Category Archives: Sexuality and Health

Q&A with J: “A Sexual Stimulant for Women?”

Today’s question is an interesting one, from a husband wanting to help his wife’s sexual desire:

So I hate to ask this as I can see [there] being conflicting opinions on the subject but, do they make a sexual stimulant for women? As well as you know they have been making them for years for the guys but I can’t find anything that looks reliable for the woman’s side of things. My wife and I have talked about this off and on for some time and she is willing to try almost anything to help her with her almost non existent drive in the bedroom.

I write about sex drive differences, but honestly there are resources more dedicated to low libido in wives than I am. Here are just three you could take a look at:

Image result for amazon.com unlock your libido

Bonny’s OysterBed7.

Given the question, I think Bonny’s site is a particularly good resource, because she addresses the science of sex and low libido. Bonny does a great job of giving emotional encouragement, practical tips, and covers studies that show which substances do work or don’t work in lifting your libido. She also has a great book titled Unlock Your Libido: 52-Week Sex Drive Transformation. She’s also one of my podcast partners, and she brings her science knowledge to our Sex Chat for Christian Wives.

Boost Your Libido course.

Sheila Gregoire of To Love, Honor, and Vacuum has a wonderful online course for low-libido wives that walks them through reasons they might not be “feeling it” and what to do about it. She doesn’t talk supplements so much as tips, but they are helpful and might indeed boost your wife’s libido. Click below to find out more.

Dr. Oz’s List.

Confession: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Dr. Oz. I think some of his advice is really good, and some of it is, well, opportunistic. But I found this article on his website with natural substances he suggests could boost female libido. Do they work? I’m skeptical how much of this stuff you’d have to actually eat/take to get results enough to notice a difference. But then again, why wouldn’t you just try and see for yourself? Especially when the prescribed substances include innocuous things like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

In addition to these resources, I suggest your wife see a doctor and get tested for hormone levels as well as deficiencies that can cause fatigue and low response, like low thyroid and anemia. Tell the doctor what exactly is happening, so she’ll know what to look for. It’s certainly possible that her physiology makes it difficult for your wife to feel desire.

But also remember that many women don’t experience a sex drive the way it’s been primarily described — as a desire for sex followed by engagement. Instead, many wives have a libido that is responsive, in that the drive is there after engagement in affection, foreplay, and sexual activity begin. There’s nothing wrong with having a responsive drive; it’s the way many of us were created. What matters instead is whether she can get into the sexual experience at all.

As for an actual sex stimulant for women? Nope, I don’t really know of anything I’d recommend. There are some shysters who will sell you something that claims to fire up a woman’s libido, but they’re not a magic pill. Stay away from anything that sounds too good to be true, because it probably is.

Like or not, sexual desire can be a delicate dance for many women. So just be patient, investigative, and willing to try various thing to see what works. I wish you all the best!

Q&A with J: “He Goes Hard and Then Soft”

Today’s question is an urgent one, from a wife recently married:

My husband hasn’t entered me yet, not for a lack of trying. I feel so worried because it’s not as easy or as straightforward as I thought. It feels like he just can’t fit in me (is that possible?). He inserted his finger into me and wiggled it around and that worked ok. So far he also isn’t able to stay hard for very long to get in me…he goes hard and then soft, and then hard, then soft. We also haven’t found a comfortable position and maybe that’s part of the problem.

He really wants to consummate our marriage and he really wants to be inside me…I wish that I could make it happen. He’s so kind to me and we’ve been exploring each other’s bodies and he’s been stimulating me with his fingers and I’ve been helping him finish with my hands.

