In the final Sex Talk of the season, Dr. Hilda and Dr. Pat explore ways of bringing intimacy and fun back into the bedroom—and all over the house.

Dr. Hilda: “How can I increase my desire after 15, 20, or 25 years of marriage?”  That’s one of the most common questions that I hear from women. Because when you’ve been with the same person for a very long time, things can get dull, very routine. It’s the same old, same old: same place, same position, same time—everything’s the same. Of course, when you do anything over and over and over again in the same way, it can become boring. So for me, I think the real question is: What can I throw into the bedroom to make it more exciting? And that basically means something new, because novelty increases desire.

Something new can be anything from a different time of day to a different location.  Rather than waiting until bedtime in the bed, trying a different room in the house because many of us—I’m not quite there yet, but some of us—

Dr. Pat: —have no children at home. [Laughter] I have no child at home.

Dr. Hilda: Once you become an empty nester, then of course you can do it any time, in any room of the house, without concern about someone walking in on you. So that’s a great time to start trying a different location, different time. It doesn’t have to be something that costs money.

Dr. Pat: I love the TV show The Big C, when Laura Linney has sex outside with her lover, not her husband, and—

Dr. Hilda: Well, that by itself increases desire.

Dr. Pat: No, no, no.  Here—

Dr. Hilda: A new partner always does. [Laughter]

Dr. Pat: But I love the fact that she’s having sex outside on a large lounge chair. It was very erotic.

You know, desire is a delicate flower. It is affected by so many things, and there is not one of us who can’t make a Top Ten list of things in our own lives that could have an impact on desire: financial concerns, work concerns, too many things that have to be done that come before sexual fun and intimacy. And there is a great deal of interest in female libido in terms of what comes first: is the woman going to be aroused first and then have desire, or must she always have the masculine “I’m thinking about sex every 12 seconds?”

It is amazing. I’ve asked a number of men how often they think about sex, and it’s shocking. I don’t know how the hell they get anything done!

Dr. Hilda: So let’s talk about desire. How to make the bedroom—

Dr. Pat: —hotter in a monogamous, long-term relationship.

Dr. Hilda: I always tell women that your brain is your largest sex organ, so erotica is fantastic. I am a firm believer in erotica—not only books that you read that you find arousing, but writing your own book. Everybody can write their own story. So I’ve sent women home with assignments: “Write a story about the first time you had sex with your husband. What was it like? Go back to that moment. What were you wearing? What was he wearing? What did you say to each other?” You just write out a whole story about what it was like and relive it. And that has done a lot for women’s libidos, just writing their stories.

Dr. Pat: So what’s the sexiest story you’ve ever heard?

Dr. Hilda: A woman who was divorced and had kids, and had put her profile up on a dating site. She met someone, then went to meet him at a restaurant. When he walked her to the car, she opened the door and pulled him in, and they had sex in the parking lot of a restaurant.

Dr. Pat: That’s hot!

Dr. Hilda: With footprints on the back window, which I found just amazing. And then at the end of this, he took her underwear and put it in his pocket and took it home. They subsequently got married.

Dr. Pat: I’m sure. [Laughter] The sex—

Dr. Hilda: I thought it was just amazing.

Dr. Pat: Well, it may have something to do with cars. The sexiest story I ever heard was a couple who were taking a road trip, and were having car sex while he was driving. You know, he was sort of manually—

Dr. Hilda: But how does that work! [Laughter]

Dr. Pat: I suppose he must have had very long arms. At this point, she was probably not using a seatbelt. But they became so aroused that somewhere in Virginia they pulled off and were driving around madly in a small town in Virginia looking for a place where they could consummate their extremely hot passionate state. And pulled into the back of a bank and were going at it, and suddenly a police car appears with sirens going.

Dr. Hilda: Oh!

Dr. Pat: I mean, you know, in Virginia you can be arrested for something like that easily.  But fortunately they survived the police car episode.

