Illustration: Harriet Russell
Let's Talk About Sex
Here's what the experts think about your sex life: "There isn't one standard," says Debra Herbenick, PhD, of the Kinsey Institute. "There are couples who have a ton of sex, couples who never have sex and couples everywhere in the middle. The most important thing is that you create the romantic life you want." Still not convinced? We tackle a few conundrums you might encounter at different stages of your sexual journey.
The Fear: "It's been less than a year, and the romance is drying up."
The Reality Check: "Marriage is one of the biggest commitments you'll ever make," says therapist Laura Berman, PhD, author of It's Not Him, It's You! "A little anxiety is to be expected, and it's normal to withdraw from your partner." She recommends easing back in with old-fashioned make-out sessions a few times a week. Kissing and cuddling—which can decline in frequency as soon as a couple weds—will help you remember what you loved about sex in the first place.
The Newly Single
The Fear: "The prospect of having sex with someone new terrifies me."
The Reality Check: Don't worry so much about future partners and what they might think of your thighs. Instead, focus on you and what makes you feel sexy and confident. "Buy lingerie you feel good in, go out with friends, flirt," says psychiatrist Gail Saltz, MD. And when you do meet someone, don't be afraid to confront your fears head-on: "Letting your partner know that you're nervous isn't a bad thing," says Saltz. "Besides, most men can't wait to tell you that they think you're sexy!"
The Fear: "I'm not as revved-up as I used to be, but I don't want my pilot light to go out for good."
The Reality Check: "Women may be surprised to learn that menopause isn't a death sentence for their sex drive," says Stacy Lindau, MD, director of the Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine at the University of Chicago. A common culprit for a drop-off in libido is an undiagnosed medical condition, like heart disease or high blood pressure. Says Lindau, "Once women get those conditions treated, most see their sex drive shoot up."
We Hear You!