Is any of this normal? Does anyone else go after the wedding without sex because they can’t make it work?blog post title + row of straws ranging from straight to bentI actually emailed this newlywed wife back with some suggestions. Knowing that this frustrated couple isn’t the only one out there who has struggled to consummate, let me share those tips here:

  • He’s probably going hard then soft, hard then soft…because his concentration is wavering. I suspect he’s aroused then worried about you…aroused then worried, etc. At this point, his part doesn’t really concern me too much. I don’t think you’ll know how his erections really respond until you get the main issue worked out.
  • Are you actually in pain when he tries to enter? If so, you need to see a doctor, like a gynecologist. Have the doctor check for any structural issues and ask about vaginismus. Sheila Gregoire has several great posts on that condition. And please don’t worry about the delicacy of the topic: Doctors hear all kinds of things. Most are quite willing to answer your questions. If you do get blown off, then find another doctor.
  • You may need more time to stretch. If he can insert one finger, then have him move up from there: two fingers, three fingers. No, he’s not going to put his whole hand in there. 😉 But he can help to slowly but surely stretch your muscles enough to receive his penis. You can also do this yourself with your own fingers. I have a good friend who was advised by a doctor to stretch herself out a little on her own before her wedding night, so that she—a virgin—would find sex more comfortable, and it worked.
  • Have you tried you on top? Sometimes this helps, because you can be more in control of the pacing, angle, etc. Christian Friendly Sex Positions has quite a few ideas for wife on top. Be careful, however, of leaning so you don’t cause a sex injury (see “penile fracture”).
  • Are you on birth control? Do you have allergies? How are you lubricating? These issues deal with how your body is responding to what’s happening. You should get fully lubricated, and your inner vaginal lips should swell to 2-3 times their regular size before he enters. If your body isn’t responding to arousal this way, then you might have physiological issues that need looking into. For instance, oral contraceptives can change your hormones such that your body doesn’t have the right amount of estrogen to perform properly. And allergies can be an issue; just ask Jennifer Smith of Unveiled Wife.
  • How’s your mental focus? Are you enjoying what’s happening? You say he really wants to be inside you. What about you? Do you embrace your own sexuality fully—knowing that it’s a God-given gift for your marriage? Sometimes it’s hard for us Christian gals to flip that switch from virgin to lover, so if you’re struggling, honestly my best advice is that you pick up a copy of my book, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, which specifically deals with how we view our bodies and our sexuality in light of God’s Word.

That’s a very brief run-down, but hopefully something there sparks an idea.

As for how normal this is? It happens more than you’d think. Breathe easy and realize that you two just vows to spend your lifetime with each other. As much as you want it all to happen right now, you really do have some time to figure this out. Work toward a solution, but also enjoy the journey and the arousal, excitement, and intimacy you experience along the way.

♥     ♥     ♥

But here’s something y’all rarely get to see. This young wife emailed me back with more information, including this tidbit:

No, I’m not in actual pain…he hasn’t been able to enter me because as he tries to enter, he goes soft.

Hmmm. I kinda take back my first point — because this is an issue worth addressing. And it happens to more than newlyweds.

Sometimes a husband struggles to keep an erection, and some men particularly struggle with maintaining the erection for intercourse. Why might a husband struggle with being hard and then going soft, just as he’s about to enter or even after he’s inside? Let’s talk about several possibilities.

Health Issue

In order to maintain an erection, you need strong, healthy blood flow that can reach and remain in his penis. Some medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, interfere with proper blood flow. A husband might be able to get hard, but can’t hold onto it. So erectile dysfunction may not merely impair the marriage bed, but could be a symptom of real health problems.

Get thee to a doctor! Yep, you should start with a call to his physician to check his total health and make sure there are no health issues interfering with his ability to maintain an erection. Be insistent about making sure everything is a-okay. And if it’s not, address the issue with treatment, management, or whatever else needs to happen.

Drugs, legal and illegal

Some prescription drugs can affect the intensity of an erection. If he’s on medications, talk to the doctor and/or pharmacist about side effects to see if that’s one of them. Sometimes you can change to a different drug that won’t have the negative side effect for you.

Alcohol is another substance that affects ability to perform. Drinking too much really can make a penis go flaccid. If he’s drinking alcohol before sex, eliminate it for a while and see if that makes a difference.

Illegal drugs can have terrible consequences for many parts of your life, including the marriage bed. Plenty of users cannot perform. Now, most of the spouses I write to here are not dealing with this … but some of you are. If you’re the one using, you’ve got to stop. If your spouse doesn’t know, it’s time to fess up, get help, and be accountable. If you suspect your spouse is using, it’s time to confront (lovingly) and set some boundaries.

Masturbation

Our minds are powerful things, and they embrace patterns. When a man establishes a pattern of becoming sexually aroused and satisfied through self-touch, he can have difficulty becoming aroused and satisfied in other ways. Sometimes masturbation has been a tool men use prenuptials to deal with their high libido until they can have sex in marriage. But then they’re shocked to find that what helped them keep their sex drive in check before marriage has made it hard to enjoy what they waited so long for.

Some married men do this as well. They masturbate too often and thus deprive their wife of the sexual intimacy marriage should have. Sex becomes a self-focused activity, with a feedback loop that masturbation easier than interacting with another person. Obviously, the answer is to stop jerking the gherkin! No masturbation. None, zero, nada. Your mind and body need time to reset so that you can adopt a new pattern of being fully engaged with your beloved.

Porn

More men report experiencing erectile dysfunction these days. One of the reasons is the prevalence of porn. Where you used to have to seek porn out, now you have to keep it out … or it comes and finds you. Consequently, we have a much higher percentage of men who have seen and engaged with pornography. Again, since our minds are creatures of habit, porn can become the way he gets and stays aroused. So even if the guy can get hard, he can’t keep it unless it’s accompanied by sexual imagery.

What’s tough for the wife is finding out if this is the issue. You want to know so you can deal with the problem, but you also don’t want to (1) accuse him of doing something he isn’t doing or (2) discover that your beloved man has been looking at naked women behind your back (the selfish pig). Now I know you men who have struggled with porn just cringed at that last parenthetical, but this really is how it feels for most wives.

At the end of the day, though, you have to ask questions, show support, and realize that your husband isn’t the enemy — porn is. And if you’re the husband watching porn, confess your sin, ask for forgiveness, comfort and reassure her, and then get to work fighting the enemy. Shove off sin and embrace the real and beautiful sex God wants you to have instead. After a while, your erections should come back.

Guilt

We talk plenty about the issue of Christian women who worked so hard to maintain their purity before marriage that they struggle becoming sexual in marriage. The same can happen to men. A husband can really, really want to have sex, but when it’s showtime, deep-seated guilt comes roaring in and it goes limp. He may not even been consciously aware that’s what’s happening.

So the answer is to dig deep into what you think about sex. Do you believe 100%, with every bone and fiber of your body, that sex is a God-given blessing for your marriage? Are you tensing up when met with the opportunity to have sex? Do you feel a part of you holding back, worried that maybe this isn’t beautiful or spiritual after all? Again, my book, Intimacy Revealed, while written for wives, has a lot to say about a healthy theology of sex. You need to replace your personal guilt with God’s truth. And your body will follow.

Performance anxiety

Pure and simple, performance anxiety is often the issue for men experiencing erectile dysfunction. Especially a man who enters marriage as a virgin. This is his first go-round, and oh my goodness, the pressure! Hey, grooms get nervous about the honeymoon too. Or nervous well after the honeymoon is over.

Husbands can ruminate through a series of questions in the middle of making love: Is this good for her? Is my penis big enough? Is it too big? What if she doesn’t climax? Am I doing this right? Why isn’t she wetter? Is she ready for me to enter? Does she really want to be here, or is she just here out of duty? And on and on. What’s worse is that once he’s had erection difficulties, the big question that could be flashing in his head is: Am I going to be able to keep an erection this time? Again, pressure!

Look, erectile dysfunction happens to almost every man at some point in his life. If it hasn’t happened yet, just wait until you’re older and have a frustrating moment of your brain being totally engaged while your penis lazily hangs there in total opposition to your plans. Give yourself a break. The truth is that sex in marriage is a marvelous thing in that not everything relies on getting it right this one time; you’ve got a lifetime of lovemaking. You really can take your time, figure out how to arouse and pleasure one another, and rest assured that your penis can get the job done. If not this time, then next time.

