Okay... what is sex?

 

Can we please talk about our definitions of sex?

“I can’t have sex with him”, a recent client complained. His penis was significantly too large to go into her vagina comfortably. Okay, let’s address that. And, while we were working on that, we also needed to help her redefine what it means to have sex.

 

Let's Talk About Foreplay

Daily, I encounter  many women who define “sex” as specifically sexual intercourse. As if any other forms of intimacy or pleasure are nice adornments to sex, but don’t count as “real sex.” It makes me a bit crazy when people talk about oral sex, manual sex, rubbing up against each other's bodies, playing with food or toys as “foreplay.” Forplay to what? Let’s be honest. For some people their favorite way of having sex is intercourse, but for many people that is actually not the case. Yes, you read that correctly. For many people oral sex is more fun and exciting and leads to a better orgasm. For many people using hands or other parts of the body, or a vibrator turn them on more than intercourse. Why then are we relegating all of those fabulous activities to “not really sex?” 

 

Penetrative sex isn't the only way to have sex

While penetrative sex is one way to have sex, it need not be an all or nothing proposition. There are also many reasons why one or both partners may be unable or unwilling to experience penetrative sex at a certain time in their life: medical concerns, pregnancy, erection issues, vaginal pain, even distance! But that does not in any way doom a relationship to a passionless void. 

 

So, what is sex?

Well, if it’s good for you and good for your partner, and you both are happy and satisfied, then head into the bedroom, or the shower or the living room floor and just go for it.

 

I have so much more information about this in my book Satisfaction Guaranteed. You may want to check it out.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

Two Things To Improve Your Sex Life Today

 

It happened again today

I saw a patient who is in a long-term relationship with a man she loves very much. He is warm and caring and gentle and loving. Their sex life is good… (it wasn’t when she first came here, but now it is). She and her husband have sex 1–2 times a week. She gets turned on and has orgasms and for the most part enjoys it, except…. Except that there is a part of her that doesn’t want gentle and loving sex all the time. There is a part of her that wants to be grabbed and thrown on the bed. There is a part of her that wants her husband to tie her hands above her head and push her against the wall and take her from behind. There is a part of her, the part that got turned on when she was reading 50 Shades of Grey, that wants something different from the gentle, loving sex she is currently having. And she doesn’t know what to do.

 

This is not a unique problem

This is not a unique problem. Believe it or not, I see it fairly frequently. It doesn’t always go this way. Sometimes it goes the other way. A woman wants gentle loving sex and her husband is aggressive and more demanding than she likes and that’s a big issue also. And men get stuck in this dilemma as well. But more often than not, the problem I’m presented with is that a woman wants rougher sex than she is currently having. I suppose it makes sense on several fronts.

 

We choose partners for many reasons

Hopefully, a part of that is to find someone who can support us, love us, and take care of us. Partners who are loving, solicitous, and gentle often rank up high in the relationship department. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they rank up high in the rough-sex department. Also, I think we live in a society that assumes that women want a certain kind of sex. Your partner, one of the enlightened, egalitarian set, might assume that rough sex is just not kind enough, supportive enough, or romantic enough. He might think “Of course she wants gentle, loving sex”. Isn’t that what every woman wants? That is our cultural assumption.

 

In the end, we make our decision to marry (or get into a long-term relationship) for a myriad of reasons and great sex might not necessarily be at the top, or a certain kind of sex might not necessarily be at the top. And let’s be honest, our lovers might not naturally understand what we want and it may be quite different from what we want out of the bedroom. So what’s a person to do?

 

As far as I can tell, you have two options:

  1. Talk to your partner and see, if they are open to the change. They may just be waiting for you to say the word. Alternatively, they may be taken aback that you want things that feel non-too-,- PC and that may take some negotiating. Or, it is possible that they like, or are more comfortable with, calmer, less “rough” sex and it may be difficult to change style. In any event, it’s worth a try.
  2. Or, if your partner really can’t/won’t consider a change in sexual direction, you always have the option to have sex in your head when you’re with them, and that can be a different kind of sex.

