Is the seven year itch a real problem? Well, there might be something to it, according to some new research. A new study published in Psychological Medicine looked at 2,173 Finnish women and took data from women, and then returned to study the same women seven years later to see how various sexual functions changed over time. The interesting part? Women who were in the same monogamous relationship the whole way through the study showed the greatest decrease in sex drive. Even those who were in one relationship at the start of the study, but were in a different relationship by the end of the study showed more of a drop than single women. So what does it point to? Well, there definitely seems to be a link between being in a long-term relationship and a woman's sex drive decreasing, but more research needs to be done.
Even if it is proof that being in a long-term relationship can lead to a lower sex drive, it's not something to panic about. Just because it's lower than it used to be doesn't mean it's unhealthy or something to worry about. "A healthy sex drive is different for each person," Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure, tells Bustle. "Overall, it's when we feel balanced in our desire (it feels good to us, as opposed to something being off whether too high or low) and sexually fulfilled whether it's alone or with a partner."
And more than that, there are plenty of ways to keep the spark alive if you put in some effort. Here are some keys for keeping your sex drive alive over time:
1. Communication Is Key
Researchers from Chapman University, California State University, Sonoma State University, and at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University surveyed nearly 39,000 people in long-term relationships and found that, while men and women wanted some different things, both of them thought communication was key to good sex. So make sure you're touching base with each other.
2. Keep Flirting
"The most important thing to keep your sex life healthy in a relationship is to keep the sexual energy simmering in-between the act," Lauren Brim, a sexual wellness coach and author of The New Rules of Sex, tells Bustle. "This could be commenting when your partner looks extra hot, gently slapping, squeezing or pinching them when you pass them in the kitchen or raising your eyebrows in an ooh-la-la [way] when you see them undressing to jump in the shower. Noticing your partner's attractiveness will make them feel desired and keep you both wanting each other in bed."
3. Try New Things
Even if you think things are going fine, it's important to keep mixing it up to avoid the dreaded sex rut. “A relationship is like a bicycle, when one of the wheels is flat, it will still go, but not well," Eric Marlowe Garrison, sex and relationship counselor, and author of the book Mastering Multiple Position Sex, tells Bustle. "Even if only one partner is in that sex rut, it's going to affect the relationship sexually. When you need something that your partner doesn’t need, it's difficult to understand why they don't need it.”
Maybe it is true that your sex drive is likely to decrease in a long-term relationship, but that doesn't mean your sex life will suffer. Focus on keeping the spark alive — there are plenty of ways to make it happen.
Images: Ashley Batz for Bustle; Giphy (3)