Remember when you first got together with your husband or boyfriend and couldn’t pull yourselves out of bed? No? Well then it’s been too long! Just because life—paying the bills, taking care of the kids and keeping the house in order—has gotten in the way doesn’t mean you have to shelve the idea of a hot sex life. We talked to the experts and learned there are plenty of ways to rev up your engines again.
1. Do your household chores. It may seem counterintuitive, but crossing tasks off your to-do list will put you in a much better mental space for sex. “Research has shown that, unlike men, in order for women to relax into arousal and experience orgasm, the parts of their brain that associate with outside stressors must deactivate during sex,” says Ian Kerner, PhD, sex therapist and founder of GoodInBed.com. So while your husband may have no problem getting busy while your house is crumbling around you, you need to feel like there’s a sense of order. Tackle your list of chores in order to create a stress-free mental environment that’s conducive to sex.
2. Hit the gym. There’s a pleasant domino effect in going for a brisk jog or taking a spinning class: When you feel good about yourself, you’ll be much more in the mood to burn some more calories between the sheets. “Not only will you feel more energetic after a sweat session, but you’ll get your endorphins—which put you in the mood for sex–– going as well,” says Dennis Lin, MD, director of the Psychosexual Medicine Program at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Working out with your partner is also a great way to squeeze in some extra time together—plus, “since you’re usually wearing less clothing, it’s an easy way to check out your partner’s body and get turned on.”
3. Take notice when your husband is playing with the kids. According to Dr. Kerner, many women report being more interested in sex after seeing their partner spend time with the kids. “It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective—knowing your husband is a good dad will validate and stimulate those reproductive urges. It’s a win-win situation!”
4. Go to a bar with your partner and flirt with other people. “Seeing the person you’re with being desired by somebody else can make you want him even more,” says Stacey Nelkin, relationship expert and founder of TheDailyAffair.com. “That little bit of jealousy can be an aphrodisiac if consumed in the right dosage.” But while seeing your partner in a new light can be a definite turn-on, be sure you’re on the same page—meaning that neither of you will take the flirting too far—before you head out the door.
5. Hold your beloved tight—for at least 30 seconds. “Studies have shown that, especially in women, when you hug your partner for 30 seconds or more, it produces oxytocin, which is the hormone that facilitates trust and a sense of sexual connection and desire,” says Dr. Kerner. While you’re there, he recommends, nuzzle into the crook of your partner’s neck and take a few deep inhalations. “If you like your guy’s scent—and most women do, for biological reasons—it will usually function as a bit of an aphrodisiac.”
6. Make a “no touching below the belt” rule. Instituting this plan for the first 20 to 30 minutes of intimacy will not only force you to focus more on touching and kissing, which, according to Dr. Lin, people tend to abandon when they rush into intercourse, but it will also create novelty. “Doing something new stimulates dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a big role in sexual arousal,” says Dr. Kerner.
7. Share your sexual fantasies with your partner. According to Dr. Kerner, “the brain is your biggest sexual organ. You can’t just rely on the physical stimulation of sex; you also have to take advantage of the mental power.” So share your fantasies and desires with your boyfriend or husband. Feeling too shy? Dr. Kerner suggests saying you had a sexy dream about your partner, which will help alleviate any fears of judgment or embarrassment. Dr. Lin has recommended that some of his patients text or instant-message each other their sexual fantasies in order to get comfortable with the idea of sharing.
8. Institute the 10-minute rule. “Even if you’re not in the mood, give yourself 10 minutes to give sex a shot,” says Dr. Kerner. According to him, most people stuck in a rut don’t have anything against sex—they want to want sex—but just aren’t giving themselves a chance to do so. “Put yourself through the motions; your body will catch up with you quickly.”
9. Try on a different sex personality. It’s easy to fall into the same role you always take in the bedroom. Make an effort to change that. “We’re visual creatures, so buying a different kind of lingerie or doing your hair differently will create a sense of newness,” says Nelkin. Just one small change can inspire bigger developments in the bedroom, like trying new positions or sharing new fantasies.
10. Masturbate. “People sometimes think that if they masturbate while they’re in a relationship they’re somehow cheating on their partner or their partner isn’t satisfying them. That’s just not true,” says Dr. Lin. According to him, it’s a healthy sexual outlet for many people, and is a surefire way to get in the mood for sex, whether you do it solo or in bed with your partner.