Not sure exactly what a healthy sex life entails? Board-Certified Dr. Dani Steininger breaks down six ways to know if your sex life is healthy.
1) It doesn’t hurt:
While penetrative sex is not always completely without pain, a ‘normal’ amount of pain would be a small twinge or a moment of friction that goes away quickly with position changes or resuming sex. Persistent or recurrent pain is not normal. Pain during sex should not be ignored. Pain with sex will diminish your ability to enjoy sex and can also affect your libido, or desire to have sex again in the future. If you voice that you are in pain during sex and your partner doesn’t stop, that is abuse. Get out of that relationship. Ask for help.
2) Both partners orgasm:
Yes, not everyone is going to orgasm every time they have sex. Women generally need more foreplay in order to orgasm. Especially in new relationships, some women may be reticent to ask for more foreplay in order to enjoy sex and some partners may be unaware of how much foreplay their partner may need in order to orgasm. Do not feign your enjoyment or your partner may never know what it takes to make you orgasm. In a healthy relationship, we should be able to talk about our sexual satisfaction, orgasms and expectations.
3) Open communication and healthy boundaries:
Your partner should know what you do and do not like sexually and you should know their preferences. All of us have the right to express healthy boundaries and to have those boundaries respected. If someone steps over clearly communicated boundaries, then that is a sign that not only is your sex life unhealthy, but your relationship is unhealthy too.
4) Regular STD testing:
I recommend everyone who is sexually active get tested for sexually transmitted diseases every year or every time they leave a relationship and again when starting a new one. My patients in long term monogamous relationships after testing negative are the only ones who get a pass. Just because someone says they’re negative or that they’ve never been with someone else isn’t good enough. STDs can be spread by many different types of sexual contact. If you care about each other, get tested at the same time and celebrate your negative tests together!
5) Both partners are satisfied with the frequency:
Many women are convinced they have a low libido only because their partner wants to have sex multiple times a day. Most long term monogamous couples have sex about 2-3 times a week and end up having a lot more sex over their lifetime than non-monogamous couples. There is a range of normal though. Most relationships start out having more frequent sex. This changes when we have children or go through stressful periods in our lives or when partners have medical problems. When we feel close to our partners, are healthy ourselves and in a good place in life, that frequency picks back up again. The most important thing is that both partners feel free to discuss their expectations and can come to a compromise they are both satisfied with.
6) There’s a connection beyond the bedroom:
Contrary to popular belief, a woman’s libido usually has nothing to do with her “hormones,” but the connection she feels with her partner. A lot of times, we get settled in our relationship. We love our partners, but we put the relationship on autopilot and become roommates. To help with increasing the connection, we need to take the relationship off of “autopilot.” Plan dates nights with your spouse at least twice a month. Spend the night out of the house together; you don’t have to go to Hawaii but plan a night out in Downtown Dallas (or an afternoon at the Motel 6). Connections come from one-on-one time like you spent when you were dating. Also, initiate intimacy once in a while. If your partner is the only one initiating and gets shot down most of the time, that can start to affect them. Make a conscious effort to initiate from time to time and hold yourself accountable. If you increase connection, you will be surprised how Miss Libido will be knocking at the door.