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By Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D.

Professor Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry
Case Western Reserve University
Chief of Division of Behavioral Medicine
MacDonald Women's Hospital/University Hospitals
Cleveland Medical Center

Created: 09/27/2011
Last Updated: 07/19/2012

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Q: I haven't dated in a while, much less had sex. I'm in my early 30s. I don't want to spend the rest of my life without a relationship and sex. Any suggestions?

It doesn't matter how old you are...no woman should go without sex if she's healthy and interested. If you haven't dated in a while, maybe it's time to ask why.

How are you trying to meet people? Consider trying to meet someone through a common interest. If you're athletic, consider joining a bike, hiking group or age-specific sports team. Do you like to cook or want to learn how? Check your local community college for cooking classes. There are groups and classes for almost any hobby, from bird watching to yoga. Check your local paper for activities.

The key to finding someone to date and potentially with whom to develop a more intimate relationship is to get out there and make yourself available. At the same time, tell everyone you know that you're interested in dating and open to the right match.

Once you begin dating, sex shouldn't be the goal. Take your time and get to know one another. Wait until you both feel ready to move onto that next phase before becoming physically intimate. When you are ready, ask your partner about his or her sexual health history and make sure you've both been tested for sexually-transmitted infections (HIV, chlamydia, HPV, among others) and use a condom or dental dam. Also make sure you've had a conversation about what sex means to you-and what you want. The result will be worth it, I promise.

In the meantime, if you feel the need for release, I suggest you masturbate. It can help relieve stress and help you learn what pleases you so when you eventually find the right person for a relationship and sex; you'll know how to guide your lover.