To improve your sex life, you might be able to take steps on your own and/or with your partner(s). But, in other cases, you might want to seek help from a mental health or health care provider. These professionals can help you assess your concerns and identify solutions. But it’s up to you to decide where you’d like to start. 

Provided below is an overview of solutions. Based on your concerns and/or diagnosis, one or more of these solutions might be right for you. For many people, a combined approach may be the best answer.

Self-Help Strategies and Education

Sometimes, you can figure out sexual concerns and increase pleasure on your own. Getting to know your body can help you discover what types of sex you enjoy, what arouses you, and what is most pleasurable. And since this is rarely part of standard sex-ed, we usually need to do some education and exploration ourselves.

When it comes to sex, there’s a big menu out there. You can learn more about the many options for sexual expression and activities – either on your own or with a partner – through books, websites, and ethical porn. 

You could make sex toys, lubrication, and/or other devices part of your sexual routine. Masturbation is also a good way to explore your body, and what feels good to you. Also, there are many exercises and self-stimulation techniques you can use to increase pleasure. For more information, check out "Resources to Learn More" in this Guide and the "Resources for Self-Education" section. 

Improved Partner Communication

Talking openly with your partner(s) about what you like and don’t like when it comes to sex – and what you want to try together – can help address sexual concerns. But easier said than done, right? Talking openly does get easier with practice, and it’s worth the effort. You can have better sex, feel safer, and be closer with your partner.

How we express intimacy, and our sexual feelings can change, especially if we’ve been together for a long time, or as we get older. Beyond sexual intercourse, there are many ways to be close with your partner(s). Other forms of physical touch – such as cuddling or massage – might be become even more appealing. When it comes to sexual expression and pleasure, there’s a big menu of options to explore.

Also, your interest in sex may increase or decrease at certain points in your life. If your sex drives are mismatched – when one of you wants sex more often than the other one does – it's key to talk openly and find solutions that make both of you feel good. There are many free resources at "Resources to Learn More" in this Guide, and the section "Resources for Partner Communication" on how to improve communication with your partner. 

Here are some tips on how to discuss a variety of topics with your partner(s):


1. Your partner – especially a new one – is not a mind reader. So, try to be clear and specific about your desires and boundaries. And, talking should go both ways – hopefully you will both open up and listen to each other. There’s not set script for talking about sex; use your own words and say what feels natural to you.

2. Don’t pressure your partner to do something they are not comfortable with. Before you are sexually involved with someone or want to try something new, getting their consent is essential. What is consent? It means asking your partner – every step of the way – if what you're doing sexually is ok, if they are comfortable doing it, and if it feels good. In response, your partner needs to clearly and freely answer "yes" using words. Remember, a partner can say "no" to any type of sexual activity, even if they've done it before.

3. When it comes to desires, you can start by talking about what feels good to each of you and what is off-limits. Different things appeal to different people. It’s all about what feels good to you and your partner at the time. For example, if you want to talk about desires, you might start with:

  • “What do you like?”
  • “Is there something new you’d like to try?”  

It’s always best to be honest about what you like and don’t like, both in and out of the bedroom. But, tone matters. Be gentle and try to give compliments first. Praise your partner(s) for the things they do that you do like. Then, if you don’t like something, speak up. For example,

  • “Could we please do more of ________, and less of _______?”
  • “I’m not comfortable with that.  Could we try ______ instead?” 

4. If you’re having trouble getting in the mood for intimacy and sex, you might want to talk about doing things that could help you relax, such as cooking or watching a movie together, listening to music, talking a walk, or lighting candles. 

5. This should not be a one-time conversation. Throughout your relationship, you should keep checking in with your partner(s) about what they like and don’t like, and what you’d like to try together. You can talk before, during, and after you’ve been intimate. And you can do so in person, by text, or by phone. For more tips, see (Steps #3 and #4) and the "Resources to Learn More" section of this Guide.

