It's true: Sex is good for you! (Tell that to your spouse tonight.) Plenty of studies show it: Regular sex increases immunity from viruses, relieves stress, and even helps protect the health of a man's prostate gland by emptying fluids held there. It also triggers the release of chemicals that improve mood and ease pain. Your doctor probably never told you this, but it's also true: Most people can and should have sex well into old age! While menopause in women does affect sexual drive and function somewhat, there is no reason healthy men or women can't experience sexual pleasure at any stage in life. Sure, the nature and intensity of the sex may change, but the love and pleasure don't! If your sex drive has stalled out, you have good reasons to rev it back up again. You don't need jumper cables or even little blue pills. Just try a couple of these tips and we guarantee your engine will be turning over again in no time.
1. Have sex tonight! Having intercourse regularly helps to keep your sex drive in high gear by increasing the production of testosterone, which is the hormone mainly responsible for libido in both men and women.
2. Men: If you smoke, ask your doctor to prescribe you the nicotine patch. Why? Because it's scientifically proven that smoking can clog the blood vessels in the penis in the same way it clogs the arteries in your heart. Ever heard a better reason to quit?
3. Go write a list of all the medicine you're taking, then check for party poopers. More than 200 medications can cause erection problems and diminished sex drive, including drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and stomach problems. Check the Internet or ask your pharmacist or doctor if any of the drugs on your list could be culprits. Of course, you can't stop taking a drug you need, but you can talk to your doctor about possibly changing the brand, dose, or timing of your medication.
4. Spend tonight planning a steamy vacation. Even if you don't go, spending time together picturing where you'd go, looking at photos on the Web, and imagining yourself in some tropical paradise will be enough of a libido booster to get you to bed—early. Plus, it's a lot more stimulating to talk about than why your teenager is failing geometry.
5. Women: Practice Kegel exercises. You know what Kegels are—they're the squeezing exercises your doctor told you to do after pregnancy or because you were having a bit of a problem with leaking urine. What Doc probably didn't tell you is that they're also great for strengthening the pubococcygeus muscle, essential for orgasm. To do Kegels, take note of the muscle you use to stop urinary flow, then practice contracting that muscle, gradually releasing it. Work up to 20 contractions three times a day.
6. Men: Start taking supplements every day. The herb promotes better blood flow, getting more blood to the brain and…other organs. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out how that might help you! Follow the instructions on the bottle, but check with your doctor first.
7. Make pesto and serve it over pasta tonight. Pesto contains pine nuts, great sources of arginine, the precursor for nitric oxide, a main ingredient in drugs like Viagra. Arginine helps open blood vessels so blood flow improves.
8. Go to the movies with your partner, sit in the back row, and neck like you used to when you were a teenager. You'll be combining the forbidden with the frustrating—a sure bet to get your juices flowing.
9. Every time you pass your partner, reach out and touch or kiss him or her. Don't allow these moments to go beyond the kiss or hug. Simply increasing the amount of physical contact you have with your partner will help with desire.
10. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon wheat germ on every cup of yogurt and every bowl of cereal you eat. Wheat germ's rich in zinc, which is important to the production of that all-important hormone, testosterone. You can also get your fill of zinc in beef, eggs, and seafood —especially oysters!
11. When you're at a party or out in public with your partner, take a moment to stare at him/her across the room as if you were still wooing one another. Sex falls out of a relationship when you take one another's presence for granted. So don't!
12. Rent an erotic video and watch it with your partner. Use the time to talk about what you like and don't like during sex (and before and after).
13. Read a sexy "bodice ripper" out loud to your partner. Play-act the parts of the ravishing heroine and her handsome, yet dangerous lover.
14. Open your eyes when you kiss and when you are, um, intimate. Looking into your partner's eyes during such times sends an incredible message of trust and honesty.
