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Can I overcome sexual problems on my own?

Jan L. Shifren, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
Treating sexual problems is easier now than ever before. Revolutionary medications and professional sex therapists are there if you need them. But you may be able to resolve minor sexual issues by making a few adjustments in your lovemaking style. Here are some things you can try at home.

Educate yourself. Plenty of good self-help materials are available for every type of sexual issue. Browse the Internet or your local bookstore, pick out a few resources that apply to you, and use them to help you and your partner become better informed about the problem. If talking directly is too difficult, you and your partner can underline passages that you particularly like and show them to each other.

Give yourself time. As you age, your sexual responses slow down. You and your partner can improve your chances of success by finding a quiet, comfortable, interruption-free setting for sex. Also, understand that the physical changes in your body mean that you'll need more time to get aroused and reach orgasm. When you think about it, spending more time having sex isn't a bad thing; working these physical necessities into your lovemaking routine can open up doors to a new kind of sexual experience.

Use lubrication. Often, the vaginal dryness that begins in perimenopause can be easily corrected with lubricating liquids and gels. Use these freely to avoid painful sex -- a problem that can snowball into flagging libido and growing relationship tensions. Low dose vaginal estrogens are safe and effective for postmenopausal women with vaginal dryness and may be used for many years. Discuss options with your healthcare provider.

Maintain physical affection. Even if you're tired, tense, or upset about the problem, engaging in kissing and cuddling is essential for maintaining an emotional and physical bond.

Practice touching. The sensate focus techniques that sex therapists use can help you re-establish physical intimacy without feeling pressured. Many self-help books and educational videos offer variations on these exercises. You may also want to ask your partner to touch you in a manner that he or she would like to be touched. This will give you a better sense of how much pressure, from gentle to firm, you should use.

Try different positions. Developing a repertoire of different sexual positions not only adds interest to lovemaking, but can also help overcome problems.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.