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And Now for Something Completely Different

Know what you want.

One Woman's Sexual Success Story continued...

She learned some of what fueled her desire: soul music by Marvin Gaye and James Brown, dancing, delicious food, good wine and stimulating conversation. Now in a long-term marriage, she's found that a sensual ambiance keeps the sexual pulse alive with her husband. For example, getting dressed up in a sexy outfit and meeting him at the bar of a swank restaurant gives a kick to their sexual energy, she says.

She also stumbled on other techniques of arousal. "I like seeing the latest pornography magazines," she says. "I'll go to a store -- a store I don't usually go to -- and look at them." She also likes to peruse the magazines with her husband in bed or watch X-rated videos with him.

Do Something Different -- Something New

Reading erotica, whether romance-laden or hard-core, is the easiest way to add some spark to your sex life, says Lonnie Barbach, author of Turn-Ons: Pleasing Your Lover While You Please Yourself. Reading about sexual fantasies can give you ideas you and your partner can try. Some women find, for example, that dressing up in silky lingerie makes them feel more erotically aware. Other women (and men) may enjoy role-playing.

"Often people find the things they think they wouldn't like, they like, and the things they thought they'd like are a dud," says Barbach. The important thing is to make some kind of change. "It's more a matter of doing something different, something new," she says.

Sex therapist Zilbergeld offers several exercises to help figure out your sexual desires. One he calls "simmering," which involves tuning into surges of sexual energy that typically occur throughout the day, even for people who say they aren't aroused very much. When you're aware of a sexual feeling, focus on it and develop a fantasy of what you'd like to have happen, he says.

Every few hours during the day, bring the image to mind. This works for both men and women, and doing Kegel exercises -- squeezing your pelvic muscles as if you're trying to prevent urination -- can increase sexual tone and pleasurable pelvic sensations for both sexes, too. If you'd like to act on these feelings when you get home, make a phone call to your partner to see if the timing is right.

What Are Your Own Special Requirements?

Another exercise recommended by Zilbergeld involves defining your preferred "conditions" for good sex. Compare exciting sexual encounters with those that weren't as satisfying, he suggests: Are there things you enjoyed in the past that you'd like to try again? Do you need to have sex at a certain time of day to enjoy it the most? Make a list of your conditions and act on them. Some women say they get an erotic charge hearing their partner utter the words: "I'll do the dishes." They could make doing the dishes a condition for having sex.

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