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Just One Thing: Dr. Melody McCloud Gives The Straight Talk About Sex

African American couple touching noses
African American couple touching nosesPlush Studios / Getty Images/Blend Images

How do you keep the post-Valentine's Day home fires burning?

We checked in with Melody T. McCloud, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist, the founder/medical director of Atlanta Women's Health Care, and author of "Living Well, Despite Catchin’ Hell: The Black Woman’s Guide to Health, Sex," for an idea of "Just One Thing" couples can do to keep the intimacy up.

What's one thing a couple can do to boost the true intimacy in their sex life?

The "one thing" couples can do to boost intimacy in their sex life is to recognize that sex is a natural bodily urge and need, and you are to honor that in your lover and embrace that need for yourself. Don't put sex and intimacy on the back burner.

Too many times, (women, especially) feel that "sex is only for his enjoyment." No! We are all sexual beings. Just as we are maternal/paternal, spiritual beings, we are also sexual beings. That's how we are made. Don't fear that; embrace that part of you and your lover.

In my book, Living Well: The Black Woman's Guide to Health, Sex & Happiness, and in my sex presentations, I find that many women—especially the overly "churchified" ones, are conflicted. Can I be spiritual and also sexual? The answer is a resounding YES. That is how God made us. Even oral sex is touted in the Bible! If you don't believe me, see Song of Solomon 2:3. Read it and tell me, what do you think she's doing down there "under his shadow," and what "fruit" is "sweet to [her] taste"? Can the church say Amen!?

What role does stress play in intimacy or lack of intimacy?

Stress from work, family matters, children and financial burdens can adversely affect one's willingness to participate in a hot round of lovemaking. You may not feel like doing anything because you've got so many other things on your mind.

But "intimacy" doesn't only have to be the horizontal mambo. Cuddle and embrace each other. Lie quietly together while watching TV. Slow-dance. Or just sit quietly holding hands in a park is important, and is intimacy in itself.

Remember, too, that sex is a stress reliever; so if you allow yourself to first be cuddled/embraced, who knows? Extended periods of holding each other may relax you enough that something more begins, followed by a good nap and you wake up refreshed to deal with whatever comes along.

Can more open conversation between a couple really help to reduce the pressure?

Communication is always important in any relationship, for all aspects of the relationship. Men need to realize that sometimes women just need to be heard. Men may not need to solve every problem or concern; just listen.

Also, if you need to talk to your man, don't "attack" him at the door when he's just getting in from work. Allow some decompression and pick a time when whatever you wish to talk about isn't a raging issue in your mind (or on your face).

What about self image? Can you still feel sexual if you don't like what has happened to your body?

While men may worry that their "package" is too small, I think this is mostly a concern for women: "My bra doesn't match my panties." "I'm so fat." "I have no butt." "My boobs are too small, " or "my boobs flop to the side." Women often say these things to themselves and they allow these negative thoughts to affect their freedom during sex. In my sex lectures—that are called an "informative HOOT of a session"—I tell everyone that men aren't really concerned that your underwear doesn't match your bra. They don't care! They are going to take them off of you anyway. Don't worry yourself about these minor things. What makes someone sexy and fun in bed (or wherever) is that they can just be free and relaxed with themselves, and hence with their lover. Don't sweat the small stuff.

New Life Publishing; First edition (December 20, 2010)
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