15. Say exactly what's on your mind—sexually, that is. If you're watching your husband pull out the tree stump in the backyard and you get a certain weakness in your legs watching the sweat roll off his back, tell him. If the sight of your wife comforting your teenage son after his first-ever girlfriend dumped him makes you glad all over again that you married her, tell her. Simply expressing how everyday things make you feel deepens your intimacy when said out loud.
16. Pretend you've just met. Remember that weak-in-the-knees, shivers-up-your-back feeling you used to get when you first met? You can have that again. Call her and ask her out on a date. Dress up for lunch with him. Buy new underwear.
17. Create your own intimate rituals. No, we're not talking about sex. But what about waking him up with a steaming cup of coffee instead of the alarm every morning? What about having a hot bath ready for her in the evening? How about a special dinner out every Tuesday—when most couples are zoned out in front of the TV? Or massaging her feet while you watch a DVD with a big bowl of popcorn? The key is consistency. These are not things you do just once, but over and over again until they become like a secret language between the two of you.
18. Get a massage. Or a pedicure, or a facial, or whatever makes you feel better about yourself. If you take care of your own body, you're much more likely to be able to enjoy it. Another good way to take care of yourself is exercise. A side benefit for both men and women: better blood flow to crucial organs.
19. Turn the timer on for 15 minutes and talk to him (or her) about anything other than kids, money problems, or work annoyances. Tell him about the dream you had last night. The cute teenager you saw at the diner who reminded you of yourself when you were in high school. The great presentation you made today and how it made you feel. When the timer goes off, it's your partner's turn.
20. Go away for a couple of days—by yourself. While you're away, make a list of all the things you love and like about your partner. Close your eyes and picture yourself making love. Call him/her and have an erotic phone conversation. By the time you get home, you'll be so greedy for each other that the front hall will look like a king-size mattress.
21. Send the kids away and stay home together. Make love in a different part of the house. It can be as steamy as in your bathtub or as romantic as on a blanket in front of your fireplace.
22. Before you go to bed, take a few minutes to write out a to-do list and a list of your worries. This gets rid of the worries that can often interfere with your ability to relax and become aroused.
Mix it Up
23. Spend an hour with your partner touching every part of his/her body—but you can't use your hands. Use other parts of your body (including your imagination) instead. Conversely, caress one another only with your hands touching every part of the body except the genital zones. This can remove any pressure you might feel to "get right to it" after a hectic day on the job and is a wonderful way, at least for the woman, to relax and escape from the daily grind and transition from her other (oh-so-non-sexual) roles.
24. Open up a dozen oysters. After all, Casanova is said to have had 50 oysters every morning off the breast of a young woman in the bathtub—so they have to be good for something. Actually, as you read a few tips ago, oysters are loaded with zinc, critical for production of testosterone, the sex hormone in both men and women.
25. Stop at one (or two) drinks at the most. A small amount of alcohol can set the mood; more can drown the flame of desire, or lessen your ability to see your desire through.
26. Go purchase at least one item of sexy lingerie. Okay, this is for the ladies…but the feel of soft silk against your skin will help wake up those sensuality nerve endings. And who knows what will happen when that happens?
27. Re-create your favorite sexy scene in a movie. You know the ones—the lobster scene in Flashdance. The ice scene in 9 1/2 Weeks. Mena Suvari's cheerleading routine in American Beauty, Clark Gable carrying Vivien Leigh up the stairs in Gone With the Wind, the pottery scene in Ghost, the part in The Bridges of Madison County when Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood dance in her kitchen. Whew!
28. Create a romance CD for him (or her). Have it playing when your partner returns home. Light a few scented candles while you're at it. Who knows what might ensue?
29. Tell your partner two things you love about him/her every day. Love, affection, and mutual respect are the bases for a steamy sex life.
30. Call your partner at work. Tell him or her in no uncertain terms what you would like to do when he or she gets home. Another option: Set up a private e-mail account and e-mail the message.
31. Do something physical together, like skiing, a long country walk, a stroll along a beach, canoeing. Such activities let you see one another in a different light, creating a sense of physical vitality that readily translates into intimacy.