual activity increases feelings of closeness and intimacy.

Sometimes, sex may feel like just one more demand on your body and sleep time, after you’ve attended to your family’s needs, your job, and other responsibilities. These feelings are understandable, and it’s fine to put sex on the back burner; however, if you want to get your mojo back eventually, don’t let the heat cool completely.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • When did my sexual interest start to wane?
  • Am I preoccupied with work, home, or caregiving responsibilities? 
  • Did my partner give up trying to please me, if sex was ever pleasurable to begin with? 
  • Did a health crisis make sexual activity too challenging? 
  • Am I at a stage of life when hormonal changes may affect my sex drive?
  • Did my interest in sex dip once the hormonal highs of a new relationship tapered off?
  • Have I had a physical exam within the past year, to check my health status?

This detective work may help you understand the reasons for the dip in your sexual appetite. It may be useful to talk these questions through with a partner, a friend, a healthcare provider or sexology professional.

Once you identify what caused your desire to slump, you can begin making small changes to turn up the heat. If you’ve never enjoyed sexual activity, ask your healthcare provider about medical issues and medications that may interfere with sexual desire or pleasure.

Focus on Intimacy. Intimacy sets the stage for quality sex. You can build intimacy through conversations, shared jokes and experiences, physical affection, and trust. Intimacy is important for single people, too.

Turn Back Time. Who or what turned you on at the times you’ve felt the most sexually interested and satisfied? Try to reconnect with those feelings.

Dress for Success. If your clothes carry the stains and smells of your day, it may be harder to feel sexually interested once you have time to relax. Try changing into something that energizes you and feels yummy on your skin, even if all you plan to do is snuggle on the sofa. Yummy may be different than comfortable: Consider the difference between the sensual feel of silk, satin and flannel versus the comfort of fleece, denim, and cotton.

Take Time Off. Build in some time each week when you are off work, parent duty, caregiving duty, etc., and do something for yourself. Even it it's only 30 minutes, it still counts. 

Exercise Daily. Even 15 minutes of stretching can help get your blood flowing, keep you limber, and help you get you touch with your body.

Date Your Partner(s). Build intimacy through conversation, a game, a meal, a walk/hike, cuddling, showering, and other activities that let you focus on each other.

Don’t Have Sex Begrudgingly. Fulfilling a partner’s needs is great, but if you’re left unsatisfied time and again, you’ll feel used and your partner will feel undesired. If you find yourself creating grocery lists during sex, consider what you need to get aroused. Does your partner know? If not, what's keeping you from communicating your needs?

Please Yourself. Sexual pleasure builds the desire for more pleasure, so start exploring your body and what turns you on. If you're partnered, you can share that information, by describing it, demonstrating it, or guiding your partner's actions.

It's not uncommon for sex drive to wax and wane over the month and over the years. If you want to rekindle the spark, try these tips and explore whether they help you turn up the heat.

Dr. Melanie Davis is a certified sexuality educator, professor, co-president of the Sexuality & Aging Consortium at Widener University, and author of “Look Within: A Woman’s Journal.”

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