Talking about women’s sexual health can help bring you and your partner closer together and promote sexual fulfillment. Consider this guide to discussing sexual needs.
Talking about your sexual experiences and desires can be difficult. But considering that women’s sexual health can have a ripple effect on your emotional and physical well-being — as well as your relationships — it’s a topic worth addressing. Follow this guide to discussing women’s sexual health concerns and promoting sexual enjoyment.
How to start talking about sexual needs
It’s natural to feel uncomfortable about discussing your sexual experiences and desires, but your partner can’t read your mind. Sharing your thoughts about women’s sexual health can bring you closer together and help you experience greater sexual enjoyment. To get started:
- Admit your discomfort. If you feel anxious, say so. Opening up about your concerns may help you start the conversation.
- Start talking. Once you begin the conversation, your confidence and comfort level may increase.
- Set a time limit. Avoid overwhelming each other with a lengthy talk. By devoting 15-minute conversations to the topic, you might find it easier to stay within your emotional comfort zones.
- Talk regularly. Your conversations about sexual experiences and desires will get easier the more you talk.
- Use a book or movie. Invite your partner to read a book about women’s sexual health, or recommend chapters or sections of a book that provoke thought or highlight your questions and concerns. You might also use a movie scene as a starting point for a discussion.
If you still have trouble opening up about your sexual needs or can’t resolve an issue with your partner on your own, consider turning to a doctor or sex therapist for help.
Topics to address with your partner
When you’re talking to your partner about sex, try to get specific. Consider these topics:
- Time. Are you setting aside enough time for intimacy? If you need more, talk about what you can do to change things.
- Romance. Is it missing? Talk about how romance can set the stage for sexual intimacy.
- Pleasure. Discuss what gives you individual pleasure and mutual enjoyment. Negotiate differences if one of you is uncomfortable with the other’s request.
- Sexual rut. If sex has become routine or predictable, talk about changes you might make. For instance, explore different times to have sex or try new techniques. Consider more cuddling, a sensual massage, masturbation, oral sex or the use of a vibrator — depending on what interests you.
- Your definition of sex. Sex is more than intercourse. Remind each other that it’s an opportunity for emotional as well as physical intimacy that builds closeness in a relationship.
- Physical changes. Talk about physical changes that might affect your sex life, such as an illness, weight gain, changes after surgery or hormonal changes.
- Emotional changes. Address personality traits and emotional factors that may interfere with your ability to enjoy sexual activity, such as a tendency to get distracted, anxiety, depression, anger or stress.
- Stereotypes. Discuss beliefs and expectations about sexuality. Rejecting certain myths — such as the idea that women become less sexual after menopause — can improve your sex life.
How to handle differing sexual needs
Sexual needs vary. Many factors can affect your sexual appetite, from stress, illness and aging to family, career and social commitments. Whatever the cause, differences in sexual desire between partners can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation or resentment. Talk to your partner about:
- Your sexual needs. If your emotional needs aren’t being met, you may be less interested in sex. Think about what your partner could do to enhance your emotional intimacy — and talk about it openly and honestly.
- Your differences in sexual desire. In any long-term relationship, couples may experience mismatched levels of sexual desire. Discuss your differences and try to explore options that will satisfy both of you.
If you’re concerned about your level of desire, consider reviewing your medications with your doctor. If a particular medication is affecting your comfort with sex or desire for sex, ask your doctor if an alternative is available. Likewise, if a physical symptom — such as vaginal dryness — is interfering with your sexual enjoyment, ask about treatment options. For example, a lubricant or other medication can help with vaginal dryness associated with hormonal changes or other factors.