You’ve mapped out your diet. You’ve planned out your workout routines and set your fitness you goals. You just got yourself that upgraded gym membership and new fancy new sports bra. What’s missing from your 2017 agenda? A total upgrade on your sex life.
We took a look at the science behind what makes sex the most satisfying for you and spoke with key experts on women’s sexuality for tips on how to make this New Year much, much more gratifying. Read on for 17 ways to feel your sexiest all 12 months of the year.
Whether you’re looking to get more in touch with your fantasies or you’re interested in making your body feel wonderful, Jenny Block, author of O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm and Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage, believes every woman can benefit from adding more self-stimulation to her routine.
“People with the happiest sex lives are those who feel comfortable enough with their own bodies to give themselves pleasure,” says Block. “Yet many women have internalized the idea that masturbating is dirty or selfish.”
If you can’t embrace the act as something you’ve earned or deserve, Block suggests considering masturbation one more form of self-care. “Approach it the same way you would brushing your teeth and you’ll be amazed just how much you can learn about yourself.”
Studies confirm that pleasure is part of a solid health regimen: Psychologist Roy J. Levin has found that women who masturbate tend to experience less intense cramping during their periods while surveys have found that many women find masturbation helps them sleep better, reduce stress, and boost mood.
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2. Don’t Assume He’ll Know Your Body
One huge mistake many women make is thinking that her guy will know how to make her reach orgasm. “If you want to maximize pleasure, you need education,” Block says. And so does your man. Because of societal pressures to “man up” or be macho, some men may shy away from admitting that they don’t know what you like best. It’s up to you to help them learn.
Even if he’s been around the block more times than you have, that doesn’t mean he’ll know what pushes you over the edge, Block says. “Every body is different. There’s no shame in showing him how yours works.” In most cases, whatever tutorial you give him usually ends up being a major turn on—for both of you.
To maximize your pleasure—and his—Block says you need to shift your focus away from your physical looks to what’s actually happening. This may come easier if you’ve gotten a head start on your 2017 training resolutions. But if it takes a little self-tanner, some makeup, or a lacy getup that hides parts of your body you don’t yet feel fully comfortable with, then so be it. “It’s okay to do what you need to do to feel your best during sex,” Block reassures us. “There’s nothing sexier than someone who feels amazing in her skin.”
Studies show that the more anxiety you have over your looks, the less likely you are to enjoy having sex. Do whatever it takes to make yourself feel fabulous and keep in mind, “this other human in your bed wants you—if he thought you were gross he wouldn’t be with you,” says Block.
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4. Don’t Skip the Warm Up
“Foreplay is not a suggestion, it’s a requirement,” says sexologist Emily Morse, CEO, and founder of Sex With Emily. “But it often gets skipped over in the race to intercourse.” Just as you wouldn’t squat your max weight for your first set without warming up, you don’t want to jump into sex without getting hot and bothered beforehand. If your partner needs help understanding this, try coaxing him to stimulate you prior to the main event. “The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings just screaming to be stimulated,” says Morse. Tell him how hot it is when he goes down on you or stimulates you manually—and show him what feels best for you.
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5. Make A Sex Bucket List
If one of your goals this year is to keep your sex life from getting stale, consider collaborating with a partner to each write down three things you’d like to try together, Morse suggests. Maybe one of you would like to experiment with bondage or make love outdoors. Perhaps you haven’t been able to tell him how badly you’d like him to watch you masturbate. “His list may contain three completely different fantasies, and that’s okay! Discuss your desires and limits with each other, and start crossing sexual experiences off each other’s lists,” advises Morse. “See how many you can knock out in a week, a month, or even a year. You may find yourselves starting to feel more sexually charged just talking about all the things you want to try.”
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6. Change Your Environment
“Sometimes spicing things up can be as simple as a change of scenery,” says Morse. “If you want to break free from your familiar sex routine, take your sex life outside the bedroom. Have sex in the shower, on the kitchen floor, on the stairs, or even in the backyard. Be as daring and adventurous as you’d like as long as it’s something that turns you both on.”
Better yet? If you have the time and the money, get out of town together. “Vacation sex gives you a chance to get away from the everyday stressors that may be slowing you down and help you reconnect with your lover,” Morse adds.
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7. Train Your Hips
“The hip thrust is the single best exercise for improving performance in the bedroom,” says Dani Singer, a personal trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Sit on the floor with your upper back against a bench and your arms spread across the bench for support. Keeping your abs tight to avoid any movement in your low back, drive your heels into the floor and squeeze your butt as you lift your hips straight up into the air. In the end position, your upper back should be resting on the bench, your knees should form a right angle, and you should have a straight line from head to knee. Hold and squeeze your butt for a few seconds before slowly lowering back to the floor. Once you can comfortably perform 3 sets of 10, step it up by holding a weight on your hips or trying a single-leg variation.
“Done right, squats provide the necessary strength to boost your on-top game. But in order to transfer that strength from the weight room to the bedroom, you need to have the mobility to actually use it,” says Singer. Hence why he advises practicing the plié squat, since this wider stance improves hip mobility as you sit deeper into the position.
