When Jessica O’Reilly, a Toronto-based sexologist and We-Vibe Education Ambassador, reached out to see if I wanted to chat, the first thing that popped into my head was Salt-n-Pepa’s ‘90s hit, “Let’s Talk About Sex.”
A catchy tune released during a time when my knowledge of sex was little more than the sneak peek I got of shirtless men and women in lingerie on soap operas, I later learned that the song was somewhat revolutionary, as it exposed sexual stereotypes and the reluctance to talk about sex in society. Today, we have events like the Everything To Do with Sex Show, which took place this past weekend in Toronto, and people like Dr. Jess, who work with school boards and community organizations to promote a healthy understanding and knowledge of sex – “all the good things and the bad things.”
We scrolled through some of the most common sex questions asked on Yahoo Answers, for Dr. Jess to tackle. Here’s what she had to say:
What do you do when you’re in a good relationship, but have bad sex?
Great question! It’s often difficult to separate the relationship from the sex, but this concern (or perceived concern) seems to be a common one.
Three questions to ask yourself to work towards improving your sex life:
- What do/did you like about your sex life?
- What are you wiling to do to improve your sex life?
- What would you like your partner to do differently?
Why do people believe that sex lives die out when you get married – how do you keep the flame alive?
If you believe that sex inevitably goes out the window with marriage, you probably don’t have the most positive view of marriage to begin with. If you believe that everything, including sex, goes downhill with marriage, please don’t get married.
To keep the flame alive:
- Don’t have sex at night. Ban it from the nighttime for one month to force yourselves out of your routine.
- Compliment and thank one another. Everyday.
- Try new experiences outside of the home. Events like The Everything to do with Sex Show (which ran this past weekend in Toronto) help to spark new conversations, broaden horizons and inject a sense of novelty into the relationship – novelty has been shown to be a core component of lasting, happy relationships, so make an effort to try something new each month.
- Take care of your health and physical fitness. People who work out have more energy, more positive body image and higher rates of sexual activity and satisfaction.
- Be sexual outside of the relationship. Admire other people. Fantasize about scenarios you’d never want to live out in reality. Get creative and be honest with our partner about your desires and boundaries.
What’s the biggest insecurity men/women come to you about, and what do you tell them about it?
Couples come to me worried that their sex lives are not up to par and that the relationship may deteriorate as a result. Sex is important, but you will absolutely go through ruts. As long as you care enough to put effort into reviving the sexual part of the relationship, you can build compatibility. Compatibility is not something you have, you have to foster it.
How many times should you be having sex? (Is there a point where it becomes unhealthy?)
Have sex as often as you like. Some couples are happy with a few times a month and others want it several times per week. Some couples even opt not to have sex at all. It’s your call.
I’m always reticent to speak about averages, but this is what the research says with regard to sexual frequency: approximately half of married men and women report having vaginal intercourse once per week to several times per month. The challenge with averages is that no week or month is typical. Sexual frequency will depend on your age, the age of your children (if you have any), energy levels, workload, health, travel, diet and social obligations — all of which shift over time.
Does size really matter?
Yes. But size doesn’t only matter when it comes to penises. If the penis is having sex with a vagina, the size of the vagina matters, too. If a penis feels to big or too small, the size of the vagina (or mouth or anus) plays an equal role in terms of fit.
This is an excerpt from my book The New Sex Bible:
How long should you ‘last’ in bed?
According to a survey of sex therapists across Canada and the US, “adequate” intercourse lasts from 3-7 minutes, “desirable” intercourse lasts from 7-13 minutes, 10-30 minutes is deemed “too long” and 1-2 minutes is considered “too short.”
What are the biggest libido killers for both men and women? How do you ramp your libido up?
Kids and stress.
Here are some tips to ramp up your libido:
- Change your diet to reduce sugar, caffeine, dairy (if you have a sensitivity) and hormone-injected meat.
- Exercise. Working out improves circulation which promotes high functioning sexual response.
- Boost your self-esteem by hanging out with positive people. Take a break from negative influences in your life (e.g. friends who are always complaining).
- Share a calendar app to better manage your time to get more sleep and spend more time enjoying life.
- Kid-share. Take turns taking a break from your kids by sharing babysitting duties with neighbours, friends or siblings.
What are the biggest misconception men and women have about sex?
Myth: If you’re compatible and have a good relationship, sex comes naturally.
Sex is natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. It takes work in long-term relationships. You have to set time aside and cultivate desire. If you expect sexual desire to arise naturally after a long work day and a busy night-time routine, you may be disappointed. You have to talk about what you want in bed. You have to talk about your fears and insecurities to become more comfortable with the topic. Research shows that those who are more comfortable talking about sex report higher levels of sexual satisfaction.
What is the question Dr. Jess is most commonly asked?
“How often should we have sex?” See the answer above.