If you identify as a straight woman, it’s likely you’ve been conditioned your whole life to make sure that your male partner is enjoying themselves in the bedroom. And although it is important that sex is enjoyable for all involved, it’s just as important to ensure that you are having a pleasurable time, too. Sex is, after all, a two (or three, or four, or more) person affair. Everyone’s pleasure and comfortability should be at the forefront. Thankfully,there are plenty of sex tips to make it delightful for everyone involved.
The majority of the tips focus on the moments before and after sex, and with the goal of strengthening communication between sex partners. Of course, there are tips that can be used during sex as well, including checking in with your partner periodically and sharing what you like, and don’t like, as you and your partner(s) are in the throes.
From ensuring consent before and during sex, to experimenting with toys and lubes, here are the best sex tips to make sure things are great for everyone:
Talk about sex.
That doesn’t mean that you should just up your dirty talk and call it a day (although that can definitely be fun). Dr. Jess O’Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells us that you should be talking about sex before, during, and after the deed. “Research suggests that when you talk about sex during sex, you experience higher levels of self-esteem and satisfaction,” she says.
These conversations don’t have to simply focus on what feels good, either. You should be talking about sex as a noun instead of a verb, O’Reilly explains. So instead of asking about your partner’s fantasies, ask them questions like this: What does sex mean to you? How important is sex to you? How often do you want to have sex? How do you want to feel before, during, and after sex? And of course, these conversations should also focus on establishing consent before and during sex, especially if you’re interested in trying something new with your partner(s). No one can have a great time if they’re not a completely comfortable, willing participant.
While most people consider anticipation to be the sexy tease that eventually leads to a big climax, O’Reilly says that’s not entirely true. “Anticipation is not the precursor to pleasure. Anticipation is pleasure,” she says. “If you go straight for the goods, you will both miss out on this important stage of pleasure.” In other words, it’s important to take your time.
Instead of going to the spot that you know will drive you and your partner wild first, O’Reilly says to just suggest you’ll get there. “By alluding to what you’re going to do with your words, body language, and teasing touch, you build sexual energy and desire that mounts into a more climatic response.” In fact, research shows that dopamine, a chemical associated with reward and pleasure, is released as soon as we begin to anticipate a reward — not just when you receive it. “This is why planning a vacation is often more exciting and pleasurable than the trip itself, and why dopamine levels can rise dramatically when we dream of future plans like retirement.”
So instead of jumping right into the deed, make sure you spend time teasing. Kiss their thighs before oral, or have your partner undress you very slowly. That anticipation will just make the moment when you do have sex much more satisfying.
Experiment with edging.
“Edging often refers to working yourself up right to the brink of orgasm several times without allowing yourself to go over the edge and actually climax,” O’Reillysays. It’s similar to building anticipation, but on a larger scale.
You can practice this with your partner(s), or on your own by masturbating. “Some people take themselves all the way to the brink of orgasm — so a 9 on a scale from 1 to 10 — and then bring themselves back down to a two,” O’Reilly explains. “You might find that you experience more intense and full-bodied pleasure as you prolong the sexual experience through edging. Orgasms may feel more powerful as you delay their onset.”
In addition to intensifying the anticipation, sex will actually likely last longer if you play with edging. You can even use it as a way to slow down the process to ensure everyone finishes.
Get comfortable in your own skin.
“Body image is contagious,” O’Reilly says. “If you’re comfortable in your body, your partner is more likely to enjoy theirs. If you’re self-conscious, it can make them feel self-conscious, too.” While it’s far more easier said than done, taking the first step in cultivating a positive body image can be a revolutionary act of self-love — better sex is just the cherry on top.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Sexual Health, women who feel good about their genitals are more likely to have orgasms and practice sexual health-promoting behaviors, like visiting their OBGYN regularly. So being comfortable in your own skin can improve sex, too. Some ways to cultivate body positivity include posting positive affirmations to your mirror, throwing away your scale, engaging with body positive, inclusive media that shows a wide range of body types, and learning how to accept a compliment.
“Lube makes sex wetter, better, hotter, and more exciting and varied,” O’Reilly says. It also ensures that sex isn’t painful, because it subs in for your natural lubricants, which aren’t always enough to get things going. (And that’s perfectly fine.) “Your options for kissing, rubbing, stroking, twisting, grinding, positioning, and riding are simply far greater when the slippery stuff is involved,” O’Reilly explains . “Research and data confirms that those who use lube report higher levels of arousal, pleasure, and sexual fulfillment.”
