Sex trends 2022 are here—whether you're looking to try something new with a partner or get out there solo, we've called on the experts to reveal the pleasurable ways you could spice up your love life.
After all, a lot has changed over the last few years. The go-to excitement over lockdown revolved around Zoom parties and sexting that was even more socially distanced than normal. We were going on walking dates rather than dinner dates and the chance to meet anyone in real life was off the table for the most part. Now the world has opened up again for many, the virtual parties have remained, but there's a whole new space to explore—both inside and outside the house.
From a new sphere of sex positivity to heteroflexibility to outercourse and anal edging, this year's biggest sex trends will require you to get comfortable with some new sex positions and intimate with some new lingo.
Sex trends 2022—selected by sex and relationships experts
"The sex trends of 2022 demonstrate a shift in attitude to being more flexible and open-minded when it comes to our sex lives," says Kate Moyle, a sex and relationship expert from sexual wellness brand LELO. "We see this reflected in the normalizing of sexual acts, desires, and attitudes which were previously unspoken about or hidden. This approach to sexual wellness being included and recognized as a part of our overall health and wellbeing should be here to stay, and we should expect it to be the foundation from which all future sex trends are stemming."
As part of this year's sex trends, there's also a continued move towards building a sustainable sex life and getting into feel-good habits that don't negatively impact the environment. "I've noticed a big shift in my clients switching to environmentally friendly versions of the best sex toys," notes Katie Lasson, sexologist and relationship advisor. "More and more people are looking to make sustainable changes in every aspect of their life and their sexual play is no exception. My clients are looking for sex toys that can be recharged and are made from body-safe environmentally friendly materials."
While the pandemic may be in our rearview mirror, it's still at the front of our minds when it comes to sex. According to Hinge, a third of people are waiting longer to have sex with a new partner because of Covid-19 fears. 'Outercourse' is seen to be a solution to this.
"Engaging in sexual activity, but without intercourse, means different things to different people," explains Moyle. "Some people see it as everything except penetration, others see it as just dry humping, a massage, perhaps even mutual masturbation."
While kissing someone with Covid could very likely lead to passing the virus on, outercourse is presenting itself as a safe sex alternative as it clearly establishes boundaries and encourages better communication for intimacy and pleasure, Moyle says. "Your definition of it depends on your reasons for trying it, and because of this, it may just prove to be the best new sex trend of them all."
2. Sensory sex
In a post-pandemic world, fostering connection both with others and ourselves has proven to be one of the biggest trends when it comes to sexual wellness in the last year. "With mindful masturbation and tantric sex hot trends of 2020 and 2021, the next big wellness trend will be sensory sex," says clinical sexologist Megwyn White, who is also director of education at Satisfyer.
"It is the act of engaging as many senses as you can to help in heightening sexual pleasure and deepening the intimacy with a chosen partner. From the visual to the auditory to the tactile, by putting the focus on pleasurable sensations throughout the body, sensory sex can help you let go of the pressures that come with an exclusive focus on the genitals."
One way to explore sensory sex is through ASMR for sex or music, which ignites the same parts of the brain as food and sexual pleasure. "This means that when you pair your favorite sensual playlist with sex, it helps your mind and body embrace pleasure," explains White.
"Plus, it’s not only the ear that hears. The rest of the body also has the capacity to detect sounds through 'feeling’ them, which is why immersive sound spaces like concerts can feel so intense."
If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that life is pretty uncertain—which is the backdrop to this sex trend. "The understanding of female desire, female masturbation and orgasms are growing phenomena," says Moyle. "Our understanding of sexuality is evolving and it's an important part of a personal relationship with one’s own sensuality and pleasure is to explore various aspects of your sex life.
"So, if you identify as mostly straight, but occasionally find yourself attracted to the same gender, romantically or sexually or both, embrace it. Sexuality exists on a spectrum and while some people believe labels aren’t helpful, for others they really can be. Every heteroflexible person is different, and their experiences may look different. What they do have in common is that they help you to make sense of yourself, which is precious and worth exploring."
3. Upgraded foreplay
"With a growing emphasis on female pleasure in recent years and a better understanding of the female body, women have been able to explore their bodies more openly be it solo or with a partner," explains White. "However, what many women experience are feelings of orgasm anxiety. This can be described as anxiety in relation to performance, eg, performance anxiety or anxiety about the need to orgasm, or otherwise anxiety in the build-up to orgasm.
"For most, sexual anxiety can be eased through a better understanding of foreplay, and learning that sex can allow you to explore more erogenous zones. Focusing on connection and being present is a key element of tantric sex, and the end goal is not to orgasm, but to enjoy the sexual journey, the sensations, and the way it makes us feel mentally, physically and spiritually."
4. Sex and supplements
You've heard of the best supplements for sleep, but there's also been a huge increase in supplements scientifically proven to help us through various sexual health issues that we may face, including vaginal dryness and low libido. As such, there has been a sex trend for mainstream retailers, like Holland & Barratt, to add supplements to their sexual health shelves, with smaller brands creating blends that aim to balance our hormones in pursuit of pleasure.
