Sexual wellness is one of the three pillars of human life, the other two being food (Ahar) and sleep (Nidra). Sexual wellbeing is indispensable for a happy marriage, and it can improve one's physical, mental and emotional quotient.
Several factors contribute to great sex life in couples. Apart from a healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle, emotional compatibility also plays a vital role in intimacy and sex.
What is a healthy sexual life?
According to WHO, sexual wellbeing comprises factors like having a good understanding of sex, engaging in consensual and positive relationships with your partner, and enjoying the sex you are having.
A healthy sexual life also refers to the following:
- Not having multiple sexual partners
- No Sexually transmitted infections
- Good libido
- Being sexually satisfied
Benefits of healthy sex
Both men and women benefit from healthy sex life. Great sex life has the following benefits on your body:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Relieves anxiety and stress
- Gives good sleep
- Relieves pain
- Increases immunity
- Increased intimacy and fulfilling relationships
Types of Sexual Dysfunction :
There are several types of sexual disorders. However, it can be grouped under any of the four sections.
- Desire based Dysfunction - Includes problems related to low sex drive, no sexual fantasies or thoughts or distress at the idea of having sex.
- Arousal based dysfunction - Inability to become aroused or excited during foreplay or sexual activity. Some problems like Erectile dysfunction falls under this category.
- Pain disrupting Sexual activity -due to pain during intercourse.
- Orgasm related concerns - A delay or absence of orgasm(climax)
What causes low sex drive in women?
- Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: HSSD is when you are not interested in sex. This could be a lifelong concern or can happen over time or even momentary. This is common in women who perform many domestic chores and get tired or lose interest in having sex by the end of the day. Anxiety, depression, stress, previous sexual trauma also could lead to HSSD.
- Menopause - Women lose interest in sex during or after menopause mainly due to the hormonal changes in their bodies. In addition, the tiredness, mineral deficiencies and dryness in the vagina also lead to low libido.
- Premenstrual syndrome: Women lose interest in sex during PMS mainly due to hormonal changes. Pain in the breast, abdominal cramps, and mood swings cause a lack of sex drive.
- Dyspareunia - A condition that causes pain during intercourse due to constriction of the vaginal muscles also lead to low libido. Lubrication, foreplay, setting the mood and treating underlying medical conditions, if any, will solve the problem.
What causes low sex drive in men?
- Hormonal imbalances - Low testosterone and progesterone levels can lead to low libido in men
- Lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and junk food can negatively affect sex.
- Stress can also cause low sex drive in men.
- Medications for anxiety, depression can hurt sexual life.
- Chronic illnesses can cause a lack of sexual desire.
Sexual problems in men
- Erectile dysfunction - ED is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for intercourse. Some men have ED problems at some phases in life, but it becomes a problem when it continues for a long time. It can lead to a lack of self-esteem contribute to relationship problems.
- Premature ejaculation - PE is when the man ejaculates sooner than his usual self or partner. The problem is primarily psychological, but biology also plays a role.
- Delayed or inhibited ejaculation - It is a condition in which it takes an extended period of sexual stimulation for men to climax or ejaculate, usually more than 30 mins. It could be temporary or situational most of the time.
- Retrograde ejaculation - This is a condition in which the semen enters the bladder instead of the urethra before ejaculation. There will be very minimal or no ejaculation of semen after one reaches climax. The urine after intercourse looks cloudy mixed with semen. It can cause male infertility.
Complications of sexual problems
Complications resulting from the above-mentioned sexual disorders include:
- An unsatisfactory sex life
- Stress or anxiety
- Embarrassment or low self-esteem
- Relationship problems
- The inability to get your partner pregnant
How do you know that you have sexual dysfunction?
Sexual dysfunction can be diagnosed by self with a few or all of the below-mentioned symptoms:
- Low libido/ lack of interest in sex
- Problems in ejaculation - Early ejaculation or inability to ejaculate
- Inability to initiate or sustain erections
How to manage stress-related sexual dysfunction?
- Stress is a result of some unresolved problems in life. Hence resolving issues from its root helps to manage stress better.
- Finding hobbies, areas of interest and self-care helps to destress.
- Regular exercise reduces the stress hormone cortisol and has excellent benefits.
- Maintain emotionally supportive relationships.
- Having open conversations about the things that bother you can help you destress.
- If you feel it is out of your hand, try talking to a psychologist or therapist on how to manage stress in life, who can help you.
Ayurvedic tips for a great sex life
Ayurveda advises some simple tips for great sex life.
- The best time to have sex is in the early part of the night when the vata dosha is not too high.
- One should not initiate or suppress an urge to ejaculate as this can lead to several health issues.
- Avoid sex during fever or any other infections.
- Ayurveda advocates taking a shower before and after sex to prevent any diseases.
Which sex position is best according to Ayurveda?
The ideal sex position, according to Ayurveda, is the woman lying with her face directed in an upward position. It is a perfect position that allows pleasure to both partners.
Does Ayurveda limit sex to reproduction?
Ayurveda does not limit sex to just reproduction. Sex is one of the three main pillars of life, the other two being food and sleep. Hence, sex is placed at a position of prime importance.
Ayurveda advocates for a couple to thoroughly enjoy a sex life and refers to tips and potent herbs that improve vigour.
How much sex can you have?
As sexual activity directly affects vata dosha, Ayurvedic texts advocate frequency of sexual activity as per the seasons.
The perfect seasons to have sex are the winters and spring. In summer and autumn, the activity of vata is high, and one should reduce the frequency of sexual activity.
