5 Top Tips On Improving Your Sex Life!

5 Keys to improving your sex life

Whether people accept it or not, sex plays a pivotal role in a relationship and sexual dysfunctions can destroy even the most loving couple.

Sex is the most natural human behaviour, which should be embraced and enjoyed in the right circumstances. Without it, none of us would be here, perhaps with the exception of Dolly, the sheep! Unfortunately however, studies have shown that approx 43% of women and 31% of men suffer from sexual dysfunction, i.e. a problem during any phase of the sexual response cycle that prevents the individual or couple from experiencing satisfaction from the sexual activity.

Often this is caused by misplaced 'guilt trips' that have been imposed by 'society' around anything sexual being labelled 'seedy'. Many of us are too embarrassed to seek help, which is a real shame, especially bearing in mind how important sex is to help maintain healthy relationships, contribute to individual fulfilment and even good health.

There are an enormous number of people out there suffering in silence. If YOU suffer from a sexual dysfunction condition, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Rest assured you are 'not' alone and most importantly there is plenty you can do to help yourself.

Here are the 5 keys for this Month's blog to help you overcome any issues of sexual dysfunction that you might be suffering from:

1) Quit smoking

2) Limit your alcohol intake

3) Get treatment for any emotional or psychological issues such as STRESS, DEPRESSION and ANXIETY

4) Increase COMMUNICATION with your partner

5) Following your Doctor's treatment plan for any medical health conditions

1) Quit Smoking

Studies have brought to light that lifestyle choices such as substance abuse and smoking are responsible for over 25% of all erectile dysfunction cases.

Every erection problem is believed to be related to blood flow since erections occur when blood rushes in to the penis. Anything that interferes with this process is the likely cause of the dysfunction. Apart from the obvious damage to the respiratory system, smoking does considerable damage to the body's circulation. The carbon monoxide fumes from cigarettes bind with the haemoglobin in the blood and reduce its' oxygen carrying capacity. The carbon particles also lead to the deformation of the heart valves and reduce the count of the red blood cells (RBCs). All these factors combine to complicate cardiovascular problems that cause the arteries to harden (arterioscelerosis) and reduce blood supply to peripheral regions, especially the genitals, thus smoking is directly responsible not only for erectile dysfunctions, but also for low sperm counts, increased sperm mortality and loss of libido.

When erectile dysfunctions are smoking related, they cannot be completely cured with medications like Viagra. The situation is further worsened when the smoker has conditions like diabetes and heart troubles. The only remedy, although it might seem like the end of the world to most men, is to quit smoking. There are many programs available over the Internet and through de-addiction Centres that smokers can make use of. What is most important is that quitting smoking means more than just freedom from sexual dysfunction: it also means your general health will improve.

Does Smoking also affect women's sexual health? Answer: YES

Frequency of sex and sexual satisfaction

Cigarette smoking affects sex drive and sexual satisfaction in women as well. In a 1999 study of 290 couples undergoing treatment for infertility the cigarette-smoking subjects stated that on average they had sex about six times a month, while on average the non smokers said that their lovemaking was twice as frequent. Moreover, non smoking couples described their sexual satisfaction more approvingly than those that smoked. This was partly due to decreased energy levels in smokers and the impact smoking had on their general health. This had direct impact on their sexual fulfilment.



2) Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol has many effects on the human body, from drunkenness or clouding our mental ability and thoughts, to thinning of the blood and possibly lowering the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular related issues. But did you know that alcohol will also cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women and varying degrees of dry skin (dependent upon age and condition of skin)? The major school of thought on this evolves around hydration. Alcohol tends to remove water from the body, reducing its' hydration levels and actually results in aging of the body's various organs. The body needs water to survive and high levels of hydration for optimum performance.

Two areas that are immediately affected by the drop in hydration caused by alcohol are sexual performance and our skin. For men, any marked drop in hydration reduces the production of sperm and ejaculate in the groin area. Studies have shown that a drop in sperm and ejaculate will cause a similar drop in sexual desire and arousal. A study at Yale University by Dr. Brachman has shown that marked drops in hydration cause an increase in various sexual dysfunctions. "Men produce lower sperm counts and women tend to have an increase in genital dryness and discomfort. This leads to a marked decrease in sexual desire for both sexes." Alcohol will greatly reduce the actual number of sperm and the amounts of ejaculate or semen that are produced.

