Photo: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul
Sit Better on the Bike
The lower-body numbness you feel after a bike ride may dull the sensations in your pelvis during the other workout you plan to do with your partner and could cause long-term damage to arteries and nerves in the area. Women's health researchers at Yale University School of Medicine recently found that female cyclists who positioned their handlebars lower than their seats experienced more pressure on the soft tissue of the perineum and had decreased sensation in the pelvic floor. In an earlier study, the same researchers found that those expensive ergonomic saddles don't help in the way they claim to: the ridges around the cutout can actually increase pressure on arteries. Make sure that you're not leaning down low with your bottom in the air and that most of your weight in the saddle is back on your sit bones, not toward the front of your crotch.
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Photo: Courtesy of Magic BananaUse a Magic Banana
Strong pubococcygeus muscles can give a tighter grip during sex and are better able to contract, leading to increased blood flow and more intense orgasms, says sex and relationships expert Laura Berman, PhD. She adds that women who regularly practice Kegel exercises say they become aroused more quickly and easily. You're probably already doing the classic squeeze-and-release exercises, but you'll discover motivation to practice with the Magic Banana, a discreet tool that looks like something you'd find in the kitchen but was designed by a Canadian yoga educator to enhance pleasure in the bedroom. It already has fans at the upscale sex store G Boutique in Chicago, like staff trainer Anna G., who says that the flexible loop provides resistance during Kegels, making them feel both invigorating and intensely pleasurable. To make Banana Kegels more challenging, insert the loop, then pull it forward so you're working against the widest part of the device. Squeeze as usual for three to five minutes--unless you find you just can't stop.
Photo: Courtesy of Knock OutSlip into Something More Comfortably Absorbent
If sexy underwear is doing its job and fulfilling its promise, then we figure that the less time it spends on our bodies, the better. But wearing undergarments that are too constricting, too thin or made from synthetic fabrics for extended periods of time can lead to discomfort, irritation and infection. These Knock out! Smart Panties are different. They look like your favorite Saturday-night lingerie, but they have a lightly padded all-cotton liner that wicks moisture away from your skin and features patented odor-absorbing molecules (this design recently won an award from Harvard Business School--seriously!). They were created to address light sweating, spotting and minor leaks that can happen in the course of a woman's typical day, and they'll keep you feeling ready for anything...at any time.
Photo: ThinkstockEat Like a Greek
The Mediterranean diet, with its emphasis on fish, vegetables, fruit, healthy fats and whole grains, isn't good only for your heart and your waistline--it may also help cure issues below the belt. Studies have found that switching from a diet high in processed food, salt, sugar and fat (i.e., the typical American diet) to the Mediterranean way of eating can spark a new sexual vitality in people with high blood pressure, obesity or type 2 diabetes. Healthy fats like those consumed in Greece, southern Italy and Spain help the heart pump blood to different parts of the body--including the genital area (and that relaxing glass of wine doesn't hurt).
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Photo: ThinkstockGet More Out of Your Gym Membership
This is a no-brainer: The better we feel about how our bodies look and perform, the more we want to show them off. But researchers have found an even more direct link between the gym and the genitals: Certain types of exercise can make women feel excited and even orgasmic. More than 200 women reported in a 2010 online survey that they had experienced exercise-induced sexual pleasure, says study author Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of Sex Made Easy. The most titillating moves were abdominal exercises like the captain's chair (in which you lift your lower body by contracting the obliques and pelvic muscles), spinning (which causes friction between the bike seat and the pelvis) and yoga. Many of the women surveyed also enjoyed watching themselves perform strengthening and flexibility moves in the mirror. It's possible that going to the gym can stimulate women so that they're more easily and enthusiastically aroused by their partner when they get home, says Herbenick.
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Photo: ThinkstockSneak in a Quickie--with Yourself
Married women often don't talk about their solo sexual adventures the same way single women do, but the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior found that about 47 percent of partnered women age 30 to 49 masturbate (compared with around 65 percent of partnered men the same age)--and this benefits women as well as their partners. Research shows that women who report self-pleasuring score higher on a self-esteem index and have higher levels of sexual satisfaction than women who don't. Berman says that regular masturbation flushes blood into the area to keep the tissues plump and healthy. "The more sex you have--even with yourself--the better your genitals work, and the easier you find it to become excited," she says. Think of your midweek "alone time," when you're away on business or your husband is stuck at the office, as a mini-workout to keep you in shape for that weekend's long run.
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