Intimacy and Sex

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Having sex is a major step in any relationship. It's a good idea to discuss your past before you have sex and practice safe sex.

Sex. This three-letter word must have reams of literature devoted to it. Right from how to satisfy your partner sexually to how important it is in a relationship. And of course practicing safe sex, which has become increasingly important in an age of sexual liberation and multiple partners. Pleasure is important, but health even more so. A few interesting facts we often come across about sex:

Having regular sex can increase our life span

You can burn calories while indulging in sexual intercourse

It can relieve stress

It's good for our overall health and well-being

It helps one to look younger

TIP: Here are 2000 questions you must ask your partner!

So yes, sex is great for us. But what makes it even more fulfilling is when it is blended with a healthy dose of intimacy in a relationship. Casual sex may be exciting initially, but it tends to lose its appeal after a while and carries its own health risks.

Each relationship is unique, and while some may have sex fairly early in the relationship, others take some time to reach that stage. A few things to bear in mind before indulging in sexual intercourse:

1. Maturity of the partners involved

Although the age of sexual consent seems to have fallen drastically, it is wise for two people to be relatively mature, physically and emotionally, before having sex.

2. It should be consensual

Both partners should be agreeable to it. Having sex is a major step in any relationship and will alter things forever.

3. Comfort level

Don't make this decision lightly. There should be an ease and comfort around each other, that makes you able to discuss any concerns or fears you may have about having sex.

4. Sexual history

Some couples have sex in the heat of the moment. But some enter into it as a planned decision. And since you're entrusting someone else with your body and your heart, you may like to know about each other's past. Both partners should be open and honest. If you have had several partners in the past, tell the truth. And try not to be critical of the other. Fine, so he's more experienced, but he's being sincere about it.

5. Better safe than sorry

If you've both been in one or more relationships earlier, you might even decide to get blood tests done just to feel reassured about STD and the like. Bringing this up does not mean that you distrust your partner or doubt his/her sexual history, but that you are looking out for each other's interests and health. Do not be afraid to bring this up.

6. Safe sex and contraception

Whether in the heat of the moment or planned to the minutest detail, always practice safe sex. The condom is the safest bet to protect you from sexual diseases and the transmission of infection. It should be worn throughout intercourse and not only later in the act or when you are near climax.

Apart from infection, the other repercussion of sex may be (unwanted) pregnancy. If you are in a casual relationship or have just started exploring whether you can make it work, you may need more time before deciding to have kids. Do choose a method of contraception that suits you. It may be the condom again, male or female. Or women can choose from a range of contraceptives like the Pill, diaphragm, IUD, IUS, morning-after pill, mini-pill etc.

7. Relax, enjoy

Sex between two consenting adults in a serious relationship who are committed to each other, can be the ultimate physical expression of a deeper bond. Make your first time together special. A few pointers to keep in mind: 8. Take her breath away

Create the right ambience. Mood is everything. Let her realize how you've gone out of your way to make your first time together really special. Dim the lights, put on some slow, sensual music and romance her senses. If you've called her over for a meal, include some aphrodisiacs like oysters or a dessert like strawberries and cream, which conjure up images of sensual scenes in movies!

9. Kiss and caress

Start with lingering caresses and focus on her erogenous zones. Build up to heated kisses and explore each other's bodies like you want to etch it on your memory forever!

10. Anticipation is the key

Don't be mechanical. Go with the flow and use your instincts. Spend lots of time on foreplay and make her beg for more. Tell her how beautiful you find her. With a woman, it is very important that her mind and senses should be aroused as much as her body.

11. Communicate

Don't just turn over and snore once you're done. Spend time, cuddling and on pillow talk. Or even tell each other what you really liked, so that you have a good idea what excites the other and can use it to your advantage the next time.

Sometimes when a couple has been involved, living together or married for some time the sex may begin to get predictable or may even lose that spark. Try and work towards keeping things interesting. A few tips:

12. Impulse is the key

Like the Nike ad says,"Just do it." Don't wait only till the lights are out when you're probably so tired with the day's activities that all your body craves is sleep. Just like you would plan any important event in your life, make the time to have sex!

13. Be innovative

Don't confine sex to the bedroom; find new places. You might like to make out in your car like you used to or even in the shower. Also don't stick to standard positions. Be creative! If your imagination isn't enough, buy the 'Kamasutra'!

14. Spice it up

Look upon sex as a stage production that requires the right costumes and props to be successful. Invest in some sexy lingerie, silk sheets or even scented lotions, for a good old massage, to get the senses alive. And if the occasion calls for it, play out your fantasies!

15. Lose Yourself

Make your partner feel desirable, both in word and action. Spend time pleasuring each other; don't be selfish. Avoid thinking of your to-do list, chores or anything that will detract from the pleasure of the moment. Voice your needs and maybe even guide your partner as to your explicit likes and dislikes.