Wellness·4 min read

You Don’t Have to Keep Having Bad Sex

One woman laying on top of her girlfriend in bed
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
February 6, 2024

The obstacles between us and good sex seem endless: Younger people are having less of it. The pleasure gap is alive and unwell. Long-term relationships inevitably come with a drop in sexual desire. Throw in kids, stress, and busy schedules, and “sex is sometimes the first thing to be sacrificed,” says licensed sexologist Melissa Portan. But bad or lack of sex can take a toll on your well-being.

Why your sex life is worth heating up

Let’s be clear: Having a great sex life, or a sex life at all, isn’t mandatory. But for those who enjoy it, sex comes with health benefits. Orgasms release happy hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins — some of which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and alleviate pain. Other research says that sex may help boost your immune system, protect women’s heart health, and even help you live longer

There’s also your sense of self. Mediocre sex is a burden that typically falls on women, says Portan. “Patriarchal societies center male pleasure and satisfaction, resulting in female pleasure being denied, ignored, and even vilified,” she says. “Sex is also connected to a person’s sense of self, identity, and thereby confidence.” 

Say no more. How do I start having better sex? 

There's no one-size-fits-all solution, but we've got some spicy ideas that you probably haven’t thought of yet. If…

You want more orgasms

Embrace toys, hands, and oral sex. One survey found that only 18% of women can finish with only penetration — despite what our society (read: porn) portrays. Investing in new sex toys, erotic literature, or audio porn can help spice up solo time, says Hali Riley, a licensed psychotherapist.

With a partner, try something licensed psychotherapist and sex therapist Vanessa Marin calls the “eye exam” technique, in which you explore different forms of pleasure. For example: “Ask your partner, ‘Can you use a little bit more pressure and then a little bit less pressure?’” And then compare to see what you like more, explains Marin.

Your monogamous sex life feels boring

Take a sex class. Learning new skills helps sustain a long-term satisfying sex life, says Elisabeth Sheff, PhD, sex educator and author of “The Polyamorists Next Door.” “Being really good at other things means [couples] can have a much more satisfying, active sex life than someone who was more of a one-trick pony,” she says. A sex coach or therapist may be able to point you in the direction of a class or workshop. 

Consider polyamory. This isn’t for everyone — but it could be what you need “if one of [your] measures of good sex is variety and novelty,” says Sheff. “Polyamorous and swingers both report that when they start having sex with other people, it often makes their own sex life more exciting or kind of enlivened,” she says. Plus, opening things up in an ethical way can require more communication than nonmonogamous relationships, which can “definitely lead to better sex if you're not afraid to talk about it,” says Riley. 

Before you move forward with it, Sheff recommends swinging to start. It's something you can do together and may not require the long-term emotional boundaries that come with a poly relationship. Upside-down pineapple, anyone?

You want more sex

Find a community. This can be ideal for exploring a kink (BDSM, for example) or finding like-minded people (such as those with the same sexual orientation). A community or group can give you “a sense of [your] preferences or satisfy certain needs that aren't being met,” says Portan. But “there should never be pressure to go straight to sex” if you don’t want to, she says. She recommends looking for online forums and paid events as a starting point. 

Make time for it. Plan a sex getaway (a sexcation, if you will). Or, if you’re partnered, put sex on a shared calendar (in a hot way) by including what’s on the “agenda” later on.  

Investigate any mental obstacles. If you want more sex but aren’t getting aroused lately, it may be because something’s in the way. Mental health, medications, or stress, to name a few. Find out exactly what’s hindering your sex drive to help get you going again. 


Female pleasure hasn’t been a societal priority since…ever. But thinking outside the, er, box, can help make it a bigger part of our lives — and help us feel more satisfied.

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It does not constitute a medical opinion, medical advice, or diagnosis or treatment of any particular condition. 

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