You need a sex check-up, even if you’re of a “certain age” in a long-term relationship.

That’s the word from an AARP “Love and Relationship Ambassador” who says that relationships “need an annual check-up whether dating in mid-life or in (a) long-term relationship.”

“As 43 percent of women suffer from some form of relationship or sexual dysfunction,” Dr. Pepper Schwartz, AARP love and relationship ambassador, says, “There’s no cut-and-paste recipe for intimacy, (but) couples can prepare for the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that come with different life stages.”

Schwartz said it’s time “for couples to communicate and put a spark back into their relationship by scheduling regular sexual health and relationship checkups, just as you’d schedule your annual physical and prescription refill.

“While there’s no cut-and-paste recipe for intimacy, couples can prepare for the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that come with different life stages.”

How do you do it? Schwartz says discuss each item below, grade each other from 10-1, create an action plan and visit the toy or drugstore together:

  • Foreplay begins way before bed. Communicate. Disconnect from the cell, work stress, TV, kids, and the dog in the middle, as they kill sexual desire.
  • Share your fantasies and say what you want. Your partner can’t read your mind.
  • Prepare for romance. Plan date night and weekends away. Dim the lights, play romantic music, shower or bathe together and slip into something sexy.
  • Touch, hug and hold hands. Kiss differently at least 2x every day.
  • Hormonal swings and depleting estrogen from pregnancy to menopause can cause painful sex. Try a silicone lubricant like Replens Silky Smooth just before sex to ease penetration and reduce abrasion, use Replens Vaginal Moisturizerevery 3-days to rejuvenate dry internal vaginal tissues, and Replens Comfort Gel, to help soothe and relieve discomfort, and chafing to the outside skin surrounding the vagina (vulva) when it becomes irritated during normal daily activities like walking, prolonged sitting, exercising and bike riding.
  • Include after-play with a light hand, foot or neck massage Date safe. Condoms are sexy, thin and the only way to prevent transmission of STIs.

“Don’t forget to schedule 6-month evaluations. Recall and recount favorite moments and add something you especially liked to your everyday repertoire,” adds Schwartz.

Dr. Pepper Schwartz is a PhD sociologist and sexologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, star in the A&E docuseries Married at First Sight and co-author of Getaway Guide to the Great Sex Weekend and Places for Passion.

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