Monthly Archives: January 2017

Ways to Be the Best

When it comes to knowing what makes your partner tick in the bedroom, tutorials on “mind-blowing sex positions” only get you so far. To discuss a few practical ways couples can actually have more stimulating and gratifying sex, we sought out Dr. Bea Jaffrey—a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist based in Switzerland—and Mary Jo Rapini, a psychiatrist and sex therapist based in Houston. Below are some suggestions from Rapini along with tips from Jaffrey’s new book on overcoming common sex issues, 159 Mistakes Couples Make in the Bedroom.

Tell Him What Turns You On

Research suggests that better communication is key to better sex, and no, we don’t necessarily mean dirty talk. Communicating what you like and don’t like can be instructional and informative as you get to know each other’s bodies. If he’s doing something you like, say so rather than relying on ambiguous gestures or noises. And if it’s something you’re not into, communicate that or guide him in a new direction. Want to try a different angle? Suggest one. If simultaneous orgasm is your goal and you’re close to climaxing, don’t be mum about it.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Praise

In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, researchers analyzed answers from 39,000 heterosexual couples that were married or cohabiting for over three years. Sexual satisfaction reported to be higher among the couples who revealed that they gave each other positive affirmation during sex and were open enough about embarrassing moments during sex to joke about them and move on. Dr. Jaffrey notes that this lighthearted approach to sex is key, saying, “Don’t take life too seriously. Happy couples laugh together.”

“IF HE’S DOING SOMETHING YOU LIKE, SAY SO RATHER THAN RELYING ON AMBIGUOUS GESTURES OR NOISES.”

 

Keep Things Spontaneous

Even great sex can start to feel monotonous over time if it’s more or less the same old routine. To mix things up, Marie Claire’s guy expert Lodro Rinzler suggests that “if you’re in bed with someone and have a sense of something new you or your partner might enjoy, be it some teasing, a change in position, anything…go for it. Men love it when women are spontaneous and confident in their ability in bed.”

Dr. Jaffrey also recommends switching up the time and place to avoid falling into a rut of once-a-week “duty sex.” “Try new places to have sex, maybe on the sofa, in the car or on the kitchen countertops? Or how about the back row of a movie theater? Be careful though because sex is illegal in public places. Try role-playing…take a bath together. Be inventive, have fun.”

Think of Foreplay as a Long-Term Act

Jaffrey notes that setting the mood for sex is vital, for women especially, and that foreplay should start long before sex even begins: “I am talking here about the mental foreplay that happens days in advance, not the one that you have just before sex. Make sure to be attentive to your partner. Small gestures and nice comments are significant to setting the right mood for sex.” She also suggests keeping up communication during the day through texts or emails.

According to a New Study on Your Hottest

If you’ve been going through a bit of a dry spell lately, you’re not alone: Americans aren’t having as much sex as they used to, and that’s true no matter their age, gender, or wealth, according to a new study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior that found people are having less frequent sex than they did 10 years ago.

To conduct the March 2017 study, researchers at San Diego State University analyzed data from 26,000 Americans who have responded to questions about their sex lives since 1989. Overall, the researchers found that Americans had sex nine fewer times each year from 2010 to 2014 compared to 2000 to 2004. And Americans who were married or living together had sex 16 fewer times a year than the decade prior. (Cue the married-people-never-have-sex jokes.) This is a reversal from previous decades—in the 1990s, married people had more sex than never-married people, but that flip-flopped by the mid-2000s.

So why are people having less sex these days? Researchers say it’s all about having a steady partner. If you are married or living together, you’re more likely to have more sex, and the study found that there were simply fewer people with long-term partners. Combine that with the fact that partnered people were having less sex themselves, and it adds up to a whole lot less sex in America.

The numbers vary greatly depending on age: People in their 20s reported having sex more than 80 times a year, 45-year-olds reported having sex 60 times a year, and 65-year-olds reported having sex 20 times a year. And being busy at work wasn’t an excuse, as people who worked longer hours actually reported having more frequent sex. (No surprise there—getting it on is apparently good for your career.)

The cause isn’t generational, though. People born in later decades—such as millennials—actually reported having less sex than their parents and grandparents did when they were their age. And that makes sense—back in the day, people got married and settled down earlier, so they fell into the “partnered” category at a younger age.

But don’t let this info get you down! A November 2015 study found that the happiest couples had sex just once a week, which supports something you probably already knew: When it comes to sex, quality always beats quantity.

Great Tips for That Even

It’s easy enough to follow tutorials on must-try sex positions or study up on technique with the help of videos, but what about the stuff that actually makes for a healthier sex life and a better orgasm? Below, instead of simply asking experts for sex tips, we pressed them to reveal what actually works for them in bed (personal examples strongly encouraged). Because if firsthand advice from sexologists won’t get you anywhere, what can?

1. Pucker Up

“This is so simple, but so necessary…and it’s maintaining the habit of kissing my husband before he leaves the house every morning. Research has shown that this (and a kiss before bedtime) is beneficial to any relationship, and it’s a great way to stay affectionate and connected even when time doesn’t allow more. Sexually speaking, it keeps intimacy on our radar, which helps us be more responsive other actions in the bed.” –sexologist Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D.

