We told you about five things you can’t change about your sex life, and we encouraged an attitude of serenity and acceptance. But luckily there are plenty of things you can change about sex, too! Here are 15 to get you started…
1. Your sexual IQ.
Bodies don’t come with instruction manuals, but that’s no excuse for not knowing how your parts work. The better you know your body — and your partner’s — the better you’ll understand your sexual responses, i.e. what does it for each of you. Start with the anatomy chapter of SEX: How to Do Everything by yours truly and then get tinkering. Related: Rethinking Male and Female Sexual Anatomy.
2. How slippery things get.
It’s not always the case that the more turned on a woman is, the wetter she’ll be. Myriad factors affect a woman’s natural lubrication, including age, time of the month, medications, hydration… So rest assured, it’s not “cheating” to use a high quality water-based or silicone-based lubricant to help slick things up. Just avoid using lubes that are made of oil or contain glycerin, as these can lead to infection which can affect the way a woman smells and tastes down there (see #3 below). Related: 6 Kinds of Lube and 6 Reasons to Use Them Every Time.
3. The way you smell and taste down there.
The vagina’s pH balance can sometimes get knocked askew, and the three main causes are douching, sperm, and over-washing with regular soap. Help your female bits by eating lots of yogurt and using a natural, barely scented, hypoallergenic soap with a low pH value to help restore the balance. The jury is still out on whether foods can make a difference (for both women and men), though there is strong anecdotal evidence that citrus fruits (especially pineapple), strawberries and cinnamon are good influences while asparagus, garlic, coffee, booze, and vitamins are bad. Fruit salad, anyone? If you notice a persistent bad odor, see your doctor, as this could indicate a vaginal infection. Related: How to Help Your Vagina Taste and Smell Better.
4. How sexy safer sex is.
Don’t think of condoms as unfortunate necessities, think of them as hot sex accessories! Spend a few more cents and invest in some high-quality condoms that fit him right, are thinner, and have interesting textures for her — yes, she should pick them out. Take some of that lube you’re using for her and put a drop inside the condom for him. Instead of taking a break from the action while he puts the condom on, make it part of the action: you straddle his thighs, slowly and carefully unwrapping the condom, and then putting it on him with lots of teasing strokes. Hey, you have to use hands to get it on, so you might as well make the most of it! Related: Is Sex with a Condom Really All That Bad for Guys?
5. How often you want it.
Your libido is like a muscle — the more you use it, the stronger it will be. A study conducted by the Berman Center for sexual health in Chicago found that women who use sex toys regularly experience higher levels of sexual desire. So keep your favorite sex toy in your nightstand drawer and make sure you’re working out with it regularly to avoid having a flabby sex drive. Related: What to Do When You Have Zero Sex Drive.
6. How your body looks and feels.
Speaking of flab: hitting the Stairmaster and cutting out the junk food won’t necessarily turn you into Gisele/Magic Mike (sigh), but it will help you feel more energized and give you more flexibility and endurance — all of which make for better sex. And if you’re one of those people who is self conscious about their bod, then getting in better shape will give you more naked confidence. Related: Weight Gain Killed My Sex Life.
7. How sexy you feel.
Stimulating all of your senses can heighten your sexual response. Think, chocolate for your sense of taste, soft sexy music for your sense of hearing, orange blossom incense for your sense of smell, silk for your sense of touch, and doing it in front of a mirror for your sense of sight. You could also try lingerie, erotica, and sensual body lotion after a bath. After that, it’d be a waste not to sleep naked! Related: 6 Ways to Stimulate Your Senses During Sex.
8. How focused you are.
Here’s how to focus your mind on sex, so you don’t end up thinking about the argument you had with your boss instead (and this goes especially for the ladies, who are more prone to a lack of focus): Make your bedroom a sacred space for sex — that means no laptop, no TV, and no piles of dirty laundry or work files. If you find your mind wandering, force yourself to watch the action and focus on how each thing feels. You could even describe out loud — in your best sexy voice — the sensations you’re feeling, to help keep you present. We’re guessing your partner would appreciate not only the dirty talk, but the feedback, too! Related: 5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness in the Bedroom.
9. The likelihood of her having an orgasm during sex.
Don’t be one of those people who settles for mediocre sex, and don’t accept this for your partner, either. Increase the amount of time you spend teasing each other; let her have an orgasm on her own first to make sure her naughty bits are fully aroused; use intercourse positions and techniques that work for her (for example, slow and steady with lots of body contact); use a vibrating love ring during intercourse; forget intercourse all together and use your hands or mouth — that still counts as sex! Basically, don’t just lie idly by and accept that she won’t have an O — take control of the situation! Related: 6 Steps to Teaching Yourself to Orgasm.
10. The amount of romance in your relationship.
Recent studies have shown that (1) kissing boosts the bonding chemical oxytocin in guys; (2) using pet names can increase your relationship satisfaction; and (3) doing new and novel activities together as a couple can make you feel like you’re falling in love all over again. So ask your Schmoopie to go skydiving and give them a big, sloppy kiss when you land! Related: 10 Easy Ways to Be More Romantic.
11. Who you sleep with…in your head.
Psychotherapist Brett Kahr conducted the largest ever study of sexual fantasy for his book, Who’s Been Sleeping in Your Head? and found that 26% of women use fantasies in order to become more stimulated during sex with their partners — and not much turns a guy on more than knowing his partner is turned on. In addition, the “intra-marital affair,” as Kahr calls it, is incredibly common: according to his book, 90 percent of all adults will think about someone else during sex with their partners at some point. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em! Related: How Often Do Men Think of Someone Else During Sex?
12. How high-tech your love life is.
Don’t be a luddite — technology is your friend in the bedroom. Get a head-start on foreplay by sending each other sexy texts from the office; indulge your inner exhibitionist and voyeur by making your own private porno; get naughty ideas by browsing sex toy sites like GoodVibes.com together; get a wireless headset for your cellphone so that phone sex doesn’t give you a neck cramp. Related: What Men Really Think About Sexting.
13. When you first have sex with a new partner.
If you really like someone, why rush into sex on the first night? Don’t wait just because we said so — researchers at University College London agree with us. They found that the longer you wait to consummate a relationship, the more likely that relationship is to last. The study also showed that men who can put the brakes on are more reliable than those who can’t. So you could think of the delayed gratification as a handy litmus test for whether or not your crush has real relationship potential. Related: How Great Should First-Time Sex with a New Partner Be?
14. The habit you and your long-term partner have fallen into.
Sexual ruts are addictive because comfort feels good. But tapping into your XXX-rated imagination — trust us, it’s there — can feel even better. Do it in the living room instead of the bedroom; ask your partner to dress up like your favorite rock star; or act out the refrigerator scene from 9 1/2 Weeks. Related: How to Combat the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…in Bed.
15. The temperature in the room.
Turn up the heat — and not just because it’s nicer getting naked when you’re not worried about goose bumps. Believe it or not, research actually shows that a warmer room can make your orgasm stronger!