 

Okay, let’s look at the first option

See if you can talk your partner into getting with the program. This seems like the more obvious of the two approaches and it is the optimal choice. It also might prove to be the more difficult option. Talking to your partner about this means coming clean as to what you want, even if you are a tad embarrassed to admit it. Women seem to have an awfully hard time admitting to themselves, let alone telling their partners they want them to be dominated or that they want to dominate. It’s so culturally frowned upon that it takes an unusual person to recognize a desire to be thrown on the bed and controlled. Admitting it out loud is twice as difficult. But if you want this to work you have to own that part of yourself, understand it is normal and natural.

 

Communication is key

And now you have to communicate to your partner concretely, not in generalities. Saying “I’d like you to be rougher or take charge more,” might not get you anywhere. I suspect you’ve probably even tried that already. What you probably need to do is describe, in graphic detail, exactly what you want them to do to you, when, and how. And I know, that’s a bummer because part of the charge of this kind of sex is letting go and letting someone else take charge and here you are feeling like you are back to controlling everything again. Conversely, if you would like to be more aggressive, own that and talk about it. Or, if you want to role play, dress up as an alien or tie your partner up, own it.

 

Keep an open mind

It’s also important to accept that you might not get exactly what you want, but you will get a closer version than you might be getting now. And who knows? If you’re really lucky, you may unleash something in your partner that allows them to run with it. Maybe they will find a part of themselves that, until now, they’ve kept wrapped up. You’ll never know until you try.

 

And unfortunately, “really trying” does not mean one vague, theoretical conversation. “Trying” in this case means passing along books, and DVDs, raising the issue while you are having sex, making specific suggestions, and keeping them coming. And all this means you need to make sure you are comfortable with this part of yourself and don’t start backtracking and back-pedaling. “You know I didn’t mean it when I said I would get a kick out of sex in the parking lot.”

 

And another small warning. When you are having this conversation make it clear that there has been nothing fundamentally wrong with your love life until now. That you do really and truly enjoy the other kind of sex, the kind that you have more regularly. It’s just… this is something new that you want to try and build in.

 

Now the second option

The second option, having a different kind of sex in your head, is much easier and more comfortable and I’ve seen it work for a myriad of couples. This is the option where you say, tonight I really need a different kind of sex, so while my body is definitely on the bed with my lover, my brain is in my car where I’m trying to get out of a ticket with a controlling and angry cop.

 

Before I get jumped on by a host of angry sex therapists who are horrified by my suggestion that you don’t always have to stay present in your body with your current partner each and every time you make love, let me clarify. Yes, it is likely your love life might suffer if, every time you are with your partner, your brain goes on vacation with someone else. You may find yourself having a difficult time staying with your body and its normal reactions and at some point, your lover is likely to catch on if you are “away” during every sexual encounter.

 

But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m suggesting that sometimes, using your brain to access a different kind of sex than what is happening in your bedroom can be a liberating and erotic experience. And even though your brain is hanging out with dominating aliens, a stranger you just met in the bar, or the brother of the guy in 50 Shades of Grey, your body is safely at home with a loving partner.

 

What I’m saying is that there is nothing at all wrong with you, or your relationship if you sometimes fantasize about a very different, erotic encounter somewhere, far, far away, while still enjoying the tactile sensation happening right now in your very own bedroom. It’s normal. It’s natural. It’s not having an affair with your imagination, and it is not disloyal. If anything, using your brain to spice up your love life and keep you coming back to the same person and the same bed every time — that’s the important part.

 

So there you have it. Own the kind of sex you really want to try and then make it happen in reality or make it happen in your head. Either way, you don’t have to give up on the kind of sex you want!

 

I have so much more information about this in my book Satisfaction Guaranteed. You may want to check it out.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

Our Sex Drive is So Out of Sync. Now What?

 

I often hear that women feel that they are “broken”

I can’t tell you how many couples I see where the problem is that there is a significant disparity between the amount of sex they want and the amount that their partner wants.  So often this leads to  significant feelings  of guilt, anger and shame. And that can stress a relationship. I often hear that women feel that they are “broken” and that something is very wrong with them because their male partner wants more sex than they do, and sometimes they start to feel like they don’t even want it at all!

