Tips for parents on enhancing sexual intimacy and pleasure

Has your sex life changed after having children?

Here is an article I recently wrote for Talking The Talk Sex & Health Education. You can view the original article here.

Right now, is a time of complicated feelings. A time of ambiguity about the future, of anxiety about finances or health, on top of being in ongoing close proximity with partners and children. Some people experience a surge in sexual desire as anxiety can influence sexual desire in this way, and many people experience a drop in sexual desire as a result of stress.

“Stress is a survival mechanism to help you when your body is sending you signals that say you are not safe right now,” says Emily Nagoski the author of the bestselling book ‘Come as you are’.

“…and if you don’t feel safe right now, is that a good moment to be having sex?”

For many people in long-term relationships, the pressure to maintain a consistent sex life is a great source of stress, and, ironically, is often the reason they’re not having it consistently!

So, addressing the underlying stress and anxiety can be a great help to enhance your libido. Mindful eating, exercising, going for walks around the neighbourhood and limiting the time spent watching/listening to the news and social media can reduce your stress level and increase your sex drive.

Here are some techniques you can use to increase intimacy and sexual pleasure:

Increase intimacy through touch

Holding hands, hugs, shoulder or back rubs are great ways to connect with a partner. Physical affection can set the stage for sexual touch that is focused on pleasure. Doubling the length of time, you kiss, hug, and use sensual touch can be ways to enhance intimacy and physical closeness. These activities release a hormone called oxytocin which creates a calming sensation. Studies show oxytocin is also released during sexual orgasm. Additionally, physical affection reduces stress hormones such as cortisol.

If you don’t have a sexual partner, you can still create oxytocin in your own body by crossing your arms and touching the opposite arm with an up-down motion. Taking a hot bath can also release oxytocin.

Say no to scheduled sex

This sounds contrary to what most of us have heard about increasing sexual closeness. While scheduled sex time can sometimes be effective often people who implement this, end up feeling pressured and/or resentful whether or not sex (intercourse or outercourse) actually occurs.

Schedule intimacy time

Instead of scheduled sex, create time and space for intimacy. Sex and intimacy are not the same. We can experience intimacy through a variety of ways: kissing, cuddling holding hands, having a meaningful conversation, watching an old favourite movie together. One suggestion is to go on a ‘picnic’ in your bedroom! Have the kids babysat for a couple of hours, pack a picni