Sexual satisfaction is more than physical pleasure. It’s the overall feeling you have about your sexual experiences. Physical factors, illness, medications and surgeries can all affect sexual functioning. If you have sexual concerns, it’s wise to consult a health care provider. Often, though, low sexual satisfaction is not caused by medical factors.
Many people have beliefs about sexuality and sexual relationships that are based on myths or incorrect information, which can interfere with sexual satisfaction. Knowing more about sexual functioning can make your sex life more satisfying. Here are just a few examples:
• Stimulating the clitoris is important to the sexual pleasure and orgasm of most women.
• Lots of sensual touching of all parts of the body, not just of the breasts and the genitals, results in greater sexual satisfaction for most men and women.
• There are many highly satisfying ways to have sex that do not involve penetrative vaginal or require an erection.
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Negative attitudes about bodies, genitals and sexuality can get in the way of sexual satisfaction. You can change negative thoughts, beliefs and feelings about sex through a process called ‘cognitive restructuring’. This involves becoming aware of old or negative thoughts and replacing them with more accurate and positive ones.
Some people, particularly those who have experienced sexual assault or childhood sexual abuse, may have a general feeling of anxiety about sex. Even more people experience performance anxiety. Instead of getting lost in sexy thoughts and feelings during sexual play, they worry about how well they are “performing”. Here are some common worries:
• Men may worry that they’ll lose their erection and watch for signs of this while they are having sex.
• Women may worry that they are taking too long to reach orgasm. “Read what is organic orgasm for more about this.”
• A lot of people worry that their partner will be turned off by the size, shape or smell of their body.
These types of distracting thoughts often interfere with sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction. It’s hard to truly enjoy having sex when you’re anxious. If you’re affected by performance anxiety, cognitive restructuring and mutual pleasuring exercises can help you stop worrying and focus on pleasurable sensations that is foreplay.
Stress, depression or emotional difficulties can all make sex less satisfying. Taking steps to reduce stress or deal with the more difficult areas of your life can help enhance your sexual satisfaction.
We often don’t realize how our lifestyle affects our sex lives. Many people lead very busy lives and don’t put aside the time they need for quality sexual activity. Instead, they squeeze sex into the time that’s left over after work and other commitments. You have to make the effort to plan for quality sexual activity.
Your partner may not use the sexual techniques that are most arousing to you. Long-term couples that always have sex the same way may find their sex life somewhat boring. Here are a few ideas that may help:
• Include a lot of sensual (not just genital) touching and caressing as part of sexual activity.
• Be spontaneous and creative by varying the way you have sex and the places you have sex.
• Share your sexual likes and dislikes with your partner.
Talking about sex in an open and honest way can help to create and sustain excitement. Many people find it hard to tell their partner what they like and don’t like. They hope their partner will automatically know what they want. Communicating is important because:
• What you find pleasurable and exciting will be different from other people.
• What you like will vary from one sexual encounter to the next, and from one moment to the next.
• No matter how skillful and considerate your partner is, he or she can’t read your mind.
The clearest ways to communicate what you like is by talking, but if you find this difficult, try communicating non-verbally. For example, you can guide your partner’s hand. You can also
• focus on giving and receiving pleasure, not on intercourse and orgasm
• experiment to learn new ways of giving your partner pleasure
• give your partner lots of feedback about what you want, what feels good and what doesn’t
Sexual satisfaction is affected by feelings of emotional intimacy. Problems like poor communication, arguing frequently and a lack of common interests or trust can spill over into your sexual relationship. You may be able to enhance your sexual satisfaction by improving the non-sexual aspects of your relationship.
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