Before the holidays, I had a chance to attend What Mama Didn’t Tell Us, a panel presentation hosted by The Purple Fig. It was a fabulously fun night of presentations and Q&A sessions about sex and pelvic health, featuring, among others, Carol Anne Austin, a sex expert and therapist at KMA Therapy. She was a wonderfully funny and engaging speaker, and I felt that she really got the crowd: mothers, rookie and veteran, who were keen to get her tips on how to keep the spark alive with their partners. Here is a distilled list of her best tips and facts.
1. The research is really clear: sexual satisfaction is highly correlated to effective communication. Talk about what’s working and what isn’t.
2. The most common problem she sees in her clients is a drop in libido as people age or are in long-term relationships.
3. The lower desire partner is much more likely to rush foreplay and initiate intercourse faster. There’s a “get it over with” attitude.
4. There is a circle of low desire: my partner wants to have sex; I don’t but I feel like I should; I’m not aroused before or during sex; I’m not that satisfied by the sex; I have a memory of having sex for someone else and not for me; sex becomes about someone else’s needs and satisfaction; I’m less likely to initiate or to feel like having sex again soon.
5. To break that cycle, you need to find a way to bring something for you back into the sex. Ask yourself what was going on when the sex was good? Do that.
6. There is no normal when it comes to the frequency of sex. Frequency is a totally unreliable indicator of sexual satisfaction. Much more important is to emphasize quality over quantity.
7. If you make time for yourself, you will have the energy for your partner. Schedule time for yourself.
8. Schedule time for your relationship. Put it on the calendar!
9. Shake up the script of sex before bed and sleep. Find a time of day when you have more energy.
10. A healthy active sexual relationship with yourself correlates directly to a healthy active sexual relationship with your partner. (A woman asked, “What if I get addicted to my vibrator?” Answer: she has never heard of that happening. Using a vibrator is far more likely to improve your sex with your partner than to become an addiction.)
11. Menopause is a challenging time for your sexual relationship. To stay engaged in sex during a hot flash, switch up the order of kiss, foreplay, penetration and orgasm. If it’s not a one way street then you can take a break.
12. During menopause, intercourse can become painful because the change in hormones causes a drop in natural vaginal lubrication. Use a lube. BUT be careful and keep an eye out for glycerine in the list of ingredients. Glycerine is a sugar and can affect the growth of yeast and cause a yeast infection.