How can I deal with conflicts over sex

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Sexual desire is a natural part of life, and a woman can feel as much sexual desire and pleasure as a man. Traditionally women are often taught that it is their duty as a wife to submit to their husband's sexual demands and that 'good' women do not have sexual desires of their own. This is wrong and harmful teaching. It is both good, and natural, for women and men to want to share sexual pleasure with their partners. When each partner knows the kind of sexual talk and touching that the other likes, they can both enjoy sex more.

Talk to your partner about sex. This can be very hard if you have never done it before, but it is very important. If you do not, how can he know that you are not enjoying sex? Tell him what you like and what you do not like. Your partner may simply not realize that your body responds differently to sexual touch from the way his own body does. Teach him how to make you feel excited.

Sex often begins with kissing, touching, talking, or looking in a way that makes a person feel excited. It often takes longer for a woman to get excited or reach orgasm than a man. Therefore, ask your partner to take time and be patient while having sex with you.

It is possible for almost all women to have orgasms, but many women never have them or have them only once in a while. If she wants, a woman may be able to learn how to have an orgasm, either by touching herself or by letting her partner know what feels good. Touching oneself does not use up sexual desire, and can be a good way for a woman to learn about her body and what kinds of sexual touch feel best - and to show it to her partner.

The amount of desire a woman feels may change throughout her monthly cycle, or at certain times during her life. If you or your partner do not feel like having sex, try to forgive each other and to talk about it. Allow time for sex when you both want it, and try to do things that you both will find exciting.

Sex should never be painful. Pain during sex is usually a sign that something is wrong. A woman may feel pain with sex when:

  • her partner enters her too soon before she is relaxed or wet enough.
  • she feels guilt or shame or does not want to have sex.
  • she has an infection (you should see a health worker to check this).
  • she has had a genital cutting.

IMPORTANT: If you suspect or know that your husband is being unfaithful do not have sex with him unless he is willing to use a condom. If he has sex with others he may catch and then infect you with an STI (sexually transmitted infection) such as HIV/AIDS. Men and women can both get STIs but a woman gets infected from a man more easily than a man gets infected from a woman - so you are at a greater risk.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en021014