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Women's sexual health: Talking about your sexual needs
Talking about your sexual needs can help bring you and your partner closer together and promote sexual fulfillment. Try these tips for talking to your partner.By Mayo Clinic staff
Women's sexual health, like men's, is important to overall emotional and physical well-being. And achieving a healthy and satisfying sex life doesn't happen by magic. It takes self-reflection and candid communication. Although talking about sexuality can be difficult, it's a topic well worth addressing. Follow this guide to discussing women's sexual health concerns and promoting sexual enjoyment.
A bit about women's sexual health
Many people think that sex starts with physical desire, which leads to arousal and then orgasm. Although this may be true for men, research suggests that women's sexual responses may be more complex. For many women, physical desire is not always the starting point. A woman may be motivated to have sex to feel close to her partner or to show her feelings.
What it means to be sexually fulfilled may differ for men and women, and even among women. For example, some women say the pleasure of arousal is sufficient, while others want to experience orgasm. If you have concerns about your sex life, or you just want to find ways to enhance it, a good first step is talking with your partner.
Women's sexual health: Start by talking about your needs
You may feel uncomfortable talking about your sexual experiences and desires; however, your partner can't read your mind. Sharing your thoughts and expectations about your sexual experiences can bring you closer together and help you experience greater sexual enjoyment. To get started:
- Admit your discomfort. If you feel anxious, say so. Opening up about your concerns may help you start the conversation.
- Start talking. Once you begin the conversation, your confidence and comfort level may increase.
- Set a time limit. Avoid overwhelming each other with a lengthy talk. By devoting 15-minute conversations to the topic, you might find it easier to stay within your emotional comfort zones.
- Talk regularly. Your conversations about sexual experiences and desires will get easier the more you talk.
- Use a book or movie. Invite your partner to read a book about women's sexual health, or recommend chapters or sections that highlight your questions and concerns. You might also use a movie scene as a starting point for a discussion.
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- AAMFT consumer update: Female sexual problems. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. http://www.aamft.org/families/consumer_updates/femalesexualproblems.asp. Accessed Jan. 12, 2011.
- Swanson JB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 25, 2011.
- Leiblum S, et al. Getting the Sex You Want: A Woman's Guide to Becoming Proud, Passionate and Pleased in Bed. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishing Group; 2002.
- Love P, et al. Hot Monogamy: Essential Steps to More Passionate, Intimate Lovemaking. New York, N.Y.: Penguin Group; 1994.