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What To Do About A Non-Existent Sex Life

If the thought of sex makes you feel scared, anxious, or guilty, there may be something wrong. Figure it out and have a satisfying sex life with these tips.

The secret is out: A ladies' lunch table could be far racier than the men's locker room—the killer moves, the off-the-charts satisfaction levels, the fluttering score cards for every imaginable position. In the company of women only, the sex talk is a potentially no-holds-barred graphic gabfest that might make most men blush. But it could also make some of the girls present turn red, then turn away.

There are a few sensitive issues that are seldom laid out on the table, and are reserved instead for serious one-on-ones. Jessica, 25, a public relations assistant, knows all too well the tricks of putting up a brave front when the discussion turns to sex, but under the cloak of anonymity, she confesses that she doesn't really have much of a sex life despite the presence of a boyfriend. She says she hasn't had sex in nearly six months, and while she thinks her boyfriend is patient and understanding, she doesn't know how long her self-diagnosed frigidity will keep him in the cold. It's not something she likes to admit to friends because, in a group of highly sensual women, "it just feels so abnormal."

Jessica may not feel normal about her sex life, or the absence of it, but she certainly isn't alone. Many women, single or attached, are missing out on the action for one reason or another. Many reasons that account for a dull-as-a-dial-tone or non-existent sex life can be lumped under "sexual disorders": when sex hurts, or when you simply don't get turned on despite your partner's high-voltage performance. And then of course, there is the proverbial challenge of a suitable partner. If these sound all too familiar, you can do something about it. Here's a sprinkling of tips on how to deal with a long, dry season:

Sex Life Self-Help #1: Isn't It Sad? Not Entirely.

What we commonly refer to as sexual frigidity is also called sexual arousal disorder or SAD. describes this condition as occurring "when a woman is continually unable to attain or maintain arousal and lubrication during intercourse, is unable to reach orgasm, or has no desire for sexual intercourse." There are no available statistics in the Philippines, but in the US alone, 47 million women are afflicted with SAD, three-fourths of whom are postmenopausal, and the rest are not. But any random survey among your girlfriends will draw not-so-surprising results—someone, possibly you, might confess to just not feeling any stirring in the belly with the prospect of sex.

The upside to this sad news is that experts have broken it down to likely causes—and there are many—and possible solutions. For instance, women who have had unsavory or violent sexual encounters in the past often suffer from physical and psychological trauma, and sometimes develop some kind of distaste for the deed.

Abby, 29, a marketing executive, recalls being called frigid by her first boyfriend. "It sounded like something so horrible that you're just born with and can't do anything about," she says. Scared to read up on it because of what she might find, and terrified to bring up the topic with friends because of what they might say about her, she stayed mum on the subject. She remained single and sexless in the city for four whole years until someone gave her a racy book that turned out to be a sex manual.

"It had a whole chapter on frigidity, but because it was called that, I kept on reading because I could recognize the symptoms," she says. "I realized I couldn't successfully do it with my ex-boyfriend because I thought sex was dirty, and the whole time I would feel super guilty." This discovery led her to see a therapist and after a few sessions Abby started dating again, which then led to a new relationship. And the sex? "Is crazy good," she says, without blinking.

Other causes of sexual dysfunction include trauma and depression, for which, like Abby, you will need to see a therapist, and stress—if you're overworked and super pressured, it could be the cause of your not-so-super sex life.

Sex Life Self-Help #2: Know Thyself

Love can literally hurt. Emily, 26, a real estate broker, had lost interest in sex after several attempts with her last boyfriend ended in her writhing in pain, and not pleasure. "After several months of trying," says Emily, "I felt like there was mounting pressure for me to have a good time. It has put some strain in the relationship."

If you're willing to find some "home solution" before running to the doctor, here is some practical advice: Make time for sex with a willing partner. Block off an entire afternoon, and schedule nothing in the evening. Stay in with your man and a stack of sexy movies, sex manuals, and lots of lubricant. Think of it as an afternoon class where, in the privacy of your room, you and your man will discover what turns you on—the right pace, the right positions, the right pressure. The idea that it's not a performance removes the pressure of doing it right ASAP and allows for hits and misses. It could be fun, highly educational, or simply orgasmic.

You could also spend some time knowing yourself—masturbation is a good way to know what turns you on. If you know what areas stimulate you, and how, you could let your partner know via the old moan-means-yes method if you feel that giving him a crash course on lovemaking will crush his sexy mood. Let him explore you, and when he hits the right spots, simply moan out loud (a small challenge for silent types). But giving him signals will clue him in on how to do it right, and will even get him excited over the prospect that he's making you feel really good.

Phillip Hodson, author of The Cosmopolitan Guide to Love, Sex and Relationships affirms, "masturbation represents a valuable phase of sexual learning. It allows you to grow comfortable in your own sexual response. You are then in a far better position to share this with a partner..."

Sex Life Self-Help #3: Wanted: A Perfectly Willing Mate

When Cat, 28, met her current boyfriend, Sam, she was in the middle of an abusive relationship. Still, old traumas remained. "Sam is perfect, but making love is difficult for me," says Cat. "I don't believe we're sexually incompatible—not yet."

Sometimes great sex is a case of whom you're doing it with. Unless you're the type who can isolate the act for what it is—just sex—you'll need to find a suitable partner. Hodson says, "Lack of desire will often show itself as a low sex urge because those who do not feel sexy will obviously not want to make love often... The brain may have good reasons for turning off feelings of desire, and attempts to overcome the inhibition may provoke sensations of vulnerability or panic." Panic sometimes manifests physically, often in the form of dryness or intense tightness in the vaginal area, resulting in pain. Hodson also says, "A safe environment—and relationship—are obviously essential before making the attempt."

It takes two to tango, and two to untangle bedroom-related issues. The key is to get your partner open to the idea of tracking down the psychological causes—whether it's depression, trauma, shock, guilt, boredom, or a sense of duty that dampens the excitement of sex, your partner should be willing to work it out with you.