6. Bring up concerns that you may have about sexual issues and function. In many cases, discussing your sexual concerns can feel awkward, but open communication is key to a pleasurable sex life for both you and your partner(s). And, remember, you are not alone; in fact, sexual difficulties are very common. Talking with your partner might make it easier to try out some solutions that you’ve discovered through self-education, or learned from a health care provider or therapist. To bring up the topic, you could start with:

  • “I want to talk to you about a problem I’m having with sex. Specifically, I’m having trouble with ______. Are you comfortable talking with me about this?”
  • “When it comes to sex, I’ve been struggling with _______ (vaginal dryness, lack of desire, erectile dysfunction, etc.) and I would love to find ways to address my concern. Would you be open to trying ____?”

Once you bring up the topic, you and your partner(s) can have an open discussion about your concern and talk about possible solutions. Use this Guide to identify solutions that you might implement on your own and/or with your partner.

7. Being in a healthy relationship means it’s ok if you disagree with each other. The following steps can help you bring up sensitive topics without causing harm:

  • Start by calmly explaining why you are upset and focusing on specific examples. 
  • It’s best to avoid name-calling. And, to recognize that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes.
  • In most arguments, you can usually find common ground, and a solution that works for both of you. 
  • If you’re still angry or upset, you might want to give each other a little time alone, or switch gears and do something fun together.                 

Parenting. When raising children, it can be tough to find quality alone time with your partner(s). But to stay strong, relationships definitely need time and attention. So, even you’ve been together for a while and life gets busy, it’s important to make time for each other.

  • For example, each week you could set aside some “date” time, even if it’s just for a few hours, or a night out. Note: this could also include scheduling time for intimacy and sex. 
  • Get creative and plan fun, different dates. There are many things you can do together, such as taking a walk or hike, going to a park, seeing a movie or concert, going for a bike ride, or cooking together.
  • Working with a general therapist, couples therapist, or a sex therapist can also help improve your communication skills with partner(s).

Check out "Resources to Learn More" in this Guide, and the section "Resources for Parenting and Sex" for resources on keeping up a good sex life while being a parent.


If your sexual concern is rooted in emotional, relationship or mental health issues, sex therapy or other types of therapy by a licensed mental health professional can be very helpful. Therapists can also address concerns that may stem from your religious, social, or cultural experiences.

Sex therapy is talk therapy which helps you identify and resolve sexual concerns through a practical plan. This could include partner communication strategies, exercises, or exploring new options and techniques for sexual expression.

Other licensed mental health therapists, who may not have sexuality training, can help you address mental health conditions that could affect your sex life, such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and stress. A therapist can also help you cope with past trauma. If you are having marital or relationship problems, a trained marriage and family therapist or relationship therapist can help you overcome these difficulties.

Lifestyle Changes 

Use of alcohol and drugs, lack of exercise, and stress can negatively affect your sex life. Decreasing your alcohol and drug intake might help resolve sexual concerns and improve your overall health. To do so, you could seek advice from a professional with expertise in substance abuse. Other lifestyle changes, like exercising regularly, can boost self-confidence and overall well-being, which can also help improve your sex life.


A health care provider can help you determine if a medication that treats specific sexual concerns may be right for you. There are approved medications available that may help treat low desire, erectile dysfunction, and vaginal dryness. Below you will find their common brand names.

  • Erectile Dysfunction: (Pill Form) Adcrica, Cialis , Levitra, Staxyn, Stendra, or Viagra; (Injection) Caverject, Edex, or Prostin VR
  • Low Desire: Addyi or Vyleesi
  • Vaginal Dryness: Vaginal estrogen, prasterone, or ospemifene

Mechanical Aids and Other Devices  

Mechanical aids and other devices can also help you overcome sexual concerns. Some could be prescribed by a health care provider, like vacuum devices or penile implants. Or, for those with a vulva/vagina, a dilator might be prescribed.

If you are looking for devices to enhance self-exploration, you could purchase some products on your own, such as sex toys and lubricants. To learn more about the different types of sex toys and how to care for them, check out Planned Parenthood’s resource here.