"My partner is a fitness fanatic and she only ever wants to have sex after a workout. It’s great when our endorphins are racing and we’re a bit sweaty, but sometimes I would like it to be after a romantic dinner, like a normal couple.
"Why doesn’t she fancy me at any other time?”
There are lots of physiological explanations for why your girlfriend likes having sex after a workout.
Vigorous exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that act on the brain to block pain and create feelings of exhilaration, happiness and calm.
Exercise also increases blood flow to the pelvis and the vagina. If your girlfriend is doing a lot of core exercises, such as squats, leg lifts or planks, she may be in a heightened state of arousal by the time she gets home.
It’s not uncommon for exercise sequences that place a lot of pressure on the lower abdomen, hip flexors and inner thighs to bring some women close to (or even spontaneously to) orgasm.
Some of the earliest studies to explore the relationship between exercise and increased female desire were carried out by the clinical psychologist Cindy Meston at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
In 1995 she measured the vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA) of women who had engaged in 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercise before viewing erotic films. VPA describes changes in pressure within the blood vessels of the vaginal walls.
Blood flow to the vagina reduces in response to stress and increases in response to exercise, but changes in VPA can occur only in response to sexual stimuli. She found a significant increase in women who had recently engaged in high-intensity exercise compared with women who hadn’t.
It is much more difficult to explain why she is not interested in sex at any other time. The fact that she specifically objects to sex after a meal could simply mean that she doesn’t like having sex when she is full.
It could also indicate that she is not totally comfortable with her body.
Could this also possibly be the reason she spends so much time in the gym?
Although a single meal makes almost no difference to size or shape, if she is already someone who feels that way, the feeling of fullness is likely to make her feel even more so, and is therefore not compatible with sex.
This may also explain why your girlfriend is OK about sex after exercise. When she is hot and sweaty and has done a really hard workout, she probably feels much stronger and fitter - and therefore, sexier - than she does after a big meal.
Whatever her reasons, it sounds as if she (and, perhaps, you) lives by a strict schedule. While that kind of commitment to health is admirable, a little spontaneity will help her to break the rigid association between working out and having sex.
Your girlfriend may not have registered the connection and she obviously doesn’t know how much it bothers you, so you need to be honest.
Ask her to agree to knock the gym on the head for a week or so, and next Saturday morning stay in bed, make out, chat, eat toast and get crumbs on the sheets.
Aim for fun, not fitness. It is great to be disciplined, but life is hard enough, isn’t it?
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org