by Abigail Libers for SHAPE.com
Have more sex tonight! Getting busy with your guy is an excellent idea-and not just because it's fun (although that's a pretty good reason too). Being sexually active also helps beef up your immunity, fight stress, reduce pain, and strengthen your relationship. But if you're like two-thirds of women, you're taking advantage of this health and happiness boost only once a week at most, according to a survey commissioned by the nonprofit organization HealthyWomen.
The question is, why aren't you getting more action? We asked experts about the excuses they hear most often-and what you can do to heat things up between the sheets.
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1. "I'm exhausted!" "The most frequent complaint in my office is fatigue," says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University college of physicians and Surgeons. Carving out more time for sleep will obviously help, but so can hitting the gym. "You'll feel more energetic," she says. Also, remember that sex doesn't have to be a marathon event. "Sometimes a quickie will do the trick," says Jill Blakeway, a holistic health practitioner in New York City and Author of the forthcoming book Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido.
2. "I have a headache." Turns out this classic dodge isn't just a line. Women who get frequent migraines or other headaches are more likely than others to report sexual dysfunction, according to a recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. If OTC remedies like ibuprofen aren't cutting it, consult your doctor for help. Unfortunately, some migraine meds can hinder sex drive; if they affect you in that way, ask your provider about trying magnesium supplements, which may reduce the frequency of headaches.
3. "I'm just not in the mood." It's not unusual for desire to gradually wane after the white-hot flame of a new romance. To spice things up, try getting intimate in a room or location other than your bedroom, or using a toy and a sensation-enhancing gel, suggests Hutcherson. Occasionally hormonal shifts can interfere with your mojo as well-for instance, those that occur before your period. "They can cause irritability, breast tenderness, and bloating. and if you don't feel well, you're not going to want to have sex," says Blakeway, so cut back on salt and caffeine and drink lots of water. But if the downturn has been sudden or seems severe, get a checkup: a thyroid disorder or depression could be to blame. Also ask your doc to review any medications you're taking; many common ones, including birth control, can dial down your drive.
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4. "I'm really mad at him." An underactive libido may be a sign of underlying issues in the relationship. "Often women don't say anything when they're upset with their partners," says Hutcherson. Ask yourself if you're harboring any resentments. If so, voice them, and be specific. What could your guy-and you-do differently to make you happier? If the reward for having a difficult conversation is a better sex life, there's a pretty good chance he'll listen up.
More on SHAPE:
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by Abigail Libers for SHAPE.com