This post was last updated on August 22, 2020 at 8:43 am.
Many couples who are married or in a relationship for a long time need help and have common sexual problems in the bedroom.
One of the best parts of being married or in a long-term relationship is your deep intimacy with your partner. Your masks are gone and you can be fully yourselves - in the bedroom and out.
On the other hand, being in a long-term relationship, whether married or not, has some sexual downfalls. Sex is often a big complaint. Here are the most common sexual problems that couples have in the bedroom and suggestions on how to improve the situation.
Problem: Sex is Boring.
Solution: Add Adventure.
One of the most common sexual problems couples have in the bedroom is getting too comfortable, where sex becomes routine and you are stuck in a rut, where you always do the same thing day after day. Even worse is when there is NO sex at ALL. Without conscious effort, it's the same type of sexual play over and over with no variety or excitement.
That doesn’t have to be your fate though! With a little bit of effort, willingness to be curious, and patience to explore, your sex life can be intimate, exciting, and fulfilling for years to come.
Curiosity and exploration are the foundation of an amazing sex life that lasts.
Broadly, that means finding ways to add adventure to your relationship and sexual play. Practically, it means always asking, “What else?!” For example:
- What else feels good? What else doesn’t?
- What else turns you on? What else turns you off?
- What else do you want to try?
- What else is out there to try (sexually, romantically, etc)?
This little question is so powerful. It gets you thinking outside your sex box and gives your brain a problem to solve. Even when you aren’t actively thinking about it, your brain will be working behind the scenes to get you some answers!
Boring or vanilla sex isn’t bad sex - but it shouldn’t be the only sex you have.
Boring or vanilla sex is a sign of deep intimacy and connection. You know each other’s bodies and what you like and don’t like. It’s beautiful. Yet, for most people, it isn’t enough. Give these steps a try from time-to-time, and see how your sex life flourishes.
Want to be more proactive? Here are 8 steps to get out of a sex rut and back to all the pleasure you deserve.
How to Get Out of a Sex Rut
1-Have the Talk. If your sex life is feeling less than what you desire, it’s time to talk to your partner. Use this article as an excuse a la, “Hey honey - I was reading this article about sex ruts today and wanted to talk to you about our sex life.”
For more tips on talking to your partner about sex, click here.
2-Figure out what you want to explore. Maybe you already have something in mind. If not, get inspired by reading this blog, shopping for luxury sex toys, or delving into a romance novel or erotic fiction (or 10).
Need even more inspiration? Here’s 16 Ways to Add Adventure to Your Sex Life.
3-Make a list of what you want to try - and have your partner do the same. You can have separate lists or create a shared Google doc to add to.
Don’t want to make your own list? Try a pre-made one like this one we love from Autostraddle.
4-Compare and talk about your lists. Where is there overlap? What needs to be negotiated? Is there anything that’s a hard no for one of you? What do you want to try first? Second? Third?
5-Choose something to try and go for it! Look for something that’s a good balance of exciting to both of you, easy to try, and won’t take too long to put into action.
6-Try, try, try again. This is key! Don’t try something once and give up. Whenever we try new things, sexual or otherwise, the first time or two is really about figuring it out. From there you can tweak and move into enjoying it.
7-Prepare for the other things you want to try. Order whatever premium high-quality luxury sex toys and props you need to try the next few sexy activities out.
8-Rinse and repeat. Talk about sex, read about it, and revisit your list regularly. Intermingle these new sexual acts into the ones you already know and love.
Problem: Lack of Desire.
Solution: Make Foreplay Last All Day.
Many people can experience a lack of desire due to stress, medication, relationship issues, lack of sleep, diet, depression, and for women, menopause. They might get turned on after sexy things happen -- not before. Even more concerning, is that they might not get turned on at all.
Types of Desire
There are 2 types of desire: spontaneous (happens out of nowhere) and responsive (takes more work and happens after something sexual starts). Responsive desire is totally normal and really common among people with vulvas. Therefore, for those who struggle with desire, I would suggest focusing on responsive desire. Incorporate sexual stimuli to help keep sex in your brain so you’re primed and more ready to go.
- Kissing/touching for a few minutes
- Read erotic books or romance novels together
- Sext or send flirty texts
- Have sex before end-of-the-day exhaustion - morning sex, sex as soon as you’re both home from work, or having sex before you leave for your date night
- Don’t have sexual intercourse. Most people think sex = intercourse, either penis-in-vagina or penis-in-anus. For many, this is too much work. Try mutual masturbation, oral sex, massages, and make out sessions.
Also, it's important to recognize that the way a couple treats each other outside of the bedroom has a direct effect on the quality of their love life. Nasty, nagging and negative partners rarely enjoy five-star sex. Strengthen your relationship by improving communication, prioritizing couple time, making your partner feel appreciated, and approaching conflict with humility, an open-mind and a team-player mentality. Replace the criticism or contempt in your voice with a respectful, affectionate tone. Do the “little things” that you know will help your partner have a happier day. It’s your best bet for a hotter night.
Strengthen your relationship by improving communication, prioritizing couple time, making your partner feel appreciated, and approaching conflict with humility, an open-mind and a team-player mentality. Replace the criticism or contempt in your voice with a respectful, affectionate tone. Do the “little things” that you know will help your partner have a happier day. It’s your best bet for a hotter night.
Problem: Different Sex Drives.
Solution: Create the Right Context.
Another common sexual problem that many couples experience in the bedroom is each partner has a different sex drive. All long term relationships experience this at some point where the lower sex drive partner doesn’t want sex when they aren’t in the mood. Meanwhile, the higher sex drive partner feels their needs aren’t being met, and they feel frustrated and sometimes unappreciated.