 

It is common for desire to wax and wane over time

Actually, it’s “normal” to have a different level of desire than your partner. After all, you are two different people.  It is also common for desire to wax and wane over time.  The truth is if you learn to think about sex a bit differently and you are given some practical “tools” you’d be amazed at how much the situation can change.

 

For some women, a vibrator is just necessary.

As they get older it becomes harder to have an orgasm and the vibrator makes it easier (or possible.) Because having an orgasm is so much easier for them, many women in this situation talk about how “it takes the stress out.” Some of them describe a situation where during sex they had been so focused on “getting to the orgasm” and “what happens if I don’t have one?” that it had taken the fun out of sex and the vibrator let them relax and enjoy themselves. Here’s some advice: If you are in this category of women, use the vibrator when you are having sex with your partner, it will make the sex more fun and less stressful. Your partner won’t have to “work so hard,” you won’t feel so guilty for making your partner “keep at it,” and your orgasms will probably be stronger.

 

Low Desire vs. Spontaneous Desire

It is important to remember that often women with “low desire” might actually not have low desire, but what they might not have is spontaneous desire, desire that kicks in spontaneously with no outside help from you.  The same woman might still have great responsive desire, “where your desire is in response to something.” 

Your creative powers can come into play regarding responsive desire. Writing a sexual menu of activities you are interested in doing or exploring, things you are curious about, and things you are not interested in pursuing, is a great tool. You can also just create a yes/no/maybe list.

 

The game changer

Sometimes, just tweaking the time for sexual activity can be a game changer. Making the decision to be intimate, rather than waiting until both of you are in the mood, can save you a lifetime of waiting and wanting.

Not only is knowing this a key to start changing things, but understanding that this is normal and common can also help the feelings of brokenness and shame. Like any other area of sex, understanding your body, what is happening with your partner and getting key pieces of information will empower you, increase sexual confidence and help you create the sex life you want.

 

I have so much more information about this in my book Satisfaction Guaranteed. You may want to check it out.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

The Case For Vibrators

 

Vibrators have taken a bad rap.

Truthfully, they can be the most useful and easy tool in a woman’s sexual arsenal. And yet, vibrators have been relegated to the sidelines. Is it because sometimes women think of them as “kinky?” Is it because women are afraid that the use of a vibrator will make their partner feel inadequate? Is it because women feel like there is something wrong with them if they use a vibrator? Is it because they are afraid that they will become dependent on a vibrator?

The reality is that vibrators are not “kinky,” (whatever kinky is…frankly I haven’t heard a great definition for it; mostly it seems to be a word used for something you haven’t really tried yet) and there is nothing “wrong” with a woman who uses one.

 

Vibrators aren’t just for masturbation.

They are often used in partner sex as well, either before intercourse, after intercourse, or instead of intercourse.

The bottom line is that a vibrator can give a longer, stronger level of stimulation than a hand, a mouth or a penis can. Here’s one of my favorite statistics (and once you hear it from me, I promise it will start to blink at you from everywhere) 30% of women can have an orgasm from a penis in the vagina alone. 70–80% of women can have an orgasm from a hand or a mouth. And a whopping 94% can have one with a vibrator.

 

For some women, a vibrator is just necessary.

As they get older it becomes harder to have an orgasm and the vibrator makes it easier (or possible.) Because having an orgasm is so much easier for them, many women in this situation talk about how “it takes the stress out.” Some of them describe a situation where during sex they had been so focused on “getting to the orgasm” and “what happens if I don’t have one?” that it had taken the fun out of sex and the vibrator let them relax and enjoy themselves. Here’s some advice: If you are in this category of women, use the vibrator when you are having sex with your partner, it will make the sex more fun and less stressful. Your partner won’t have to “work so hard,” you won’t feel so guilty for making your partner “keep at it,” and your orgasms will probably be stronger.

 

For some, it’s just easier and faster.

And you know what, for whatever reason easier and faster may be important at this time in their life. (Ever try having sex after you put your 2-year-old to bed and before your newborn wakes up for a feeding? Trust me, it gives new meaning to the term “quickly”). And for some women, a vibrator is just plain fun!

