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Losing intimacy
A loss of intimacy or sexual desire can happen in any relationship. Both men and women can experience a loss of desire and it can be very difficult for the other partner to cope. If may feel as if the partner who does not want to have sex has shut down. It may seem as if he or she never initiates sex or has lost interest in completely. Even a temporary dip in your sex life can lead to other difficult feelings, ranging from minor frustrations to more severe distress. There are many reasons a couple stops having sex. There are psychological and physical symptoms that can affect sexual desire, or there may be other factors at play, connected to your environment or other social pressures. Psychological factors Psychological factors could play a major role in sexual problems. Your mental and emotional state can have a significant impact on how you feel about sex – including whether you want to have it at all. Your thoughts have a powerful effect on your body and, once you find yourself in a negative frame of mind, it can be very hard to move forward. Think about how you have been feeling lately. Have you been under stress? Are you anxious about something? Perhaps this could be influencing your partner too. How do you think they might be feeling? Physical factors Intimacy can be affected by physical problems like erectile dysfunction, low desire, vaginismus, pain during intercourse, and premature ejaculation. These might be caused by psychological factors, a poor diet, lack of sleep, or side effects of some medications. If you are concerned about any of these problems, seek advice from your doctor. After the birth of a child, both women and men can be anxious about having sex again. Women may still be in physical pain, and men can worry causing damage. On top of this, new parents are often very busy and exhausted, making it difficult to get back to the way things were before. There is more information on this in the section on 'parenting together'.  Environmental factors Where you live and your immediate surroundings might also play a part. If you or your partner live in a shared house or with parents, you may worry about being overheard, or just feel strange about having sex when there’s someone else in the house.Other stresses in your life, like troubles at work, money worries, or a family crisis, can also put extra pressure on your sex life. What is your current situation? Could something unrelated be causing a problem for you and your partner? Social pressures Portrayals of sexuality in films and TV, or even on our friends’ social media profiles might lead you to think that everyone else is having sex all the time. Even if you know this is unrealistic, it can still put pressure on you to measure up. Sex is very personal for every couple. What feels right for one couple may not be for you. Try to let go of the pressure to do what you think you should be doing, and instead just focus on being happy with your partner. Sex is a difficult subject to talk about, but each of us has our own needs and desires and it’s OK to talk about these with your partner. Try have a frank and open discussion about what you’d like and any problems you might have, encouraging your partner to share their side of things too.   If you can break the cycle of negative thoughts and start to think positively about yourself and your sex life, it will help you start to get back on track.  If you are concerned about any of the issues raised above, seek professional support from a doctor, or a sex and relationships counsellor.
Article | intimacy, sex
17 4 min read
If you don’t feel ready for sex
What am I up against? When ‘the norm’ is to have lots and lots of sex (or at least it just seems to be) by the time you’re ‘legal’, there can be huge pressures from friends and classmates. You might encounter pressure from elsewhere too. You may have a partner that’s pushing, or you may be putting pressure on yourself. The bottom line is, there’s pressure from all directions to have sex at a young age. How can I deal with it? It appears that everyone else is having sex all the time A survey of nearly 3,600 11- to 16-year-olds in the UK found that 86% of respondents had never had sexual intercourse. In the same survey, 78% of people overestimated the sexual activity of their peers, and many people believed their peers to be ‘more experienced’ than they actually were [1]. Remember that everyone wants to portray an image, so there’s a chance that even people close to you will be keen to exaggerate (or even invent) their sexual experiences. A person’s reputation doesn’t rest on what they do, but on what people believe they do. Choose what's right for you In one survey of teenage girls in 2010, one third of young women under the age of 15 said they regretted their decision to have sex as early as they did. As part of the study, they also asked those girls if they felt pressured to have sex early, and 20% of them said yes. But not everyone regrets their first time; some people have sex for the first time quite young and look back on it fondly. Many young women from the study said their regret stemmed from a lack of planning with their partner and a lack of control over the sexual experience. So, considering this, if you don’t want to go down the “it just sort of happened” route, keep your own intentions clear in your mind and, if appropriate, share them with your partner. Once you feel the time is right to have sex, try not to get too worked up about it. Rather, let it be something that you’ll enjoy and hopefully remember fondly.  Feel free to talk to your partner about the experience, plan ahead and don’t be afraid to say what you do and don’t want.  Consider talking with someone, maybe even a parent You might think that any teenager would rather set themselves on fire than talk to their parents about sex but, according to a survey of 1,000 13- to 18-year-olds in the UK, more than half of teens actually want to talk to their parents about sex and would trust their parental guidance if they gave it. So if you have a good relationship with one (or both) of your parents, that might be something to consider. References [1] ‘Young people not having as much sex, drugs or alcohol as they think they are’, 2014
