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First up, some motivation for regular sex (as if you needed any motivation). The obvious benefits of regular sex are stress relief by reducing cortisol (the hormone that leads to stress) and instant pleasure from the dopamine hit, but that’s just the start. “The flood of neurochemical and hormonal changes triggered during sex is very beneficial to the body, not to mention the emotional benefits,” says clinical psychologist and sexologist, Gareth Hunt. “The discharge of mature sperm and ejaculate results in the destruction of carcinogenic enzymes in the prostate,” says Hunt.
If you have sex twice a week, you decrease the risks associated with prostate cancer. Furthermore, a 2003 Australian study found that men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer. So the more action you get, the better your prostate fares, and the healthier your semen is. To sum up, sex relieves stress and keeps everything about your body – your heart rate, blood pressure, reproductive system, brain chemistry – in very good shape.
The tricky part is getting rid of the obstacles that are destroying your sex success. While there are many out there, Men’s Health surveyed 1 000 women to narrow down the list.
You’ll recognise most of them – time demands, distractions, stress and low energy levels, but there will be a few you don’t. Sometimes the issues emerge around the differences between what you and your partner expect in the bedroom.
The solution? You need to be flexible, and we’re not talking about in the bedroom-gymnastics kind of way. “Those men who cannot come up with compromises find that sexual problems escalate,” says Hunt. Here are some more of the reported obstacles:
1.Too Much Work, Too Little Play
If you and your wife are type A personalities, you probably both arrive home too tired to tango. The secret? Start the week with some serious sexual effort, and it’ll set the tone for the rest of the week. If you need to schedule everything into your calendars, make some space for joint gym time on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Studies show you’ll both get a surge of libido-boosting testosterone 30 minutes after a workout. Shower and then hit the bedroom.
If you two aren’t into gym, pick a sport you can both play. Men who play sports increase testosterone levels by 15 percent, according to a Pennsylvania State University study. It’s even better if she’s your steady doubles partner (or opponent). The same study showed that women increased their libido regulating testosterone by 49 percent during competition. Just make sure that you don’t set unrealistic goals or commitments. That’s what is causing the stress in the first place.
“I find that couples in treatment achieve greater success by committing to something small but achievable than something grand that only adds to the stress,” says Hunt. So start small, and aim for quality over quantity. “Add novelty to the relationship and it won’t necessarily be a matter of more sex but edgy, exciting sex which makes the difference.”
2. Unhappy Households
Niggles and pointless bickering will ruin the mood, unless both of you are ready to compromise. In one of our international surveys, the most trivial arguments were about the house. Skip them by allocating the tasks according to who is best at them and personal preferences. Then there will be less arguing and more appreciation.
Need proof? Psychologist John Gottman has been studying couples for 30 years to figure out what makes a relationship fail or succeed. He found out that men who do regular housework have more and better quality sex.
The reasons? Arguing over who is washing the dishes is not a turnon. “Men who are willing to take on household chores show their partners that they care and understand their many responsibilities – a powerful aphrodisiac for many women,” says Elna McIntosh, sexologist and director of Johannesburg’s DISA Sexual and Reproductive Health Clinic. Cooking a few meals is also a great idea. A Men’s Health sex survey showed that 66 percent of the women interviewed said they’d be more likely to have sex after a homecooked meal. Put on your apron.
3. More Tube, Less Boob
Some sad stats: Italian researchers found that people with a television in the bedroom have half as much sex as those who don’t. And yet, 64 percent of couples keep a set in the master bedroom. Don’t waste quality action time by watching Ricky Gervais, David Letterman or Top Gear. They may be good shows, but not as good as sex. If you absolutely have to catch your favourite show, invest in a PVR, and watch on weekends.
4. Bored Housewives
A study by the Kinsey Institute found that nearly one-quarter of women reported some unhappiness in their sex lives – and one of the biggest reasons was boredom. How can you keep the spark in your sex life? Become adventurous.
Find out what her secret fantasies are, and play along. “Put some effort into what I refer to as establishing emotional currency and the dividends might be of a sexual nature,” says Hunt. So don’t think that what works for you will automatically work for her. Instead of renting a porn movie, get her some erotic reading matter. “Surprise her by buying an Anaïs Nin novel and read excerpts to each other, and you’re likely to discover that the mood for sex is enhanced,” says Hunt.
Need some more tips? Take a bath together, give massages , play one-on-one strip poker or leave the city for a dirty weekend.
5. A Touchy Subject
Lack of affection is not good for a healthy sex life. “Touch is most conspicuous of the five senses when exploring sex and, unlike the other senses, sex cannot happen in the absence of touch,” says McIntosh.
This doesn’t mean you have free licence to grope and fondle at every available opportunity. “The bonds of intimacy are woven through many different kinds of touch – a familiar pat on the back, a quick squeeze of the hand, the languorous cuddling that puts us in full body contact with a lover,” says McIntosh.
Why should you touch for more intimacy?
Because the act of touching is a physiological and hormonal phenomenon that provides the foundation for great sex. And it means you release oxytocin – appropriately nicknamed the “cuddle hormone” or “love juice”.
Even though both men and women secrete oxytocin during orgasms, men have a 500 percent surge, which also makes us fall asleep immediately after sex. Yup, oxytocin is a cool drug. Its effects mean that the more you touch, the better you feel and the more you want to touch.
One fail-safe move: give her a scalp massage in the shower. Choose a fragrant shampoo and swirl your fingertips around her scalp with the warm water. The massage and fragrance will help her relax and unleash large amounts of oxytocin… and it’ll lead to sex.