Ten Tips on Women’s Sexual Health

Women’s sexual health is influenced by a wide range of emotional, psychological and physical factors.

When sexual problems arise it is more difficult to separate the underlying causes for women than it is for men.

Sexual health experts agree women and men differ widely in their sexual response, and the sexual health advice that applies for men will not necessarily work for women – although there are quite wide areas of common interest, like taking good care of general health, including exercising regularly.
 

Top Ten Tips For Understanding Women’s Sexual Health

If you want to understand what turns women on then get a grasp of these basic ground rules:
 

No 1 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Women’s Motivators Are Different

Women are motivated to have sex for highly complex reasons, not just because they feel sexual desire.  They may include a desire to express love, to receive and share physical pleasure, to feel emotionally closer, to please her partner, and to increase her own sense of well-being.

And unlike men, they don’t spend much time thinking about sex, and are not generally motivated by sexual fantasies.  While women in new relationships are more frequently motivated by sexual thoughts, women in established relationships, think about sex infrequently or rarely.

See What Turns Women On?
 

No 2 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Desire and Arousal Different For Women

Even the physical biology of desire and arousal works differently for women than men.  While for men it may be a straight rising barometer of sexual excitement – from desire to arousal, erection and climax – a woman’s pattern is far less linear. (That’s why women’s groups argue men’s sexual models cannot be used to diagnose female sexual dysfunction.)

For women sexual desire does not necessarily precede sexual arousal. Arousal often occurs before desire, or arousal and desire occur simultaneously. And women can be aroused sexually without being aware of it or noticing any physical change.
 

No 3 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

 ‘Use it Or Lose it” Applies to Women Too

The principle of “use it or lose it” applies to women as well as men.  Women who are sexually active after menopause have better vaginal lubrication and elasticity of vaginal organs than women who are sexually inactive.

According to sex expert Professor Barry McCarthy, “Contrary to the myth that ‘horniness’ occurs after not being sexual for weeks, desire is facilitated by a regular rhythm of sexual activity. When sex is less than twice a month, you can become self-conscious and fall into a cycle of anticipatory anxiety, tense and unsatisfying sex, and avoidance.”
 

No 4 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

‘Outercourse’ Can Satisfy

For women – and even for some men - intercourse is not essential for satisfactory sex. Many couple increase sex play and may discover they can satisfy their sensual and sexual desire with fondling, caressing and kissing.  This intimacy has been dubbed “outer course”.  (Many women can also find sex satisfying with orgasm.)
 

No 5 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Sexual Response Varies Through Life

Women’s sexual response varies naturally at different times and life stages and is influenced by a host of factors including physical changes in menopause or pregnancy and the quality of the relationship with the partner.
 

No 6 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

It’s Only a Problem If the Woman Thinks It is

Women do not necessarily feel distress when they lose interest in sex and unless they feel distressed it isn’t a problem. Unless of course it is causing distress in her relationship and putting the relationship in danger.  Then she has to decide how important the relationship is to her.
 

No 7 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Low Desire Common for Women

Low desire is the most common sexual “problem” women experience – so common that Sydney sex therapist Dr Rosie King suggests it’s a “normal” female condition.  Desire problems drain intimacy and good feelings from relationships and are the most common sexual problem, affecting one in three couples.
 

No 8 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Bad Sex Destroys Relationships

“Guilt sex” – sex agreed to under emotional pressure from the partner with 
the highest sex drive - is very damaging to a relationship Healthy sex plays a positive, integral part of any marriage or long term relationship.  According to therapist and author Barry W McCarthy,  a “non-sexual” marriage – defined as having less than 10 times a year – has a deep effect on a couples’ quality of life but “bad sex” is more likely to ruin a relationship (up to 70 per cent) more than good sex is to improve it (15 per cent.)
 

No 9 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Arousal Is Slower with Age

With age both women and men may need more time to become sexually aroused. This can be turned to a positive. Research shows men’s and women’s sexual needs tend to converge after 50.

Some research shows older couples spend longer making love than younger ones, simply because they need more foreplay – and they’ve learned how to adjust to their physical changes and “go with the flow” without feeling anxiety or pressure.
 

No 10 Tip - Women’s Sexual Health

Realistic Expectations Are Important

If you expect “orgasmic peaks” every time you have sex you are setting yourself up for disappointment. 

Sex therapists estimate realistically:
  • 35 to 45 per cent of experiences are very good for both people
  • 20 per cent are very good for one (usually the man) and okay for the other
  • 15 to 20 per cent are okay for one and the other finds it acceptable
  • And 5 to 15 per cent of sexual experiences are dissatisfying or dysfunctional – even between couples who share affection and understanding
Says Professor Barry McCarthy in Rekindling Desire, (Brunner/Routledge 2003): 
“Couples who accept occasional mediocre or dysfunctional experiences without guilt or blaming and try again when they are aware and receptive have a vital, resilient sexual relationship.

“Satisfied couples use the guideline of "good enough sex" with positive, realistic sexual expectations.”
 

Putting Quality Sex In Your Life

Women’s sexual health problems are best first approached by both partners making changes in the way they relate and live. Most therapists believe women’s sexual dysfunction is best treated  as a couple, not just by the woman alone.

Both men and women’s sex lives will benefit from more open communication with partner, positive constructive dialogue which focuses on what is working well, as well as getting good exercise, eating well and getting adequate sleep.

You may want more information on women’s sexual health causes and treatment, or you could find some suggestions for steps to take to enjoy quality sex from the quality sex tips article.