Are you asking yourself how to have better sex? Has your sex life petered out? Or is it good, but you just want some new ideas for foreplay, sex positions, or something else that might spice things up? Or did you meet the perfect partner but struggle to reach orgasm and feel that things in bed could be better? Whatever your situation, there are some straightforward tips for improving your sex life — and discussing it with your partner.
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It starts with emotions
Great sex starts with emotions. Even if you're having casual sex with someone, they won't enjoy it if they feel you disrespect them or make them feel uncomfortable. This is, perhaps, even more noticeable in long-term relationships, particularly for women. The old joke that she's not going to want sex unless you take out the rubbish tends to hold true. But, of course, it's not really about the rubbish. It's about feeling loved, appreciated, and wanted.
So, what can you do to make your partner feel all of the above?
- Compliment your partner regularly on their looks, personality, and attractiveness.
- Thank your partner when they do something you appreciate.
- In bed, point out when your partner does something that feels good.
- Tell your partner how much they turn you on.
- Make sure you understand your partner's love language so that you can ensure they feel loved.
- Listen to your partner in everyday life. Discuss how you both want to spend your time, run the household, and how you want to receive emotional support. Things continuously change, so have this conversation once a year.
- Take an interest in your partner. Ask them about their day, current challenges, dreams, concerns, and so forth. Unfortunately, we often forget to ask the people closest to us what's really going on for them.
- Pay heed. You might find your partner stringent, in need of acknowledgement, too prone to adventure, or too attached to making plans when you'd prefer to take the day as it comes, but that's how they are. So acknowledge their needs (as opposed to judging them) and share your own needs, so you find a balance.
- Likewise, accept that your partner may love porn, oral sex, dirty talk, erotic books, or vibrators, as much as you detest them.
- Touch your partner daily. Cuddle them, hold hands, or simply sit close to them on the couch while watching the telly.
When someone feels:
- They can express their desires to you without fear of being judged.
- You accept them and love them (even though you are straight-shooting and can tell them that they need to deal with stuff, too).
- You support them to become their best selves.
- You adore their looks, their body and how much they turn you on.
Then they'll be a lot more willing to:
- Relax in the bedroom.
- Express what they want in bed.
- Compliment you for your bedroom manners.
- Want sex—their sex drive might even increase.
- Be willing to compromise and explore new things in the bedroom. They'll also be more willing to take on direction as they won't feel judged that you don't like everything they're currently doing.
In short, you cannot nag someone, ignore their wishes, not care about their emotions and then expect them to open up in the bedroom and live out your wildest fantasies. The more comfortable, loved, and desired someone feels with you, the more willing they'll be to open up and live out your and their fantasies. Good sex really does start with emotions.
Figure out what you want
This helps your partner feel comfortable with you. They know you find them wildly attractive, that you genuinely care about them, and that you're going to be emotionally supportive. Therefore, they'll be more likely to want sex with you and share what they'd truly love to have happen in the bedroom. But what about you? What do you want?
It's one thing knowing you want to spice up your sex; it's another thing knowing how to spice things up. What would make things spicier for you? You can use Google to find various ways to spice up your sex life and see what rings true. You can also read romance novels, watch erotica, or read books about sex to figure out things you'd like to try.
Laura from The Style of Laura Jane told us: "It can often be assumed that spicing things up automatically means doing something more extreme or trying something that is linked to BDSM, like being tied up or using blindfolds.
"When thinking about spicing things up, take the time to really analyse what that means. Do you want more adventure and exploration, or is your sex life actually missing foreplay and the feeling of being desired?
"Try to be as specific as you can when discussing this with your partner. Their version of spicing things up may look completely different to yours."
Below are a list of questions you can ask yourself to find out what turns you on. Beware, it's pretty graphic in parts! Some peoples' turn-ons are others' turn-offs, so keep an open mind when reading the list. And be prepared that your partner might want something different from you. That's why communication and accepting your partner for who they are is essential, as is having your own boundaries for what you want and don't want.
- Would you like more oral sex?
- Do you want to try different forms of oral sex? New techniques? Doing it in front of a mirror?
- Do you know how you want to be touched? Do you masturbate to find out? Have you read up about various techniques for being touched or touching your partner?
- Do you know about the G-spot, the clitoris, and various other erogenous spots in and around a woman's genitals? Have you tried various forms of clitoral stimulation? If not, Google it.
- Do you know your partner's erogenous zones at large? If not, ask. If they don't know, experiment.
- Do you want to try anal play? If so, full anal sex, or just playing? Do you know how to perform this safely?
- Would you like to watch something erotic, or watch porn with your partner?
- Would you like to be filmed while making love?
- Would you like to do it in front of a mirror?
- Would going away on a "sexcation" turn you on?
- Would playing with feathers, ice, satin gloves, or anything else in bed do it for you?
- Would having someone else watching you have sex, or having sex with you, or swapping partners turn you on?
