We’ve all had to deal with the issue when we are between partners and dating, or married and bored, or married and post-natal or with kids running screaming through the house. Then there are prolonged times of stress when your partner is so tired he/she keeps falling asleep (worse if they are on top of you) — coitus interruptus, all right. But for whatever reason, it will one day need addressing.
Infamous US sex entertainer Annie Sprinkle used to say that sex doesn’t have to always be gourmet. It can be a quick take-out meal, or a light salad, a snack between meals (I always took this to mean self-soothing), as long as there is a good variety and it’s not just all gourmet or cheap and cheerful or snacking.
For me the answer is simple. I’m afraid I’m a “quality not quantity” person and have embraced (short) periods of celibacy even within relationships rather than lie there listening to the mattress squeak. This is true for many people I’ve chatted to, especially now that there’s Netflix and Game of Thrones to compete with.
I’ve always found that periods of celibacy have made me ripe and hungry, which has improved the quality of even average sex. In fact, in some religions couples are forbidden to have sex during the woman’s menstruation time — the logic being that their lust will grow through abstinence.
But this girlfriend wasn’t so committed to quality, favouring quantity and a regular lover whom she got on well with as a person despite him not being so GIB. “Great sex doesn’t matter so much any more; I prefer regularity, intimacy and companionship,” she said.
I put the question to four male friends over 45. Two said any sex (“a quick shag”) is better than no sex and two said they would only go for good sex and needed a strong attraction and connection (Go, guys!). My female friends were also mixed depending on age and libido, married or single. One single friend said it was not really a choice: “The fact is that it’s a lolly-shop out there for men, and if you don’t have sex with your dates after a few times out, then they drop you. So you take a gamble. But you can also hit gold, and it’s the beginning of a great relationship you wouldn’t have had if you’d held out.”
With this very question in mind, I recently saw a story in the New York Post that claims that from a purely health point of view, any sex including average or bad sex, is better than no sex. That, biologically and medically, the sex organs and urogenital system need the blood flow that comes from a “regular workout”.
While countless studies have shown sex is good for the heart in males, research has shown that for women a “depressed” vagina is a real problem. Women who don’t engage in sex or self-love are at risk of vaginal (wall thinning) — a common but treatable condition that causes the vaginal wall to thin, especially as we age and estrogen wanes.
For both men and women, sex and orgasm exercises the tissue and muscles and stimulates the entire cardiovascular system; also oxygen comes in and flushes the cells because of deeper breathing, and feel-good hormones are released — hence regular sex may minimise some depressive conditions.
If your partner isn’t a turn on or you have no partner, sex therapists suggest fantasy, erotic play (trying new things together) or visual erotica as a stimulant. So in health terms, it’s any sex is better than no sex. Forget the devil excuse. It’s now: “Sorry, the Doctor made me do it.”