A study on over 17,000 alcoholic men found that after several years of no alcohol, over 50% of the men returned to normal erectile functioning. Alcohol abuse can also be associated with worsening other physical conditions in the body which again are responsible for causing erectile dysfunction. These conditions are diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. While the anti-impotence drugs like Levitra can take care of your erectile dysfunction even in tough conditions, alcohol has the potential of smothering your passion, possibly even permanently. It is therefore obvious that proper hydration is essential to sexual performance, function and human reproduction.

It is important to note that there are many more problems caused by improper hydration (dehydration) through alcohol consumption than we have listed here, but these are two immediately effected areas which will also show a marked regeneration and healthiness when proper hydration is restored to the body.

For proper sexual function and healthy skin it is recommended that one drinks 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout the day and limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day at most (....sorry lads, that doesn't include 1 pint of whiskey a day!)

3) Get treatment for any emotional or psychological issues such as STRESS, ANXIETY & DEPRESSION

It is well known that one of many symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression is a reduction in libido, particularly for the female. Sexual dysfunction caused by stress in the male can also reduce libido and the lack of ability to attain or maintain an erection. Sex is such a base function, that even the most rock solid of relationships can start to struggle, creating a climate for further anxiety and stress, which adds further to sexual dysfunction and before you know it, you have a vicious circle.

In many instances it can be the sexual dysfunction, which has created the stress and anxiety rather than the other way around. In these instances it will often be a physical rather than a psychological reason, in which case, follow your Doctor's Treatment Plan for any Medical Conditions, hot tip number 5!

In today's stressful world there can be many causes for stress, below are just a few:

Excessive workloads / a stressful working environment, relationships with some colleaguesFamily pressures / relationship issues with spouse, parents, in laws, siblings, children, friendsLong commutes / travellingFinancial pressures, could involve redundancy, insolvency, bad debts, etcGuilt, usually misplacedPoor belief systems. Often formed in formative years, which unless you have been able to revisit, analyse and effectively deal with them, will still affect the way you act and behave to this day. A few common symptoms of this are: Never feeling fully contented although you often can't quite put your finger on whyNever feeling good enough, no matter what you achieve, always looking for the next thing and not giving yourself credit, or deriving pleasure from what you have already achievedFeeling uglyNot liking yourself......'I must be a bad person'Why does everything always seem to happen to me?  Feelings of anger; resentment; jealousy; inadequacy

The mind is the body's most important sex organ. If the mind is side tracked with these kinds of issues, there is a strong possibility it will inhibit your sexual performance. For most people of sexual maturity, sex 'is' a BIG deal and there's nothing wrong in admitting that: it's totally natural. If you recognise yourself in some of the statements above, rest assured that there is plenty you can do to help yourself. If your sexual dysfunction is psychological, once you have dealt with the causes of stress and anxiety, chances are, sexual function will soon return back to normal. Here are a few self help suggestions:

Take a step back and put things in perspective. In a hundred years time, who's going to care?Re-evaluate your life and decide what's important and what isn't. Concentrate on changing things you can change. If you can't change something, what's the point in worrying about it?A healthy body helps to produce a healthy mind. When we exercise we produce endorphins, (our body's own natural happy pill) which can positively change our mood set.Take up a hobby / sport that you've always wanted to do, but never got round to. Listen to a favourite piece of music every day.Keep in touch with friends.Stroke a pet (with exception of your goldfish!).Aim to get 8 hours sleep.Treat yourself to a proper massage.Switch off the telly and go for a walk, a bit of fresh air can do the world of good.De-clutter the house – A cluttered house = a cluttered mindLearn some basic Time Management skills to help you achieve more in less time so you still get home in time to see the kids

If you feel you need professional help with overcoming your personal stress and anxiety:

please click here to book an Appointment with a qualified Reachout therapist.

4) Increase COMMUNICATION with your partner

One of the main causes of sexual frustration is when there is a lack of understanding in the bedroom. Even if you and or your partner consider yourselves to be sexually experienced, understanding that everyone is different will remind you not just to assume someone likes' something the way you've always done it. Some enjoy rough play; some gentle. Some like frequent at least once a day. Some women can orgasm with mild manual stimulation; some require the use of sex toys.

To 'do it' is one thing, but many find talking about it can be embarrassing. However, talking about sex will not only help you understand each others needs better, but can in itself be extremely erotic. The trust involved in discussing such intimacy can often bring a couple even closer together and produce a truly great sex life as well as increasing the likelihood of creating a relationship that will stand the test of time.

