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If you only think about sex when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re hitting the sheets, you may be missing out on some major health and relationship benefits
How often do you think or talk about sex? The best answer: as often as possible. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the message behind a new website called Make Sex Normal, created by Debby Herbenick, PhD, a sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute. And by Ã¢â‚¬Å“normalÃ¢â‚¬Â she means totally devoid of taboo, because when you can talk comfortably about sex, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see major benefits in your relationships, health, and of course, desire. The Make Sex Normal site launched this month, and it lets people submit photos and stories about how theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re making sex a part of their everyday livesÃ¢â‚¬”so you might see accounts of couples getting tested together or people wearing a Ã¢â‚¬Å“sex geekÃ¢â‚¬Â shirt.
As a sex expert and author of books such as Sex Made Easy and Great In Bed, Herbenick is used to bringing up the bedroom on a daily basis. Ã¢â‚¬Å“My colleagues and I joke about how normal and mundane all of this stuff is in our lives,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Herbenick. Ã¢â‚¬Å“What that does for all of us is weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve become more comfortable over time and it impacts our personal lives. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easier for us to talk about sex with our partners and bring up sex issues that we might have with our doctors.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Aside from having spicier brunch conversations, you could also reap major benefits in your relationshipsÃ¢â‚¬”like greater intimacy and better orgasms. Your health can also improve since many physical and psychological issues impact your sex lifeÃ¢â‚¬”so voicing bedroom problems to your doc can help you find a diagnosis and a solution, says Herbenick.
Here, HerbenickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top tips for how you can make sex normalÃ¢â‚¬”starting now:
Take baby steps If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re on the shy side, you probably shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t start by hitting up a sex seminar. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Everyone has to figure out where their starting place is and push themselves just a little outside their comfort zone,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Herbenick. For now, try this simple activity that you can do with or without your partner: Make a list of all the sexual things youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re curious about, interested in trying, or already know that you like. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a whole menu out there when it comes to sex,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Herbenick. And if you know what gets you off, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be way easier to communicate that to your guy. Check out Women's HealthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Have You EverÃ¢â‚¬Â sex quiz.
Read all about it If the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon taught us anything, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s that lit-erotica is a great way to get women thinking and talking about sex. So donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let the trend end with Christian GreyÃ¢â‚¬”pick up a few sex books (whether theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re novels or non-fiction like HerbenickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s books) and read them on the train or in the coffee shop. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It may help you feel more comfortable and confident in your sexual skin, and it also sends a message to everyone around you that sex is a regular part of life,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Herbenick. Plus, studies show that just reading about sex (or Ã¢â‚¬Å“bibliotherapyÃ¢â‚¬Â in science speak) can help you deal with a host of issuesÃ¢â‚¬”from arousal to satisfaction. Not that ballsy yet? Even reading a steamy book discreetly on your e-reader can help boost your libidoÃ¢â‚¬”and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bound to make your morning commute more interesting.
Shop sexier Even though you can purchase sex toys and find porn from the privacy of your computer, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something to be said for visiting a sex shop. You can go solo, with girlfriends, or with your partnerÃ¢â‚¬”whatever youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re most comfortable with. The important thing is just to set foot in the store. Not only will it put you in a sexual space that you might normally shy away from, but it also gives you the opportunity to explore new things and learn from sex educators who often work at the shops, says Herbenick. Plus, research on the effect of sex-toy parties, which put you in a similarly erotic environment, shows that experimenting this way is a great way to get informed and can even boost your sexual function.
Plan a sexier date Being able to communicate with your guy about sex is clutch for good between-the-sheets chemistry, but it shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be limited to pillow talk. Find new ways to talk about and explore sex before you even get to the bedroomÃ¢â‚¬”like emailing him an article about a hot new position or visiting a sex museum together, says Herbenick. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It gives you a chance to talk about it so youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not just whipping out a sex toy,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Herbenick. Plus, adding some variety does wonders for your bond: A study in the Journal of Sex Research found that that experimenting sexually was associated with greater relationship satisfaction and intimacy.
Get the scoop on sexual health issues If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a Women's Health reader, you know itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s smart to stay up on the latest sexual health news. In fact, an article or website may clue you in to a symptom that you may not have realized you should ask your doctor about. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When you become more informed and more conscious about your own health, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll look out for yourself more,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Herbenick. For the latest sexual health news, check out our Sex & Relationship Scoop blog.
Be social While talking, reading, and thinking about sex are all important, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also key to surround yourself with other sex-positive people who will reinforce the idea that doing things focused around sexuality is the norm. A few easy ways to do that: You can visit an erotic art exhibit, take a pole dancing class, see a burlesque show, or attend a sex salon, suggests Herbenick. The best part about these events: Everyone is there for the same reason, so judgment and criticism are checked at the door.