sex, love, sextalk, sexeducation, sexual health, pleasure

 Insights from a Sex Therapist Expert. Why not prioritize your sex life and wellness? Listen if you are curious about how your sex life stacks up against the rest of America.  Did you know that men feel greater distress when they’re not content with their sex life? Communication is key if you are looking to improve satisfaction in your sexual relationship.

Unpacking The Benefits Of A Healthy Sex Life

amp;nbsp;Insights from a Sex Therapist Expert. Why not prioritize your sex life and wellness? Listen if you are curious about how your sex life stacks up against the rest of America.  Did you know that men feel greater distress when they’re not content with their sex life?

 According to multiple studies, the average American adult has sex between 50 and 70 times a year. That’s once to twice a week. 

However, a 2017 study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that adults in their twenties have sex more frequently, with an average of 80. That’s roughly once every five days. On the other hand, adults in their sixties have sex less frequently, with an average of 20 times a year, around once every 18 days. Did you know that men feel greater distress when they’re not content with their sex life? 

I think people do know that, and I personally attribute that to testosterone. A 2013 study from Australia found that while women are more likely to feel severe distress from lack of sexual satisfaction, men tie their frustration to their relationships and feel less able to resolve their feelings about it. This means that for men, it’s not just about sex, it’s about their overall happiness in their relationship. 

So if you’re a man who’s struggling with those feelings, I personally suggest you talk about it. Are you looking for ways to improve your relationship and overall health? A healthy sex life could do just that. Not only does it strengthen the bond between you and your partner, but it also offers numerous health benefits. And I’m just gonna run through this list, but it’s a lot of good stuff, but I certainly think pleasure should be at the top of the list. 

Regular sex improves sleep, increases energy, improves mood, reduces stress, anxiety, and even blood pressure. And that’s not all. Women may also experience improved bladder control, while men may have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, physical health and wellness can have a significant impact on sexual function and satisfaction, particularly for older adults. 

So don’t pass it by because you’re old. So why not prioritize your sex life and wellness? Are you looking to improve the satisfaction in your sexual relationship? Communication is key. According to a 2017 review published in PLOS1, couples who were both able to initiate sex reported greater satisfaction in the overall relationship. On the other hand, those who adhered to more strict gender roles with the man always initiating, were less likely to be satisfied. So don’t be afraid to take charge and initiate intimacy with your partner. 

By breaking away from traditional gender roles and communicating openly, you can improve the satisfaction and closeness in your relationship. Overall, research suggests that sexual health and wellness is a complex and multifaceted topic, influenced by a variety of factors including age, gender, relationship status, stress levels, and physical health. 

By prioritizing open communication and taking steps to improve overall health and wellness, couples can improve their sexual satisfaction and strengthen their relationship. So I’ve invited a guest to help learn about this important topic. Dr. Cheryl Fraser is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist. She is a relationship expert that has helped thousands of couples jumpstart their love life. She is author of Buddhist bedroom, creator of an online couples immersion program, Become Passion. Create love that lasts a lifetime. She is also a fellow podcaster on Sex, Love and Elephants, helping couples ignite the connection and sizzle they think they’ve lost.

So my first question today, Dr. Cheryl, is tell me about your disagreement with the research I talked about in my introduction. 

Dr: Most certainly. I think it’s so important we bust the myth that regular, average North Americans are having sex one, two, or three times a week at various ages. The research is out there, and it’s legitimate research, as you know. You only quote real research. You’re a scientist and an expert, as am I. But here’s the thing. These are often small groups of people. 

They aren’t necessarily representative of the general population, and often the studies don’t break down what does it mean to have sex, does that mean intercourse? Does it mean you cuddle naked and kiss? Does it mean mutual masturbation? And what I can say as a clinician, and I suspect you run across this yourself, is that we see couples who are having very little or no sex together with each other. They may have a solo sexual life, a masturbation life. They may not, and they feel broken. They’re convinced their relationship is in serious trouble because of a lack of sexual contact. So I get pretty frustrated by these articles that are quoted as though they have, you know, surveyed millions of couples. Also, a lot of them don’t break it down by age group. A lot of the research you did did, but none of the research you just quoted have I ever seen represented in my office or with the thousands of couples I’ve worked with. The frequency is much lower of sexual contact, except maybe in those wonderful, amazing first 18 months. 

Rhoda:  Absolutely. And I did, I couldn’t track it, but I did come across something and I’ve lost track of it, but they said 39% of people do not have sex. 

