How to tell if your sex life is healthy - and five ways to improve it

·Columnist
·5-min read

Chantelle Otten is an award-winning psychosexologist who is passionate about empowering people to feel great about their sexual health, self-esteem, communication and education.

Chantelle Otten headshot
Chantelle Otten is here to give Yahoo Lifestyle readers to low-down on everything to do with your sex life. Photo: Supplied

When it comes to sex, if its consensual, fun, pleasurable and pain-free, it’s good. We have so many messages that kind of skews our views around what is healthy. Basically it’s up to the individuals having sex to decide what feels good to them.

There are many factors that affect how often people have sex. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think lockdown has definitely impacted on peoples sex lives. Many of us are struggling with the loss of eroticism due to long lockdowns and being in a hyper state of vigilance due to the pandemic. When I talk about eroticism, I’m not just talking about just sex, I'm really talking about that sense of curiosity, of aliveness, of exploration.

Couple under the sheets in bed together
Is your sex life healthy and normal? Photo: Getty Images

In fact, these are the factors that we need to cultivate a healthy sex life. Curiosity, aliveness, exploration; they are what makes us feel creative and able to tap into our energy, and our fantasies. When we feel at distance with this state of eroticism, we can struggle with being sexual beings. I feel that we are often told that overworking and reaching goals is the way to go. 

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But I think we need to stop this glamorisation of the pure ‘hustle’ and realise that in order to have a healthy sex life, we must spend time prioritising sexual self care.

Sexual self care means setting aside time to really focus on your sexual relationship with yourself, so you can come to the table with your sexual partner. Too often we put sex on the back-burner, and prioritise work, friends, gym, nights out and other commitments. We expect sex to come easy and spontaneously. But a healthy sex life needs work. It requires commitment. And babe, you’re worth that commitment. Your pleasure is worth that commitment.

So how do we build a better sex life:

Couple in bed together
Here's how to build a better sex life. Photo: Getty Images

Change your definition of sex: For so many people, sex means penis in vagina. But sex is so much more, and this narrow view rules out a whole part of the LGBTQIA+ community and many people who are not able to have vaginal penetrative sex. So let’s change the definition, and look at sex like a menu. Penetration and orgasm are on the dessert menu. There are so many other activities to come before that, such as oral sex, making out or erotic massage amongst others. You can even add in different spices, such as sex toys and lubes. It’s important to expand your view of sex, and remember that it’s fun to have different menu items and cuisines. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to eat from the same menu every single time I go to a restaurant, and it’s the same in bed.

Self pleasure: Yes, like I said we are all busy, but whether you are all shacked up, or flying solo, you should be taking some time to explore your own pleasures and find out what feels good for you. Many people think that sex is something that requires two or more people to participate, but at the end of the day you are your best sexual partner, and solo play is a really healthy way to find out what you enjoy. In fact, masturbation is very good for you, your mental health, energy and sleep patterns. Sex begets sex, which means that the more that you're self pleasuring, the more partnered sex you will also be having.

Communicate outside the bedroom: The better your communication is, the better your sex life will be. And that means it’s good to talk about bedroom activities, but also other things, other sexy things. Feeling emotionally connected and understood by your partner leads to more desire for sexual activities. It’s important to have some activities that allow you both to open up and talk about your feelings with no judgement and no interruptions. If you struggle in this area, therapy is a great help.

Take it outside the bedroom: Remember that sex isn’t always going to be super exciting, but an easy way to mix up the novelty is switching up locations. Instead of getting down and dirty in the bedroom, take it to the kitchen, or the shower. Maybe even the car. It will add a little bit of excitement into your sex life, and you can also add a little tweaks like new toys, outfits, and positions. Doing things like this shows that you’re invested in your erotic partnership, and let’s face it, it adds variety to your sex life.

Initiate more: Yes this can be hard and feel a little awkward, but it’s good to have both sexual partners making the move. It cultivates desire and shows your sexual partner that you are into them. A simple way of doing this is just suggesting a simple sex item off your menu. “Hey babe, sit up here, I’d love you to go down on you, is that ok?”. Or jump into the shower with them and play with your hands. It doesn't have to always be a three course meal, you can have individual items off the sexual menu.

When you take the time to dedicate to your sex life and your sexual relationship with yourself and your sexual partner, you will reap the benefits.

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