- Would talking dirty, or swapping fantasies (whether orally or through writing each other sexts or emails) be something you'd enjoy? Remember, dirty is a relative term. For some, a romance novel heavy on erotica is dirty. For others, pornographic language does it.
- What kind of foreplay do you enjoy? A candlelit dinner with lots of compliments and caresses here and there? Sexts before meeting up or while at a party? Talking about having sex while out and about? A surprise romantic date that sweeps you off your feet? Novel experiences that get the adrenaline flowing? Love notes found around the house? A hot bath and a trail of rose petals? A slow massage? Dressing up in a nice outfit and feeling adored while on a date?
- Do you care for lingerie?
- Would you like to read an erotic novel together with your partner?
- Do you enjoy being blindfolded, or blindfolding someone?
- What does "teasing" mean to you in the context of the bedroom?
- Have you watched any erotic movies that you enjoyed?
- Do you enjoy "surprise" sex—i.e. unplanned sex—or do you like to prepare, whether by dressing up, having a lovely romantic moment beforehand, or getting things steamy by talking about it upfront?
- Do you enjoy quickies?
- What sexual positions do you love and loathe? What new positions would you like to try?
- Do you know how to give a sensual massage?
- Would you be willing to try some tantra exercises? Mental as well as physical?
- Would you and your partner want to read books together about how to have better sex?
- Do you like to dominate or be dominated?
- Do you enjoy bondage of any kind—whether being gently tied up with scarves or getting whipped? There are nuances here.
- Are there specific places where you'd like to have sex, be it on the dining room table or at the beach?
- Do you like being touched up in public? If so, should it be discreet?
- Do you like swapping naughty shots over text?
- Would role play be arousing?
- Are there sex toys you enjoy or would like to try out?
- Does it turn you on to masturbate in front of your partner or to watch them masturbate?
How to improve sexual health
First things first—before you have sex with anyone, you need to be willing to test for STDs and ask them to do the same. And if you don't know the difference between HPV and HIV, it's time to do some studying. These days some strands of HPV are much more dangerous than contracting HIV as it can be managed with medication.
Of course, if you're in a long-term relationship, you don't need to think about STDs unless it's an open relationship.
When it comes to sexual health, the starting point is to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. The more physically active you are, the more likely you will have a great sex life. It will help with erectile health, as well as for blood circulation at large, which is needed to get turned on. Spicy meals and caffeine may also help with this just before sex.
Eating well will also help as you need your body in tip-top shape to have an optimal sex drive. If you're overweight or don't get enough nutrients, it will be a lot harder to get turned on. You can read our article on aphrodisiacs and erectile health to learn more about great foods that will help improve sexual health for men and also discusses the reasons (and cures) for erctile dysfunction. For both men and women, the bottom line is a nutritious whole foods diet, high in vegetables and void of processed meats and refined carbs.
For women, it's also essential to do Kegel exercises and work on the pelvic floor muscles.
Sleep is another vital ingredient of good sex. If you're tired, it's hard to feel anything, much less have a lot of sex drive. So try to go to bed around the same time every night and practice good sleep hygiene.
Of course, hygiene is vital for sexual health, too. Be sure to only use water to clean your private parts, and do so daily. You should also invest in lube to ensure the woman does not suffer dryness during sexual intercourse. This is especially important for mature women.
Lastly, remember that to feel anything, you need to relax. Meditation, daily walks, having a healthy social life, and doing things you feel are fulfilling are essential for you to be able to relax enough to enjoy sex. If you're stressed, can't stop thinking about your to-do list, or have recently undergone a trauma that you're still working through, you may not be able to relax enough to get turned on. In addition to the habits mentioned that should be cultivated, such as meditation, a hot bath, a sauna, or a quick run might help clear your mind before meeting with your partner for a romp in the hay.
Why do some women find sex painful?
Painful sex can have many causes. First, it could be that the woman is too dry, which can be to do with hormones, not how turned on they are.
It can also be that she tenses up. If she's had bad experiences in the past, or is feeling stressed or uncomfortable, she may involuntarily (and unbeknownst to herself) be tensing up. This may be helped by trying out foreplay that makes her relax, as well as by her training herself to relax by meditating and testing various relaxation techniques.
It's also a question of anatomy. If a man's penis hits the cervix, it can hurt. That's why having sex from behind sometimes hurt more. These days there's an excellent way of avoiding this—there are cock rings designed especially to prevent this from happening. If a man wears them, he doesn't penetrate the woman as deep.
Lastly, it could be an underlying condition, so it's worth going to a gynaecologist to check it out.
Improving your sex life
In short, improving your sex life involves leading a healthy lifestyle where you eat well, exercise, and manage your stress levels so you can relax enough to be able to focus on sex. It also has to do with your and your partner's emotions. You both have to feel comfortable with one another. Of course, this has a lot to do with feeling wanted and desired, too.
Lastly, and likely what you were expecting, great sex is about doing what you enjoy in the bedroom. From foreplay to intercourse, you have to explore what turns you on.