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How to enjoy sex when you have depression

How to enjoy sex when you have depression | Jo Divine

Being depressed can affect all aspects of your life, including your sexual function and sexual relationships. It is estimated that 70% of people who have depression will experience sexual dysfunction.

Everyone feels low at times but for someone who has depression, these feelings don’t go away. By definition, people who have depression experience a reduction, or absence of, pleasure or interest in activities that they previously enjoyed.

When a person loses interest in sexual intimacy and pleasure, their sexual partner will be affected too. The effects of depression can put a strain on relationships in general, making sexual relationships hard to negotiate.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is often treated with antidepressants which can affect libido, vaginal lubrication and inability to orgasm.

The rate of erectile dysfunction (ED), which includes loss of libido and difficulty in ejaculating, in men who have depression is between 25-50%. The rate of sexual dysfunction in women who have depression is 33-90% with symptoms ranging from loss of libido, vaginal dryness due to lack of arousal and inability to achieve an orgasm or delayed orgasm.

However, depression doesn’t mean you need to give up on your sex life. There are ways in which you can manage your symptoms and improve your sexual intimacy and pleasure.

Get a diagnosis

If your sex life seems to be suffering and you think you or your partner may be depressed, seek medical advice. Ignoring your symptoms will not make the problem go away and often only makes it worse. Some people avoid seeking medical advice because they worry that the medication they may need to take will affect their sexual function. However, looking after your mental health should be your first priority to gaining control of your symptoms and this, in turn, will reduce the impact of depression on your sex life.

Discuss your medication with your doctor

Antidepressants can be extremely effective in controlling symptoms of depression but some can have a negative impact upon your sexual function, leading to non compliance with drug taking and worsened symptoms.

If you think your medication is affecting your sexual function, talk to your doctor, who may suggest trying an alternative drug therapy that may have a lesser impact upon your sex life. Medication to help symptoms of sexual dysfunction can also be prescribed. Never stop taking your emdication until you have talked to your doctor.

Consider the time you take your medication and when you have sex. It may be possible to take your medication at a time when it has less impact upon your sexual function.

Talk to your partner

Having a diagnosis of depression can be life changing for a person, but can be even more confusing for their partner as they may not understand what is happening or why their partner is feeling this way. Many couples tell their doctor that depression has ruined their sex lives, but often it is due to a lack of communication that has caused their sexual activity to falter or stop.

Being honest about the way you feel towards your partner is important, telling them that you feel this way due to being depressed rather than not loving them anymore. Reassure them that you still love them, care about them and want to be intimate together.

Think outside the box

If you are affected by symptoms of sexual dysfunction, rethink the ways in which you enjoy sexual pleasure and intimacy. Just because penetrative sex may no longer be possible, there are many ways to experience sexual pleasure and stimulation through foreplay, mutual masturbation, oral sex, intimate massage, using sex toys, bondage and lubricants during your sex play and watching erotic films and reading erotic fiction to increase your level of arousal.

Sexual lubricants and sex toys

If you experience vaginal dryness, try using a sexual lubricant such as YES organic lubricants to make sex feel more comfortable and pleasurable. Using a vibrator on your clitoris can feel amazing and increase your chance of having an orgasm. Getting your partner to intimately massage your clitoris with lubricants or use a sex toy on you will enable them to feel involved even if you are unable to have coital sex.

If you are really struggling to orgasm, a powerful body massager such as the Doxy offers extremely strong vibratory power or the Satisfyer Pro 2 which uses pulsation waves to gently suck the clitoris.

If you want internal orgasms, try a Fun Factory Big Boss G5 or Fun Factory Tiger G5 which both offer deep rumbling vibrations and are larger products. Both are ideal for external play too.

Putting on your own little sex show or even filming your sex play can be incredibly arousing for both you and your partner.

Sex toys and lubricants aren’t just for women; there are many male products that offer intense sexual stimulation and pleasure such as the Fun Factory Cobra, which stimulates the head of the penis through powerful vibrations, or the Hot Octopuss Pulse Solo Essential, which gives out a low rumbling vibration through its pulse plates and can be used with a flaccid penis.

Penis pumps such as Bathmate Hydromax are ideal for gaining an erection and improve penile health through daily use. Used with a constriction ring, the Bathmate can enable you to maintain an erection good enough for coital sex. Constriction rings should not be worn for longer than 30 minutes.

Using an oil based lubricant such as YES can make mutual masturbation feel amazing and it is great to use with male masturbators such as Fleshlight to make your sexual experience even more pleasurable.