Keep your feet wide with your toes pointed outward and hold a dumbbell with both hands. Keeping your abs tight and back straight, sit your butt back as you slowly lower toward the floor. When you feel too tight to go any further without breaking form, hold for a second, then firmly press your heels into the ground and use your glutes to push you back up. Instead of jumping to heavier weights when these get easy, work on your range of motion, trying to inch closer to the floor each time.
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9. Bend Over
Tight hamstrings and a weak core can seriously interfere with your bedroom stamina, no matter what position you find yourself trying to maintain. To loosen up your legs and strengthen your abs and lower back, Singer recommends the inchworm—which also enhances dynamic stability.
Standing tall with your knees slightly bent and your abs drawn in, bend at your hips and reach toward your toes. Plant your hands on the floor (bending your knees more if necessary) and walk your hands forward until you’re in a perfect pushup position. Hold for a few seconds, then walk your hands back toward your toes. Stand and repeat. Take this one slowly and try to get as much as you can out of every rep.
An important but oft-overlooked route to enhanced sexual satisfaction comes down to improving pelvic floor flexibility and strength, says YogaWorks certified Yoga Teacher Karly Treacy. One way to hone this area of your body is by mastering your breathing.
Inhale to fill the entire torso with your breath. Feel the side ribs widen as the diaphragm stretches. As the breath travels down, Treacy says, you will feel the gentle stretch of the pelvic floor. When you exhale, breathe out until you have emptied your lungs. You will feel all of the abdominal muscles engage to assist in pressing the air from the lungs and the subtle lift of the perineum as the pelvic floor rises at the end of the exhale. Repeat this for 2-3 minutes; then resume normal breathing.
By stretching and strengthening the pelvic floor in this manner, Treacy explains that you can increase blood flow to the most important areas, increase orgasm strength, and decompress your nervous system in the process.
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11. Use Food As Foreplay
“Food and sex are physically connected in the limbic system of the brain, which controls emotional activity,” says Vered Kantor, M.S., R.D., owner of Clinical Dietitian and Nutrition Consultants in Greenville, SC. They release similar types of reactions—in particular, the feel-good hormone dopamine, which plays a huge role in pleasure and desire.
Spend more time savoring your food—feeling its texture in your mouth, chewing it slowly, smelling its aromas—to awaken your senses and train yourself to experience the pleasures of a moment of indulgence, Kantor advises. In doing so, you may find that your desire and the satisfaction you derive from the post-dinner bedroom agenda is increased.
“Walnuts are an excellent source of arginine, which increases the production of nitric oxide to promote blood flow to the clitoris,” says Kantor. Share an ounce of them (chopped) with your man, as they’ll help dilate his blood vessels as well, enabling him to maintain a longer and stronger erection. Kantor says that almonds also contain high levels of arginine but that your best bet is to hunt down some black walnuts, which have even higher concentrations of the stuff.
There’s something to that old saying—but it’s not necessarily about keeping the doctor away. A 2014 study published in Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that women who consumed an apple a day lubricated more readily during sex and reported better overall sexual functioning than those who didn’t make this fruit a regular part of their daily diet. Better lubrication often means better sex, so why not nibble a good-for-you apple as an afternoon snack?
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14. Show Him How to Be An A Student
There’s nothing hotter than a woman who knows what she likes and isn’t afraid to show it, says Block. Whether it’s leading up to penetration or during intercourse, demonstrate for your guy what feels best for your body and instruct him on how soft, how hard, how fast, or how slow you like it. Be patient, as some guys may need a few extra lessons to undo the assumption that you’re wired like other women he’s been with. And return the favor in kind by asking him to show you how much pressure and intensity feel best for him, as well.
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15. Go Beyond Penetration
“For many women, intercourse isn’t enough to achieve an orgasm,” says Block. Most of us need clitoral stimulation to get there—which can mean anything from assuming a position that allows your pelvis to rub against his with him inside you to using your hand or introducing a vibrator. Consider a couple’s vibrator like the C-shaped Sync from We-Vibe.com, which has adjustable features to fit your body.
Don’t be shy. “It’s perfectly fine to say, ‘I love having you inside me and I’d like to have enhanced stimulation while you’re there.’”
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16. Explore His Deepest Desires
To feel closer to your partner and prompt him to be more connected to you, try inquiring about his fantasies, suggests Block. As you listen, do your best not to be judgmental and try to maintain an open mind toward fulfilling some of these interests if you’re comfortable with the idea. Consider the satisfaction of his deepest desires the super glue for his loyalty. “There is nothing quite like finding someone who gets you and listens to you,” says Block. “You will gain so much devotion from your partner simply by fulfilling what he never dared ask for from anyone else.” (Just don’t forget to have him return the favor.)
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17. Keep It Real
“The biggest mistake women make is faking an orgasm,” says Block. She likens it to rewarding a dog for peeing on the floor. “Men will assume they did a good job and do the same thing over and over.” So you end up doing yourself and your partner an injustice.
You also risk him eventually finding out, which can be devastating to his ego and throw a wrench in your rapport.
Save yourself the trouble by being honest about what feels good to you—which means not only instructing him but also communicating clearly when something doesn’t feel good.