6 Things That Can Ruin Intimacy For You & How Experts Say To Handle Them
Once people start having an intimate life, a lot of things come into play. You can't just go willy-nilly into a new partnership without intentionally trying to keep it healthy, consensual, and happy. You also want to make sure you avoid things that will ruin intimacy for you. While sex isn't the most important part of life, it does have a fairly prominent standing.
"Sexual activity is an important component of quality of life," Dr. Sheila Loanzon, a board certified OB-GYN and author of Yes, I Have Herpes, tells Bustle. "And there can be medical and non-medical issues that can influence sex, intercourse, and the emotional connection with your partner."
When it comes to sex, good sexual health is paramount. But good sexual health extends far past just making sure you get to the doctor on a regular basis. In fact, it's a bit more complicated than that because sex and sexuality are both tricky in their own way. Once we recognize that, we can do what it takes to steer toward those things that will positively influence our sex life.
While we already know the things that won't ruin your sex life, here are seven things that can ruin your sex life — and how to nip these issues in the bud.
1.Keeping Quiet About What You Want
Although you may not going into your sex life knowing exactly what you want from the very beginning, when you do know, you have to ask for it. You can't expect your partner to read your mind.
"If you aren't speaking up in the bedroom when it comes to your sexual needs or desires, you're seriously doing a disservice to yourself," Dr. Megan Stubbs, EdD, a sex and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Having the comfort to say what you want to your partner is a key attribute of a sexually happy relationship."
Dr. Stubbs suggests that if you're hesitant about asking for what you want, check in with yourself to see why that's the case. While not everyone can be on the same level of sex-related comfort, why you can't be open with your partner is something worth exploring.
"Chances are something else beyond just asking for something in the bedroom might be at play," Dr. Stubbs says.
2. Putting Dates On The Back Burner
If you're coupled up, especially in a long-term partnership, then you know the importance of intentionally keeping the spark alive. That can mean prioritizing and scheduling a weekly date night, even if work, kids, or other responsibilities are looming in the background. Trust me — those responsibilities will still be there after you finish dinner.
Furthermore, using these date nights as an opportunity to schedule sex can help make sure you're making a commitment to your intimate life. According to a 2019 study of 1,000 people by Sleep Judge, of those who schedule sex, 98.3% report being sexually satisfied. As for how many who actually or "at least rarely schedule sex," that's a whopping 98%.
"We aren't starring in a Hollywood blockbuster that is going to have a cute set up that leads to us having great sex whenever we go to bed," Dr. Stubbs says. "Life gets busy which can impede on your time to get busy. You would schedule an appointment to have your toilet fixed, so I'm going to say it's a strong chance that your sexual relationship ranks a little higher than that."
Scheduling sex may not seem sexy in theory, but for those who do it, it makes sense. "Treat [your sex life] with the respect it deserves and actually block out some time for sex," Dr. Stubbs says. "No more are-you-asleep-yet-should-we-have-a-little-sleepy-sex on a Tuesday night. Make it purposeful!"
3. Putting Your Health Second
Sex doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's something that can only exist when supported by a healthy body and healthy mind. In order to reap the benefits of sex, you need to keep your body on the up and up.
"Sexual activity such as arousal, erection, ejaculation, and orgasm change the nervous system in the body," Dr. Loanzon says. "When a person has a cardiac history such as a heart attack or cardiovascular disease, sex may occur less frequently in fear of triggering chest pain or another heart attack. Heart rates increase, blood pressure fluctuations, breathing patterns, while only triggered during sex and can resolve quickly, can change with exertion and excitement which may cause chest discomfort."
But there are ways to avoid the chances of pain that comes with the increased heart rate and blood flow of sex. For example, staying healthy and active.
"Moderate regular exercise weekly, balanced diet and exercise, and evaluation by your health care team will ensure maximizing your ability to have sex in the future and preventing worsening of medical conditions," Dr. Loanzon says.
4. Ignoring Sexual Dysfunction
There are many, many reasons why someone might have sexual dysfunction. From medical issues, to prescribed medication, to even over-the-counter cold meds, there's no one thing that can cause sexual dysfunction.
"Any medical illness that impairs blood supply or nerve conduction of genital tissue can potentially cause sexual dysfunction," Dr. Loanzon says. "In patients with uncontrolled or advanced diabetes, sexual arousal can be limited due to decreased nerve innervation or blood flow to the genitals... Certain medications, particularly antidepressants, are known to cause sexual dysfunction... Concurrently, patients who are severely depressed may not be interested in sexual activity either."
Dr. Loanzon says talking to your doctor about it is essential. While it's very common for medication to interrupt your sex life, there may be other things your doctor can suggest to help.
5. Accepting Genital Pain Or Painful Sex
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, as many as 75% of women report experiencing painful sex at some point in their life. And, sadly, not all of these people speak up about this pain.
"Pain with intercourse caused by endometriosis, vaginismus, vaginal discharge from a vaginitis, anatomic discrepancies between partners, vaginal dryness (either due to menopause or lubrication issues), decreased libido, and many more can all influence the desire to be sexually active," Dr. Loanzon says. "Pain can be a large deterrent inflicting fear, anxiety, and tightening of the pelvic floor muscles."
While there are sex toys that help with pain during intercourse, this isn't something to ignore. It's an absolute must that you tell your doctor.
"It is important to be evaluated by your health care provider to see if these symptoms are treatable, reversible or may be a lifelong struggle," Dr. Loanzon says.
6. Devaluing Self-Love
Loving ourselves isn't always easy. In a culture that dictates what beauty is "supposed" to be, loving yourself goes against the grain. But have you ever heard that phrase, "You can't love someone else unless you love yourself first?" There's some truth to that.
"Poor self-image, self-esteem, or poor body image can internally create a negative connection with sexuality," Dr. Loanzon says. "Aerobic exercise can improve muscle tone, pelvic floor muscles, oxygen capacity, and stamina. Mindfulness may be helpful to raise awareness, increase positive self talk, and improve self confident outlooks regarding sexual activity."
Although there's no guarantee that it will be mind-blowing every time you get intimate with your partner, taking the steps to avoid that it be ruined, in general, is something worth considering. You only have one life, which means you only have one sex life, so trying to make the most of it isn't a bad thing.