Aside from reproduction, having sex offers many personal benefits. Although many may shy away talking about sex, an open forum for discussion can help us feel empowered through our shared knowledge and honesty. The Mayo Clinic staff has said sexual health "is important to emotional and physical well-being. But achieving a satisfying sex life takes self-reflection and candid communication with your partner. Although talking about sexuality can be difficult, it's a topic well worth addressing." With science as our guide, we're highlighting everything you need to know about sex education. From positions to personality traits that increase your odds of getting lucky, we guarantee you'll learn something new about this intimate act.
Keep reading for everything you need to know about maintaining a healthy sex life.
1. Women Want It Just as Much as Men
According to one recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, men in long-term relationships underestimate their female partners' sexual desire. Certified sex therapist, Laurie J Watson LMFT, LPC says, "Many women find sex to be the deepest form of love and connection, and many women are very sexually oriented. While his orgasm may be quicker, hers is often more powerful and her incredible capacity for pleasure could include multiple orgasms."
The takeaway: Don't be shy about communicating with your partner. Feel comfortable about initiating sex. After all, it takes two to tango.
2. Your Partner Is a Better Resource Than Magazines
If you truly want to improve your sex life, ignore clickbait articles like "11 Orgasm Hacks You Need to Try" or "11 Things You Need to Do in Bed That He Secretly Loves." The only way to find out what your partner desires is to ask. Lisa Thomas LMFT says, "Tell the truth. This means two things. First, it means to tell your partner the truth about how you feel about your sex life together. If you want more frequency, ask for it. If you want more foreplay, make sure you talk about it. The second meaning is to tell the truth about your experience: If you have trouble having an orgasm because you need more foreplay, be honest about that. If you need more kissing before sex, say so." Having an ongoing and open discussion about your sexual needs with your partner creates the best sex. The more sexual experiences we have, the higher our chances of success. So more talking and more doing.
The takeaway: Before you open a magazine or click on that headline, ask your partner what they like or dislike.
3. The Best Time to Do It Isn't at Night
With our busy schedules, often the only time left to have sex is at night. However, this isn't a great formula because we are usually exhausted and not always in the best mood at bedtime (although sex can definitely turn that around). Turns out, there is a scientifically proven optimal time of the day for sex, but it's not good news for those who work traditional office hours. Hormone expert Alisa Vitti, author of "WomanCode," has found that 3 p.m. is the best time for sex. Vitti said not only are men more interested in initiating sex at this time, but they also give women more emotional support.
If you can't test afternoon sex out during the week, try a little afternoon delight this weekend.
The takeaway: Don't leave it until you're too tired to do it right. If you aren't home mid-day, initiate sex as soon as you get home from work or before getting out of bed.
4. There Aren't as Many Positions as You Think
Have you tried numerous sex positions but always end up going back to the same old missionary or doggy style? If so, you're not alone. According to The Cut, there are only six positions used commonly in intercourse: missionary, cowgirl, reverse cowgirl, doggy style, spooning, and standing.
"Despite what the sex-position-industrial complex would have you believe, there is not an endless number of ways to get it on," writes editor Gabriella Paiella. "This isn't to say that anyone attempting to make sex more interesting is wasting their time. There are innumerable ways to get creative in bed that don't involve consulting a manual and doing hamstring stretches in preparation." Don't be ashamed of your favorite sex position just because everybody's doing it.
The takeaway: Give up the Kama Sutra and enjoy the sex positions you already know—then get better at them.
5. Happy Couples Do It Once a Week
Contrary to popular belief, more sex doesn't equate to increased happiness. Researcher Amy Muise says "For the average person, having sex more frequently than once a week was not associated with greater happiness, but it wasn't associated with less happiness, either."
Many couples feel the pressure to have sex often, but Muise says it's time to turn the tension down. "It's important to maintain a sexual connection with a romantic partner, but it's also important to have realistic expectations for one's sex life," she said.
The takeaway: Don't guilt-trip yourself for not having enough sex. More isn't always better.
6. Caring People Have More of It
If you want to get intimate more often, science says you should become more caring. A study published in the British Journal of Psychology found people who reported being altruistic had more sex. Since the study was based on self-evaluation and reporting, there are plenty of variables (which means room for error), but we're fairly certain you don't need science to prove this as fact. So, it's time to change that well-known cliché to "nice girls finish first."
The takeaway: Be a nicer person. Not only will it improve your sex life, but it will make everything else in your life better, too.
Muise A, Stanton SCE, Kim JJ, Impett EA. Not in the Mood? Men Under- (Not Over-) Perceive Their Partner’s Sexual Desire in Established Intimate Relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2016;110(5):725-742. doi:10.1037/pspi0000046
Arnocky S, Piché T, Albert G, Ouellette D, Barclay P. Altruism Predicts Mating Success in Humans. Br J Psychol. 2017;108(2):416-435. doi:10.1111/bjop.12208