Article | sex, YPc
“Our adventurous sex life is complicated”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Right now I am feeling very low and despondent with my marriage. About 3 yr ago, my husband confided in me that he had joined a sex website, where people share photos of themselves and have some sexual fun with others through messaging. He had not shared photos of himself, but wanted to share photos of me. He enjoyed that other men were enjoying looking at me, and reading comments left by other users on my photos. I agreed to it. It seemed like a bit of fun. It was something we enjoyed together as a couple - posting a couple of photos up when we would be having a sexy night together. From here things have slowly escalated. It started with occasional photo sharing, to more frequent photo sharing, to naughty chat with other men as a couple. I decided as a sexy surprise to him I would take control of the account and post photos without him knowing. He would find it very arousing to check in on the website throughout the week (he often works away) and see that I had posted a photo. Up until this point he was always the one to post photos of me, always with my permission. This, in turn, has led to him telling me he would love me to have sexy text conversations with other men - without him being involved. This would be when we are together in bed. I would be on the phone to another man, pleasuring myself, while he watched. I was thoroughly enjoying it. It was fun, it was exciting and he was also loving it. From here it has escalated more. We are now doing this completely separately. I will be upstairs on the phone with another man. He will be downstairs, listening. This is something we had both agreed to. He was more than happy with this arrangement. We had discussed a threesome. But ultimately he is more interested in me being with someone else, than he is in joining in. He would be perfectly happy for me to go off with another man, and tell him about it after. He enjoys this sexually - and I have been too. Its incredibly fun and exciting. I have loved the attention I have been receiving and our sex life felt amazing. Our sex life now completely revolves around this idea of me being with another man. This is where things get messy. I have been engaging in this with the same man repeatedly for the past 7 months, with increasing frequency - all with the blessing of my husband. I barely know the guy, but we had started to chat in between our sexy sessions. We get along and have a lot of fun together. And I honestly feel like I have more fun with the new guy than I do with my husband. It's gotten to the point where I can't enjoy having sex with my husband without involving this other guy (over the phone) or pretending I am with the other guy. I am also finding myself being secretive about my non-sexual conversations with this guy - because I know my husband isn't keen on it. The sexual stuff he has absolutely no problem with, but engaging in normal conversation as well seems too much like a relationship dynamic to him - which I understand, but have selfishly continued to do anyway. These feelings have crept their way into other parts of my life too. I am starting to resent my life with my husband and am left with a lingering feeling of what it would be like to start afresh on my own. My new life on my own would probably involve the other guy (although I haven't told the other guy any of this) but I am very aware that it would be a casual, lustful relationship that wouldn't last - if it was anything at all. There have been things I have found difficult in my husband's and my relationship over the years, but they are things I have been able to put aside - because i love my husband. Now these things are becoming more and more of a problem for me, and I feel I would be better off on my own. My husband is a good guy - and he has never done me wrong. I feel like I've lost the love, but I don't necessarily want to throw away everything we've had over the last 10 years for the sake of a bit of fun with a guy I barely know. And at the same time I feel like I could be ready for something new. My husband was all too willing for me to go off with the other guy for a night of passion. It would have been the perfect opportunity for me to try it out without throwing away my marriage. I have declined this offer and cut contact with the other guy for now, because I know I wouldn't be doing it for the right reasons. It wouldn't be for us to enjoy as a couple. It would be for my own selfishness. I have tried my best to be honest with my husband about all this. He is obviously hurt, and I have placed a lot of blame on him when we have been arguing. He is begging me not to give up on our relationship. Part of me feels i should try and make it work with him. The other part of me doesn't want to. I have no idea where to go from here.
