How to have better sex: 12 expert tips to improve your sex life

You can learn how to have better sex in and out of the bedroom with these tips from a sexologist

Woman and man in bath kissing after learning how to have better sex
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Just like anything we train ourselves to do, learning how to have better sex is an ever-evolving practice and skill set that needs to be nurtured and maintained. Any number of life changes, challenges, and experiences can affect our sex lives.

Whether it's a confidence thing, lack of arousal, feeling disconnected, or just plain old bored - a myriad of issues could be hampering your humping. The good news is there are many ways to remedy issues and grow from them and with the help of some expert advice, woman&home has got your back.

Sex positivity is on the rise and it's about time that women prioritize their own pleasure. Despite all the movement is achieving, studies have shown that much work needs to be done to make your sex dreams into reality. Unfortunately, many of us still feel things are a little lacking in the bedroom department. Maybe you're single and think that's to blame, but worry thee not as a study from Ann Summers (opens in new tab)found that only two in five women say they're fully satisfied after having sex with their partner. With the help of leading psycho-sexologist, psychosexual, and relationship therapist Kate Moyle (opens in new tab), we explore how to have better sex in the future. 

How to have better sex

1. Create context shift

If you want to learn how to spice up your relationship, perhaps it's worth changing up the energy where you're planning to have sex. With many of us working from home now there has been a blending of our contexts: working in the bedroom, living room, or other spaces where we'd otherwise normally relax. This can be unhelpful for our sex lives as it makes it harder to differentiate work from play, explains Moyle, and it can even contribute to other interpersonal issues at home like relationship burnout.

"As a psychosexual therapist, I often talk about it as 'switching off to turn on' which is hard to do when we are looking around at all of the things that are on our to-do list. Try and work with your environment to create a context shift, you can do this using lighting, music, or scent like the functional fragrance for couples Love Sleep (opens in new tab)from This Works."

Female couple sitting together on sofa at home, holding iPad

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2. Put your screens away

Sexual arousal isn't a light switch, it takes time and space to build up. However, there are elements of modern life you can switch off so you can focus on turning yourself on. If you haven't already guessed what we're talking about - it's technology.

"It's going to be hard to start feeling desire if your focus in on your work emails or scrolling through Instagram," says Moyle, "Put your phone to one side or on Do Not Disturb half an hour before bed, or if you are planning on spending some time together."

3. Trigger your desire

According to a study titled Human Sex-Response Cycles, by clinical sex therapist Dr Rosemary Basson (opens in new tab), there are two types of sexual desire:  spontaneous and responsive.

"Responsive desire is the type of desire that emerges once we have started something," says Moyle. "But if you are someone who feels that you struggle to get in the mood for sex, then you can give yourself a head start by firing up your erotic imagination and taking your attention to a sexual space using something like audio erotica or ASMR for sex."

Woman on laptop at home under dimmed light

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4. Masturbate curiously

Female masturbation is the perfect way to learn more about what really makes you tick, says Moyle. "Self-pleasure is the perfect way to get to know your body, explore different types of touch and stimulation," she tells us.

Whether you choose to focus on manual pleasure or perhaps you're interested in trying the best sex toys or a vibrator, it's a marvelous opportunity to just completely focus on yourself. "For some people, this feels easier when you are alone rather than with a partner," explains Moyle, "There are no expectations or distractions which allows you to completely focus on yourself."

5. Practice mindful sex

Mindfulness is certainly de rigueur, as modern life can lead to feeling disconnected from our bodies and ourselves. "Devices like our smartphones are constantly notifying us and pulling our attention and these habits can leak into our sex lives," says Moyle.

"Sex is all about directing your attention in the present moment, importantly with non-judgemental awareness," she explains. "This is because many of us are easily distracted from the sex we are having which is also influenced by our productivity-focused and always-on current social environment." 

The data from a 2016 study by the University of British Columbia (opens in new tab) suggests that a mindfulness-based approach to sex therapy may improve sexual function and arousal among women. So if you're wondering how to be more confident and present in the bedroom and boost your sex drive, perhaps sexual mindfulness is something you should try.

A good way to get started is with the sexual mindfulness app Ferly (opens in new tab), which aims to improve sexual wellness and wellbeing. Their mission? To help women prioritize pleasure while openly and expertly addressing the myriad of experiences that may have affected their sex lives. 

"Using mindful sex techniques is particularly good for helping us to notice our own arousal and encouraging desire," adds Moyle. "As distraction can lead to a lack of awareness of what's going on in our body. This can help us to enjoy sex more, which then acts as a motivator for desire."

6. Communicate

Turn up Salt-N-Pepa's Let's Talk About Sex, because these icons had the right idea. Expressing your needs and sexual fantasies is an essential part of building a healthy and pleasurable sexual relationship with your partners. Sadly, none of us can read others' minds so if we don't open up, it's impossible to share our needs or learn about our partners' needs too.

That's not to condescend to the challenge that these sorts of conversations may present as we haven't been educated to talk about sex. "Often I say that for many of us, talking about sex is like trying to hold a conversation in a language we have never been taught," says Moyle. "For many, it feels uncomfortable, when in fact talking about our sex lives is the best thing that we can do for them."

Of course, you can always consider speaking to a sex therapist, independently or as a couple, if you're finding it difficult to get started.

Woman and man talking at a restaurant after learning how to have better sex

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7. Understand suggestions aren't rejections

Sexual intimacy with another person is just about the most vulnerable thing you can experience, and thank god vulnerability is sexy, but that doesn't make it any easier to be a little sensitive to certain things. The fact is, everyone is different and that applies to our sex lives and relationships too.

