April 14th, 2011
12:27 PM ET
Are you one the 40 million Americans feeling sex-starved? If so, what are you feeding your sex life? The same old routine, perhaps, just less of it? Or maybe nothing at all? Or perhaps you’re subsisting on porn or other forms of sexual junk food and empty calories? Are you getting your Recommended Daily Allowance of healthy sex? And if daily is pushing it (as it would be in my case), how about at least weekly?
Not long ago I wrote an article for this blog imploring couples to try to have sex a minimum of once a week. My reason? When couples stop having sex their relationships become vulnerable—to anger, detachment, infidelity and, even, divorce. I believe that sex matters: It’s the glue that keeps us together and, without it, couples become “good friends” at best or “bickering roommates” at worst. When you’re stuck in a sex rut, your testosterone levels lower, and you get used to not doing it. Having sex once a week helps to keep you tuned in and turned on, instead of tuned out and turned-off.
But it’s not enough to just do it once a week, especially if there’s little to no variety in your sexual meal plan. Sex is like food – if you eat the same thing over and over, not only will you get bored; you’ll also end up depriving yourself of vital nutrients. And just like the food pyramid, there are different categories of sex that you should be consuming from regularly:
– There’s sex that’s loving and tender and enhances emotional intimacy (think love-making)
– And there’s sex for the sake of sex: because it feels good and relieves stress (think spontaneous quickie)
– There’s sex that taps the power of imagination and proves that the mind is the biggest sex organ (think sharing a fantasy)
– And there’s sex that plays to all of our various senses: sight, sound, smell, touch and taste
In my recent book, 52 Weeks of Amazing Sex, I try to offer up a “sex diet” based on weekly consumption from one of these different groups. For example, in the lovemaking category you can warm up with a hot steamy shower together that includes candlelight and lots of soap and in bed with some passionate eye-gazing. Most people close their eyes a lot during sex, so instead maintain eye contact. Force yourself to be completely present in the moment, even if it feels uncomfortable. Keep those eyes locked. Remaining connected at the highest heights of pleasure will send your intimacy levels through the roof.
In terms of category 2, sex for the sake of sex, mix it up. Don’t settle for same time, same place. According to stats, 92% of Americans have sex in their bedroom, so try a different room. And remember a quickie doesn’t need to lead to climax; it could be a way of building anticipation throughout the day.
Category 3 – fantasy – is one of my favorites. The brain is the biggest sex organ, but too many of us rely on physical pathways to pleasure instead of mental ones. In my professional experience, the couples with the most satisfying sex lives are the ones who are willing to share fantasies without judgment and share in the exploration of the taboo – even if it’s just talking about it.
Category 4 – a sensory potpourri – is the category that keeps on giving. Whether it’s taste, touch, smell, sight, or sound, there are endless combinations of pleasures that stimulate the senses. From the art of erotic massage, to aromatherapy, to pulling out the sexy lingerie, to a playlist of music that transports you to another time to toys and flavored intimacy enhancers, a sexual exploration of the senses reminds us how often we don’t engage them.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’re in a long-term relationship. And as you take the next step with your partner — and the next, and the next — new and greater responsibilities pile on (house, baby, etc.) and, gradually, sex ends up at the bottom of your list of priorities. Suddenly, and without warning, you realize that you haven’t had sex in weeks, or maybe even months! But with a healthy diet of sex, taken from all four of the sex groups, it’s easy to once again enjoy the pleasures of a home-cooked (make that a bed-cooked) meal.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.