In a perfect world, knocking boots would always be a volcano-erupting, headboard-breaking experience that leaves us giddy for days. But the reality is that (too) many things can put a damper on our sex lives, which is why so many of us are turning to sex therapy for guidance.
Don't want to shell out the cash? These tips from our go-to love docs will help you put the kibosh on six prevalant probs.
1. Birth Control Debates
Whether you don't want to use the pill or your guy thinks condoms are a total buzzkill, the question of who should be responsible for protection can lead to power struggles in the relationship and do a number on your sex life, said Jane Greer, Ph.D., sex therapist and author of “What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship.”
The best way to combat this is to meet in the middle. Talk about why certain birth control options make you uncomfortable, and work out a plan in which you're both equally responsible for providing protection. (For example, choose a method that you both agree on and split the cost, or take turns using your preferred picks).
2. Mismatched Sex Drives
Everyone's sex drive is different, making it super easy for couples to fall out of sync with each other. The solution? Get to know each other's sexual past and make adjustments to your sexual present, said Dawn Michael, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and author of “My Husband Won't Have Sex With Me” Say your guy masturbates daily and you only do so once a week. This routine primes his sex drive to be ready for anything, while yours, well, isn't. Cutting back to every other day can bring his sex drive closer to your level, Michael said, or you can go solo more often to match his.
3. Painful Sex
"Many women engage in painful sex out of a sense of obligation, or feel that they should tough their way through the situation," said Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of “She Comes First” and “Passionista”.
While a lack of lubrication is typically the culprit, the source of the pain can also be something more serious. Vaginismus, for example, causes an involuntary tightening of the vagina during attempted sex, Kerner said. Up to 10 percent of women experience this condition, which can be made worse by fear, stress, or anxiety—emotions that are probably present if it feels like your vagina's being murdered. If another dose of lube doesn't cut it, get in touch with your gyno to find out what's up, says Kerner.
4. Laughing During Sex
Who knew that getting a case of the giggles mid-romp was such a problem?
"One person may start laughing because they feel anxious, embarrassed, or awkward," Greer said. "This can be a turn-off to your partner, who may not understand why it's happening." The best thing you can do is fess up about what's making you so nervous, which can help to neutralize your uncomfortable feelings (and keep your S.O. from taking it personally).
5. Communication Breakdowns
"Some couples have no complaints when it comes to their sex life, but every other area of their relationship is flawed," said board-certified clinical sexologist Debra Laino, Ph.D.
This usually happens because of a breakdown in communication, the effects of which can eventually trickle into the bedroom. "Effective communication isn't just about talking," she says. "It's also about being present and understanding."
To strengthen your bond, try this: Give each other 10 minutes to talk about your feelings with no interruptions—when one partner talks, the other only listens. When it's time to switch, have the listening partner acknowledge that they understand (or ask for clarification) before taking their turn. Rinse and repeat.
6. Lack of Planning
"Most couples believe that sex should happen out of the blue, which is why so many couples schedule everything except sex," Kerner said.
Spontaneous desire usually happens in the beginning of a relationship when you just can't keep your paws off each other—and unfortunately, doesn't last long. "Only one in four women experience spontaneous desire," says Kerner. "The rest experience responsive desire, meaning that arousal has to be generated first."
In other words, you're not alone if doing laundry sounds way easier than doing the dirty.
Many women assume something is wrong with them if they're not ready to get down at a moments notice. But by embracing responsive desire (perhaps by, ahem, stepping up their foreplay skills), couples will feel more secure with their sex life. Your planner just got a little bit sexier, right?