You used to rip each other’s clothes off three times a day. When you weren't together, you were sexting so often your data plan needed an upgrade. But a couple of kids and job promotions later, you feel tapped out if you do it twice in the same week. Don't be so quick to claim a headache, though: Orgasms unleash all kinds of feel-good hormones that we want pumping through our bodies -- such as dopamine to give you that euphoric feeling, and oxytocin to fuel intimacy and lust for your partner.
So don't let excuses like these stop you:
But… I’m too stressed to even think about having sex. Here’s the amazing thing about feeling really, really turned on: Your brain actually shuts down to make way for libido, according to Dutch researchers. Looking at brain waves of subjects watching porn, they found that when female volunteers became aroused, their brains actually deactivated, losing some of their ability to process information. In other words, you stop thinking about matters that are making you stressed so you can relax (among other things). And who doesn't need a break from worry?
But… I’m too tired. So maybe it’s time to look more closely at what’s making you fatigued outside the bedroom -- such as, how chores are divvied up around the home. A 2013 University of Washington study in the American Sociological Review found that when men and women split household duties, they have more active sex lives. The surprising part: For the aphrodesiac effect to kick in, the chores need to be divided in pretty traditional ways (i.e., ladies do laundry and guys clean gutters). Guys, just try to think of lawn work as "choreplay."
But… can’t I wait until I’m in better shape? Ladies, here’s the thing about your bod: Your partner thinks it looks pretty damn good. But if you don’t feel the same way, your sex life can suffer. However, you can get immediate feel-good benefits at the gym -- and I'm not talking about getting an endorphin boost from working out. Get this, ladies: When you exercise, you have the opportunity to have "coregasms." Researchers have discovered that women can have exercise-induced orgasms while doing ab crunches, riding stationery bikes, doing yoga, climbing poles... even while weight lifting and running. It could happen unexpectedly anytime you’re squeezing those deep pelvic floor muscles (the same ones that hold back your pee). Imagine what a few of coregasms would do to improve your mood at home... (Just sayin'.)
But… I’m just not feeling into it. So your sex drive isn't where it used to be. "This is a very common theme I see in my office," says Anne Ridley, MA, DHS, LPC, a clinical sexologist and licensed psychotherapist in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "Just as we go through different life stages, so do our hormones, which affect desire." Try introducing something simple, like a tube of lube, into your repertoire to bring new life to your carnal knowledge. A 2012 report published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that the mere act of having a partner put lubricant onto a condom was associated with lustier lovemaking sessions.
But… we’re hardly ever alone anymore. Back away from the buddies, people. Socializing can really put a damper on desire. A 2011 American Journal of Sociology study showed that when women hung out a lot with their partner’s guy friends, the couple’s sex life tanked: Their partners were 92 percent more likely to have troubles maintaining erections and achieving orgasm -- and the younger the partner, the more likely it was that his sexual performance would suffer. The authors don’t blame this effect on jealousy, though; rather, they think that when wives/girlfriends get too chummy with their guy's friends, it threatens his feelings of autonomy (the most underestimated erogenous zone).
But… my partner keeps putting lovemaking off until tomorrow. "Often, sex is caught in a dynamic between partners struggling over how close they will be," says Laurie Watson, LMFT, LPC, director of Awakenings Center for Intimacy and Sexuality in Raleigh, North Carolina, and author of Wanting Sex Again. "We need both connections and autonomy. But we must give up a little of one thing, like relaxing with solitary activities like the computer or TV, in order to have the other." The first thing to try: Turn off the TV. (And that's probably not such a bad idea anyway. A striking 2013 Harvard study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine linked a 44 percent lower sperm count in men who watched it more than 20 hours a week.)
But… we’re already having some sex. Here’s the thing about orgasms: The more you have, the better off you’ll be, for a whole host of reasons. You’ll feel more relaxed, more confident, closer to your partner and even protect yourself from heart attacks, say Tufts Medical Center researchers. Apparently, when you make love infrequently, you’re tripling your relative risk of having a heart attack within two hours of doing the deed.
An easy way to add more thumping this week: Don’t save it for the end of the night. "So many couples go out for a romantic dinner and then eat too much, drink too much and come home too tired for sex," says Watson. "Date night needs to be reshuffled. Make love first, go out second." I’ll second that.