THE kids are in bed, the dishwasher’s on and it’s finally the moment to have some quality time between the sheets.
But as you undress and things begin to get physical, you can’t help thinking about your never-ending to-do list.
GettyWith the rest of the year ahead of us, it’s time to gain confidence, meet your needs and get your sex life back on track…[/caption]
Sex changed for a lot of us during the pandemic – blame homeschooling and that general feeling of being overwhelmed – and it’s a shift that’s still being felt.
Tiredness, mental health issues and negative body image are among some of the main reasons why Brits report having less sex. And when we are having it, just 54% of us reach orgasm, compared to 69% when we’re going it alone, according to a recent study by sex toy brand Lelo.
However, while spicing up your sex life may seem daunting, it’s easier than you think and doesn’t have to include anything drastic, says Kate Moyle, Lelo’s sex and relationship expert.
With the rest of the year ahead of us, it’s time to gain confidence, meet your needs and get your sex life back on track…
No matter your age or phase of life – whether you’ve got toddlers wearing you out, or you’re in a more mature phase and finally have the time to really consider what turns you on – sexual wellness is really important.
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“What it looks like for each individual will be based on their personal situation, age, health, relationship status, mental health, social context and so much more,” says Kate.
“It’s important to acknowledge that our sex lives don’t stay static, but can change and adapt with us as we move through our lives,” she adds.
She says that often “narratives and expectations” can limit us to “having the sex lives we think we should be having, rather than the satisfying ones we could be enjoying.”
Sarah Louise Ryan, Relationship and Dating Expert and partner of TTRI (The Time to Raise It movement) said that working from home guidance has meant that many people assumed people would be more intimate, as they were spending more time together.
She explained: “Instead, what I’m seeing and hearing from couples is that life stresses have lowered libido and caused couples to feel less ‘up for it’ in the bedroom.
“It’s the sense of separateness that sparks the flame of desire and being locked down for long periods of time together hasn’t lent itself to the air of mystery that comes from this healthy distance to spark that flame.
“This is resulting in individuals having a lot less sex compared to their needs or expectations. Looking back, over the last couple of years, couples have really felt a harsh impact on their love lives for many reasons.”
Having a family is full-on and constant, which means you have to actively carve out time for intimacy. “Being intentional about when you have sex is crucial,” says Kate. “Don’t leave it until the end of the day. Put the kids to bed and then go and have a shower together, lie down on the bed, or whatever works for you.
“With parenting comes a mental load. It’s about switching that off and finding a way for sex not to feel like another demand. And don’t be afraid of having a plan – sex needn’t require spontaneity.
“There are a lot of ideas around that we shouldn’t schedule sex, but the reality is, if you’re busy, this is 100% something you should be doing.”
IT TAKES TWO
Sex is different for all of us and there really is no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you’ve been with the same person for years and you’re stuck in a rut, there are ways to spice things up.
“As you get to know each other and become familiar, it’s normal to lean towards what we know works, rather than trying something different,” says Kate.
“But if you’re wanting to bring something new – like toys or roleplay – into the bedroom, the best way to approach the subject is to frame it positively. Don’t just come straight out and say: ‘I’m bored, let’s try something else,’ as your partner may question what was wrong with what they were already doing! It’s about making sure you’re on the same page.”
SWITCH IT UP
Kate says making 2022 the sexiest year of your life is all about implementing small changes in the bedroom – rather than going from zero to 100 overnight.
Her top tip is to switch one thing every time you have sex. This could be anything from changing positions to introducing lube. “It can even be as simple as just switching the lights on or off,” she says.
Sex should be inclusive for everyone, so make sure you adapt what you’re doing to what suits your body. “If you’re pregnant, spooning might be more comfortable,” says Kate.
“Or if you have a joint condition, you might need to manipulate positioning – some people may need to use a pillow under their hips, for example.”
Change can be fun, but equally, you can stay in your comfort zone and still have great sex. Sometimes it’s about reframing your expectations.
“Desire doesn’t always have to be the desire to have sex,” says Kate. “It can be the desire to be close to someone, to feel loved and show love.”
Dr Laura Vowels, sex therapist for the Blueheart app, says you may need to redefine what sex actually is and move away from making it a “goal-orientated experience”.
She says: “Focus on other aspects aside from penetration, such as taste, touch, temperature and what you’re feeling during sex. Pay attention to what feels good, rather than focusing on when you and your partner will climax.”
SHOP FOR TOYS
Lube should be top of your list when it comes to improving your sex life, says Kate. It’s cheap, suitable if you’re postnatal, perimenopausal or menopausal, and is great for boosting sensation and arousal.
A big trend for 2022 is the use of teledildonics – sex toys for virtual use when people are apart. These are pandemic-friendly and ideal if you don’t live with your lover.
“For example, in a heterosexual couple, the man might have a masturbator sleeve, while the woman has a dildo. These can then be simultaneously used so it feels like you’re having sex with your partner, without them actually being in the room,” explains Kate.
Sex toys for people who suffer with pain due to conditions such as endometriosis could also come to the fore, says Kate, who highlights Ohnut, a wearable aid that allows couples to explore pain-free penetrative sex.