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7 Quick Steps to Better Sex

Easy ways to fire up your love life in 5 minutes or less

En español | Maybe your sex life isn't everything you'd like it to be. Or, if you're lucky, maybe it's just fine. But who wouldn't jump at the chance to make it better — especially if it doesn't take much effort or energy at all? Here are some quick ways to make sex more enjoyable for the over-50 set.

See also: Brand new sex with the same old spouse.

Take a pain reliever. At this stage of life, aches and pains mount up and can interfere with the undivided attention lovemaking deserves. If you have creaky joints or chronic injuries that distract you during sex, an hour before you climb into bed, take a standard dose of aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol), assuming, of course, that you can safely. Even minor aches can dash erotic focus. A pain reliever can quickly produce noticeable improvement in sex.

better sex advice-couple smiling at one another

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Don't wait until bedtime to be intimate with your partner.

Experiment with pillows. Speaking of aches and pains, sometimes lovemaking causes the discomfort. This may happen when older lovers hold one position for a long time or when you engage in activities and positions that can strain the neck, back, shoulders and arms. Extra pillows — or even foam wedges — can make a tremendous difference.

Use a lubricant After age 50, most women experience some degree of vaginal dryness. Sexual lubricants don't relieve all the discomfort, but they often make a major difference quickly. Lubricants also help men. Older men often complain of difficulty becoming aroused and a loss of penile sensitivity. Lubricants immediately increase sensitivity and arousal. Even if you no longer have intercourse, lubricants quickly enhance genital play. Lubricants are available over the counter at pharmacies. They're usually displayed near the contraceptives.

Try one-word coaching. The most powerful erotic word is "yes." Even those who find it difficult to discuss sex can usually say it. The next time you make love, when your partner does something you enjoy, say, "yes" or "ahhh." Meanwhile, when your partner's moves are less than thrilling, remain silent. It rarely takes long for lovers to provide more of what elicits a "yes" and less of what's greeted by silence. You quickly get more of what you enjoy and never have to complain.

Next: Schedule time for lovemaking on your calendar. »

Do it earlier. Twenty or 30 years ago, you could work all day, enjoy event-filled evenings, and still have enough energy to return home and dance the horizontal bop. But now, when 10 o'clock rolls around, there's only one thing you want to do in bed, sleep. Many older couples notice immediate sexual enhancement when they make love in the morning or afternoon. Sex is not strenuous, but it takes energy, and older couples have more of it earlier in the day.

Pencil it in. When people fall in love, they can't keep their hands off each other but the hot-and-heavy period rarely lasts more than a year or two. After that, one person typically wants sex more than the other. In two-thirds of couples, it's the man, according to sex therapists, but in one-third, the woman has more libido. Desire differences often become a chronic relationship irritant. They can drive people crazy and ruin sex. No wonder they're a leading reason why couples consult sex therapists.

To resolve desire differences, sex therapists recommend taking a few minutes a month to schedule sex in advance. When couples do this in good faith, the higher-libido lover no longer has to grovel, and the lower-libido lover no longer feels besieged. Over time, the resentments engendered by the desire difference fade, and as the conflict subsides, relationship and sexual satisfaction improve.

To schedule sex, the first issue is: How often? Of course, that's up to you, and there's no right or wrong. But according to the landmark "Sex in America" survey, most couples over 50 make love one to three times a month. Decide on your frequency, and then get out your calendars.

Almost inevitably, the lower-libido lover objects, saying, "What if I'm not in the mood?" After the hot-and-heavy period, one's mood rarely has much to do with it. Most lower-libido spouses are surprised to discover that when they no longer exhaust themselves fending off nightly advances, they feel open to sex when it's scheduled. Still skeptical? Try scheduling for a few months, and if you don't like it, stop.