Women's sexual health: Talking about your sexual needs
Talking about your sexual needs can help bring you and your partner closer together and promote sexual fulfillment. Try these tips for talking to your partner.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Women's sexual health, like men's, is important to overall emotional and physical well-being. A fulfilling sex life improves your sleep quality and reduces stress. But achieving a healthy and satisfying sex life doesn't happen magically; it takes self-reflection and candid communication with your partner. Although talking about sexuality can be difficult, it's a topic well worth addressing.
Follow this guide to discussing women's sexual health concerns and promoting sexual enjoyment.
A bit about women's sexual health
Many people think that your body's physical desire for sex motivates sexual activity, which leads to sexual arousal and then orgasm. Although this may be true for most men, it's not necessarily true for most women. Many women have different motivators and stimuli that make them feel aroused and desire sex — but they also have different factors that dampen desire.
For many women, particularly those who are older than 40 or who have gone through menopause, physical desire isn't the primary motivation for sex. A woman may be motivated to have sex to feel close to her partner or to show her feelings.
What it means to be sexually satisfied differs for everyone. For example, some women say the pleasure of sexual arousal is sufficient, while others want to experience orgasm. If you have concerns about your sex life, or you just want to find ways to enhance it, a good first step is talking with your partner.
Women's sexual health: Start by talking about your needs
It's not always easy to talk about your sexual desires; however, your partner can't read your mind. Sharing your thoughts and expectations about your sexual experiences can bring you closer together and help you experience greater sexual enjoyment. To get started:
April 18, 2017
- Admit your discomfort. If you feel anxious, say so. Opening up about your concerns may help you start the conversation. Explain to your partner if you feel a little shy about discussing what you want, and ask for reassurance that your partner is open to the conversation.
- Start talking. Once you begin the discussion, your confidence and comfort level may increase.
- Set a time limit. Avoid overwhelming each other with a lengthy talk. By devoting 15-minute conversations to the topic, you might find it easier to stay within your emotional comfort zones.
- Talk regularly. Your conversations about sexual experiences and desires will get easier the more you talk.
- Use a book or movie. Invite your partner to read a book about women's sexual health, or recommend chapters or sections that highlight your questions and concerns. You might also use a movie scene as a starting point for a discussion.
See more In-depth
- Frequently asked questions. Women's health FAQ072. Your sexual health. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq072.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20140131T1822120900. Accessed Feb. 15, 2017.
- Female sexual problems. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. http://www.aamft.org/imis15/Content/Consumer_Updates/Female_Sexual_Problems.aspx. Accessed Feb. 15, 2017.
- Nagoski E. Come As You Are. New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks; 2015.
- Sexual pleasure. American Sexual Health Association. http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/sexual-health/sexual-pleasure/. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Talking about sex with your partner. American Sexual Health Association. http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/sexual-health/talking-about-sex/. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Starting the conversation. American Sexual Health Association. http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/sexual-health/talking-about-sex/. Accessed Feb. 22, 2017.
- Foley S, et al. Sex Matters for Women: A Complete Guide to Taking Care of Your Sexual Self. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The Guilford Press; 2012.
- Weber JP. Good Girls. In: Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy: Why Women Settle for One-Sided Relationships. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 2013.