Dr:  Yeah, yeah, I would say, and let’s for our purposes today, if you’re in a committed relationship with someone, gay, straight, hetero, LGBTQ, but you’re in a committed sexual romantic relationship with someone, you have a monogamous partner, polyamory is fine too, but for that group of people, the only person we’re meant to have sex with is you, our partner. So if I’m not being sexual with you, whether or not I have a solo sexual life, I am missing out on a gigantic aspect of being alive and feeling alive. And some of the statistics, or let me correct that a little bit, Rhoda. The clinical experience myself and our colleagues see is much closer to a 30 to 40% of couples in committed long-term relationship. And I’m defining that as simply more than say, two to three years together. Our 30 to 40% often report being in a sexless relationship. 

Which for those purposes, sexless is defined as I make love with you my partner six or fewer times a year. And of that say 30%, particularly in our 50s, 60s and 70s, a lot of the ones I work with haven’t had sex in many years with each other at all. So I wanna normalize it for everybody listening to that wonderful research overview you did that’s thinking, oh my goodness, Rhoda, we’re doomed. The, you know, our neighbors are all having sex three times a week. 

We’re lucky if we do three times a quarter, three times a year. And instead shift to what I believe your chosen focus is today is, what can we do to make our sensual sexual life a priority again and move from wherever we are? Cause guess what? We’re clinicians. You’ve got to start where you are. And if where you are is you and I haven’t touched each other sexually in 10 years, that’s where we start. 

Let me quickly tell you about a couple in my online program from three years ago. They were in their early seventies. They’ve given me permission to use their real names. Hers is like my name. It’s Sherril and Norm. Sherril & Norm had not been sexual together in over 30 years. There had been multiple affairs in their forties fighting anger. And they, as a last ditch attempt chose to join my program and they worked so diligently and so hard from holding hands more, snuggling more. I take people through a lot of exercises on how to communicate about their own needs and desires that we’re really poor at talking to our partner about. Even if we have a good relationship, let’s cut to the chase. They recreated a sexual life together in their early 70s. It still makes me tear up a little bit. And I share that story often because they’re very happy to be a beacon of hope for other couples. They even did a video telling their story so that people can see. And how brave is that to come forth with that level of vulnerability so that other couples can have hope. The moral of the story is we’ve got to start where you are and look at for us right now, what are some steps we can make to improve our sensuality overall? 

Rhoda: Absolutely. I love that. That is exactly what we’re talking about here. Thank you. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that communication was a key factor in sexual satisfaction for both men and women. With couples who communicated more frequently reporting higher levels of satisfaction, what can be done by couples to get over their awkwardness and to help their words, or maybe even just get comfortable with their awkwardness, and to help their words work to truly understand each other about sex? 

Dr:  I love this. Okay, I’m gonna very briefly teach the model I use when I work with couples. People often think all I do is sex. Absolutely not, because there ain’t no sex in a relationship unless you’re also working on the relationship as you know very well, my expert friend. So my model is this. I teach what I call the passion triangle, which is very simply the three key areas. The way I teach it in this will resonate with your training and many other models that couples need to work on. The first one I call intimacy, but I’m not using the word intimacy as a euphemism for sex or nudity. I’m talking about communication intimacy. I’m talking about hopes and dreams. I’m talking about conflict resolution, the vulnerability to be able to talk about the things you’re afraid of, how to repair, and all the things you are so familiar with. We start there. In my three-month program, we spend the first five weeks on communication. 

And we don’t talk about sex. We’re talking about the fights about the kids, about you don’t do the chores, about you never celebrate my birthday, all the regular stuff. I need to teach couples to be able to talk about tough stuff outside the bedroom before we can have any success talking about that area that for so many of us is fraught with vulnerability, even embarrassment, shame, repeated rejections or repeated feeling pressured. So how can couples start to talk better about sex? 

First follow all the great advice on your podcast and elsewhere on talking in general. But then I have a couple of exercises, all synopsis right now that people can do at home. There’s longer explanations in the book or in the program, but quite simply, I take people through a questionnaire, they fill this out themselves, separate from their partner, and if or when they’re ready, they share some or all of their answers. Not everybody’s there yet. And the first questionnaire is what turns me on and what turns me off? 

And so really breaking it down and at our age, we’re women of a certain age, darling. What turns us on and off may have changed from even a year ago, physiologically, psychologically, how’s the relationship doing between you and I? Am I worried about my grandson who’s struggling at school? All the factors. And I have people answer for themselves. And for most of them, it’s a bit of a revelation. They haven’t really thought of it that way before. 

Well, an obvious one for so many men and women is fatigue. Fatigue gets in the way of our sexuality or being lazy and watching Netflix until it’s too late and we’re way too tired. So I get people to really do a bit of a moral inventory in a way on how am I, Cheryl getting in the way of my own turn ons. It’s more detailed than that, but people can write from what we’re saying right now, they can start to think about it. What gets in the way emotionally in your relationship or outside of it. 