2. Hit the Toy Store

“I’ve found one of the best ways to enhance my sex life is to introduce new products. It not only mixes things up—which we all know is key to having an expansive, fulfilling sex life—but partners get just as excited to try something new, whether it’s a new lubricant (not just for dryness or discomfort!) or the way the vibrations feel on their bodies.” –sexologist Emily Morse, host of Sex with Emily

3. Give Yourself a Hand

“Don’t forget to masturbate even if you have a partner. Enjoy solo sex often—it’s good for health and mood, and besides, it just feels so nice.”

4. Tidy Up

“Create an environment that is stress-free and reduces as many external distractions as possible. I clean, turn off the TV, silence my phone, turn off the computer, and even turn the clock away so I can’t see the time. This helps to release feel-good endorphins like dopamine, which motivates our pleasure and reward center in our brain.” —Ava Cadell, Ph.D., author of NeuroLoveology, the Power to Mindful Love and Sex

5. Don’t Focus on Your Orgasm

“It’s not always about the orgasm. There is immense pressure to be a rock-star-sex-goddess in the bedroom 24/7 as a sexologist. My partner and I will kick it old school and make out, cuddle, or give each other a nice sensual massage. There is something inherently intimate about touching your partner in all of these different ways. Try exploring their body for your pleasure. Not that sex doesn’t evoke similar feelings, but it’s a different kind of feeling. Of course, the aforementioned activities can totally be followed by orgasm-filled sex, but just those activities can leave me satisfied. It’s always reassuring that you can still feel good about the sex you have and relish in the pleasure, orgasm or not.”

Are Crunches Hurting You

Bad news if you’ve still got crunches in your workout routine: not only could the de facto ab workout be the reason you’re not seeing the toning you want, but crunches can also strain your pelvic floor, causing women to experience pain during sex.

Dr. Karla Wente, a pelvic floor physical therapist at DPT Sport in Illinois, says she never prescribes crunches because they’re just not that good of an exercise due to the pressure they put on the pelvic floor.

Doing crunches without proper engagement of your pelvic floor might actually cause leakage, says Wente. On the flipside, women who already have strong pelvic floors and are doing crunches risk over-building and over-tightening their abdominal muscles and pelvic floors. Too much strength in these muscles can make penetration more difficult and, in some cases, painful.

If you’re reading this and thinking “say no more, fam,” don’t abandon ab exercises just yet. Wente says women need a balance of strength and flexibility in the abs and pelvic floor to avoid painful sex. “Of course I want to promote physical activity and movement,” Wente says, “but as a physical therapist we are in the business of optimizing movement.”

Here’s what you need to know.

You’re probably not giving your pelvic floor the attention it deserves.

When you think about strengthening your core, your pelvic floor probably doesn’t come to mind, but it’s actually connected directly to the abs. We have four major muscles that make up our abdominals: two obliques, the rectus abdominis (AKA the six pack) and the transverse abdominis, our deepest layer. The rectus abdominis connects directly to the pelvic bone and the transverse abdominis (what you work out in pilates and barre) connects directly to the pelvic floor via connective tissue or fascia.

Crunches also won’t cinch your waistline.

Wente says there is really no literature that supports spot training—the idea where you can lose weight in one area by working it over and over. People seem to understand doing bicep curls every day with increasing weight will make biceps get bigger, not smaller, but for some reason they seem to think doing crunches every day will make the stomach smaller.

“Your crunches might be worsening [your waistline],” says Wente, “because you’re getting a larger muscle group and you’re not working the deeper muscles. The transverse abdominis actually cinches your waist.”

Finally convinced to be done with crunches? Here’s Wente’s pelvic floor-approved ab workouts.

1.Instead of crunches, try an isometric core contraction.

Laying on your back, bend your knees and put your feet on the floor and inhale, filling your low belly. This breath will lengthen the pelvic floor and abdominals. On your exhale pull in the pelvic floor and pull your bellybutton to your spine. That’s one rep. “You aren’t moving like you would in a crunch, but you are turning on and turning off [the entire pelvic floor area],” says Wente, “and that’s a much more functional way to use your muscles.”

Try two sets of 30 reps, spacing your sets throughout the day.

2.The plank position is your new best friend.

It’s a neutral position and can work your deep transverse abdominis and your pelvic floor, says Wente. Assume a standard plank position paying special attention to spinal alignment. Tighten your abs to provide stability and make sure you don’t hold your breath.

Start with 10 second planks for 10-15 reps. Progress from there but make sure you can do this basic form before moving on to modifications.

3.All about the V-Ups? Try modified planks.

Starting in a plank position, pick up your right hand and tap your left should. Put your right hand down and repeat this with your left hand to your right shoulder. Now, bring your left foot towards your center and tap with your right hand. Repeat with left hand to right foot. This takes balance, breathing and core engagement.