Open Gently

Musings on the introspective life.

You Can Have Amazing Sex

Want to see stars? Small changes in sex make a big difference, therapists say.

My friend L, who had a history of rape, was sure she hated sex. She had no orgasms with her husband and after they split, in a busy life raising children, working and going to school, she didn’t even bother to masturbate. She didn’t care. Sex wasn't her thing.

Then, in her late ‘40s, she met the man who became her second husband. They had sex every day for five years that consistently gave her climaxes that transported her to “another realm,” in her words. "I see a blue light,” she says.

Yes, things can get that much better—from zero to ten, from nada to the blue light.

The key may be focus. If you’re both concentrating, you make love together, rather than drift off into your own heads. L explains her sex life by saying: “We’re thoroughly and entirely present to each other when we’re in bed.”

My friend J saw a huge change when she followed advice to "keep searching for the other person and be willing to be seen. It takes a lot of awareness," she says. "And it really works."

Too bad that with all the pressure in our culture to think about sex, we don’t often hear this wisdom.

You don’t need to come every time, or during intercourse, but it's healthy to seek orgasms as part of your ordinary life. Orgasms help us relax and feel safe. They can soothe cramps and headaches and lull you to sleep. During a climax, we release oxytocin, the bonding chemical, which remains elevated in the bloodstream for at least five minutes. Orgasms will make your romantic relationships happier. Yes, you knew that.

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You also don't need perfect concentration to get these benefits. Our sex life evolves as we age, and with changes in confidence, health, medication and partners. You can take charge to make it better, whatever your starting point. Sexuality is “highly individual,” says San Francisco sex therapist Linda Perlin Alperstein, and you can transform your experience significantly by varying small details.

For example, many women hold their breath near climax without thinking. A deep exhale can intensify it. So can moaning.

You may be moaning near your partner's climax, to be encouraging. Instead, moan when it will help you.

A technique from the Indian Tantric tradition is to take 15-20 panting breaths, followed by a long exhale. Repeat this three times, as you approach orgasm.

Or try hanging your head over the side of the bed--to intensify things by cutting off air supply. Try putting your head on the mattress or floor instead of a pillow.

Strengthen your vaginal muscles. While urinating, stop the flow of urine, release and stop it again—you’re squeezing the muscles that contract during orgasm. If you try contracting your vaginal muscles when you’re not peeing, you may find that you’re actually squeezing your butt and abs. The pee-test confirms that you’re using your vaginal muscles. Once you’re used to the sensation, squeeze and relax those muscles while directly stimulating your clitoris. You can also do it during intercourse—each time he thrusts, you relax, and squeeze as he exits.

Check your medication for side-effects. If you're stuck with your drug and it's interfering with your orgasm, you might ask for the anti-depressant Bupropion (Wellbutrin), which some studies suggest that enhances sexual response.

Don't be afraid to talk before, during and after sex about fantasies and what you like. A tip for talking: some people hate a word like "pussy" and some love it. Make sure you both know which words turn you on and which turn you off.

Bigger changes may do even more for you. 

Add a little pain and power-play, whatever turns you on and feels safe. 

Up the muscle-building program with resistance. GyneFlex sells plastic tongs that you close and release with your vaginal muscles, starting with a lightweight plastic good for new mothers to a stiff pair for champs. Pelvinn sells bulb shaped plastic weights in six weights. Silicone Benwa balls can be worn during the day, so you can squeeze whenever you’re bored.

Take fish oil and cut carbs and soy. Marrena Lindberg, the author of “The Orgasmic Diet” featured on “The Dr. Oz Show,” created her diet when she was inorgasmic. She says that women have boosted their sex drive and orgasms in two weeks to a month by following her program.

Looking for amazement? On a vacation, when you're free from distractions, make a deal with your partner that you will touch each other's bodies for a stretch of time the first day without seeking orgasm. Try it again that night or the next day. Hold out. If you can make it for two days, by the third you may well be stunned at your "blue light."

Contact me for writing advice and editing at 

 expertediting.org 

Temma Ehrenfeld is a New York-based science writer, and former assistant editor at Newsweek.

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