Let’s talk about sex! At a recent #SexUncovered event, Dr Ginni Mansberg, host of the new show Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, and sex therapist Dr Margaret Redelman, answered everything you’ve always wanted to know about sex, but were too afraid to ask.
How often does a ‘regular’ couple have sex?
“Almost everyone wants a figure, or ‘target’, when they come to see me. For younger couples, averaging 2-3 times a week is probably a good amount, while for older couples it might more realistically be 1-2 times a week or fortnight. However, the critical factors are probably the longevity of the relationship and the happiness quotient of the couple,” says Dr Margaret Redelman.
What’s the ‘normal’ length of time before a women climaxes?
“There is no such thing as ‘normal’, but there are some averages. A lot depends on what’s happening in people’s lives and their relationship, the motivation for their love making at that time and their physical surroundings,” Dr Ginni Mansberg reminds.
“Women need on average 20 minutes of foreplay before penetration,” said Dr Redelman.
“But remember, not all women want this all the time. A quickie without orgasm can sometimes be as much fun as a long session with orgasm,” said Dr Redelman.
Does the ‘g-spot’ actually exist and does every woman have one?
“No, it’s actually a bit of a fantasy. There has been some research to suggest that there is a section of the vagina – around two thirds of the way up on the front wall – that if touched can result in intense sexual pleasure, but it’s inconsistent,” says Dr Ginni Mansberg.
Dr Margaret Redelman agrees: “I don’t think the ‘g-spot’ exists. There is a ‘g-spot’ area where there is a small plexis of nerves with increased sensitivity. In the same way as the fact that no two clitorises are the same, some women seem to have this area and some women don’t.”
How common is it for men ‘not to come’ and what causes this during sex?
“Some men have a high threshold for orgasm. There can also be emotional and physiological challenges for some men in ejaculating with age, disease and medication. Some medical conditions can impact ability to climax, for example, diabetes can effect nerve supply that impacts stimulus, while some medications inhibit ejaculation. There will be some men who are inhibited because of psychological makeup, family of origin issues, past sexual experiences and current relationship issues such as anger and pregnancy fears.
As men get older some men can have trouble if their partner has vaginal laxity and the penis is not getting enough stimulation. As men age, however, some find they don’t need to ejaculate every time they make love. They can find lovemaking to be emotionally satisfying without having to ejaculate,” says Dr Redelman.
How can couples keep things fresh in the bedroom after being together for a while? What should you say if you want something different?
Says Dr Margaret Redelman: “If your partner’s not meeting your sexual needs, say something sooner rather than later. The longer you take to say something the harder it will be to change, and the more hurt your partner could be. Say something with empathy and warmth, but say it!
The most important thing is not to accuse, or say they’re a bad lover. Talk about yourself and your needs and working together to be great in bed together. In a new relationship people are often shy to say things, but if you let it stay for a long time there will be repercussions for the long term sexual relationship.”
Says Dr Ginni Mansberg: “Good communication. Good communication. Good communication. Make it positive. If your partner hears ‘I want to spice things up’ they can read it wrong and turn off if it seems like an accusation. If it’s wanting to return to the rockstar sex of the past, and saying ‘I love you, let’s do it together, what about trying something different together’ you can have a great time.
Make sure your partner feels attractive. If it’s said in a positive way it can be very exciting, but otherwise it can sound negative or accusatory. Sometimes it can be a very simple change. If a woman can’t orgasm through penis-vagina sex, what if she said ‘maybe you could rub my clitoris while having sex?’
When suggesting something new, make sure your partner hears: ‘I love you. I want you’.”
How do you speak with your partner if they’re experiencing sexual dysfunction?
Dr Ginni Mansberg: “Definitely don’t ignore it. Don’t point the finger or blame, approach these types of problems as a team. Speak as ‘we’ and about what ‘we can do.’
Studies have shown that premature ejaculation (PE) is the most common form of male sexual dysfunction.
Having treatments that really work has changed the landscape completely. It is now a mainstream, medical situation where there is safe help available. We can now sort this out. Whether the man comes to a doctor’s appointment together with his partner, or alone, the main issue is ensuring that men feel supported and there is open communication.
Men, go to the doctor!”
Dr Margaret Redelman: “If you aren’t sure what is ‘normal’, or are confused about what’s happening, get some background education for yourself, raise it with your doctor or go online. One resource, including an online self-assessment for PE is controlPE.com.au, which has been created by Menarini.
You should definitely address any problems with your partner – and sooner rather than later – with a three-step process:
- Say something nice. Most people, in their anxiety, rush to say what they want and forget this step. Validating or acknowledging the partner’s feelings will open them up to hearing the dialogue better. Remember, you’re talking to someone you love! Let them know it.
- Offer neutral observation and what is happening to/for you. Don’t judge or accuse them. Give them information about your experience of the situation using the words “I”.
- Tell them what you want or your ideas on next steps which you think may help you. Ask them if they’re open to exploring ‘what we can do together…’ Ask them for their input or suggestions.”
What’s the most common reason couples attend sex therapy?
Dr Margaret Redelman: “The most common reason why couples come to me together is a discrepancy in sexual desire, that is, different libido levels. There are stereotypes in the community that men want to do it all the time and women are feigning headaches, but in approximately one third of the couples I see clinically, it is the woman who has the higher libido.”
Are pelvic floor exercises the best thing to improve the sexual experience for a woman?
“Pelvic floor exercises are critical for women and also important for men to do. They can improve the sexual experience for both men and women.
For women, the stronger your pelvic floor the better your orgasms will be. If she’s below a certain strength she won’t be able to have an orgasm and if it’s above a certain strength there’s potential to be multi- orgasmic.
Walking upright puts tremendous pressure on our pelvic floor muscles, so as we age and after kids we have reduced pelvic floor strength. So to maintain orgasmic potential over time it is very important to exercise your pelvic floor,” says Dr Margaret Redelman.
Does the contraceptive pill lower libido?
“It certainly can, particularly pills that reduce testosterone. If you have low testosterone already, some pills can definitely send libido into hibernation.
Libido is impacted by a lot of things, and sometimes women do miss-attribute their changes to different things.
If your libido takes a dive, look at what’s happening in your relationship or the stress in your life. Stress shuts down your ovulation, which in some ways can be your body protecting you,” says Dr Ginni Mansberg.
What sex questions do you want answered? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get them answered!
Julia has lived and worked in London, Amsterdam, and New York, and is obsessed with food. She's either cooking or thinking about what to eat next. Follow Julia on Twitter.