If you want to start eating healthy, you know that changing your relationship to food is more effective than a crash diet. The same is true with your sex life. Concerning yourself with just the act of sex is like only counting calories. There are numerous aspects of your daily life that affect sex in ways you may never have thought about before: stress levels, diet, (mis)conceptions about sex, and how your body and libido work. It’s all connected. Follow these steps to create a lifestyle and environment that foster a healthy sense of sex.
• Explore your genitals with your eyes and hands before, during, and after arousal. Yes, we’re talking mostly to the ladies here. And no, we’re not talking about masturbation yet. We’re talking about getting an up close and personal view of your parts. Women are often brought up to be ashamed of their anatomy, so they avoid all exploration and thus understanding. Finally get rid of the unknown! Use a hand mirror for the visual exam, but then supplement this with a tactile exam. You’ll be surprised how liberating and educational this can be. Just like the penis looks and feels really different depending on whether the guy is aroused, you’ll find that so too do your parts. While you’re at it (well, not literally), browse the web (start with www.the-clitoris.com) or the sexual health aisle at your local indie bookstore, because stuffy old anatomy text books don’t do the female genitals justice.
• Replace fatty snacks with foods rich in fiber. You already know that a well-balanced diet high in fiber and low in fat is important for good health. But it’s great for your sex life, too. Lowering your cholesterol by cutting back on foods heavy in fat will increase blood flow to your genitals, which increases sensation down there. But don’t over-do it. If you don’t get enough healthy calories, you won’t have the energy or stamina for sex. So feed your sex life, just feed it well. Replace your morning bagel and cream cheese with a bowl of bran flakes in skim milk, some prunes, or a low-fat bran muffin. That fiber will also do wonders for your digestive process, so you’ll feel more confident having your nooks and crannies intimately explored. We’ve lost count of how many readers have thanked us for introducing them to Fiber One cereal — they tell us it’s revolutionized their sex lives!
• Feng shui your bedroom. Who feels sexy surrounded by a week’s worth of dirty laundry? Your bedroom should be a sacred space for rest, relaxation, and rolling in the hay. Any reminders of everyday stresses — CNN on the TV, papers you brought home from the office, stacks of unpaid bills, your cellphone — can fill your room with distracting negative energy. And that distraction becomes an excuse for not getting in the mood: “It’s not that I don’t love the sex, it’s that I just have so much to do!'” So get rid of the excuses by getting rid of the clutter. Dim the lights, or at least install low-wattage bulbs. Play a sexy CD on your bedroom stereo or iPod. Invest in some nice high-thread-count sheets. And hey, if you’re not in the mood for sex in a sacred space, you can always do it on the kitchen table.
• Compliment your partner at least once a day. If you’re in a new relationship, this shouldn’t be difficult: You’re constantly being surprised and awed by the things you learn about each other every day. But exchanging compliments daily is a good habit to get into early on, because if you end up in a long-term relationship or marriage, you might find yourself taking your partner for granted. When you remind your partner how awesome they are, you’re also reminding yourself. Regularly recount all the things that made you first fall in love — taking those trips down memory lane can reignite that spark.
• Masturbate regularly solo. Just because you have a partner doesn’t mean you should stop with the self-love. Having quality me-time can actually help keep your libido in shape — because if you don’t use it, you can lose it. It’s especially important for straight women to keep in mind what gets them off, since intercourse doesn’t result in orgasm for most of them. And ladies, don’t pack up your toys when you’ve got someone special in your life, because studies have shown that women who use bedroom gadgets report experiencing higher levels of sexual desire, higher levels of sexual satisfaction with their partners, and higher rates of success when it comes to achieving orgasm.
• Schedule a friends’ night out and talk about sex. We’re not suggesting you disrespectfully dish the dirt on your partner. Instead, simply use your friends as a great source of sexuality information. Despite our sex soaked culture, sex is still considered such a private matter — too private to talk about honestly. But if you don’t talk about it, then you’re totally on your own. And you’re potentially missing out on some good tips and tricks. Just remember not to let these show-and-tell sessions pressure you into feeling like you’re not orgasmic/limber/daring enough. Think inspiration (“Maybe I should try that some day”), not intimidation (“How come that’s never happened to me?”).
• Let go of a grudge. For example, if your partner is being cheap with you and that makes you mad, then you might become cheap with your love and affection in the bedroom in retaliation. Let go of any anger you may be harboring against your partner, and definitely don’t let it fester. Instead, talk about hurt feelings and resolve the issues before they seep into your bedroom.
• Lead a sensual life. You don’t expect your partner to ignore you all day until it’s time for sex, so why would you treat your body’s sense receptors that way? Pampering, whether your a gal or guy (and want to call it something else), can get you in the mood. The next time you have an hour or two to spare before your partner gets home, get naked, then take a hot shower — or even better, soak in the bath tub — then moisturize. The warm water relaxes you and increases the blood flow to your skin, which increases sensation, while rubbing the lotion in wakes up the nerve endings. It’s all foreplay. (You can do the same thing with a partner, too!) Here are some other things you can do: wear a scent to the office that you equate with sexiness, wear your nicest pair of underwear, wear an outfit to expose an area of skin that doesn’t normally feel the breeze, or just go commando. If you really want to up the ante, treat yourself to a massage or pedicure, or, for the more hardcore among you, get a piercing in a private place.