Kim Carney /
By contributor contributor
updated 9/22/2006 4:52:25 PM ET 2006-09-22T20:52:25

What do you do when housemates interfere with intimacy? Any advice for a woman whose husband is just no good in bed? And what positions are recommended for someone with back pain? Sexploration answers your queries. Have an intimate question? To e-mail us, click here .

Q: I have a thorny problem with my wife of 38 years. She is a prude and the thorn is that her mother lives with us. My wife says things like "Wait until she goes to sleep" or "I’m not having sex with you with my mother in the house." Then I get little jealous comments while watching TV such as "Like what you see?" My god woman, I am not dead! Advice?

A: What you need is some privacy, just the way new parents have to find privacy once the kids arrive and there’s no more running through the kitchen naked chasing her with a bottle of olive oil and a spatula.

Of course, having sex while there are kids in the house, no matter how furtively, seems normal, given that’s how they got there in the first place. But when you're the kid, and mom is just two doors down the hall, feeling sexy can seem almost impossible.

So either you or mom-in-law has to get out of the house once in awhile. Can she stay alone in your house while you take a weekend at a hotel? Can you get her involved in a bridge club that plays a couple days a week?

This is the same strategy to use with kids, by the way, and a good reason to stay friendly with any neighbor who also has kids. Slumber parties and home-delivered pizza were invented specifically so parents could have sex.

All that said, you can’t afford to escape to a hotel every time. Your wife is just going to have to learn to adapt — start by getting a foolproof lock on your bedroom door — just as new parents must in order to preserve closeness in their relationship.

But also, how could anybody deny their children the "I-once-saw-my-parents-having-sex-and-was-traumatized-forever" story?

If your mother-in-law catches you, well, call it karma.

Q: Help! I have been married for four years and my husband has never been able to give me an orgasm. I can do it alone without him, but he can’t get me to orgasm. He has basically given up on trying. I don’t think it’s fair. We are both in our late 20's. I love him very much, but his lack of interest in my sexual fulfillment has caused my eye to wander. What should I do?

A: Let’s not rush to judgment. Maybe it’s not that he "has never been able" to give you an orgasm. Maybe it’s that you have never been able to have one with him.

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You can do it yourself, but some people find they can’t lose enough control with a partner to let an orgasm happen. If that’s you, the poor guy could slave away, the song "Sixteen Tons" running through his head (look it up), and all his hard work will never pay off.

Try doing whatever it is you do when you’re alone, but doing it with him touching you, kissing you, stroking you. Or just watching. That may help you overcome any reluctance you may have.

And don’t hesitate to teach him exactly what you want and how you want it. We men aren’t psychics you know.

Q: What positions do you recommend for women with low-back problems? I want to have sex, but it hurts my back. My husband has been very patient, but I don't know what to do.

A: French doctors writing in the journal Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research several years back said that almost half of all patients with low-back pain reported significant sexual problems, but that "women with low-back pain had greater reduction in frequency of intercourse, more marked discomfort during intercourse and more interference with their sexual lives."

The good news is that there are detours around pain.

First, be sure you are being treated for the pain and its cause, if known (the source often remains a mystery). Seek expert medical advice on exercise, drugs or therapies such as acupuncture.

Second — and this is the fun part — try new positions. One guide published by the University of Kentucky recommends woman on top, woman on a table with the man standing (clear the dinner dishes first), and the "spoon" position with the man entering from behind. You might also try tucking pillows under your back.

Don’t forget other sex practices, too, like oral, masturbation and the use of vibrators.

Finally, pain can make people feel very unsexy. So take some time in foreplay, soak in a warm bath (which can also loosen your back) and touch each other without trying to rush to the main event.

Brian Alexander is a California-based writer who covers sex, relationships and health. Alexander, also a Glamour contributing editor, is traveling around the country to find out how Americans get sexual satisfaction for the special report "America Unzipped" and in an upcoming book for Harmony, an imprint of Crown Publishing.

Sexploration appears every other Thursday.

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