If this story caught your attention because at some point or another you have not enjoyed your sex life or lack thereof, you’re far from alone. While the results of a recent Public Health England (PHE) study are causing quite a commotion with its claims that a whopping half of millennial women report a “lack of sexual enjoyment” in their life over the last 12 months, many sexperts are seriously unimpressed.
As part of the study, researchers surveyed around 7,300 women 16 years or older and found that a significant amount (49 percent) of 25- to 34-year-olds reported they were dissatisfied with their sex life. Interesting? Yes. Flawed? Quite possibly.
“If we look at surveys from the last generation and the one before that, we might find that 50 percent isn’t high, meaning that in the past even less women enjoyed sex,” explains Dawn Michael, PhD, a clinical sexologist, relationship expert, and author of My Husband Wont Have Sex With Me. “I do believe that, with the invention of birth control, it has given more freedom without as much worry from generations before; however, there are a few important factors that the study left out as well.”
One of the factors that Dr. Michael believes the study has drawn a blind eye to is that women in their 20s tend to know their body far less than a woman in her late 30s, 40s or 50s. “Time allows women, especially, the chance to get to know our body and become more comfortable with sexual encounters,” she says.
Tammy Nelson, PhD, certified sex therapist and author of Getting the Sex You Want completely agrees, adding that this study is starkly misleading. “Sure, the study found that half the women in the millennial age group reported a lack of sexual enjoyment in the last 12 months, but it didn’t say that these women did not enjoy sex at all or what they did not like about it,” she notes. “It didn’t say that millennial-aged women didn’t enjoy masturbation or find pleasure in sex or that they never orgasmed.” For this reason, she believes that it doesn’t make sense to simply conclude that millennial women aren’t finding joy in sex.
“I think most people, if they’re honest, would say that, at some point in the last year, they didn’t enjoy sex,” Dr. Nelson continues. “Why is this such a surprise? Most of us have great sex, good sex, okay sex, and not-so-great sex — and sometimes even bad sex — even if we’re in a great relationship with a loving and generous sexual partner.” These occasions, when sex might not be totally rewarding, may coincide with several things. One, according to Dr. Nelson, might have to do with mood. While sex might help enhance your mood, it’s not always at the top of your priority list when you’re tired or stressed.
“Both men and women like to feel emotionally connected prior to having sex, while some people are the opposite — they feel connected after they have sex,” she says. “If you’re one of those people who can’t get into it if you have a resentment from an argument earlier in the day, try working through any problems before you get in bed, so you don’t hold things against your partner and find yourself withdrawing from pleasure.”
As a pointer, Dr. Nelson says that an easy way for most people to enhance their sex life is to communicate more about it — what you like, dislike or would like to try. “If you’re on your phone or checking social media up until the moment you hit the pillow, you might not be one of those communicative types,” she says. “Try talking about what you want and what works for you, including any fantasies you might have.”
Antonia Hall, psychologist, sex and relationship expert, and author of The Ultimate Guide to a Multi-Orgasmic Life, agrees on the communications front, adding that a major roadblock to enjoying sex is an inability to ask for one’s needs to be met. “Women are often taught to acquiesce to their partner’s needs, and that their pleasure should be derived from their skilled hands only,” she says. “But every woman’s body is different, so that thinking leads to a lose-lose situation.”
Bottom line: Bad sex isn’t a millennial thing. It’s an individual thing. Everyone goes through ebbs and flows in the bedroom, but experts agree that the key to a more pleasurable sexual experience for all parties involved is in communication.