Sex is a mental and physical pursuit that sometimes feels like it should come with an instruction guide. Like anything else, what one person likes could be quite different from what another likes. It can be a challenge to find the right ingredients to a connected and orgasmic sex life.
As a man, it’s important to engage in activities that will maintain your overall health, which plays into your sexual health. Reducing stress, eating right, exercising, and avoiding bad habits like smoking and drinking alcohol in excess can keep you in prime shape. A healthy lifestyle also gives you sexual confidence, which isn’t a bad side effect. When you have the mental side of your sex game in gear, you can focus on the physical side.
Healthy sex “do’s”
Sex doesn’t have to be like the movies to be great. It’s between you and your partner to find out what turns you on and what connects you. Here are some tips to help you take sex to the next level.
When it comes to foreplay, the key “triggers” for women and men can seem very different. For example, if you ask your partner if she wants to have sex and she quickly says no, you could be asking the right question with the wrong words or body language. According to Psychology Today women take about 40 minutes to reach their sexual peak of orgasm. This is often preceded by 20 minutes of touching or kissing before more heavy genital stimulation occurs.
For women, foreplay is all about the emotion and wanting. It’s important to show that you don’t just want to have sex, but that you want to have sex with her specifically. Ways to show this include:
- telling her she’s beautiful and that you want her
- rubbing or caressing her back, kissing her neck, or engaging in other soft methods of touching that can lead to thoughts of sex
- exploring her unique erogenous zones, such as her mouth, neck, ears, breasts, and nipples
Achieving the big “O”
An orgasm involves both physical and mental stimulation for a woman. To understand how to get her there, it’s important to consider how the whole process happens.
- Foreplay stimulates a woman’s body to increase blood flow to her vagina and clitoris. The increased blood flow creates warmth and encourages lubrication.
- The nerve endings and muscles in and around the vagina become stimulated and contract frequently, building tension. This tension can develop in many areas of the body, including the genitals.
- Eventually the tension becomes so great that the body releases it, along with a number of feel-good chemicals, including oxytocin, which is also known as the “cuddle” hormone.
While this is a simplification of a complex process, the buildup is what’s important. Women can get sexual stimulation not only from the walls of the vagina during intercourse, but also through stimulation of the clitoris. The clitoris is a round or button-like area that’s just above the vagina, located usually near where the folds of the labia meet. According to Columbia University, the clitoris has significantly more nerve endings than the vagina. Stimulating the clitoris with your finger, mouth, or even a vibrator can have very pleasurable results for your partner.
Other tips for helping your partner achieve orgasm include:
- asking her to guide your hands to where she likes to be touched
- using lubricant to reduce friction that could make sex less comfortable or even painful
- suggesting a new sexual position during foreplay when your partner may be more open to suggestion (e.g., a woman-on-top position, which can be more stimulating to the clitoris for a woman)
Masturbation: misconceptions and realities
Masturbation releases chemicals in the body that relieve stress and just plain make you feel good. A common misconception some people have is if they’re in a relationship, they shouldn’t masturbate. First, it’s important to talk to your partner about how they feel about masturbation and to be clear on what it is and isn’t OK. Some couples even try masturbating in front of each other. Not only can this teach you about your partner’s pleasure zones, it can also de-mystify the act for your partner.
Other misconceptions that exist about masturbation include that it weakens an erection or that too much can actually harm the penis. While it’s possible to injure or chafe the skin from masturbation, there usually isn’t any harm in it. The only key difference here is to ask if masturbation gets in the way of daily activities or living your life. If the answer is yes, there could be a deeper connection between masturbation for you that’s good to talk to your doctor about.
Healthy sex “don’ts”
During the act
Sometimes the most important don’ts when it comes to sex are the simplest to say and the most difficult to grasp. But biology and time-tested knowledge about women and sex make most of these actions major don’ts when it comes to sex:
- Rushing through it or acting like it’s a chore. This is especially true if you’re in the driver’s seat giving your partner oral sex or other stimulation. Sex is about enjoyment and taking time.
- Expecting gratitude or reciprocation. While a lot of times you can expect to give and receive, demanding it is quite a different thing. You shouldn’t expect applause every time you engage in foreplay (even if you didn’t want to or did an especially great job). Do things in the bedroom because you want to, not because you have to or because you expect a lot of thanks.
Other important don’ts to know
When it comes to sex, some women simply won’t achieve orgasm through vaginal sex. Even if your partner doesn’t orgasm every time you have intercourse, this doesn’t make the process less intimate or enjoyable. A major don’t for sex is focusing on the end result and not on the journey. Other don’ts to know include:
- Engaging in rough sex or play without talking to your partner. Safe words that can indicate when you’ve gone too far exist for a reason. Establish one if the line is crossed between pleasure and pain.
- Letting distractions in. No texting, phone answering, or stopping to check the score of a game.
- Calling a woman by another name. This one speaks for itself.
- Staying completely silent. From moans to words of encouragement, letting your partner know you’re into it can go a long way.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) describes a symptom of several common but treatable problems. ED occurs when a man has difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection that can sustain sexual intercourse. ED is a complex condition because there are many contributing factors, including blood flow, nerve function, hormones, and more.
An estimated 50 percent of men in their 50s have mild to moderate ED, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This number goes up by 10 percent for every new decade of life. An estimated 80 percent of men in their 80s will experience some degree of ED.
If you’re experiencing any degree of ED, you should talk to your primary care doctor or urologist. There are several steps you can take to treat ED, not all of which involve taking medicines.
Lifestyle changes can help treat ED
- Reduce alcohol intake.
- Take steps to reduce stress in life. Try exercising, meditating, or doing activities you enjoy.
- Quit smoking or abusing any illegal drugs or drugs that aren’t prescribed to you.
- Get enough rest at night.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight.
- Seek counseling if your ED is triggered by stress, anxiety, or tension. You may also consider couple’s counseling if your ED is creating strain between you and your partner.
Schedule a regular check-up with your doctor to monitor for any health conditions that could affect erectile dysfunction, such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol levels. At this appointment you can also review the medications you’re taking to identify if there are any that might be affecting your sexual health. While you shouldn’t discontinue any medicines without a doctor’s review, alternate medicines with fewer side effects may be available.
Medical treatments are also available for ED
- There are medications available to increase blood flow to the penis. Examples of these include sildenafil (Viagra), avanafil (Stendra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra). Each medicine is not without its side effects, so it’s important to carefully review these.
- Hormone replacement therapies can treat low testosterone. These treatments can include a topical gel, patches, or injections.
- Prescription medications are available that can be injected using a very fine needle into the side or base of the penis. This may be an alternative option for men who can’t take ED medications due to a condition such as heart or liver disease.
- Use of a vacuum erection device can encourage greater blood flow to the penis.
- A device known as a penis pump can be implanted into the penis to allow a man to achieve an erection. However, this is usually only recommended after other treatments and lifestyle changes have failed.
Sex is an important part of a man’s life and health, and age doesn’t have to change that. The most important key to a healthy sex life at any decade is communication with your partner. Honest, open communication about what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, and how you make each other feel is the key to better sex. Finding out what those are via communication can lead to one of life’s greatest pleasures.