Since this post is now rivaling Santa’s list on length, I’ll cut off there. Even though I could say more. Stop laughing, hubby. (He thinks I could always say more. 😉 )

Now to my readers, what words of encouragement or wisdom do you have for this couple or others who have experienced difficulty with maintaining an erection?

Q&A with J: “When I Orgasm, I Shake All Over”

Today’s topic is about strange reactions wives experience during/after an orgasm. Here’s the reader’s question:

Strange question, but i’m not really sure where to get more info. Sometimes when I orgasm I shake, all over, uncontrollably but not in a seizure manner. It doesn’t happen all the time and I can’t figure out rhyme or reason for it. It kind of freaks me out, but my husband loves it! He stands there all proud and takes it in. Do you know if this happens to other women? Why/how it happens? I can’t say I enjoy it because I can’t make it stop.

Blog post title + illustration of woman with hands on cheeks and mouth open (like "wow")

Yes, it happens to other women.

In fact, there are several reactions wives have during/after orgasm that, while seemingly strange, are perfectly normal:

  • shaking
  • crying
  • laughing
  • muscle exhaustion
  • numbness

Why do these things happen? From my research and talking to others, I point the finger at three causes:

1. Physical exertion.

While it promotes emotional intimacy, sex is a physical activity. It requires the effort of your body — bones, muscles, nerves, etc. When you tap those resources, your body can react with fatigue demonstrated by such reactions as numbness and shaking.

Maybe this has happened to you when you ran for a long time or played sports or danced the night away: When you finally take a break, you find your muscles are twitching, or you can’t fully feel your feet, or you simply feel like a puddle of goo.

The build-up to orgasm can make your muscles tense up to such an extreme that when the orgasm is over, your body reacts as if you ran a few miles. And it doesn’t have to do with your physical shape beforehand; rather, it’s a sensitivity some women have and others don’t.

2. Emotional expression.

Has it ever struck you as weird that women cry when they win the Miss America pageant? Or when their children win an important award? Or on the presumably “happiest day of their life”—aka, the wedding? I’ve had to explain to my husband that I don’t just cry when I’m sad, but sometimes I cry when I’m supremely happy, because it’s the overwhelming emotion makes tears form in my eyes.

That can happen in the marriage bed too. Maybe your overwhelming emotion comes out with crying, but it could also be uncontrollable shaking or laughter. While it may feel like odd timing, it’s good news that you feel so emotionally connected during lovemaking that your body responds with this reaction. However, yet again, some wives who greatly enjoy sexual intimacy never experience this reaction. It’s fine to have and fine not to have.

3. Brain chemicals.

Related to the second reason, but worth it’s own point, is that certain brain chemicals are released during orgasm, such as endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin. These chemicals cause feelings of pleasure and bonding. But they can be overwhelming to our bodies as well, causing us to react afterward with extreme fatigue, crying or shaking, or spontaneous laughter.

This is simply the biological side of emotion, a wonderful formula our Creator worked up to keep our bodies in tune with our hearts. In the marriage bed, these brain chemicals help to feel more positive and connected with our mate. They just also happen to have unusual physiological effects in some wives as well.

Two other points the reader made that I want to quickly cover:

It doesn’t happen all the time and I can’t figure out rhyme or reason for it.” Yeah, our bodies are like that. You can’t always find why things happen when they do. Almost like good / bad hair days: Why is your hair so cooperative on Monday, only to behave like a tangle of straw the next? I don’t know.

You can track these moments and see if there’s a pattern, like maybe what you did that day that might have led to greater physical exhaustion or interactions between you and your husband that increased emotion, but there might not be a pattern at all — at least not one you can discern.

I can’t say I enjoy it because I can’t make it stop.” I don’t know if twitching like that is a particularly enjoyable experience no matter what, but the reason you gave for not enjoying it is “I can’t make it stop.” But here’s the thing: Orgasm involves a loss of control. Your genital muscles contract uncontrollably, you may make unusual noises uncontrollably, your face may scrunch up or your mouth widen like a scream uncontrollably, you may ejaculate a small amount of fluid uncontrollably. Are you detecting a theme here?

