Sex advice with Suzi Godson: Keeping the spark alive as we get older

My husband and I have been together for over 20 years — I’m 47, he is 50. He suggests, as a kind of new year’s resolution, that we bring some more “excitement” to the bedroom. 

He is probably right because, although we are still very attracted to one another, sex has become somewhat predictable. I don’t know where to start.

The first thing you ought to do is work out what you both mean by “excitement”. While it is great to explore new ways of making sex more exciting, if your idea of revving things up is buying a sex toy and his is having a threesome, you might end up creating the wrong kind of tension.

Start by talking everything through. Discussing the “what, when and how” might sound like a passion killer, but preparation, research and discussion really build the anticipation.

If you haven’t read much about sex, now is the time to begin. Try Emily Nagoski’s Come as You Are or Bernie Zilbergeld’s Better Than Ever. There are also some great TED talks that you could watch online together — try Mary Roach on orgasms or Esther Perel on desire in long-term relationships.

Doing your homework is sure to inspire you, but don’t feel you have to reinvent the wheel. Small adjustments can make a big difference. For example, if you always have sex at night, it can be very exciting to arrange a lunchtime liaison at home, or, even better, in a hotel. Changing how you have sex can also help.

In long-term relationships, it is easy to stick to a routine because you know that you will both achieve orgasm. However, forcing yourselves to do things differently can dramatically change the sexual experience.

Instead of intercourse, try taking turns to pleasure each other. You could even try using soft restraints and a blindfold to heighten sensation. Surrendering yourself to a partner in that way can be very erotic.

Popular sex accessories such as blindfolds and ties, lubricant, and his and hers toys can really enhance your sexual experience. If you haven’t explored sensory sex you have a treat in store.

It’s a slow burn, so choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. The aim is to have relaxed sex that engages all five of your senses. Whisper to each other, gently explore each other’s bodies and make eye contact while you kiss.

A darker room enhances the experience, as do candles or firelight. You might want to incorporate a Lelo Flickering Touch Massage Candle (€29, lelo.com). Made of soy wax, it melts into a warm, scented oil, which can be poured directly on to the skin and used for massaging.

Getting older also increases the likelihood of a man experiencing unreliable erections, so it can be a good idea to establish a broader sexual repertoire now.

Similarly, if you experience issues such as age-related vaginal dryness, the fact that you will already be accustomed to lengthy foreplay and using lubrication will decrease any anxiety around that particular issue.

As you get older, doing pelvic floor exercises will help you to maintain sexual function. They are also beneficial for men, and studies have found that they can help to reduce erectile dysfunction.

To exercise your pelvic floor, you first need to identify the pubococcygeus muscle by trying to pause while you urinate. You will feel an internal lift and squeeze, as though you’re drawing your navel and your vagina towards your tummy.

Once you have found the muscle, try it again (with an empty bladder) when lying down.

Tighten your pelvic floor muscle, hold the contraction for three seconds, then relax for three seconds. Repeat three times while lying down, three times when sitting and three times when standing.

The emphasis should be on the strength of each individual contraction, not the number of repetitions. If you both do these exercises once or twice a day, you will stave off a whole host of age-related complications that can undermine sexual pleasure.

Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.omc


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