L.O.V.E.

We live in a society that freely and unapologetically objectifies women as sex objects. And yet, sex as intercourse is often treated as taboo. We bashfully whisper to friends or anonymously turn to the internet for answers. It’s no wonder so much misinformation about the female body continues to circulate in mainstream consciousness.  As we approach this deemed day of “love”, let us candidly dispel commonly held myths and revel in the blissful truths.

Libido – Sex drive is different for everyone and can be influenced positively or negatively by various factors. Libido is often affected by hormones, thus women tend to have increased libido around ovulation (we are hardwired to procreate) and during pregnancy. So what’s normal? While there is no magic number, on average, couples are having sex 103 times per year (or roughly twice per week) for an average of 7 to 13 minutes. What’s the secret to sustaining sexual desire?  Interestingly, research suggests women who have sex semi-regularly—at least once a week—experience increased testosterone levels, which can lead to a healthier, more vigorous sex drive. Another research study published in the May 2013, found that people keep having sex when they know it’s important to their partners, and therefore to the health of their relationship. Problems with libido are common and complex for both men and women, and can be complicated by hormonal changes (i.e. contraceptives, pregnancy, menopause). A recent Indiana University study found women using hormonal contraception experienced less arousal, fewer orgasms, difficulties with lubrication, decreased pleasure, and less frequent sex. As for menopause, the ultimate change in hormones, there is wonderful news: a comprehensive survey of sexual habits in the United States, found that roughly half of women in their fifties still have sex several times a month.

Orgasm – The female orgasm is a complex orchestration of nerves, blood flow, reflexes, and muscle contractions. Its occurrence is marked by the uterus, vagina, and anus contracting simultaneously at approximately 0.8-second intervals. But the actual incidence of the reflex of orgasm has never been tied to successful reproduction. National Health and Social Life Survey found while 75 percent of men always reach orgasm during sex, only 29 percent of women report the same. In addition, most women are unable to climax through vaginal intercourse alone, instead needing clitoral stimulation. Ten percent of women have never had an orgasm.  And, surprisingly, 48 percent of women are guilty of faking an orgasm. Sex therapists generally discourage this behavior. While perhaps disappointing in some regard, the spirit of intimacy still exists. If there are identifiable barriers to achieving climax (e.g. stress, fatigue, pain, emotional discord), talk honestly with your partner and use it as an opportunity to communicate and make sex—and your relationship—better.

Variety – Intimacy and signs of affection take many forms, most couples use several. Among people of all ages surveyed, vaginal intercourse was the most common. But what showed to be most important to the majority of couples was not the how or where, but the simultaneous climax and feelings of closeness. And perhaps, contrary to widely held beliefs, the surveys also showed that most couples stick with 2 to 3 sex positions.

 

Expectations – Being open and communicating your expectations (and welcoming of your partner’s) is another secret to a happy and healthy sex life. Anticipating lulls and appreciating the fluidity of moods and compounding factors will help when things don’t go as planned. Remember a lot goes into this complex act of affection. And the happy ending? More than half of couples (and in some studies over 80%) expressed relative or full satisfaction with their sex life.

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