And don’t tell me that a vibrator is “unnatural.” Phooey! So is the electric light bulb. We don’t live our lives by candlelight in an attempt to “remain natural.” Use the vibrator if you like it.

 

So… what’s stopping us?

The bottom line is that vibrators make having orgasms so much easier and in many cases more intense. They also may make it possible for many women to have more than one orgasm. So if you think you fall into any one of these categories, go back and dust off your old vibrator. Or go find yourself a new one, and have fun!!

 

I have so much more information about this in my book Satisfaction Guaranteed. You may want to check it out.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

To Take the Pill, or Not to Take the Pill…It’s OK to Have Questions

 

Here's what we know

In 1961, the FDA approved the use of female oral contraceptive pills (commonly known as birth control pills) and the world has never been the same. Currently, there are well over 60 different birth control pills on the market, and an estimated 12 million women in the United States use birth control pills. For most women, birth control pills work very well. They are inexpensive, efficient, effective, and take so much of the fear of unwanted pregnancy out of the equation. However, there is a group of women who really don’t do well on oral birth control, and often the side effects are overlooked, or women don’t even realize that the side effects that they are experiencing are from their birth control!

 

The side effects

What side effects? It’s clear now that hormonal birth control pills can create low desire, decreased arousal, dryness, and even pain. I have had so many patients tell me they wondered if their birth control pills could be contributing to their sexual problems, but they figured that since they were never told about these potential side effects by their prescribing practitioner then it must be all in their head. And they are angry about that. And who can blame them? “Why wouldn’t my doctor tell me?” or “I would have stopped the pill years ago when this first started if I had known that this could be a problem,” they will say. Sometimes the problem has been going on for years and they are just realizing the causes now.

 

The Irony

So, ironic as it may seem, the little pills you started because you were having sex, are now what could be the reason you don’t want sex anymore. Birth control pills suppress hormones in your body to prevent you from ovulating and preventing pregnancy. But they also suppress your natural production of androgens, specifically testosterone. They also increase the production of SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin), a protein that will bind to testosterone and make it unavailable for your body to use. Testosterone is the hormone most closely linked to driving a woman’s libido. The birth control pills reduce your testosterone levels significantly. (This is also why birth control pills will help clear your skin).

Women are starting birth control pills at younger ages, and it is not uncommon for women to be on birth control pills for 10–15 years. While it is perfectly safe for women to stay on birth control pills for many years, it is unclear what kind of effect this long-term use has on a woman’s libido. Some research has shown that even after discontinuing the use of birth control pills, women still have not regained their libido.

 

If you’ve been looking for a non-hormonal birth control, there are a few options you can consider:

  • Condoms and diaphragms (yes, they are still making diaphragms although they can be hard to track down.) are good straight-forward options.
  • Some IUDs are completely hormone-free. And even the ones that do have hormones, only have “local” hormones, that should not affect you systemically.
  • As of September 2020, the FDA approved a vaginal gel contraceptive (Phexxi) which is significantly more effective than spermicides. It is a cream that is made of lactic acid (which is naturally produced in the vagina and is found in dairy products like yogurt and kefir) and potassium bitartrate (used in cooking as cream of tartar) It’s inserted into the vagina (with an applicator) an hour before intercourse. It keeps the vaginal pH levels steady and moderately acidic, which effectively kills any viable sperm.

 

So, here are the most important takeaways:

  • Birth control pills work for many women with no side effects.
  • If you are having symptoms of low desire, problems with arousal, or pain in your vulva/vagina and it seems to correspond with starting to take birth control pills, you are not crazy. It probably is related to them.
  • If you discontinue the birth control pills it may help the problems but it may not be enough. You may need additional help to “fix the problems.”
  • There are definitely options out there if you want to explore non-hormonal methods of birth control. You just have to keep an open mind.

I have so much more information about this in my book Satisfaction Guaranteed. You may want to check it out.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

One of The Most Effective Ways To Improve Your Relationship

 

There is research showing that marriages with good sex tend to be happier marriages.

But of course, this begs the question: Is it the good relationship that produces better sex or is it better sex that results in a better relationship? As a sex therapist, I’d say that the answer is more complicated than you might think. And just like “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” I can argue that both are a bit true.

