We have sex once a week," one of my married patients told me. "Is that normal?"
She said that she was worried because she had heard a few friends talking about their sex lives, boasting about having sex every day, and even several times a night!
When it comes to sex, we all suffer from a bit of insecurity. We tend to compare ourselves to what we hear from friends, see on TV, or read in books and magazines.
This may sometimes help to make us feel good about ourselves, but it can also backfire and make us feel inadequate, just like the patient I described above!
With "Am I sexually normal?" and "Is something wrong with me or my partner?" being some of the most common questions asked by women, I thought I would address some of these issues in this article.
Is there such a thing as 'normal'?
There is no simple way for me to answer my patient's question because there is no textbook definition of "normal" sexuality or sex life.
Although sexual intercourse is almost like a mechanical process, consisting of several phases - desire, arousal, vaginal lubrication and orgasm - it is more than just the sum of its parts.
The psychological, emotional and social aspects of sex also contribute a great deal to making the experience complete.
That is why it is impossible to "score" sexual performance on a scale, because it is not just about making all the right moves, but also whether you and your partner are in the right mental and emotional state.
One person's "normal" will also be different from another person's. Some people experience higher sex drive than others, while some women rate their orgasms differently.
Even if you only orgasm once in a while, you may still find the entire experience of sex to be satisfying because your partner makes you feel good in other ways.
Therefore, there is actually no standard for "normal" when it comes to sex. You just have to ask yourself what you are happy and satisfied with.
Top sex questions
These are some of the most common sex-related questions and concerns that women have.
There may be no standard definition of what is normal, but you may find that many other women have similar experiences to yours, so you are not alone!
I find it hard to orgasm
So do many women! It is believed that most women only orgasm one out of every two sessions of intercourse.
Many factors influence your ability to orgasm, including your level of stress and tiredness, hormones and medications that you may be taking.
Often, you can predict at some point during intercourse whether you will be able to orgasm or not.
If you think that it is not going to happen, you should not force yourself to "feel" something as you will spoil your enjoyment of the experience.
I only orgasm when the clitoris is stimulated
Again, this is a true story for many women. The clitoris is one of the most sensitive erogenous zones in women, and many have orgasms that begin there.
Some orgasms can also begin with the breasts, vagina or other erogenous zones.
Even though the orgasm starts in the clitoris, it also involves contractions of the vaginal and genital muscles.
So do not worry, there is nothing wrong with having an orgasm that is triggered by stimulation of different areas.
I only orgasm in one position
You think that you want to be adventurous, but at the end of the day, you can only orgasm in your favourite position.
Well, you should not be frustrated, but instead be pleased that you have found what works for you.
It could be that your favourite position helps to stimulate your G-spot, the most sensitive area in your vagina.
Some women need to have their legs tightly squeezed together, others need their legs wide apart, and yet others may need to have certain parts of their bodies touching their partner's.
Experiment and find what position fits you best.
I orgasm more quickly when I masturbate
Many women will be too shy to admit this, even though it logically makes perfect sense. This is because women know their own bodies better.
You can have the same effect during intercourse too, but you will have to explain to your partner how you like to be touched and where.
Do you need a certain amount of pressure or speed? Do you want it faster or slower?
Encourage your partner to listen and respond to your cues, and he will soon learn to please you.
I'm not turned on when he is
This is something that a lot of women worry about, because it upsets the harmony of their relationship with their partners. Men who do not understand this will think that their wives or girlfriends are rejecting them, or do not desire them any more.
The truth is, desire goes up and down for each individual. You cannot expect your desire to be in sync with your partner's all the time.
Women experience "responsive desire", meaning that they respond to cues from the other person.
They need to be shown that they are desired and loved, in order for them to want sex.
This is in contrast to men, who experience an impulsive attraction to their partners, without requiring someone else to initiate anything.
Unfortunately, men will just have to work a little harder to show that they desire and love their partners, in order to get the same response back!
I need a little tenderness
Women need flowers and sweet words while men only need sexy visuals? This may be a bit of a stereotype, but it is partly true.
Tenderness, in the form of romantic gestures, loving words and a gentle touch, can be a powerful aphrodisiac for women.
It does not mean that the entire process of intercourse has to be accompanied by violins and roses, but women generally need a little wooing in the beginning until their sexual desire peaks.
I don't make much noise during sex
If you do not shout, scream or moan during intercourse, does that mean you are not enjoying yourself?
This is a myth, perpetuated by movies and books, which portray woman (and men) making a lot of noise during sex, especially when they orgasm.
Life does not have to imitate art, in this case. While some women may feel more comfortable expressing themselves verbally during sex, others may prefer to stay silent or to keep things at a lower volume.
You should do what feels normal for you, and not follow what you see in movies.
I only need sex every two weeks
This is a big concern for women, just like the patient I described at the beginning of this article.
Some women do not feel the desire to have sex very often, while others prefer it as often as possible.
Either way, you cannot force yourself to do something that you are genuinely not comfortable with.
This can become a problem for some women whose sexual desires do not match that of their partners.
They may then worry that their husbands will look for sexual satisfaction outside their marriage!
Expectations are very important in a relationship. You must be able to communicate with your partner to tell him how you feel and what you want. It is more meaningful to have a quality sex life with your partner, than to have sex as often as possible without enjoying it.
What is normal for you
The point of this article is to assure you that you cannot judge yourself by other people's standards. When you compare yourself to other women or other couples, you will only become unhappy because their habits and routines will not be the same as yours.
If you wonder whether your sex life is normal, ask yourself a few questions:
1. Are you sexually active?
2. If no, does that bother you or your partner?
3. If yes, then do you or your partner have a question, problem or concern about your sexual activity?
4. Have there been any changes in your sex life?
5. Do you have any discomfort or problems with intercourse?
6. Are you having any difficulties such as decreased vaginal lubrication, pain with intercourse, or diminished sexual desire?
If the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, it is time to start talking to the professionals, ie your doctor or your gynaecologist. Sometimes, all that well-meaning "advice" from friends, relatives or books may be more detrimental to your sexual confidence.