I’m a sexpert – here’s how to get the sex life you deserve even if you’re tired and busy 0 192

FITTING in a dreamy sex life isn’t always as easy as it looks in the movies.

Not least when you’ve known your other half for 15 years and getting jiggy took a backstep a long time ago.

GettyI’m a sexpert – here’s how to get the sex life you deserve even if you’re tired and busy[/caption]

Or when your three under-threes are sending you to an early grave – or early to bed, at least.

“Society tells us that a good relationship is one where you’re having sex regularly, and it puts so much pressure on people,” says sex and relationship therapist Charlene Douglas. 

Living through a pandemic hasn’t helped – a review of 22 studies from December 2019 to January 2021 found that sexual activity plummeted, while sexual dysfunction rocketed.*

A cocktail of anxiety, lack of spontaneity and spending too much time with loved ones all contributed.

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And let’s face it, many of us still haven’t got our mojos back.

So whether you’re tackling tiredness, illness or a full-on family life, Charlene has the tips to make your sex life fun rather than fraught.

When you’re… stressed, exhausted and busy

Sex can help in terms of releasing stress. “But for some, the thought of having to have sex can cause them more stress,” says Charlene.

She suggests looking at your week and being pragmatic about when you can handle it. 

If you have a busy nine-to-five job and are shattered in the evenings, or are totally frayed from doing the school run, the big shop, cooking dinner and trying to have a single second to yourself, you have to be a bit more creative.

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“It’s about saying to your partner that midweek, we may not be able to have penetrative sex, but we will make sure we make an effort to connect emotionally,” says Charlene.

“Throughout the week, there are things you can do to maintain that connection with each other – a hug, a kiss, a cuddle, a little text to say: ‘I love you’, or something flirty – just to keep it going.”

It means you can feel close even when sex is off the agenda. “Maybe you can have sex at weekends, when you’re less stressed and less busy,” says Charlene.

“It’s about accepting that and recognising that you might have to schedule it in.” 

When you’re… living with chronic pain

GettySelf-care and listening to your body is important in a relationship – especially if you’re living with chronic pain[/caption]

“As much as sex is really important in a relationship, it’s even more important to listen to your body. Self-care has to be number one,” says Charlene.

“If you have a condition like endometriosis, where the symptoms can change day by day, it’s important not to push your body further than it’s capable of going.”

So if penetrative sex is painful – people with endometriosis sometimes describe a scraping sensation – consider other ways of being intimate, so your body doesn’t reject sex altogether because it associates it with pain and discomfort.

Penetration isn’t the be all and end all – and it’s not all about simply reaching orgasm, either.

Charlene says we need to think about what she calls “all-play” – not just foreplay, sex or masturbation, but everything sexual that makes you feel good. 

Consider giving each other a sensual massage, listen to audio erotica together, kiss, cuddle and fall asleep in each other’s arms.

Tune into Dipsea for short sexy audio stories that prioritise consent, chemistry and desire (Dipseastories.com).

When you’ve… just had a baby

Recently welcomed a newborn into the family? Then sex may be off the cards for a bit while you get used to your new routine and build your confidence as a parent.

You might also need to be physically careful if you’ve experienced trauma to the genital area, or you feel emotional trauma connected to the birth.

“Be super-gentle and take it in stages,” recommends Charlene.

“Try playing with the breasts, not the vulva area just yet, and then build up to that without pressure.”

When you’re… ill or have a disability

GettySex isn’t always sensible if you’re recovering from surgery or struggling with illness[/caption]

Having cancer or being disabled doesn’t mean you don’t also feel horny.

However, sex isn’t always sensible if you’re recovering from surgery or struggling with illness.

“If you don’t have the energy for it, don’t have sex. It’s as simple as that,” says Charlene.

But if you do feel up for it, listen to your body and consider different ways to feel close that will suit your energy levels, be it oral sex or ethical porn sites, such as Lustcinema.com, that offer inclusive porn that focuses on intimacy, love and lust. 

“Some people also swear by ‘energy orgasms’, where you lie or sit in front of your partner, holding hands, breathing together and looking into each other’s eyes,” says Charlene.

“The aim is to notice a sexual energy passing through your bodies.”

You might feel a bit silly doing this if you’re not Sting and Trudie, but gazing into each other’s eyes has been proven to sync brain activity.

Scientists found people blink at the same time and the right inferior frontal gyrus in your brains fire up simultaneously when holding eye contact, making you feel more intimately connected.**

Alternatively, invest in sex toys that are lightweight and easy to handle, such as the hands-free We-Vibe Sync (We-vibe.com).

It can be controlled remotely via an app, so you’re not reliant on needing to move or get into different positions, and it can be controlled by a partner.

When you’ve… experienced sexual trauma

If you’ve lived through assault or sexual trauma, seeing a psychosexual therapist can be helpful, to talk about the impact of what’s happened and how it’s affected your experience of sex and relationships.

Making sure you feel in control and that there’s a balance of power is crucial when you next enter a sexual relationship.

“It’s about how you have conversations around consent,” says Charlene.

“It’s particularly important to come up with a safe word – when you feel uncomfortable, you can say it out loud and your partner will know they need to stop.”

The charity The Survivors Trust also offers help and support (Thesurvivorstrust.org).

When you’re… single for the first time in a long time

GettyBe open about your concerns with your new partner[/caption]

While pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is healthy, you don’t need to move all the way outside it.

“Having sex with someone new for the first time can be exciting, but can also cause anxiety and make you feel vulnerable,” says Charlene.

“Being open about your concerns will relax things and give your partner a chance to share any worries, too.” It’s a joint activity, after all. The worst thing you can do is pretend you’re fine.”

Charlene’s encountered many women who, after coming out of a long-term relationship, convince themselves they have to be racy to be dateable.

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“Maybe they’ve sent super-sexy texts, and then they think: ‘I’m going to have to follow through with this now because I’ve said all this stuff.’

“You have to be honest and say: ‘I felt confident before I met you and now I’m a bit nervous about starting that sexual journey.’ People appreciate that feedback.”

Sources: *BMC Public Health **National Library of Medicine Visit Theintimacycoachuk.com

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