The idea that sex creates greater intimacy sometimes gets lost in our society which seems to have decided that the only way it “should” work is the other way, with closer intimacy encouraging good sex. If you go to a traditional couple’s counselor because you and your partner are having sexual problems, often the counselor will suggest working on the rest of the relationship and focusing on communication issues, with the assurance that good sex will follow.

Essentially, it seems like we’ve bought into the narrative that sex always follows the relationship and intimacy. How many times have I heard something like this from my clients: “We went to a couple’s counselor. She told us we should work on the relationship and then when the relationship was stronger, we’d have better sex. Well, the relationship is pretty good right now, except we’re still not having sex and honestly, that is creating problems!”

 

Ironically, there is often even a subtle bias against using sex to create intimacy.

“She only slept with him to get him off her case.”

“I’m not gonna have sex if I don’t feel close to him.”

“I can’t believe she had sex with him when she wasn’t in the mood.”

These are phrases we hear often spoken critically and just accepted as “the way it should be.”

But maybe that is a bias that is worth re-examining.

Of course, if one person really does not want to have sex at a particular time or place, that is always their right, and to suggest otherwise is to open the door for abuse. Let’s start with an assumption of a mutually respectful relationship. It is important though, that we acknowledge that it is also perfectly acceptable to suggest that sometimes when you are in neutral or “slightly negative zones” or if you are just plain feeling lazy, it may be a good thing to see if you can turn that around and have a fun, fulfilling sexual encounter anyhow. Because here’s the real deal, sex in a relationship is a good thing.

Many of us in the field know that sex affects relationships, big time. And hard as it may seem to accept, I have seen many relationships improve dramatically as the sex improves.

 

Good sex promotes intimacy, laughter, joy, and acceptance. Good sex makes people feel loved and appreciated.

One of the themes that tend to show up time and again in my practice as I speak to women is this: If I come home and find my partners (fill in the blank: dishes in the sink, socks on the floor, wet towel on the bed) and we have had good sex recently, I just (wash the dishes, dump the socks and hang the towel) and laugh. But if we haven’t had sex in a long time, I want to (smash them over his head/stuff them down his throat/strangle him with it).

The truth is that sex can be the glue that holds a couple together as a couple, rather than just roommates.

It sets the stage for being more open to paying attention, for listening, for trusting, and for talking. The bottom line is that good sex in a marriage often just makes everything better. Maybe if we start to think of sex, not only as a means of expressing intimacy when it already exists but rather as a tool to help reintroduce or recreate intimacy it might give us a new, more practical framework. So many times I see couples with sexual issues get stuck in a complicated tangle of “working out issues,” or “working on their communication” which can take years. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.

Ironically, I often see couples have gone down rabbit holes trying to patch up the normal irritation and annoyances of long-term relationships simply because they assume that must be what is causing their sexual problems, rather than addressing those sexual problems head-on. And sometimes I see couples spending months or years focusing on solving problems that were actually caused by the lack of sex!

 

When you get the cycle moving in a positive direction,

that is when you help a couple move back into the bedroom, often that behavior can begin to heal a relationship and put it back on track. What follows, as a result, can be more intimacy and better communication. Perhaps we should all be more open to using sex to help heal a relationship. Sometimes a behavioral answer can address a problem more directly and quickly than a long-term analysis.

So, before you are quick to dismiss the idea of sex because you are not “in the mood,” or things have been tense with you and your partner recently, consider the idea that sex may help heal and build the intimacy between the two of you. I’ve seen it work with so many clients and it’s certainly worth a try.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

Vibrators and Vaginismus

 

Besides starting with a V, most people would probably say that vibrators and vaginismus really have nothing to do with each other. But I’m here to tell you otherwise.

 

Let’s start with a quick review

Vaginismus is a condition where a woman can’t get anything into her vagina without pain. Sometimes she can’t get anything in at all, even a finger, a tampon. Sometimes she can get smaller things in, but not a penis without having significant pain. Vaginismus is often due to tight muscles but also had some psychological factor, because the brain starts to connect the idea of penetration with pain and that creates a cycle.