Ask the community | swinging, non-manogamy
Sex during pregnancy
During your pregnancy, sex can become a complicated issue. Your desire can decrease, your discomfort can increase, and you might just lose interest altogether. Or, you might still be in the mood but find that your partner is backing off! All of this is perfectly normal and very common. Sexual enjoyment tends to decline as pregnancy goes on. Around 22-50% of pregnant women find intercourse painful and many women find it difficult to orgasm. It’s normal for your libido to decline too, largely to the change in hormones, and feeling sick, tired and physically uncomfortable [1]. And, as your body changes, you might just feel less sexy. This is particularly likely during the later stages of pregnancy, when you’re all achy and bloated. About a quarter to a half of pregnant women feel less attractive than before, and only 12% feel more attractive [1]. Giving it a go If you do feel up to having sex, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a go. For the majority of healthy pregnant women and their partners, sex is perfectly safe, even in the last few weeks before you give birth [1]. If you’re not sure whether it’s OK, seek advice from your doctor or midwife but, if you do want to have a go, give yourself time to be in the mood, and accept that it might take longer than usual. It’s possible that your partner will be reluctant, which can be frustrating. However, don’t assume that it’s from a lack of desire, or a loss of sexual attraction. One possible reason for hesitancy is a fear of harming the baby, which inhibits at least a quarter of male partners, and a quarter to half of expectant mothers [1]. Talk to your partner. Have an open and honest conversation about how you both feel right now. If your partner admits that they’re feeling funny about sex, try not to get annoyed or take it personally – you won’t be pregnant forever! If you’re feeling a bit insecure, make it clear that you are learning to adjust to your changing body and that, even if sex is off the table, a little TLC would be appreciated. Finding other ways to feel close If you really don’t want to have sex, don’t force yourself. Be honest with your partner, offer reassurance that it’s not a personal rejection, and ask for the support you need. It might be helpful to discuss this article, and reassure yourselves that these are common adjustments that couples face during pregnancy. If you’re feeling icky and your partner tries to reassure you that you look beautiful, accept the compliment and choose to believe them. Lots of people find their partners especially attractive when they’re carrying their child. Finding other ways of being intimate that aren’t sexual – like hugging, kissing, and massage – can help you bond when sex isn’t available. Just spending quality time together can help you maintain a sense of closeness. And remember that you won’t feel like this forever. Though there will be new challenges for your sex life when your baby comes along, the physical changes you’re experiencing during pregnancy should return to normal about three months after the birth. Some women even experience more intense orgasms than they did before [1].   References [1] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8 (15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5
Article | pregnancy, parenting together
1 4 min read
Sex after giving birth
If you weren’t having much sex during your pregnancy, you may be looking forward to getting things back on track. But, for many couples, it can take a while to get things back to normal after the birth. Your body might take some time to return to a state where sex feels OK. This is a common experience for many women after giving birth: Following birth only 10-15% of new parents don’t experience any problems at all. Mothers and fathers commonly feel worried about resuming having sex [1]. 13 months after the birth, 22% were still having problems sexually [2]. Try to accept that it’s normal to need time. Even when you’ve recovered physically, you might not feel in the mood, or you might be slow to be turned on. Give yourself a chance and don't pressure on yourself to bounce back, even if your partner is keen to be intimate. Remember that there are other ways to be sexual besides penetrative sex and, if those are still off the table, focus on improving the quality of your time together, giving each other lots of cuddles and affection, or just having meaningful conversations. Feeling guilty about not feeling sexy   Despite the understanding that your body is still going through a lot, you may still feel guilty for not being in the mood or not feeling able to satisfy your partner. Even if your partner isn’t expressing any disappointment over the lack of sex or changes in your sex life, it’s common to be worried about how things might be perceived from the other end. One study of women who had recently had children showed that: 57%... were worried about the sexual satisfaction of their spouse following the birth of their child [2]. If you’re carrying guilt around with you, it might be a good idea to talk this over with your partner and remind yourselves that you’re not alone – only 14% of women and 12% of men report having no sexual problems after giving birth [2].   If you’re not up for having sex, let your partner know that you still desire him, but that you just need a bit more time. It may be difficult for your partner to understand the effects that such drastic body changes can have on your confidence. Taking the time and effort to explain, can help put your partner in a better position to show sensitivity and help build up your confidence. Be descriptive of your own feelings, and ask him to be mindful of them.  