In Song of Songs 5:1, God encourages the husband and wife saying, ” Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” (ESV). The word there really does mean “drunk” or “intoxicated.” And anyone who’s ever been drunk (glad my mother and kids don’t read my blog) knows you lose control when you’re three sheets to the wind. I’m not saying you should be as stupid during lovemaking as a wasted teenager over Spring Break, but it ‘s obviously okay with God to let yourself be awash with emotion and pleasure in the marriage bed. Meaning, if you shake, just let yourself shake, and let your husband enjoy the moment too.

Throughout my answer, you can see two threads that run through everything:

  • These reactions — shaking, crying, laughter, etc. — are normal during/after orgasm; and
  • Their existence depends on the woman’s sensitivity to them.

If you are particular sensitive to one of these reactions, how much you experience the shaking, crying, etc. could relate to the intensity of the orgasm itself or it could seem random. Rather than shy away from those moments, simply embrace them as part of your particular experience of sexual intimacy.

And if you don’t have these reactions, that’s fine too. You may be enjoying orgasm just as much as the next gal, but your body just doesn’t react the same way.

Indeed, God made sex both a simple and complex design. It’s not hard to understand putting Tab A into Slot B; that’s simple. But take two unique individuals, pair them in a covenant marriage, and allow them to explore and enjoy their own repertoire of sexual intimacy, and it’s quite a complex and beautiful thing. Lean into your own experience.

Praying for Sexual Health

One of the obstacles many couples face with sexual intimacy is their health. That can include anything from chronic illness to physiological problems to mood disorders. While sex is good for your health, sound health is also good for your sex life.

Most Christians have a lot of experience praying about health issues. We pray for those in our midst who are facing life-threatening disease, for those dealing with the consequences of an accident, for those having medical tests and wanting optimistic results.

But have you prayed about the health issues that impact your own marriage bed?

Blog post title with close-up of woman with praying hands

I suspect if I polled spouses, a strong majority would say that poor health has at one time or other negatively affected the sexual intimacy in their marriage. But do we recognize those issues readily? Do we bring those before God?

One of the two Greek words most used in the New Testament to mean healing is iaomai, which brings with it the connotation not merely of good health but wholeness. Yes, it refers to physical healing (like when Jesus healed the Centurion’s servant and an official’s son), but it’s also translated as being made whole.

I believe God wants us to operate from a place of wholeness in our marriage beds.

Of course, I don’t mean that every spouse will experience perfect health. Some of us will nevertheless face challenges, because this is a broken world, but we can pray for God to help us deal with our health issues.

Sometimes it means asking for God to put people in our lives—friends, mentors, doctors, therapists—who can give us answers and treatment. Sometimes it means asking Him to guide us to the answers we need to fix what’s amiss (see The Unveiled Wife’s story). Sometimes it means asking for strength and support to cope with physical issues that won’t go away, but can be managed. Sometimes it means asking God for a divine kick in the pants to get ourselves on that diet or exercise program we’ve been meaning to adopt. …

(Sorry, I had to stop to stare at myself in the mirror on that last one.)

Sometimes it means meditating before Him about what wholeness would look like and asking Him to point out where our health issues are. We might have overlooked how stress or depression or physical pain have hampered our sex life, until we look to our Heavenly Parent and ask Him to tell us what’s happening with our marriage bed. Like a doting mother, He may check our temperature and diagnose what’s wrong. If we’ll ask, and then listen.

I don’t know what this looks like for you, but I know that health challenges are a common issue with us marrieds. And I’m wondering if we’re really praying to be made whole. Not just for the sake of feeling better, but so that we can experience better physical intimacy in our marriage.

How have you prayed for health in your marriage? Have you prayed about health issues that affect your marriage bed?

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well” (3 John 1:2).

Want to Work All Your Muscles? Try Sex.

I was listening to Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, the NPR news quiz game show, and they mentioned an odd study about sex. Of course, I had to go look it up.