Often, when we think of vibrators, we think of the models that go inside a vagina and, as a result, we don’t usually think of them as something women who are suffering with vaginismus would be interested in using. Think again.

First of all

While most women with vaginismus primarily work with dilators (cylindrical shaped sticks that gradually  increase in size as the vaginal muscles stretch) , as they move through the small sizes, the truth is that dilators can get boring, and even irritating in their clinical sterility. And the right size internal vibrator can be a great change of pace.

Interesting colors, different shapes, and materials and the buzz or vibration can be fun too for a woman who’s dilating nightly. Also, as you get more comfortable with having something inside the vaginal canal, the vibrations can get the vagina back into working order faster by stimulating the muscles and the blood flow.

In general, blood flow makes everything “work better” and the vagina is no exception!

 

Now what about good ol’ external vibrators?

Here’s where you need to think outside the box. Just because you are not having intercourse does not mean you shouldn’t be having sex, either by yourself (sex for one) or with your partner! And you know I always say that an external vibrator is one of the best tools available to make sex (for everyone) easier, more fun and accessible.

 

So here’s the most important thing to remember

Just because you have vaginismus,- or maybe you don’t have vaginismus but you have other pain- that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy vibrators. Au Contraire my friends! Go out and get thee a vibrator.

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

The Project of keeping Your Sex Life Alive - Part 2

 

Here are 3 WAYS TO MAKE SPACE FOR SEX:

 

CLEAR THE SPACE

Because it’s the room I’m least likely to show guests, I tend to treat my bedroom like extra storage space. It’s also the room in my house least likely to get vacuumed. But prioritizing your sex life means treating the bedroom like the crown jewel of your home. Founder of the design company AumHome, Nidhi Huba recently spoke to SheKnows about how to feng shui your room for sex. Huba suggests clearing unsexy things like dead plants, dirt, and dust first.

 

SET A TONE

Huba also emphasizes adding two of anything: lamps, candles, night tables, and working with the five senses. Choose colors based on what you want in your sex life. Reds increase energy. Blues calm. Greens encourage heart-centeredness and prosperity. “Go beyond just colors,” Huba adds. “Really try to use every sense. I love encouraging my clients to switch to soft sheets, cozy blankets and soft rugs. Work with room sprays and spritz a mix of sandalwood, cedar, rose and vetiver over the bed.”

DITCH THE DISTRACTIONS

“People get sucked into social media and work emails and before you know it, an hour has slipped away and it’s too late to get amorous,” says Bat Sheva Marcus, LCSW, MPH, PHD, and clinical director of Maze Women’s Sexual Health.

Smartphones aren’t the only distraction you may need to clear out of your bedroom, but they are a common distraction. I can think of a million excuses to bring my smartphone to bed, from reading myself to sleep to waking myself up, but none of those activities are any good for my sex life.

“I know it’s hard, but try to keep the smart phones out of the bedroom,” Marcus suggests. “Invest in an old fashioned alarm clock, if you need to be woken up. But if you keep the phones out of the room, you’ll be amazed to find you have freed up so much time for talking and snuggling, not just sex. And if that seems like too big a barrier, then at least use the rule on weekends.”

Where you have sex matters, and it’s possible you used to think about it more than you do now. If you have your own home and you’ve got no kids or grown kids, the tension about where to have sex may be gone. That doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about where you have sex. On the contrary, this is an ideal time to think about making your bedroom a great place to have sex.”

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

The Project of keeping Your Sex Life Alive - Part I

 

The woman who edited my dissertation Kristy Lin Belluni once told me the following:

“When I was a teenager, I used to babysit my cousins so my aunt and uncle could go out and have sex in the back of their minivan. I remember hanging out with my aunt while she prepared for one such outing. She lined the van’s backend with blankets and spritzed it with Calvin Klein’s Obsession. She raised one eyebrow at me and said, “Don’t tell your mom this is what we do when you babysit.” Because of my aunt, I learned early on that keeping a sexual relationship alive meant putting effort into having sex, making a place for it, even in the busiest of times.

 

When I was a teenager and a twenty-something, my biggest sexual problem was space. For me, “not supposed to have sex” meant I had sex in cars, campers, dark rooms, dugouts, and broom closets.

