Want to know the secret to a new and invigorating sex life? “It’s all in your mind,” says body+soul’s sex and relationship columnist Dr Gabrielle Morrissey.
Remember when sex was like a seven-course gastronomic feast? You never knew what was coming, every mouthful left you tingling all over and, by the end of it, you were satisfied and content. Nowadays, it’s more like Pot Noodle: quick, convenient and fills a gap, but you wouldn’t want it every night.
To put great sex back on the menu, you’ve got to put it on the brain. “Great sex starts in the mind,” says body+soul’s sex and relationship columnist Dr Gabrielle Morrissey. “Turning on your brain hours or days before you have sex triggers your libido into action.” Here’s how.
Prime up for sex
Why is it that men can go from watching a slice-them-up scene in Dexter to getting into bed and feeling instantly horny, while women get into bed and start thinking about everything from making the kids’ lunches to tomorrow’s work day? “Women access different parts of the brains for multitasking, whereas men generally focus on one thing before moving on to the next,” Dr Morrissey says.
Studies show women need a transition time of about 10 to 30 minutes between activities, so turn off the TV and take a sensual time-out before you even hit the sack. A loving foot massage, or a warm, inviting aromatherapy bath will do the trick. Researchers from Toho University in Japan say lemon, sandalwood, chamomile or bergamot are the best oils for arousal.
After your bath, lavish each other in a sensual body cream, focusing your attention on every stroke to get your mind and body ready for sex.
Just say “yes, yes, yes…”
Having sex can be like going to the gym. Your mind and body rebels against it, but once you’ve done it, you feel amazing. The standard wisdom says a woman’s sexual cycle moves from desire to arousal to orgasm. But new research suggests that for women in long-term relationships, desire often comes after arousal. So instead of listening to the little voice that whispers “Sleep, need sleep”, be receptive to your lover’s touch.
“Your brain will focus on any pleasure that is occurring and increase blood flow to the area,” Dr Morrissey says. “Even if it’s just a quickie and you don’t orgasm, sex bio-chemically releases endorphins, the chemicals that get us revved up and make us want to have more sex, more often.”
You can even kick-start your own arousal to get yourself in the mood. “Tensing your PC muscles – that’s the sling of muscles supporting the pelvic floor and surrounding your genital organs – stimulates the first part of the arousal process,” Dr Morrissey says.
Don’t go to bed angry go to bed sexy
Make-up sex after an argument can help you work out relationship issues. “When anger and sexual desire come together, they are powerful forces that create intense passion,” says relationship counselor Celia Claxton. “You can go to bed fuming with anger, or you can release these emotions during sex.”
The idea is to play with power dynamics in the bedroom by taking charge. This makes the pleasure-seeking chemical dopamine surge, while testosterone is fueled by aggression, making for a mind-blowing orgasm. However, don’t have sex if you really don’t want to, as it could lead to simmering resentment. “Having sex when you’re completely disconnected will make you feel more isolated,” Claxton advises. “Instead, talk it out and try to resolve the real issues before attempting to make love.”
Let your partner be your fantasy
Use your mind to trigger real desire for your partner. Dr Morrissey recommends this exercise: sit across from each other, hold hands and stare into each other’s eyes. Without speaking, start to remember the last time you made love and really enjoyed it. “This exercise really makes the most of the mind-body connection, as you’re calling on a real experience, so your body will remember the feelings and sensations,” she says.
It’s akin to shuddering, when you recall a scary experience. Focus on the little sexy details and the memory will ignite your body, making you feel incredibly turned on. What is really sexy is seeing the arousal written across your partner’s face!
Start asking questions
One reason your mind may say, “Not tonight, honey”, is sheer boredom. But it’s not about just varying positions; you need to rediscover what you both really want. “Never stop asking questions like, ‘Do you like it when I do this?’” Dr Morrissey says. “Then you’ll be more confident to ask for what you want in bed.”
Don’t be afraid to look outside your own bedroom for inspiration. Dr Morrissey’s book, Spicy Sex (HarperCollins) has 52 sex recipes to turn up the heat in the bedroom. Pick out something you like, then ask your partner to do the same, and you’ll have a new sexual repertoire in no time.
Mornings are the best time for sex, as your body has produced sex hormones, including testosterone, overnight and, by daybreak, they are peaking. But if there’s no chance of setting the clock early for a sex session, use those early-morning hormones to kick-start your mind in preparation for a night of passion. Just thinking about sex throughout the day can be enough to make you want it that evening.
So, instead of your usual peck goodbye, look deep into his eyes and give each other a long lingering kiss, then whisper, “Our bedroom, 10pm”. Not only will your partner spend the day anticipating sex that night, you’ll be turning yourself on too.
By Lollie Barr (body+soul)