Dr. Hilda: Well, you see!

Dr. Pat: They had no clothes on. And this was a woman, divorced, and in her 50s—in her 50s! Yes.

Dr. Hilda: So writing your own erotic stories can be very arousing. Or watching videos.  There are so many different types of erotic videos now, from those that give you just a hint of sexual activity, to those that are very graphic. And each woman has to decide for herself what she feels comfortable with. That’s another way of increasing desire and passion in the—

Dr. Pat: I think we should all take sexcations. You know, we talk about a staycation, but what about a sexcation? Just a weekend where we plan in advance with our partner where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, and what we’re going to pack.

Dr. Hilda: What you’re going to do.

Dr. Pat: What we’re going to pack, you know? It’s a great way to get away from the sort of day-to-day boredom of routine sex.

Dr. Hilda: Absolutely. Don’t forget toys. Toys are a lot of fun, too, though I think many women in their 50s and 60s may be a little bit reluctant to go out and buy toys or even to use toys. I hear a lot of women concerned about what he’s going to say and how he’s going to react when you bring a toy into the bedroom. Will he feel that he’s being replaced by that toy?

Dr. Pat: By something that’s more efficient. [Laughter]

Dr. Hilda: You have to be careful. You have to start small. I usually tell women to start with something very small that does not look like a penis.

Dr. Pat: Right.

Dr. Hilda: Because if you bring a Rabbit into the bedroom—

Dr. Pat: Describe the Rabbit.

Dr. Hilda: A Rabbit is a vibrator that looks like a penis, but it has little bunny ears attached. The part that looks like a penis obviously goes inside the vagina, and the part that looks like bunny ears stimulates the clitoris. It was made famous by Sex and the City.

Dr. Pat: And of course, no penis can do that.

Dr. Hilda: No penis can rotate and gyrate and vibrate at the same time. And so for men who aren’t used to sex toys, this can be very intimidating, and they really can feel like they’re being replaced. So I tell women to start with something small, like the finger vibrator—a tiny thing that he puts on his finger, that he can then massage you with. So he still feels like he’s the one who’s giving you the orgasm, rather than being replaced by a toy.  That’s a great way of adding some spice and interest to your sex life.

Dr. Pat: This has been great. But before we close, let’s at least touch on non-heterosexual relationships, because one thing about women’s sexuality is that it is much—

Dr. Hilda: It’s fluid.

Dr. Pat: Plastic, yes. One of the things that we learned in our sex therapy courses is that once a man has an erotic fixed idea, honey, he is done. If it’s opening his raincoat in a parking lot, or wearing fuzzies or whatever it is, it’s fixed.

Dr. Hilda: I don’t know that much about men, but I certainly know that women’s sexuality is very fluid. I have a number of patients who were married for years and had kids, and when their kids left, they found a female partner. And that the female partner gave them some nurturing and caring that they had been missing in their heterosexual relationship. I’ve also seen women who go from heterosexual to homosexual to bisexual, and I’ve found it is just very fluid. So I hate putting women in categories or boxes, because I have found that they can change.

Some of the same issues that we were talking about earlier also apply to women who love women. The vaginal dryness is going to be there whether your partner is male or female, and has to be dealt with because in a sexual relationship with a woman, the vulva or the vagina has to be touched in some way, and if you’re dry and atrophied, you’re going to have the same kinds of problems. It’s going to be painful and uncomfortable. So I recommend the same types of lubricant and estrogen. Perhaps I wouldn’t recommend dilators. On second thought, maybe I would recommend them, because of the sex toys that one might use in a homosexual relationship. So I think a lot of the issues that we touched on earlier apply regardless of who the partner is.

Dr. Pat: Another conversation we need to have in more detail is about women who are not in monogamous relationships, and the rise in sexually transmitted diseases in women in the post-menopausal stage.

Dr. Hilda: That’s a topic for the next set of Sex Talks.

Dr. Pat: Okay, then. Until the next time.