Rebooting your sex life


Dear Dr. Jenni,

I read your column last week about the woman who wanted to soften how she said no to sex with her husband. My wife and I are in a similar situation. She’s said no so often I’m petrified to even ask. At this point, I don’t even know how to initiate sex. Any tips?

—Lost that Loving Feeling

Dear Lost,

You both need to press the “restart” button on your sex life. I would start by sitting down together and developing a game plan on how to go forward in a way that feels safe and satisfying for you both. Two exercises to get the conversation going include developing “Initiation Fantasies” and “Setting the Mood.”

When cultivating initiation fantasies, write down how you would like your partner to invite you to sex. Give yourself permission to dream into this exercise. You may look to Hollywood for fantasies about being ravished against the wall, tearing clothes off one another. You may want your partner to grab your genitals while watching a movie, or kiss your neck while cooking dinner. You may want a salacious invitation via email or text. Once you have cultivated a few fantasies, trade papers.

“Setting the Mood” is a similar exercise. Again on paper, note different ideas for what you need to have your partner help you get in the mood. This may mean having your partner assist with dishes so that they are out of sight and, more importantly, out of mind. Or this may mean putting on a sexy outfit to help inspire more tantalizing thoughts. Then write down ideas for how to help yourxself get in the mood. This can be anything from a refreshing shower to a 10-minute meditation sit. Again, trade papers when done. You may surprise yourself with how much you know about each other — and how much you don’t!

If all else fails, find outside mediation with a sex therapist.

Dear Dr. Jenni,

My girlfriend sometimes smells down there. I don’t mind unless she asks for oral sex. But more than half the time it’s pretty bad, and I lose my erection and end up not wanting sex at all.

Plus, I struggle with finishing giving her oral sex because of the smell. What should I do?

—Offended by Odor

Dear Offended,

Smell and hygiene, as well as grooming, are some of the most taboo sexual topics and yet the easiest to fix.

Firstly, frame your suggestions in a positive light. Rather than exclaiming that she  smells like Tina the Tuna, tell her how arousing it is to make love right out of the shower. Or jump in the shower with her and start to pleasure her orally. As you do, compliment her clean smell, and tell her how much you love going down on her when she’s fresh and tasty. If you have an erection to boot, then definitely make that known as well so she gets the idea that oral sex and showering are a big turn on for you.

If the showering doesn’t ameliorate the smell, you will need to have an honest conversation with her about optimum vaginal health. She may need to shower, but not over-soap, on a daily basis. Wearing cotton underwear also helps, as does taking a daily probiotic. Or she can eat natural, sugar-free yogurt that contains acidophilus.

Also, offer her the opportunity to give you feedback on your smell and grooming. This demonstrates that you trust her and feel comfortable enough to invite an honest and vulnerable conversation.

Send questions for Jenni Skyler, PhD, to Skyler is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist who runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder,