The more you know about your sex drive, the more likely it is that you and your partner will share an even more pleasurable and fulfilling sex life.
The subject of women and their sex drive and libido is, shockingly, still off limits to some. So many of us feel disappointed with ourselves for not being able to orgasm on command (often, by our own command), yet we fail to try and understand our own bodies in a way that could lead not only to better and more powerful orgasms, but to stronger and healthier connections to ourselves and our partners. It's unrealistic and unfair of us to expect our partners to instinctively know what we need in bed if we aren't educating ourselves on our own bodies and the reality of how our sex drive works — and how it changes over the years.
Here are eight facts about the female sex drive that will help you get to know yourself and take control of your sex life.
1. Women naturally have lower sex drives than men — Some of us are more sexual than others, it's true, but as a whole, Elizabeth Davies, founder of Relationships Advice, says women have a lower sex drive than men, something that had evolutionary benefits back in the day. But that doesn't mean women can't take steps to increase their sex drives. "It's OK to use female Viagra," Davies says. "If you want to be more sexual and sensual, you have to experiment. The more you do, the more you'll want."
2. Parenting can kill a woman's sex drive — Women who focus too much on parenting often lose sight of their sexual nature, Davies says — a fact every woman who has spent all day knee-deep in baby poop and pureed foods knows all too well. Your sex life may take a back seat to parenting for a little while, which is totally fine and normal, but it's also important for you to take time out for yourself and to make time for you and your partner to go on regular dates, kiss, hug and connect without the kids.
3. You may not hit your 'sexual peak' at 40 — Lots of women who experience lulls in their sex life while raising kids in their 20s and 30s might find comfort in the thought that a crazy, wild sexy time is waiting for them when they hit their so-called sexual stride at age 40. But Davies says women don’t have one solid age for their sexual prime, and instead go through different stages and can peak at virtually any age. This is excellent news if you've celebrated the big 4-0 and are sitting around wondering why you haven't had the urge to hit up a BDSM club.
4. Everything (including the kitchen sink) can affect your sex desire — Women are complex, interesting beings and our sex drives feel the influence of various changes in our life — both big and small — in ways men can't imagine. "Female sexual desire can vary more frequently than male," says Dr. Jordan Tishler, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, who also trained in Internal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. "It’s influenced by a broad range of physical and emotional states, from the time of the month (hormonal fluctuations) to stress in life to social pressure (too many magazine articles). Age and menopausal status can greatly affect sexual desire, as well. In older women, if innate sexual desire wanes, often a more conscious intimacy-seeking/sharing approach becomes important, where women re-focus on their emotional needs and the needs of their partners."
5. Men are more goal-oriented during sex — If you suspect your partner is rushing to get you off because he doesn't care about your needs, you may be misunderstanding how men are simply different. "Men are more goal oriented," Tishler says. "While this may have him diving for your clit too soon, he can be educated. This orientation also leads to 'what will she do to show she loves me — will she give me head?' Men are turned on by women who either like pushing the boundaries of the relationship in the bedroom, or are willing to go there to show devotion. Know your limits, and also don’t turn this into a game of 'will I or won’t I reward him.' Rather, use new sexual experiences to heighten your mutual bond and pleasure."
6. Women and men 'use' sex in different ways — Wondering why your partner is able to get turned on after a particularly stressful day while you just want a glass (or three) of wine? "Both female and male sexual drive are complicated, and most of the action goes on 'above the neck,'" Tishler says. "Most men look to sex to create intimacy, whereas most women look at sex as an expression of intimacy. For women often, the feelings of intimacy need to come first, sex second. Most women look at sex as something to be enjoyed when relaxed and in the mood, whereas men often look at sex as a de-stressor."
7. Women in their 30s and 40s have different sexual needs — If you're in your 30s or 40s, you may be wondering if a change in your sex drive is all in your imagination. You may not be menopausal yet, but that doesn't mean your sexual needs are consistent with those you experienced in your 20s — and that's OK. "Women in their late 30s or early 40s need to be in the right state of mind to engage in sexual intercourse," says Dr. Sonja Bethune, a licensed clinical psychologist in California, who is an expert in the field of sex therapy. "In a sense, they need to be coerced. Foreplay becomes essential at this stage in a woman’s life. A woman in her late 20s or early 30s may have no problem at all getting aroused, since this is typically when a woman’s sex drive increases based on her lifespan."
8. There is no one sexual position that works for all women — We're forever reading about sex positions that are supposed to increase the chances of an orgasm in women. But we're all very different and should rely more on our own discoveries about our bodies than what we read and hear about from others. "Men typically prefer the woman to be on top and women prefer to be on the bottom," Bethune says. "For instance, some women can only have an orgasm on their back in the most relaxed position. If they are attempting to do two things at once, such as being on top and doing all the work, the orgasm will not happen. Other women are different in which they can have a vaginal orgasm easier if they are controlling the motions on top of the man. Women may be built similarly, but they can function quite differently when it comes to sexual encounters."
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