If you and your partner are no longer sneaking quickies in the bathroom, don't panic. Once the honeymoon period dies down, things in the sex department are bound to simmer down, too. According to love and relationship expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz, couples' sex lives begin to cool off about a year into getting serious. "Data seems to show that you get about a year when you're married or living together where you can't keep your hands off each other," Dr. Schwartz said. "It's going to go down naturally — there's a certain habituation factor of all relationships, but it shouldn't fall off a cliff."
Though every couple is different and a specific time frame can't hold true to all pairs, losing that spark can be largely preventable. The intense attraction you once had for each other in the early stages will inevitably decrease, but Dr. Schwartz highly suggests one thing: innovation. This means switching up the way you dress, the lingerie you wear, the place you normally vacation, or the room you always have sex in.
This means switching up the way you dress, the lingerie you wear, the place you normally vacation, or the room you always have sex in.
"Every now and then, change it up. And the other thing is to make sure you say the kinds of things to each other that warm each other's heart," she said. "'I'm so glad I married you.' 'When I see you at the door, I just get so excited all over again.' I mean things that are real, not the cheesy things, but say them when you mean them. These are the kinds of things that put energy and emotion back into a connection."
There isn't a specific number determining how often a couple should have sex in order to be considered happy. Dr. Schwartz made a good point in our conversation that these sort of healthy sex statistics are averaged from a couple's highs and lows. While it provides a baseline, it doesn't accurately reflect you both as individuals because everyone's "normal" is different. As long as both partners in the relationship mutually feel connected and loved, the number of times you have sex a week, for example, has no significance.
Now, if it's not a matter of keeping things exciting to reignite your sexual desire, the problem may be outside of your relationship. There are various causes for a woman's libido to decrease, including hormonal changes from pregnancy, stress, and anxiety. In fact, Dr. Schwartz found that 40 percent of all women experience some sort of sexual trouble in their lives, starting as soon as they recognize their sexuality for some. While it can be a temporary phase, these issues could be due to female sexual dysfunction (FSD) if they persist past six months and cause personal distress. The four types of FSD include: arousal problems, orgasmic problems, desire problems, and sexual pain disorder. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is also a term that refers to your absence of sexual desire that causes you emotional distress. You want it, and know you should want it, but your body simply doesn't.
Among the 2,501 US women (ages 21-49) who took the online Harry Poll survey and are pre-menopause, 49 percent "at least sometimes" had trouble with arousal during sexual activity. Forty-six percent of those women had difficulty reaching orgasm, yet only four percent of them sought professional help about it. Rather than being proactive about discovering the root of the problem, more women keep it to themselves because they're ashamed or embarrassed or don't think it's a cause for concern. But that misconception can negatively affect other areas in your life, including your self-esteem, self-worth, relationship, and overall health and happiness.
"One myth that I think women believe that really strikes me as really dangerous to a lot of partnerships is — some of research I did — was when women have a bad sex life they tend to say 'my relationship is OK, it's just my sex life.' But when men have a bad sex life, they say the relationship is bad, too." While sex shouldn't be the entirety of the relationship, it does play an instrumental role and can be a reflection of the relationship itself.
"That connection that you have when you have an orgasm, the connection that you have when you're wanted and you want someone. This is a whole-body response. It's not like our sexuality is walled off in a box and has no connection to our overall health. It's part of the functioning of our body," Dr. Schwartz said. "Trust me your sex life is important to your physical and emotional health."
If you are experiencing problems in your sex life, have an open conversation with your partner so that they're not left in the dark. If the problems appear to be outside the relationship, speak to a health professional. For more resources, check out Findmyspark.com.