Diet tips for good sex life
Ayurveda recommends including food that increases sex drive in daily diet. These are called 'ojasya' food that increases the Ojas in the body. Ojas is the essence of all tissues (7 dhatus) in the body and is formed after the formation of semen. Ojas increases one's immunity, sexual functions and overall nourishment. Ojas have excellent, sweet and heavy properties. Ojasya foods recommended by Ayurveda are :
- Dairy products like ghee, milk and butter.
- Fresh fruits that are seasonal and local, especially bananas, avocado, dates, figs and grapes.
- Green leafy vegetables, cucumber, zucchini, sweet potatoes, yams, coconut and turnips.
- Nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts.
- Mung Beans, tofu and whole grains.
Food to avoid:
- Avoid dry, raw and undercooked food.
- Stale or frozen food
- Deep-fried, spicy, excessively bitter and sour food.
- Stimulants like coffee, energy drinks
- Refined varieties of flour, sugar and oil
- Processed and canned food.
Ayurvedic tips for great sex life
Ayurveda explains the 'Vajikarana' regimen for improving strength and stamina required for sexual health.
Oil Massage (Abhyanga) - Oil massage with Ayurvedic oils improves blood circulation throughout the body. Massage should be done in the downward direction to pacify vata. Eladi Triphala oil is ideal for improving circulation.
Warm water bath: Ayurveda advocates a warm water shower before sex. Shower with warm water also reduces vata in addition to removing any embarrassing odours.
Shilajit: Shilajit is a natural mineral-rich substance obtained from the rock exudate of the Himalayan ranges. Known as an "elixir", Shilajit is touted for its anti-ageing, rejuvenating and antioxidant properties. Shilajit is a panacea in ancient texts and folklore medicine due to its property to cure various health conditions.
The fulvic acid in Shilajit improves strength and stamina in men. It is also observed that Shilajit benefits for men include enhancing blood circulation to the reproductive organs and increasing testosterone levels in men, thus improving stamina, vigour and fertility.
Ashwagandha - Known as the herb having "the smell of a horse", it is also known to make a man potent like a horse. Ashwagandha is taken with for many sexual problems, including premature ejaculation, Erectile dysfunction and male infertility.
Shatavari - This herb is highly beneficial to women throughout their reproductive life. Shatavari itself means the one is married to a hundred husbands and is useful for female sexual problems. This refers to how much the drug is helpful for a women's sexual life.
Musali - Musali is a traditionally used herb for men's sexual wellness and general health. It is known to strengthen, nourish and rejuvenate the body. It also improves the quality as well as quantity of semen and cures male infertility. These are some potent herbs for low sex drive.
Post sex regimen
- Peeing after sex reduces UTI's preventing the spread of bacteria from the rectum.
- Wash your private parts with lukewarm water. There is no need of using a soap/cleanser as the vagina is self-cleansing with an acidic pH that destroys any microorganisms entering it.
- Wipe with a clean cotton cloth. Leaving the private parts moist can be unhygienic.
How not have sex?
Having said a lot about enjoying the sexual activity and intimacy, Ayurveda advises making it pleasurable for both partners. Any extreme emotions during sexual activity create an imbalance in the doshas, especially the vata and pitta doshas. The aggravated doshas, sooner or later, cause some disease in the body.
Sexual violence - Sexual violence implies any attempt of sexual act by violence or coercion irrespective of the relationship to the victim. This includes rape, child abuse and violent practices during sex. Ayurveda says that these activities could cause an imbalance in the vata and pitta doshas in the body.
Cheating/adultery/ infidelity - According to Ayurveda, loyalty is a satvik act. Whereas cheating, adultery and infidelity increase the 'Rajas guna' in the body. This also causes vata imbalance. Rajas, in this context, can be motive driven and self-centred nature of an individual.
Pregnancy/ immediately after childbirth - Pregnancy and childbirth (up to 3 months in normal delivery and up to 6 months in cesarean section) are phases in a women's life where Vata dosha gets highly elevated. Sexual activity during these phases may trigger bleeding or alter the Vata dosha present in the uterus. Hence it is suggested to be avoided.
During menstruation - Sex during periods can be messy, and many women are generally not in the mood for it. While it is safe, it causes a bit extra bleeding than expected. The endometrial debris is expelled out much faster, which might also reduce the length of the period.
On the day of fasting/On an empty stomach - Fasting or not eating enough aggravates Vata dosha. And sex is also a vata aggravating activity. It might lead to gas, bloating or constipation.
After a heavy meal - Sex is not advised after a heavy meal as it decreases one's performance. After a heavy meal, the blood circulation is redirected to the organs of digestion. Hence the reproductive organs might not get enough blood to sustain an erection.
Physically weak/grief-stricken - Grief, anger, anxiety are all emotions that increase vata. Physical debilitation from excessive exercise, sports or gym aggravates vata and cause weakness in the body. Debilitation due to some diseases like tuberculosis, AIDS, Rheumatic Arthritis etc. reduces the overall strength of tissues, including the reproductive fluids (semen in men and secretion of Bartholin's glands in women)
When there is nature's call - Suppressing and trying to ejaculate triggers an altered response to the brain. Keeping bladder and bowels empty before sexual activity gives more pleasure. Suppressing urination can sometimes lead to peeing during sex.
With children or animals - Sexual activity with children or an animal is absolutely unacceptable and also against the law. In almost all cases, it emotionally traumatises the victim and alters their thought process.
Yoga for sexual wellness
The following yoga poses increase blood circulation to the reproductive organs, improve hormone secretions and performance.
Practice the following poses to boost your sex life:
- Cat and cow pose (Marjarasana and Bitilasana)
- Butterfly pose (Titiliasana)
- Happy Baby pose (Ananda Balasana)
- Baby pose (Balasana)
- Pigeon pose (Raja kapotasana)
- Corpse pose (Shavasana)