What kind of lube you use depends on a lot of things, including allergies and whether you’re using a condom. Water-based lubes are always a safe bet, so reach for one of those if you’re unsure. O’Reilly suggests any of Astroglide’s lubes for some slippery fun.
“If magazine headlines and book sales are any indication, we’ve shifted from a culture of sexual taker to a culture of highly performative givers when it comes to sex,” O’Reilly says. “Giving is great, but when it comes to sex, the performative element of giving can detract from the experience of pleasure.” In other words, we’re so concerned with making sure our partners think we’re having a good time, that we don’t actually give ourselves the chance to have a good time, too.
The easiest way to change this dynamic, is to “p receiving pleasure without apology,” O’Reilly says. So if something your partner is doing feels really good for you, allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy that feeling without being concerned about whether or not they’re also experiencing pleasure. “Give yourself permission to be selfish once in a while so that you can fully immerse yourself in the pleasure of sex without worrying about the performance,” O’Reilly says.
This, of course, doesn’t mean that you should completely forget about your partner’s experience, or ignore what they want or desire for the sake of your own fulfillment. Opportunities to be selfish during sex should be provided to all involved. But allowing yourself the freedom to really enjoy the moment, without much consideration for how your partner(s) is feeling, will make sex better for all involved. “You’ll likely find that the experience becomes more intense, pleasurable, and meaningful once you relinquish the pressure to please,” O’Reilly says.
Practice mindfulness and presence outside the bedroom.
“If you want to develop a sexual skill, it’s much easier to cultivate the skill generally — outside of sex — and then apply it in sexual situations,” O’Reilly says.
A great skill to try and cultivate is mindfulness and presence, especially if you have a hard time getting outside of your own head during sex. “Are you present and mindful throughout the day? Simply focus on your breath and the way your breath feels in your body,” O’Reilly explains “If you can’t be present sitting still, it will be tough to be present during sex.” And the more present you are during sex, the more tuned-in to your pleasure you’ll be.
Take your time.
“Whatever your inclination is with regard to speed, cut it in half and then consider slowing down even more” O’Reilly says. “Sex is exciting, but most of us move more quickly and apply more pressure than we realize, especially when we are excited and aroused.”
An easy way to slow down, according to O’Reilly, is to start simple — with your breathing. “Before you approach your love, or as you begin to connect physically, try taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth,” she explains. “Count as you inhale and exhale, and visualize the air moving throughout your body to allow every square inch to be nourished and aroused by the experience.” This has the added benefit of getting you inside of your body and out of your head, so you can truly enjoy your partner(s).
Express pleasure profusely.
Unless you’ve got extremely thin walls or a nosey roommate, there is no reason to keep yourself from being vocal during sex. “Do not stifle your sounds or hold your breath!” O’Reilly says. “We tend to do both of these things when we are nervous, but doing so not only hinders your own sexual response, but can cause your partner to tense up as well.” It’s also an indicator that you’re holding back, which neither you or your partner(s) should want.
So while you shouldn’t put on a performance just to put on a performance, if you’re someone who gets a release from moaning, don’t silence yourself. “The more relaxed you are, the more your partner’s mood will reflect yours, so breathe deeply and allow your sounds of delight to emanate freely,” O’Reilly says. “Moan, groan, and let them know just how much you love their body, your connection and the experience as a whole.”
Keep an open mind.
While you don’t have to be open to everything, and you should never feel pressured to do something you do not want to do, it’s important to remember that what’s enjoyable for you might not be enjoyable for everyone. “Just because a sex act or experience is unappealing to you, that doesn’t mean someone else, including your partner, cannot derive extreme pleasure from it,” O’Reilly says. So as long as the sex act doesn’t make you uncomfortable, or is a trigger, consider a wide variety of options and new ways to explore your body and that of your partner(s).
“There are no universal rules when it comes to sex and relationships, so be open to considering options beyond wnat immediately appeals to you,” O’Reilly says. “If you reject an idea from the onset, you will miss out on all of the related intricacies and details that might be immensely pleasurable for both you and your partner (or partners).”