Did you know that sexual satisfaction has a stronger link to perceived "relationship quality" for men than it does for women?
From The Kinsey Institute:
Fact One: Sexual dissatisfaction is associated with increased risk of divorce and relationship dissolution. (Karney, 1995)
Fact Two: Across all ages, couples who reported higher levels of marital satisfaction also reported higher frequencies of sex. (Call, 1995).
Are you getting too little, too much or just the right amount of S-E-X? That is the million dollar question today. We've all heard the jokes about the infrequency of after-marriage sex. More often than not, jokes represent reality.
In an informal poll I have been conducting for the past 5 years, I would venture to say that men, by far, say they are not getting enough sex. Women say they range between just enough and too much. What is going on here? You would think that nature would have done a better job of matching us up sexually. Or did she do just fine and we have messed it up with hormones and stress and too many preoccupations with things other than sex? I ponder this often. Check the pulse on your relationship. Where do you stand? Equally or unequally sexually satisfied?
Based on fact one, we seriously need to address this in our relationships. If men are complaining about not getting enough sex, what are women doing to help them out? There are exceptions to this rule, so if you are a man reading this and your woman is telling you she is not satisfied, please listen carefully! We are sexual beings. Enjoying sexual time is a natural, normal desire. Sex has so many benefits! It connects us, feels good, boosts our immune system and self esteem, stimulates our cardiovascular system, improves intimacy, reduces pain, reduces the risk of prostate cancer, strengthens pelvic floor muscles and helps you sleep better ... plus it's super fun. If you are not having any fun, we need to talk. If you are having a great time (like "ET" in my last column certainly is), then send me your fun stories that might inspire others to hit the sheets.
Obviously there are many physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual reasons for not wanting to have sex. I've heard the stories. And with those reasons (aka excuses) comes a sense of failure and defeat that only fuels the sexual relationship death. There are ways to keep some sensual and sexual energy going in most situations. I understand that life happens. But in the midst of that life we can carve out some time to enjoy each other in the most intimate ways. For some it might be as lovely as a back or foot massage, knowing you are bringing pleasure to your partner. Sometimes it might mean you need to get creative to sexually satisfy your partner even though you are not in need. It can be a loving and pleasing act, knowing you are meeting your partner's needs. Think about the other areas we are more inclined to offer this act of love; We might watch football or boxing because it is important to our partner and in turn they might sit through Oprah with us. We are partners, on the same team, each other's safe place, remember? It is not demeaning to take care of each other sexually or any other way we need. So what is the hold up? Why are so many of you dissatisfied?
Ironically, stress is one of the biggest reasons for declining sex drive in both men and women. I say ironic because we know that sex decreases stress and increases feelings of intimacy, which in turn decreases stress. Recognizing that sex has benefits to our life span as well as our relationship longevity might help us make healthier choices. Once we get out of the habit of making sex a priority it's way too easy to let other things fill in that time and use up that energy. A great way to reawaken your sexuality is to take some time together: A weekend getaway or even just one night away from home. Personally, I really like hotel sex. Why? Because there are no distractions. No kids, dishes, laundry, computers, etc. It's just the two of you focused on each other. I would bet when you have taken that kind of time you found yourself thinking, "Why don't we do this more often? This feels so good!" So don't wait another day! Make that reservation today and get back on track.
The other common reason for a shift in sexual desire is the tiny, powerful little messengers known as hormones. Our bodies are so confused these days. Between the use of synthetic hormones (we have been taking birth control pills since 1960) and hormones in our foods, we have been inundated for many years now. We are seeing the results with increases in hormone-dependent cancers, along with an epidemic of hormone imbalances. Hormones create much of the sexual drive we enjoy; primarily the hormone testosterone. Women and men both make testosterone. With a 50-year history of birth control pills we have learned they can contribute to long-term sexual dysfunction in some women. The January 2006 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine cites that oral contraceptives lower the level of functional testosterone, even after they have stopped taking "the pill." These low levels can lead to decreased desire, arousal and lubrication and increased sexual pain. As we age, our hormones decline, creating a loss of cellular function and vital life energies. We are living longer and yet our hormones have not caught up to this new longevity. I highly recommend for those who have a decreased sex drive to seek out a reputable sex hormone specialist and learn what your functioning hormone levels are. There are many options now available and I will be writing more about this in another column soon. I have spent more than 20 years studying and working hard to understand our hormone balancing systems. If you are curious, send me your questions and concerns and I will address them for you.
Are you sexually challenged? If you are not satisfied with your sexual life, have you looked at your willingness (or unwillingness) to really hear the needs of your lover? I know a lot of women who are not interested in the "slam, bam, thank you, Ma'am" approach to sex. If this describes YOU and your partner has slowly turned away sexually, you might want to amp up the sexual creativity and find ways to seduce and please HER first! The man who gets aroused by his partner's excitement is a man who is going to get lucky a lot more often.
Just understanding the reasons for decreased sexual desire does not get us off the hook. We must address it and find a way to manage it. In reference to FACT #2: Across all ages, couples who reported higher levels of marital satisfaction also reported higher frequencies of sex. If your partner is asking to have more intimate sexual time with you and you are not willing to find a way to meet those needs, what message does that send? Here are just a few examples of what your partner hears you saying: "You are not that important to me," "Your needs don't really matter," "My lack of desire trumps your level of desire."
Which is the more reasonable request: ask your partner to suppress hormonal urges and physical needs or ask him or her to create a scenario where intimate sexual time can be provided? The number of couples who have not had sex in years is staggering. Those couples become roommates. They love each other, feel committed to each other and have a seemingly wonderful life together. That can work, if both people feel the same way and have the same sexual needs. Each partnership gets to design life the way that works for them. When you are in a loving partnership, it needs to be win-win. And I can promise you that if one of the partners is not feeling satisfied with the arrangement he or she will eventually seek satisfaction elsewhere. Come back in two weeks to read all about infidelity. Is it inevitable? Can we prevent it? Who is doing the cheating and why? Can you recover from or even thrive because of an indiscretion?
I'd love to hear from you. Please send personal stories or serious questions and concerns directly to my email, email@example.com. I will answer them privately if you wish or, with your permission, use them in future columns.
In the meantime, look your lovers in the eyes and ask them to tell you their desires. It will make for some stimulating conversation, to say the least.
Nancy Sutton Pierce RN, Health Educator is the Founding director of Nancy Sutton’s House of Yoga and Radio Talk Show Host on The Conscious Living Show LIVE every Saturday 11a-12noon on KCNR 1460am You can reach Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comment or questions.
As You Desire is proudly sponsored by Body Logic MD; helping both men and women restore their libido and vitality through hormone therapy, fitness and nutrition counseling. www.bodylogicmd.com
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