Sense & Sensitivity

Reader Experiences Physical Change After Celibacy

DEAR HARRIETTE: Years ago, my husband and I got into a series of nasty arguments, and while we stayed together, we retreated to different parts of the house and stopped being intimate.

We now have a much nicer relationship. We tried to be intimate recently, and it didn’t work. It was on me; it wouldn’t work. When I went for my annual gynecological visit, my doctor told me what I already know -- things are pretty tight down there. I didn’t dare ask him what to do because I was way too embarrassed. But I don’t know what to do. I want to be intimate with my husband again, but I don't know how. -- Resuming Intimacy, Atlanta

DEAR RESUMING INTIMACY: It turns out that many couples go through periods of abstinence, for a wide variety of reasons. Depending on the length of time, it can be difficult to reconnect. Emotional distance can create a divide that’s hard to close. Additionally, women’s bodies can become less receptive and literally smaller, making it difficult to be intimate. You may need to speak to your doctor to get suggestions and even medical support to get to the place where you can comfortably receive your husband. Some men find that they experience erectile dysfunction due to age, health or even longtime abstinence, so a doctor’s visit may be helpful for both of you.

Given that there were emotional reasons that shut you two down years ago, you should also talk. Work on communicating about your life and what you want now. Consider going to therapy together, a couple's retreat or some other type of engagement that may foster positive vibes between you. Read more here: and

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