What gets in the way physically from fatigue to menopause to erection difficulties? What gets in the way relationally? You’re critical and you’re unkind. And I don’t want to have sex with you when you’ve been telling me all the things I did wrong. I have to watch out for that. I’ve got a bright, critical, discriminating mind, and I’ve got to make sure I’m not pointing out what he forgot to do instead of what he did. It’s something I still work on. So that’s one thing people can do. What turns me on? What turns me off? 

And then the second thing, very closely related, is what can I do to improve my own turn on, my own interest in sex? Can I go to bed earlier and get a better night’s sleep? Can I read erotica in the afternoon and sort of turn my mind and my body towards desire or turn on? 

Can I write love notes and sex notes? All the things that people go, yeah, yeah, I know, go on date night, blah, blah. And I say, mm-hmm, do you go on date nights? They say, well, no, we just, you know, watch TV.So again, doing a self analysis on really what we’re talking about Rhoda and I know you already anticipate this as another expert is, so much of the focus is on what I need you to do to turn me on what I need you to do differently, what you’re not doing right now that needs to be addressed as well. But essentially I use the phrase How can we become the passion we desire, hence the name of the program has become passion. 

It’s about becoming it not getting it or wishing for it or mourning it? They have a place but then how can I share I’ll become a better partner listener lovers seductress. ecetera.

This is such a huge topic. We could do the whole show on communication. But at least that’s a little something drawing from your other episodes in your other work and saying now how do we talk about SEX with ourselves first, and then say, Hey, honey, I’d love to sit down. Let’s take a cup of tea, maybe a glass of wine and talk a little bit about some of our answers because we may learn something that will help us move towards a more sensual life.

Now, real briefly, I’m going to keep this Super quick I said there were three keys to passion, the passion triangle, intimacies communication, conflict resolution, great couples skills, the second one I call thrill, and that’s the butterflies in the tummy the things that came so easily when we were dating, and all hopped up on biochemistry. I’d love your listeners to know that the biochemistry of falling in love on functional MRI has been shown to mimic the biochemistry of obsessive compulsive disorder. So we literally are madly in love, hyper focus, obsessed with thinking about turned on horny, excited planning, all the great things that tend to fall slowly or quickly by the wayside after that roughly 18 month mark, where I moved from conquering the caveman or cave woman to decorating a cave and making cave babies.

So I talked to my couples a lot about dating about seducing about love notes about surprising each other. Of course, we all love Esther Perel’s work and research and one of the things she says that I think is so powerful, is when we watch our partner in their zone of genius, when your partner watches you on this podcast, or maybe you’re great at golf or you’re able to be a fly on the wall where they’re giving a presentation at the sales meeting. We’re more attracted to them. We have desire because it’s thrilling. We see them in their adventure zone or their power zone.

So I get couples to create adventure dates. It’s a great study. It’s a really old study. It’s out of Vancouver, Canada, we’re at the time the longest and highest suspension bridge was I’m sure it’s been surpassed this was decades ago, briefly did a study heterosexual study they had an attractive female Do you know research assistant, PhD psychology person stand either at the beginning of the extension bridge, where people were just in a normal state, or at the end when they just walked over this pretty, you know, scary thing. Dr. Dutton study was well quoted 20 odd years ago, you may remember it. What they found was this, the female research assistant approached men who were at the start of the bridge and told them hey, we’re doing a study on something like you know, the economic resources of the river. Love to ask you three questions. And if you’d like more information about the study, here’s here’s my phone number at the lab. That was the setup.

And she spoke to men at the beginning of the bridge, she spoke to a different group of men at the end of the bridge. And what they found still cracks me up. Men who had crossed the suspension bridge and were in a state of an enhanced arousal and excitement doing something exciting adventure, some were far more likely to phone, the attractive female research assistant under the guise of how the study goes. And so it’s a lovely little hilarious study on when we do something exciting. We find people more attractive, guess what? go on an adventure date with your sweetheart. That’s the thrill part.

Finally, the rest of this show. We’re talking about the third key to passion, emotional intimacy, communication being the first thrill being the second and what I call sensuality, being the third and sensuality again, why that word? Why not sex? Why not sexuality because I’m talking about snuggling, kissing, holding hands when you walk the dogs, having a cuddle couch to watch your show on instead of two separate chairs. And of course, the entire spectrum of erotic and sexual encountering. If you’re not building all three sides of that passion triangle together, it’s going to be pretty hard to have a fulfilling, connected and rich sexual life. No thrill. You can’t even talk about stuff. And then you expect to light up the bedroom. It’s naive and heartbreaking.

If you want to learn more about Dr Cheryl Fraser here:https://drcherylfraser.com and there is more on the player above to complete the episode.

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