In order to address libido differences, create the right context. It is important to:
- Know what things excite you and inhibit you
- Communicate that with a partner
- Doing more or less as needed
If one partner feels that there are too few exciting things or too many turn-offs, then they won’t get turned on. The partner with the lower libido has to be excited AND there can’t be too much stopping that excitement. Also, if one partner doesn’t feel close to the other partner, they may be too turned off to get turned on!
How Can a Partner Get in the Mood and Feel More Connected to Their Partner?
One of the best ways to deal with too many turn-offs is to do something that reconnects you to your pleasure. Breathing and being present can help you feel into your body and diminish some of the turnoffs so you can focus on the turn-ons.
Also, the best sex happens in a low stress and high trust environment. How can you and your partner create that together? Here are some ideas:
- If you have the lower libido: Distinguish between a hard no and a not really/not in the mood. Ask yourself, "Could I be in the mood? What would help me get there? Am I in the mood for certain things (eg kissing) but not others (eg intercourse)?" Verbalize this to your partner.
- If you have the higher libido: Embrace masturbation! Additionally, work to create the best context for your partner. And never push them if they mention wanting to do one sex act but not the other.
For more details, read this: How to Deal With Different Sex Drives in a Relationship
Problem: Lack of Orgasm.
Solution: Masturbate together!
If one partner consistently has an orgasm and the other partner doesn't, for whatever reason, it's not really fun for the other partner who is not getting the pleasure they deserve over time because their needs are not being met.
Everyone in the relationship needs to understand their body and how they like pleasure. Once you understand what you like and don’t like or what your body needs, you can then communicate this to your partner if you need to.
Also, many people don’t realize that 70% of women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Therefore, penis-in-vagina intercourse does not help those with vulvas orgasm.
There are many products (premium high-quality sex toys, lubricants, and stimulants) that can help. Using these tools together is not a bad thing, does not replace your partner or makes you less of a person. They are just a means to an end.
Problem: Painful Sex.
Solution: Use Lube!
As we get older, a very common problem in the bedroom is painful sex. Painful sex and intimacy can be caused by vaginal atrophy, which is when the lining of your vagina gets thinner, drier, less elastic, inflamed and more fragile. Having less estrogen in your body leads to vaginal atrophy.
You may experience a drop in estrogen:
- After menopause
- During the years leading up to menopause (perimenopause)
- After surgery to remove your ovaries (surgical menopause)
- After pelvic radiation or chemotherapy for cancer
- As a side effect of certain breast cancer treatments
Other factors also contribute to vaginal atrophy. These include smoking, not having given birth vaginally, and lack of sexual activity (solo or with a partner).
Both smoking and lack of sexual activity reduce the amount of blood flow, and therefore oxygen, to your vagina making the tissue less elastic and more fragile. Smoking also reduces the amount of natural estrogen in your body.
Treatment for Painful Sex
- Use a high-quality glycerin-free lubricant during sexual play. Our favorite is Miglori, a premium silicone that’s not tacky and is very moisturizing.
- Use a daily vaginal moisturizer, which provides more moisture than a lubricant. Our favorite is Sliquid Satin.
- Pee immediately after sex. This helps flush out any potentially bad bacteria and helps lower your risk of UTIs.
- Have more sex! Getting aroused brings blood flow and oxygen down to your vagina, keeping the tissues supple and healthy. (And, it doesn’t have to mean intercourse, but it could be kissing, oral sex, masturbation, etc.)
- If none of the above help, see your healthcare provider for vaginal or oral estrogen.
Problem: Erectile Difficulty.
Solution: Try Something Else That Gives You Sexual Pleasure.
No matter the age, some penises have trouble consistently getting or keeping an erection. Erectile Dysfunction or ED is the most common sexual dysfunction for those with a penis and one in three have this issue.
Ongoing ED can cause stress, affect your self-confidence, and lead to relationship problems. Plus, it can signal an underlying health condition that needs treatment.
Often, erectile dysfunction is caused a combination of physical and psychological issues.
Talk with your healthcare provider to treat any underlying physical or mental health conditions. There are lots of different types of treatment out there, but it is worth noting that you do not need an erect penis to enjoy pleasure. Sexual pleasure can also mean a hand job, oral sex, anal play or stimulating the prostate. Also, many premium sex toys can help with ED. The Pulse SOLO or DUO Masturbator can stimulate the frenulum and can be used whether the penis is flaccid or erect.
Problem: Negative Body Image.
Solution: Love ALL Parts of Your Partner.
As time goes on and we get older, our bodies change. Some of us get pregnant and give birth. Some of us gain weight and/or lose our hair. Different health issues, as well as everyday stress, also affect our bodies. Sometimes we work out and sometimes we do not.
These inevitable changes can make anyone self-conscious about their body, which will then cause them to cover up more and/or have less sex.
To improve body image, couples should share a healthy lifestyle together. If you love your partner, they will be desirable no matter what they look like.
Beauty comes from all different ways -- both in and out.
Solution: Help Your Partner Feel Less Exhausted
In this day and age, everyone is so busy. The constant running around and being busy causes fatigue. To combat the inevitable exhaustion, approach your nighttime routine as a team. Help your partner get everything done so that you can be together, relax, and hopefully, have more sex. Not only does it increase your chances of being intimate with your partner, it shows your partner that you are a team and that you’re in it together.
Sexual problems are common in marriages and long-term relationships - you are not alone. It’s best to address them earlier on rather than wait until resentment develops. Use these tips as a starting point to address issues and recreate a more intimate, exciting, and fulfilling sex life.
Need extra help sorting through a sexual problem? Click here to book a call with our Director of Education & Training, Kait.