It’s possible that your sex routine hasn’t changed since you were a teenager. A little kissing, then some tongue, then he touches your chest, you touch his crotch, and so on until you’re both panting and lying on your backs. It’s a pretty solid strategy, sure, but those moves you’ve relied on for so long might actually be holding you back from an even better experience between the sheets.
We asked several sex therapists to share the issues they encounter most often in their practice. Ahead, they’ll help you pinpoint any no-so-great habits—and tell you how you can break the cycle.
Some women approach lube as a solution to a problem. “There is still a mindset for some women that to use lube means there’s something wrong with them,” says Dr. Lisa Beavers, a certified sex therapist. “But different women lubricate differently.” You might also naturally lubricate more or less depending on your hormonal fluctuations—your body could lubricate more during one week of your cycle than another, for example. The larger point, however, is that lube can be an enhancement, Beavers says. It adds a layer of sensation and can intensify all kinds of touch and penetration—and over 50 percent of women who use it claim it helps them enjoy sex more. Can’t argue with that number! (Psst: Find The Best Lubes For Any Sex Scenario.)
By now, you probably know that jackrabbit sex isn’t going to get you anywhere. “Particularly with men who have watched a lot of porn, they can think sex is just about pounding. If that’s pleasing to the woman, that’s fine,” says Dr. David Yarian, a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist. “If not, she needs to communicate that.” Slow him down by grabbing his hips, switching positions, or showing him your rhythmn while on top. And of course, it’s worth bringing up the issue if he’s not taking the hint.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever sucked in your stomach while in doggy style, nervous about how your belly was swaying. Or lost your concentration during reverse cowgirl because you’re too caught up in wondering how your butt could possibly look good from that angle?! “If you’re wondering if your partner is noticing that roll of fat, or thinking ‘If I just hold my back this way my rolls won’t show,’ then you’re not present,” explains De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson, a licensed social worker and sex therapist. “Yes, it’s easier said than done, but appreciating every bump and curve of your body allows you to have better orgasms because you actually like the skin you’re in.”
Blaylock-Johnson has a mantra for her patients: “You are responsible for your own orgasm.” No one knows your body and its needs better than you, and you can’t assume the other person can read your mind. “Unfortunately, a lot of women are taught that once you find a partner, the partner will know how to please you.” Not so much. Guide their hands, tell them how to touch you, or go ahead and stimulate your own clitoris during sex if you need to. Whatever it takes! If your partner is insulted, then talk it out with them—or find a new partner.
Before you can orgasm, you have to know your own body. Simple as that. “It’s important for women to know their bodies, and love their bodies,” says Dr. Yarian. “I encourage women to self-pleasure, which is both fun and feels good and is great for your health. Plus, it makes them better lovers!” Maybe it’s something you only do between SOs, or when you’re “desperate.” But masturbation should be a constant, wonderful part of your sex routine. Make a date with yourself: Have a glass of wine, relax, and get touching. (Not sure where to start? 5 Masturbation Tips for a Mind-Blowing Solo Session.)
From those very first fumbling hand jobs up until now, your technique of pumping up and down is probably not cutting it. “There are more nerve endings the in the head of the penis,” Dr. Yarian says. “For most men, the frenulum”—the spot on the underside of the head—”is the most sensitive.” You could also try pressing on the perineum, the area between his testicles and anus, or the base of the penis. Just ask him what he likes, and experiment with pressure as well.
Sometimes this is an issue more for your partner than it is for you. But chasing the big O isn’t going to make it more likely to happen. You could just fake it, but that in and of itself is one of the most common missteps Dr. Beavers sees in her practice. “It becomes just something that you do for him,” she says. “That is what can turn into a lot of conflict.” You’re not doing anyone a favor by faking, forcing, or forgoing an orgasm. Again, take the matter into your own hands—most women don’t orgasm from intercourse alone.
Just because he wants blow jobs every morning—or anal sex, or you dressed up as his third-grade teacher—doesn’t mean you have to go through with it. “Whether it’s a new relationship or it’s been a while, women worry about hurting their partner’s feelings, says Blaylock-Johnson. “Once you’re able to clearly communicate what you want, you open the door for better sex.” Dr. Beavers says that oral sex in particular “tends to be a high area of conflict. Some people just don’t like giving it.” As with most sexual issues, you just need to stay honest…and kind. Don’t act as if a certain act or fantasy or position is disgusting. Just express why you’re not into it.
You can’t be blamed if you still haven’t figured out what to do with his balls. “I think you just have to ask. ‘Is this nice? Does this feel good?'” says Dr. Yarian. He can guide you through cupping, squeezing, and all that other fun. Plus, those questions? It’s like you’re pleasuring him and easing into dirty talk in one fell swoop. Hot!
If there’s one trait that many of these mistakes share, it’s worrying too much and communicating too little. “I think that, unfortunately, a lot of women may feel guilty asking for sex, or for what it is that they need to be pleased,” says Blaylock-Johnson. The bottom line: Sex is better for everyone if you relax and have fun.