Hopefully, you've had a chance to read our earlier blog posts from this week discussing some of the most common roadblocks to having a healthy sex life! Some additional roadblocks are: Erectile Dysfunction- Erectile dysfunction can be an extremely frustrating issue for couple's to face. It can cause embarrassment for both partners, which can also create difficulty in both partners openly discussing their feelings and solutions to the problem. Even with the increase in commercials for different medications that treat erectile dysfunction, there can be so much shame and embarrassment in taking the next step in talking to your doctor about what you are struggling with. Many times, men (and women, too!) feel like they should just be able to "push past it" or blame themselves for the issue and instead of talking about it, they retreat or withdraw from sexual activity to avoid the embarrassment. This can cause the woman to feel unattractive and devalued, which causes her to retreat and withdraw... When she withdraws, the man feels more ashamed of not being able to perform or satisfy her, so he withdraws even further. During this process, the man can develop a lot of negative self talk when sex is initiated. This may cause him feel a lot of internal pressure to develop or maintain an erection, which causes both stress and anxiety-- and only exacerbates the issue. You can probably see the potential pattern here as a roadblock to having a healthy sex life! Erectile dysfunction is easily treatable in most circumstances, whether psychologically or medically, but only if you can be open enough to name and address the issue you are facing as a couple. Be open to bringing up the topic, but be gentle in your presentation. Addressing the issue as an issue of the couple, instead of "his" issue can help promote and foster a supportive and loving environment.
Infertility- Couples who struggle with infertility issues can face many different stresses that impact a healthy sex life. Sex may become focused exclusively on trying to get pregnant, which can put a damper on the feelings of intimacy and bonding in a couple's sex life. Depending on the stages of infertility and possible infertility treatment, couples face rigorous schedules, medications and shots, as well as physical symptoms from the treatments that become both overwhelming and exhausting. Many times, couples face the loss of sexual attraction and/or desire, due to feeling objectified or feeling like sex has become "mechanical". Also, depression is common among couple's struggling with infertility, which can negatively impact sexual intimacy and desire. Finding out you aren't pregnant and the "letdown" that happens each month can take it's toll on both partners. Finding a good support system with other couples or individuals who have (or are) experiencing the same difficulties can help relieve some of the emotional pressure in the relationship, which can be renewing to the relationship. Make sure not to lose your relationship and connection with your partner in other areas of life that don't include getting pregnant-- if it does happen, you still need to have a healthy relationship! Maintaining your intimate connection outside of the bedroom can also have a very positive effect within the bedroom! Also, as difficult as it might be, try to incorporate sexual activity that isn't focused on the goal of pregnancy. This can help to maintain the sexual passion and intimacy in the relationship and remove some of the pressure both people are probably feeling.
Poor communication about sex- Communicating about the important areas of a relationship is like making an investment in the health of the entire relationship. It's just as important to be able to openly discuss the topic of sex as it is to discuss issues such as money and finances, child rearing, planning for the future, career issues and other "big life things". If you can't share your likes and dislikes regarding sex with your partner, you are more likely to feel unfulfilled and not enjoy sexual intimacy with him/her. Your partner can't truly know what you like (or don't like!), if you don't tell them. Without this open dialogue, couples can fall into a pattern of avoiding or withdrawing from sex. Additionally, having sexual intimacy that you dislike (or feeling unfulfilled) can cause pent up frustration and resentment, which can impact other areas of the relationship. It's important to take time to share the things that bring you sexual fulfillment and make you feel more connected to your partner.
As always, thank you for reading and we hope you will join us again next week!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.