Using the right Questions

Be open and honest. Ask your partner how they like to be touched. Most women like plenty of foreplay to build up arousal steadily and produce lubrication in the vagina which makes intercourse more comfortable and enjoyable. For some this may take only 5 minutes for others a lot longer. Ask them if they like their nipples tweaked softly or just caressed, some may prefer it gently to start with and then a bit rougher as they get more aroused. Ask them if they like direct clitoral stimulation or if they prefer being touched all around the clitoris but not directly on it until they are fully aroused. When bringing your partner to orgasm find out what rhythm they like, fast, slow, a bit of each and also when they want you to stop. Unlike a man, when a woman has just had an orgasm, they are often able to maintain a state of arousal from which point, some are able to enjoy several more orgasms in quick succession.

Many women would not dream of saying to their partner, 'keep going darling' perhaps for fear of appearing selfish or over indulgent, not realising that their partner is enjoying themselves just as much and would love to oblige! You don't know if you don't ask! For the man, continuing to stimulate the penis immediately after orgasm can be quite uncomfortable, but many still like to be caressed for example. After orgasm the body remains in a high state of sensitivity for several minutes afterwards and to be caressed and lightly tickled in this state can be exquisite! Some may like it, some might not.....ask them! Remember don't be afraid to ask and respond honestly. The more open minded you are, the more fun you will have.

Never judge

Most people have secret fantasies, some may like the idea of being tied up; spanked, watching a partner masturbate, while some like to have anal sex, etc, etc. Whilst not everyone's cup of tea, it is normal for individuals to have such fantasies and whilst you may decide it's not for you, always ensure that you never make your partner feel dirty or weird for having such desires, it's perfectly normal. If it's not for you, just explain gently and then move on to other desires that you both share and can enjoy together.

Remember also that ones sexual likes and dislikes can often change over time, so make sure you continue communicate openly and honestly and bare in mind that patience will often be required on both sides. Never be judgemental

5) Following Your Doctor's Treatment Plan for any Medical Conditions

Physical causes: Many medical conditions can cause problems with sexual function. These conditions include diabetes, heart and vascular (blood vessel) disease, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases such as kidney or liver failure, and alcoholism and drug abuse. In addition, the side effects of certain medications, including some antidepressant drugs, can affect sexual desire and function.

What Tests Are Used to Evaluate Sexual Problems?

Blood tests: These tests are done to evaluate hormone levels. Vascular assessment: This involves an evaluation of the blood flow to the penis. A blockage in a blood vessel supplying blood to the penis may be contributing to erectile dysfunction. Sensory testing: Particularly useful in evaluating the effects of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), sensory testing measures the strength of nerve impulses in a particular area of the body. Nocturnal penile tumescence and rigidity testing: This test is used to monitor erections that occur naturally during sleep. This test can help determine if a man's erectile problems are due to physical or psychological causes.

If it 'is' a psychological cause, reachouttherapy practitioners are highly trained in assisting you to resolve such issues.  Please click on the link below to arrange an appointment for helpful assistance:

Proof that IBS is 'real' and not just in the mind

Research by the University of California, Los Angeles in 2010 showed that women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome have both increases and decreases in the part of the brain that assist with the function of attention, emotion regulation, pain inhibition and interestingly, THE PROCESSING OF INFORMATION FROM THE GUT.

''Discovering structural changes in the brain, whether they are primary or secondary to gastrointestinal symptoms, demonstrates an 'organic' component to IBS and supports the concept of a brain-gut disorder,'' study author Dr, Emeran Mayer, a professor of medecine, phsiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medecine, University of California, Los Angeles, said in a university news release.

Mayer added, ''Also, the finding removes the idea once and for all that IBS symptoms are not real and are only psychological.  The findings will give us more insight into betterunderstanding IBS.''

American and Canadian researchers used medical imaging in the study to analyze anatomical differences in the brains of 55 female IBS patients and 48 women without IBS.  The IBS patients had increases and decreases in the gray matter in specific cortical brain regions involved in cognitive and evaluative functions, the investigators found.

''We noticed that the structural brain changes varied between patients who characterised their symptoms primarily as pain, rather than non-painful discomfort.  In contrast, the length of time a patient has had IBS was not related to the structural brain changes,'' Mayer said.

The Study is published in the July issue of the journal Gastroenterology.

The next steps in this research will include trying to determine if certain genes are related to the structural brain changes in IBS patients.

Source:  University of California, Los Angeles, news release, 22nd July, 2010


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