Title with drawn couple exercising

So here’s what happened: Upbeat Active (a fitness company) commissioned research tracking how many muscles are used for various activities. They learned that texting uses 38 muscles, dancing uses 99 muscles, and cycling to work uses 155 muscles. But the only activity that uses all your muscles, all 657 of them, is sex.

Well, sex if you’re “doing it right.”

How can that be? you ask.

It turns out you use your facial muscles for kissing; abs, chest, diaphragm, and neck to make sound; eye muscles as you look around or at your beloved; lower limbs, pelvis and core, legs, etc. Basically, if you’re really into sex, you’re tightening and exerting all of your muscles.

And the muscle that gives sex its unique status as the All-Muscle Activity is the bulbospongiosus, which — get this — is also known as the “sex hero muscle.” Both men and women have one, and it receives training during male erection and ejaculation, female clitoral erection, and orgasms for both of you.

Did you know you had a “sex hero muscle”? Well, now you do! Drag out your superhero cape and wear it with pride.

But are you currently using all of those muscles with the way you’re having sex? What should that total-body workout look like? Lead researcher Mike Aunger said, “Ideally it should last more than 30 minutes…. But I’ve got no stats on how long sex lasts for [the] average British couple. To be fair, 45 minutes would probably be better.”

Okay, so they’re British, and you’re whatever. However, I bet most married couples don’t go a whole 45 minutes. *sigh* And nice as they can be, quickies apparently don’t give you the full exercise experience.

Regardless, let’s look at a breakdown of the muscles and what actions you can take to use as many as possible:

Pucker up! Kissing exerts your facial muscles. And you don’t just have to kiss his lips. You’ve can come up with other smooch targets on his body.

Make noise. They say moaning uses your diaphragm, chest, and other muscles. It makes me wonder what yelling, “You’re my Superman!” does for a gal. (Asking for a friend.)

Leave the lights on. Your eye muscles get a work out, as you check out the view and your eyes dart around — that is, if you leave the lights on and can actually see. If you don’t like full light, try low lights or candlelight.

Move your neck. You’ll do it anyway, but it’s on the list of muscles that get worked out as you rotate or flex your head, look down and up, raise your shoulders … and so on. Maybe it’s a good thing when your kid knocks on your door, making you jerk your head up and respond, “Um, we’ll be out in a minute” — uses those neck muscles at least.

Try different positions. Your lower limbs get a better workout with interesting positioning. Your quads, biceps femoris (backsides of your thighs), and calves will thank you. For ideas, check out our Sex Chat for Christian Wives podcast on sex positions.

Thrust. Okay, ladies, you don’t really thrust like your hubby does. But your pelvic and core muscles will be exerted if you engage your hips more in sexual activity. Tilt, swivel, and shift down there, and try woman-on-top from time to time, where you can take a lead role.

Use your arms. Your arm and shoulder muscles get more use in certain positions. That’s what the article I read mentioned, but it didn’t give specifics. But we can imagine that some positions require you to hold yourself in place. I also suggest stroking and caressing your hubby, maybe even massaging him where he likes.

Grip something. Your hand muscles get a workout when you grab something, like your husband’s shoulders or hips … or even something lower.

Let your heart pound. You don’t have to think about this one, because your heart muscle will do its own thing, getting a good workout during sex. But maybe you can at least appreciate how hard it’s pounding and that it’s a good thing for your health.

Go for the orgasm. That sex hero muscle (aka bulbospongiosus) does its thing when you’re in the throes of passion, with a clitoral erection and waves of pleasure we know as orgasm. So go for it! It’s good for you.

Now go forth and get healthy, y’all! See how many muscles you can use. If you’re “doing it right,” whatever that means, you’ll be giving all 657 muscles a healthy bit of exertion. And even if a muscle or two gets missed, you’ll be enjoying yourself. You’re welcome.

Sources: NPR: ‘Wait Wait’ For March 4 2017: With Not My Job Guest Jordan PeeleThe Telegraph-UK: Sexercise: 657 reasons why the ultimate workout happens between the sheets; Daily Mail.com: From texting to having sex: The ultimate full-body workout to flex your muscles WITHOUT hitting the gym