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By Susan Kellogg Spadt, Ph.D, C.R.N.P., I.F., C.S.T.

Pelvic Pain Specialist
Professor of OB/GYN at Drexel University College of Medicine
Professor of Human Sexuality at Widener University
Assistant Professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Bryn Mawr, PA

Created: 11/23/2011
Last Updated: 07/19/2012

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Q: I've heard about vacation sex. What is it, and can it improve my sex life with my partner?

Vacation sex is just what it sounds like: sex while you're on vacation. You may leave home as a stressed couple who hasn't had great sex in months, but after a day or so enjoying the novelty of your destination (and leaving your hectic day-to-day schedules behind) you may turn into that couple you felt you were when you first met-passionate and crazy about each other. Novelty, it turns out, may help increase levels of "feel good" neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine. This may provide some explanation for the motivation to seek out novel and pleasurable activities-like sex.

Now, obviously this strategy doesn't work on all vacations! Visiting your in-laws and sleeping on the fold-out couch in the family room while their golden retriever snores at your feet is certainly not desire inducing. The key is going away alone or, at the very least, getting some time alone on a family vacation. If the kids are old enough, consider putting them in their own room. The key is getting away from the routine and building time into your schedule to simply relax and be together.

While there's no official research on vacation sex, common sense suggests that a change of scenery + shedding of responsibilities = stress reduction. And there is plenty of research on the negative effects of stress on sex!

Can't manage a week on a tropical island? No problem. Book yourself and your partner into a nearby hotel for the weekend and ask a family friend to help watch the kids. Bring with you whatever you know to be a spark for romance: a bottle of wine, some romantic music, nice lingerie, and, maybe, some adult toys. Plan to order in room service, sleep when you get tired, indulge in long baths and take time to communicate and reconnect sexually.

You will emerge revitalized and, if you're lucky, the benefits may spill over into the everyday-for at least a few days!