It will probably help to have the conversation with your partner beforehand. Explain why you don’t want sex at the moment, and what you can offer at this time. Sex may not be as high on your partner’s priority list as you think, but asking about it can be a great opener to discussing how you’re feeling and what you’re worried about. The conversation may even help put you at ease. If physical intimacy is your partner’s preferred way to express love, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean sex. People who express love physically while still appreciate a stroke of the hair as you walk past, or a surprise cuddle while they are doing the washing up. Hugs, snuggles on the bed, hand-holding, massages – these will all help a physical person feel loved at a time when you don’t feel up to having sex.   References [1] Sagiv-Reiss, D.M., Birnbaum, G.E. & Safir, M.P (2012). Changes in Sexual Experiences and Relationship Quality During Pregnancy. Archives of Sexual Behavior. October 2012, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1241–1251 [2] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8(15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5
Article | sex, parenting together
0 4 min read
Sex with a pregnant partner
Since finding out she was pregnant, your partner might have been reacting to you differently during sex, or avoiding intimacy altogether. It might seem like she’s aroused less often or less attracted to you. Aside from simply missing something that you enjoy, sex an important way to feel closer to your partner. Without it, you may worry that you will struggle to stay close. While it might feel like it, a lack of sex during pregnancy is not a personal rejection. A quarter of new dads say they’re worried that their partner may no longer be interested in having sex [1] but it’s important to recognise that a decrease in sex during pregnancy is normal, and not your fault. Less sex during pregnancy is normal Your partner may be experiencing a decline in libido. This is very common during a time of changing hormones and physical discomfort like backache and water retention. Bear in mind that 22-50% of pregnant women experience painful intercourse, and reaching orgasm becomes progressively more difficult as pregnancy goes on [b]. Sex may have become a stressful experience for your partner. On top of this, about a quarter to a half of pregnant women feel less attractive during pregnancy, and only 12% feel more attractive [2], so your partner may just not be feeling as physically confident as she’d like to. Be open and honest with your partner. Talk about your concerns and tell her that you want to be supportive. If she is worried about her changing body, you can reassure her that you still find her desirable, but the most important thing is to respect her needs and desires. If she is experiencing a loss of libido, remember that this has nothing to do with you as a sexual partner. It might be helpful to discuss this article with her – talk about how these are common changes that couples face all the time during pregnancy. Can sex during pregnancy harm your baby? Up to half of women and at least a quarter of men worry that having sex during pregnancy will harm the baby in some way [2]. From a medical point of view, there is no reason to ‘forbid’ sex for the majority of healthy pregnant women and their partners, even in the last weeks before the birth [2]. If you’re not sure whether you fit into this category, seek advice from your doctor or midwife. Remember also that anxiety around sex isn’t always rational, and your partner may find it difficult to shake the fear. If that’s the case, try other ways of being intimate. You may find that other kinds of sexual activity that don’t involve vaginal penetration are a bit easier but, if not, things like hugging, kissing or massage can all help you feel closer to each other. Looking to the future Don’t expect things to pick back up again too soon after the birth. Your partner will need time to recover, and you might soon sense another obstacle to your sex life – fatigue. Irregular sleeping patterns, feeding schedules, nappy changes, and constant attention to the baby will probably continue to get in the way of your sex life. You might want to consider asking a family member or close friend to take care of the child for a while so you and your partner can spend some time together as a couple. If you’re used to having spontaneous sex, this might seem a little too regulated, but it might be a start. Finally, try to remind yourself that it’s not forever. As your child settles into more regular patterns of sleep, you’ll begin to find that there are more chances to be intimate without being interrupted by a crying baby.   References [1] Houlston, C., Coleman, L. Milford, L., Platts, N., Mansfield, P. (2013). Sleep, sex and sacrifice: The transition to parenthood, a testing time for relationships? OnePlusOne. Retrieved from: http://www.oneplusone.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Sleep-Sex-and-Sacrifice-OPO-report-FINAL-embargoed-until-29-May-2013.pdf [2] Von Sydow, K. (2000). Sexuality during pregnancy and after childbirth: A meta-analysis of 59 studies. Reproductive Health Matters, 8(15), 183. doi:10.1016/s0968-8080(00)90068-5
Article | pregnancy, parenting together
0 5 min read