There's probably no bigger gulf between expectations and reality than when it comes to sex. Whether you're single, dating, or partnered af, a lot of people yearn to level up their intimate lives. A recent poll by LELO found that Americans have sex four times a week, on average, but 61% of respondents wish their sex lives were better. (That number was nearly equal among those in serious relationships: 62%.) If you're seeking inspiration, look no further: These are 12 lesser-known ways to spice up your sex life, according to experts.
"Many of us are fans of bucket lists in our normal lives — these are life's biggest moments. So why not create a sexual bucket list, together?" says Alex Davis of Ryan and Alex Duo Life, a health and relationship site for couples. "Bucket list fantasies don't have to be off the wall, overly complicated, or wild. It could simply be having sex in every room in the house, skinny dipping, roleplaying, or at your favorite campground."
If you're unsure how far to push your boundaries, start small. "Keep the conversation and list-making fun, perhaps with a glass of wine over dinner, leaving room for lots of discussion and creativity," says Davis.
It may sound counterintuitive, but "consciously abstaining from sex for a while can help you discover other forms of intimate connection beyond penetrative sex," says Julia Svirid, a sex coach with Beducated. "Use this time to explore each other's bodies in a whole new way." Exercises on non-sexual touch—like this one, called sensate focus—can help you be more present in the moment. "Or if you feel more adventurous, you can explore some BDSM practices that don't require penetration," says Svirid. "A good spanking session that doesn't lead to penetrative sex can be just perfect for building anticipation."
"Leverage the advantages of the digital world we live in and invite sex education right into your bedroom," says Svirid. "Taking an online course together is a great incentive to actually dedicate time to your sex life and schedule those date nights."
That whole "absence makes the heart go fonder" thing isn't just an adage. To spice up your sex life, "Take separate vacations," advises sex therapist Cay L. Crow, MA, LPC, of Orchid Toys. "Couples need to have a level of differentiation for the heat of sexual desire to smolder and burn." If your partner loves skiing while you'd rather forgo breaking your neck while relaxing on the beach, take individual trips. In general, allowing for differences can improve your sex life and connection. "Partners don't need to align on everything to get along," says Crow. "It's how you handle these differences that strengthen the relationship."
Of course, there's a lot to be said, even scientifically, for traveling together. "Traveling can have a profound impact on your intimate life," says Kyle Larsen, who edits Best Romantic Vacations with his wife of 25 years. "Traveling allows you to break out of your comfort zone and try new things. Stepping outside of your usual routine can bring a sense of excitement and novelty into your relationship, which can translate into the bedroom." What's more: "Going on vacation means spending more quality time with your partner," he says. "Some studies have shown that nature and traveling can increase levels of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, which can increase bonding and trust between partners."
"Self-reflection plays an important role in enhancing one's sexual life because it helps one to take a deeper dive into their sexual wants and emotional needs," says Dr. Eric Chaghouri, a psychiatrist and medical director of Lucid Wellness Center in Los Angeles. "More often than not, seeking constant sexual experiences may be rooted in unaddressed psychological needs—a yearning for connection, a drive to reclaim one's bold agency, and other things related to one's relationship with sex and why one seeks it."
When you take time to think about your desires and sexual patterns, "you become more mindful and intentional with how you navigate your sexual experiences," he says. "You also become more confident and clear on what you want and this contributes to more sexual satisfaction."
"I've seen people's sex lives go from lackluster to truly exciting just from this simple tip," says Suzannah Weiss, an AASECT-certified sex educator with BedBible. "Being vocal can mean making noises, like moans, or engaging in dirty talk. This helps your partner see you're into it, which will make them a lot more into it too. It also brings you into the moment. So much of being great in bed is just showing enthusiasm."
"Anticipation can be an incredibly powerful aphrodisiac," says sexologist Sam Kryplone. "The art of teasing involves building up desire and prolonging pleasure before engaging in sexual activities. Experts recommend incorporating teasing techniques such as delayed gratification, sensual massages, or even engaging in non-sexual activities that stoke desire throughout the day. By embracing the thrill of anticipation, you can create an atmosphere charged with heightened passion and excitement."
"While role-playing isn't a new concept, exploring role reversal can add a fresh twist to your intimate adventures," says Kryplone. "Take turns in initiating intimacy, planning date nights, or surprising each other with new experiences. By stepping into different roles, you can break free from routine and foster a sense of adventure, creating an atmosphere of exploration and spontaneity."
"Masturbation helps you explore your likes and dislikes," says Svirid. "You can discover your preferences on your own and share the new findings with your partner for more fun together. This can lead to a hot session of mutual masturbation, when you and your partner observe how you please yourself in real life."
"Let your imagination run wild and think about what turns you on," says Svirid. "You can use erotic stories or porn if you need extra inspiration. Share those fantasies with each other. The best part is you don't have to act on those fantasies. Just talking about what turns you on can create new sparks between you and your partner."
"I recommend regular sexy check-ins with your partner from the beginning of your relationship," says Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD a Los Angeles-based sex and relationship coach and professor of sexual and relational communication at California State University Fullerton. "Ask questions like, 'How do you feel about our sex life?' and 'Is there anything we can do more or less of that can make our sex life even better?' Couples have to put in the effort to have a conversation about sex regularly. As you get older, you will experience your levels of sexual desire ebbing and flowing. Talking openly about desires and when they change can create a better understanding of each other's sexuality."