"Not being perfectly matched on our desires, curiosities or sexual behaviors is fine if we start with the understanding and awareness of this diversity," says Moyle. "Try not to personalize suggestions, but focus them on the act or suggestion itself." 

Shutting a suggestion down and making assumptions is the quickest way to feel a suggestion as a rejection, and the psychosexual therapist advises being considerate of that. Instead, she suggests asking your partner open questions about it, such as "'what is it that interests you about it?', or use statements like 'I'm not sure, but is there something that we could find to try that we are both interested by?'" By staying open to the conversation, you may end up down an interesting path you hadn't considered before, which could be a great thing.

8. Prioritise your own pleasure as well as your partner's

There's nothing wrong with being a generous lover, but remember that it's your sex life and your responsibility. "When it comes to our sex lives, we should all be responsible for our own orgasms, rather than placing the expectation on the other person to deliver," says Moyle. "Better sex and body education for everyone can help us to feel more in charge of our own pleasure, and to close the orgasm gap."

The orgasm gap is a term that describes the disparity in orgasms between mixed-sex couples, which is also known as orgasm inequality. According to Grace Wetzel's study on mixed-sex couples, published in the Sex Roles (opens in new tab) journal, the fewer orgasms women have, the fewer they expect. The Rutgers social psychology doctoral student said of her study, “If women do lower their expectations in this way, the more orgasm inequality may perpetuate in relationships.”

Moyle adds, "The prioritizing of our partners' pleasure over our own can also act as a distraction and take us out of our own experience of what's going on in our body, ironically pulling us away from the potential for our own orgasm."

9. Eye contact

"When two people are emotionally connected, they love to look into each other’s eyes," reads a passage from Columbia University (opens in new tab)'s article titled Connecting in Times of Crisis: Eye Contact. If the eyes truly are windows to the soul, then locking eyes with your lover is a no-brainer. The article also explains that fixed eye contact stimulates the release of oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone often nicknamed the 'cuddle hormone.'

"Eye contact is a way of showing interest and attraction and can help to deepen intimacy, which can lead to you feeling more connected to your partner during sex," says Moyle, who also emphasizes that it can help us to feel emotionally seen, which can contribute to our relationship positively.

Woman and man looking to each other's eye after learning how to have better sex

(Image credit: Getty Images)

10. Stop focusing on the big 'o' and consider the other parts of sex

Being able to have an orgasm is great, but what about all of the other wonderful parts of sex? The building up and even the pulling back at certain moments is all a part of the experience. Pressure on orgasms, agrees Moyle, can be a bit of a vibe killer.

"Focusing on chasing an orgasm can create a goal-orientated nature to sex which sets up a pass or fail expectation and gets in the way of us enjoying the rest of the experience." 

Also, the expert explains, the irony is that worrying about having an orgasm is one of the things that can stop one from happening. "This is because the thoughts take us out of the moment and interrupt our focus on physical sensations and pleasure, which are the things that will most likely take us to peak pleasure."

If you see this pattern in yourself, mindfulness techniques can help to bring you back into the moment. While they're more generalized, utilizing one of the best mindfulness apps can certainly help with this. 

11. Consider when you're having sex

Getting stuck in a routine can increase predictability, and decrease desire. Convention says that sex is something one does just before going to sleep. Considering how insanely busy life can be, who could blame you for seeing it as the only time that suits?

"It's also a time that we are often at our most tired and starting to wind down, which doesn't always work for us sexually," says Moyle, although it's easy to see how this could become a habit. The expert suggests that one way to keep things fresh is to change your plan or routine occasionally, like trying the butterfly sex position, one of the best sex positions to take you out of the bedroom. 

She also suggests setting your alarm slightly earlier in the morning to make time for your sex life before the start of your day, or if you are parents, making time for each other once the kids have gone down before cooking dinner. 

12. Educate yourself - read more, listen to podcasts, and watch series

It's vital to remember that you don't have to be 'doing' sex to be developing yourself sexually. "Listening to podcasts, Ted Talks, series, and reading helps to open up perspectives and normalize sex," says the sexologist. 

"Most of us have never questioned what we know about sex, and that can give us quite a tunnel-vision view," she explains. "Opening our views up to other voices, perspectives and thinking about sex can be of real benefit to our sex lives, helping us to think about sex differently and break away from shame."

Self-sex education can happen in so many formats, both formal and informal, and across the lifetime. Modern technology means that you could be on your morning commute improving your sexual wellness by listening to a podcast. Moyle's own podcast, The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast (opens in new tab), is a fantastic example. Another, The Better in Bed podcast (opens in new tab), from Sara Tang, a sex coach, and educator, is a must-listen for those seeking to expand their knowledge.

Investing in the best sex books, which have been carefully chosen by a team of sexual wellness experts, is another ideal way to enhance your knowledge and learn more.

Above all, it's vital to know that pleasure has no limit, no expiration date, and as long as you're a happy and consenting adult engaging in healthy behaviors, no boundaries.

Aoife Hanna
Junior News Editor

Aoife is Junior News Editor at woman&home.

She's an Irish journalist and writer with a background in creative writing, comedy, and TV production.

Formerly Aoife was a contributing writer at Bustle and her words can be found in the Metro, Huffpost, Delicious, Imperica, EVOKE and her poetry features in the Queer Life, Queer Love anthology.

Outside of work you might bump into her at a garden center, charity shop, hot yoga studio, lifting heavy weights, or (most likely) supping/eating some sort of delicious drink/meal.