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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: Talking about sex turns me on. I like to explain what I like and don't like, but my partner hates talking about sex. Our different preferences are affecting our sex life. Any suggestions?

The ability to communicate about sex can be crucial to a healthy relationship.

One of the few studies in this area found that women who didn't feel they could communicate about their sexual needs with their partners had lower self-esteem than those who rated their communication as good. This study also found a significant relationship between the levels of satisfaction with a relationship with the ability to communicate about sexual needs. Ninety-seven percent of women who rated their communication about sex with their partner as "good," also said their relationship with their partner was "happy." Sixty percent of the women surveyed who rated their sexual communication as "bad" reported being happy in their relationship.

To get at your specific issue of sex, women who communicated well with their partner about their sexual needs had sex an average of 8.2 times a month-significantly more often than women who had trouble communicating. Those women were also more likely to have an orgasm and actually enjoy sex.

I will also tell you this: The fact that you find it pleasurable and important to talk about sex means that you view sex as important.

Given that you've probably already tried to get your partner to talk more about sex on your own, at this point I recommend therapy with either a trained marital counselor or a sex therapist who is licensed by your state and certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).

It's time to consult with someone trained to help couples improve their communication about sex! Visit www.aasect.org and look at the "Resources" section for additional resources.