Oral Sex

Great oral sex is essential for non penetrative sex. Most people really enjoy fellatio and do not require a fully erect penis to benefit from the pleasures of fantastic oral sex. Getting your partner to say what they really enjoys or would like you to do will increase their pleasure and make your job more fulfilling. The Manta is a great blow job accessory.

Many people with a clitoris enjoy oral sex too but once again, poor technique can leave them really turned off by it. Tell your partner what they are doing right and what you really don’t like. Partners want to give us the maximum pleasure but can only do so if we tell them what works for us. If you prefer a light touch tell them, if you want more pressure, tell them, combine oral pleasure with using a sex toy.

There are many flavoured lubricants available which can spice up the experience if you don’t like the taste which are great for oral sex , however we do not recommend flavoured lubricants for penetrative sex if you are prone to vaginal infections as they contain glycerine and glycols which can cause thrush and vaginal irritation.

Popping an ice cube into your mouth offers a different sexual sensation, especially if you blindfold your partner so they have no idea what to expect!

It is advisable to use a condom or dental dam to prevent transmission of sexual transmitted diseases or HPV. If you cannot find a dental dam, just cut the end of a condom off.

Nipple Play

Our nipples can be incredibly sensitive to touch and you may find you really enjoy nipple play whtever your gender. You may want to try gentle massage of the nipples and breasts with a sensual massage oil or massage candle, YES oil based lubricant or ID Velvet Silicone lubricant both feel great or explore nipple suckers and clamps if you enjoy the pleasurable sensation of pain.

Using your mouth to suck and tease a nipple into a tight bud, experiement with temperature play by using an ice cube either rubbing over the nipples or popping it into your mouth. Some people really enjoy wax play ( special body wax is poured over the breasts, not candle wax!) and some women find they can even enjoy a nipplegasm through nipple play, so experiment and explore, you just never know what will turns you on!

Blindfolds, ticklers, ties and whips

Using light bondage can spice up your sex life. Incorporating silky ties and handcuffs can bring a hint of kinkiness to sex. Wearing a blindfold can heighten your senses such as touch, taste and smell. It can make you feel more sexually aroused when you don’t know what is coming next. Feather ticklers and silicone whips are not only great fun for impact play but also offer sensate touch as you gently run them up and down your partner’s body so be creative with your bondage accessories.

Discovering your inner domnatrix is fun, explore BDSM or just add some extra spice to your sex life.

Exploring Kink and BDSM

Explore your “kinky side”;articles/sexploration/trying-kink, experiment with BDSM, fireplay, the erotic world of Shibari or just share your sexual fantasies and desires in your mind or played out in real life.

Watching and reading erotica

If you are struggling to become aroused, watching erotic films or reading erotic fiction can be very stimulating. Female friendly porn can be more stimulating for women or reading a short chapter in an erotic book can help you become aroused before sex play.

Sex can make you feel happy

Having sex can be an effort for many people, not just those who have depression but making time to indulge in sex play, even when you’re not in the mood can have a positive effect upon your mood. You don’t even have to to go the whole hog, just indulge in some foreplay fun or sexual teasing.

Having an orgasm releases feel good endorphins and hormones which can make you feel happier, more relaxed and offers a wealth of health benefits such a lowering your blood pressure, making you sleep deeper and generally creating a sense of well being.

However, some women experience anorgasmia as a result of taking antidepressants and stopping or changing their medication is not an option. Many people fixate on having an orgasm rather than concentrating on just how good sex feels. You don’t need an orgasm for sex to feel pleasureable.

It is important to have good mental health controlled by medication than be unhappy, just to achieve an orgasm.

Keep fit and eat well

This applies to everyone but can be beneficial for those who have depression. Being overweight can affect your sexual function and often men who have ED find their symptoms go away when they lose weight. Losing weight not only improves body confidence but also increases sexual function too.

Exercise improves both physical and mental health in everyone. However, research by the University of Texas, Austin, USA (2013) has shown it can increase sexual desire and function in women who experience adverse sexual side effects related to antidepressants.

Dr Lorenz and colleagues who conducted the research found that a brief, moderate strength and cardiovascular exercise regime prior to sexual activity improved sexual desire, and significantly increased sexual function in women who experienced severe sexual dysfunction related to antidepressants.

Prior to this research many doctors could only swap medication, prescribe further medication to counteract sexual side effects or just wait and see, often leading to non compliance with medication.

Taking regular exercise also improves body image confidence and overall health and well being.

Whatever you do, don’t give up on sex, thinking that your sex life is over after being diagnosed with depression. There are many ways in which you can still enjoy sexual pleasure and intimacy by being creative and adding a little adventure and fun to your sex play!