"Libido is a sensitive thing that you can lose quite easily," explains Stephanie Taylor, pelvic health expert and managing director of Kegel8. "Some lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and giving up smoking, can help boost your libido. While research commissioned by Canyon Ranch says these lifestyle changes can benefit your sexual wellbeing, it may take some time to notice changes."
She adds, "You could consider kickstarting your libido for more immediate results. Some natural remedies, such as maca, ginseng and fenugreek, have shown to be beneficial in boosting libido."
However, we have to be mindful that no supplement is a magic fix. "There’s a growing acknowledgment that what we eat can affect our sexual health," says sexual expert Dominique Karetsos, CEO of The Healthy Pleasure Group. "We have to consider our sexual health from the inside out, and no single product is a solution. However, supplements can be one tool in your armory towards your holistic sexual wellness."
5. Anal edging
"Anal sex may not be for everyone—however, this doesn’t mean that you have to avoid the pleasures of exploring the anal area together," says White. "The anus has thousands of pleasurable nerves and orgasms can be achieved by both women and men.
"Stimulating the perineum as a form of 'anal edging' can also create hugely positive sensations. From finger play to rimming, spanking, or using an accessory like a butt plug or anal beads, it’s important to broaden our definition of anal sex and anal play so that we don’t consider penetration the only pleasurable option."
6. Healthcare and sex
"The pandemic has encouraged more brands to invest in digital healthcare over and above their standard product offerings," says Karetsos. "Many are now offering online healthcare around typically taboo medical topics. Though this is a fantastic step forwards, we’re not seeing the same scale and speed in telehealth for our sexual wellness that we’re seeing in other areas of our health and wellbeing.
"Over 2022, I hope that we will see the evolution of sexual digital healthcare via subscriptions that talk to us at every stage of our lives. This type of femtech may look like speaking to pre-teens about their menstrual cycle, or to mid-life women about how to deal with their menopause symptoms while still having a healthy sex life."
7. Sex brands and menopause
Talking of sex and menopause, many women suffer from vaginal dryness during this period of their life, which can impact their sex life greatly. "Now the menopause is fast becoming less taboo, a glut of brands has begun creating products that attempt to address menopausal symptoms," says Karetsos. "However, there’s a lack of explanation around what these products are for and who might need them."
Thankfully there are now some great brands with offerings that are specifically aiming to bring greater understanding to this time in our lives—and how our bedroom routine might change. "This year will see the rise of brands like Gennev, Tabu, and Womaness, that put education surrounding menopause at the forefront of their approach," adds Karetsos. It's also worth knowing that during the menopause stress levels can be higher and energy levels lower, so trying out lazy sex positions that require less effort can be an easy way to boost intimacy.
8. New sex language
A popular feature in 2022's wellness trends, another sex trend is changing how we talk about topics related to sex. "Our lexicon is expanding when it comes to sex, as shown in TV shows like the reboots of Gossip Girl and Sex And The City," says Cecile Gasnault, brand director of Smile Makers. "Language is being used to reshape the way we think about sex, with new expressions to talk about parts of the sexual experience that were previously overlooked."
One such term, explains Gasnault, is 'outercourse' which—as mentioned before—is to talk about foreplay without creating a hierarchy between penetrative sex and all other sexual activity. Then there's 'aftercare', which refers to how partners treat each other after sex and recognizing that this is part of the sexual encounter. "This shift is very important to equip people to create their own approach to sex by broadening our understanding of all that sex is—whether solo, partnered, physical or non-physical—and giving us more precise words to express what we want," she explains.
9. Normalizing masturbation
Interest in masturbation will also continue to soar, predicts Gasnault, with women keen to access it more often and learn how to perform it better. "Masturbation inspiration on-the-go is one example of this," she explains. "Some of our most-saved Instagram posts of late have been about new techniques to try during their next pleasure session."
Additionally, it's never been easier to get a little extra help with your masturbation routine. "You can now pick up one of the best bullet vibrators with your groceries, supplements, yoga kit and face wash," notes Gasnault of how sex toys are now stocked in the likes of Boots, Holland & Barrett, and Planet Organic. "Gone are the days of only having easy access to condoms."
10. Vanilla sex
For some, intimacy is going back-to-basics—and you've got the popularity of Bridgerton to blame for this sex trend. According to research by Salience, just as the second season of the romantic TV show arrived, online searches for 'missionary' soared by 22 percent. Meanwhile 'physical intimacy' has jumped by 1,940% and 150% more of us have looked up 'sexual intimacy' in recent months.
"There's nothing wrong with vanilla, it's a great flavor that goes with pretty much anything and loads of people love it," says Rachel Walker, sex and relationship expert at sexual health charity Body Positive. "Some people might like a special topping, or extra flavor, or a sprinkle of kink—and that's ok too— but the most important thing we can bring to the table is communication. Let's see more people getting what they enjoy, and fewer people putting up with tastes they hate by making space for our partners to safely discuss what turns them on, what they prefer to avoid so that everyone can relish each moment together no matter how spicy—or vanilla—things get."
Stacey Carter is a health and wellbeing writer, who works across UK health titles including Natural Health Woman and Health & Wellbeing Magazine. In her spare time, she freelances for other lifestyle brands, including Womanandhome.com.
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