By Merlene Michael
TO SPICE up things in the bedroom, a couple's first instinct is to turn to massages, scented oils, lacy lingerie and maybe a sex toy.
Many couples don't know that the secret to a satisfying sex life is intimacy through better communication and mutual understanding.
Sex therapists say that it takes a great relationship to have a great sex life and good communication brings you and your partner closer together. Sex is not just about intercourse, and if a couple cannot communicate well, sex will suffer.
Professor P. Ganesan Adaikan, a clinical sexologist with the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at the National University Hospital, says that issues such as misunderstandings, lack of trust and aggression as a result of stress may take away the desire for intimacy and sex.
Hence, couples should improve communication and strengthen the relationship with their partners to increase the mutual desire for sex, he says.
"Talk to your partner freely about yourinterests and aversions and what turns you on and what puts you off during foreplay. Warm up to the occasion and increase your arousal and fantasies during foreplay and intercourse."
However, Prof Adaikan advises against "rushing for the 'main course' as achieving good sexual arousal will help you reach orgasm".
What you should avoid is sexual intimacy on a day when you are exhausted and not in the mood for it. This is a common problem which can ruin the bedroom connection.
Some things you mustn't do:
- Do not belittle your partner about performance, body image and other negative contexts during sex;
- Do not bring contentious issues into the bedroom; and
- Do not use sex as a tool.
Also, do not delay visiting a specialist if you or your partner continue to encounter sexual difficulties, adds Prof Adaikan, as failure to do so can contribute to friction, boredom and avoidance.
Is it true that a good sex life is one based on quantity rather than quality?
Says Prof Adaikan: "In general, the quantity of sex is related to the frequency of successful sexual encounters, which can continue to decrease as one ages. The reason for this is mainly ageing and decrease in hormonal levels."
He says that newly married couples in their 30s may need sex three times a week and this can progressively decrease to about once a week or twice a month when they are in their 60s.
Most couples are not unhappy with the decline in sexual engagements as they age. In fact, because of their years of experience, they may enjoy the quality of sex even more.
"But if a young couple is attempting to have sex just once a month or once in six months, they should seek professional support," he adds.
Help is also at hand for people with sexual problems which can cause friction and dissatisfaction in the bedroom. These include erectile and ejaculatory problems in men and arousal, orgasmic and pain disorders in women.
Pay attention to stress management, good diet, physical fitness and exercise as these play a big role in sexual desire. Take good care of your health or your sex life could suffer.
This story was first published in Health & You, The Straits Times, on July 2, 2008.