How to Improve Your Sex Life

A very revealing, completely honest and seriously game-changing conversation about getting it on, with sex experts Ian Kerner and Logan Levkoff and health director Lynya Floyd. 

couple in bed

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

LYNYA: So, let’s get the obvious question out of the way. Asking for a friend, honestly, are other couples having more sex than me?

LOGAN: Who cares? I mean that very, very seriously. Could they be? Sure. Maybe not, but it doesn’t really matter. The only relationship and couple standards you have to measure your own relationship against are your own. 

So clearly comparison is the thief of hot-and-bothered joy, but shouldn’t couples care just a little about how often they’re getting it on? 

IAN: Interestingly enough, studies show that couples who are sexual with each other once a week have higher levels of relationship satisfaction than couples who do not have sex once a week. But the couples who have sex two, three, four, five times a week—which is not me and it’s no couple I know these days—do not necessarily have higher levels of relationship satisfaction. 

What’s more important: quantity or quality?

IAN: I think the two really go together. If I had to pick one, certainly I would err on the side of quality.

LOGAN: Quality is always going to be more important because quality means there is fulfillment. Feeling fulfilled once a week is a lot more meaningful than feeling sort of empty multiple times a week. But at the end of the day, a five-minute hand job, whoever is receiving and giving, can be just as fun as having intercourse on Sunday night.

Mmmm, but what about when it’s not? Is a quickie a good way to stoke the flames when time is tight, even if it’s likely to be, um, unsatisfying for you?

IAN: To me a quickie is not about finding a place to have quick sex. People can have quickies when they feel each other up, or say something sexy to each other, or reach a hand down their partner’s pants. I don’t think it has to be about orgasm or intercourse. It can just be something that’s sexy, flirtatious and a fun experience that makes you curious and want more later.

chair with clothing

Illustration by Christine Mitchell Adams

Illustration by Christine Mitchell Adams

OK, you’re totally redefining the way people should be thinking about sex.

LOGAN: Yes, and I would just add that quickies are fine unless they’re the only type of sex you’re having. If that’s the go-to and you’re always unfulfilled, that’s a problem.

Speaking of being on #TeamUnfulfilled, how do you start a conversation with your partner about what you want to do differently in bed? Can you please just give us a script?

IAN: Sure! “Honey, when I woke up this morning, I remembered I had the sexiest dream about you last night. Here’s what happened...”

Even if that’s not true?

IAN: This is the best white lie ever.

LOGAN: Acknowledging the awkward isn’t bad either. People think that when we talk about sex it’s supposed to be filled with swagger and totally smooth. But you can say, “You know, I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but I watched something on TV that really turned me on. I’d love to try it.” 

IAN: When we talk about sex, because it’s often uncomfortable or anxiety-provoking, we tend to either speak from a kind of defensive position or trigger our partner’s defenses. It’s very easy to just be frustrated and say, “We never have sex anymore” or “You always expect X but you never do Y.” But if you express your vulnerability, you’ll end up having a much more meaningful conversation. 

sex life

Illustration by Christine Mitchell Adams

Illustration by Christine Mitchell Adams

OK, let’s talk sexual ruts. Enquiring minds want to know if it’s normal to have periods of time when you’re disinterested in sex.

LOGAN: Yes. Our needs change over time. There’s a difference, though, in being disinterested in sex and disinterested in a partner. Right? So sometimes we still feel connected to a partner but maybe just sexually we’re feeling a little bit out of sorts. That’s different from having the combination of “I don’t want sex and I don’t want you.”

IAN: Yeah, if you’re really disinterested in sex for a prolonged period, it can also be a provocation to think a bit about what’s happening. Are you on a medication that’s inhibiting your interest? Are you depressed? Are you too stressed?

If there’s one thing everyone knows about being a mom, it’s that the stress can be off the Richter scale.

IAN: Yeah, and for many women becoming sexually aroused is a process of deep relaxation. Some studies have shown that, especially for women as they cycle through the process of arousal and get closer to orgasm, parts of the brain that are associated with stress and anxiety kind of deactivate that.

But with so much on our to-do lists, some nights you just want to collapse on the couch. Real talk, what’s more important: sex or sleep?

LOGAN: That depends on the day of the week!

IAN: To me, they’re both essential. Sometimes people say they’re too tired to have sex, which is kind of a bummer. Why are you so tired that you can’t make time for something that can be as amazing, incredible and rejuvenating as sex?

LOGAN: I had someone say that she and her partner fall into this pattern where they’ll go out to a great dinner, have a couple glasses of wine, feel super sexy and then the minute they walk in the door it’s like, exhaustion. So I said, “What if before you went out you had a few minutes of a romantic sexual interlude?”

Got it, so don’t leave sex last on your list.

LOGAN: Right, and that way if you don’t have sex when you get home, there’s no guilt and there’s no resentment. It’s just a matter of changing the order in which things happen.