 

I remember that place-focused sex fondly. For a lot of people, the tension around sex you’re not supposed to be having, the tension that causes you to have sex in crazy places, makes sex exciting. Maybe that’s why there’s a juicy cocktail called Sex on the Beach and why people like to boast membership in “the mile-high club.” 

 

Tension can make sex more exciting, but the effort to create space for sex makes it pretty awesome too.

You don’t have to be hiding your sex life from your kids or your parents or anyone to put some thought and effort into where you have sex.

 

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about ways to actually make Space for Sex. Stay Tuned.

 

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted

Let’s Rethink Our Birth Control

 

Alrighty then, let's dive into everyone’s favorite topic: the wild world of birth control pills!

Back in 1961, the FDA gave the green light to those little magic pills, a.k.a. birth control pills, and boy, did they change the game! Nowadays, you can find over 60 different types on the market, and believe it or not, a whopping 12 million women in the U.S. are rockin' them to prevent unwanted pregnancies. For most women, these pills are like superheroes - affordable, efficient, and super effective. No more freaking out about surprise pregnancies, hooray!

 

But hey, hold up - not all women are best buds with these oral birth control pills.

Some just don't get along with 'em, and some literally hate them. And the side effects? Oh, they're real! Unfortunately, these side effects often get swept under the rug, or worse, women don't even realize that their birth control is causing the problem.

 

So, what are these pesky side effects, you ask?

Turns out, hormonal birth control pills can mess with your mojo.. They can mess with your desire, arousal, and even cause dryness and pain. Lots of my patients have shared their frustration, wondering if their pills were behind their sexual woes. But here's the kicker - since their doctors didn't warn them about these potential side effects, they just assumed it was all in their heads. And that makes them pretty mad, and rightfully so "Why didn't anyone tell me this could happen?" they wonder. Some have been dealing with these issues for years before finally connecting the dots.

 

Ironically - those tiny pills that were supposed to spice up your sex life might just be the culprits for killing your desire!

You see, birth control pills work their magic by suppressing hormones to stop you from ovulating and prevent baby-making. But in the process, they also mess with your natural androgen production, like testosterone. And you know what? Testosterone is a critical hormone for driving a woman's libido. So, when these pills tamper with your testosterone levels, it's no wonder your desire can take a nosedive. Bummer, right? (On the bright side, at least they help with skin issues!)

 

Here's another twist

More and more women start taking birth control pills at younger ages, and they end up staying on them for 10 to 15 years or even longer. While it's generally safe, we're not exactly sure what long-term use does to your libido. Some studies suggest that even after stopping the pills, some women still struggle to get their groove back.

But here’s the good news

If you're on the hunt for non-hormonal birth control options, there are some good options to explore:

    •  Condoms and diaphragms are classic options that still do the trick.
    • Some IUDs are hormone-free or only have "local" hormones that shouldn't mess with your whole system.
    • Oh, and as of September 2020, we've got a new player in town - the FDA-approved vaginal gel contraceptive called Phexxi! It's more effective than old-school spermicides. This little cream, made of lactic acid (you know, that stuff found in yogurt and kefir) and potassium bitartrate (a cooking ingredient known as cream of tartar), gets inserted into the vagina about an hour before the fun begins. It keeps your vaginal pH levels steady and acidic, killing any rogue sperm that dare to enter!

 

So, here's the lowdown

Birth control pills work like a charm for many women, no side effects and all!

 

    • But if you're experiencing low desire, arousal issues,  after starting these pills, you're not crazy - it's probably connected!
    • If you decide to ditch the pills, it will probably help, but it could take some extra help to get things back to normal.
    • And guess what? There are some fantastic non-hormonal birth control options out there! Just keep an open mind and explore your choices.

 

There you have it, my friends. The fabulous world of birth control pills and how they can play with your body and desires. Remember, you've got options, so stay informed and take charge!

 

(And read more in my book: Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have The Sex You’ve Always Wanted.)

 

 

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Written By

Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

Sex Therapist & Relationship Expert  |  Author of Sex Points & Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Have the Sex You've Always Wanted