Does your sex life need a makeover? Here's your chance to brush up. From sex myths to sexual etiquette to health-boosting bedroom tips, these are the truths about sex every woman should know.
1. He Doesn't Care if You've Shaved.
Really. It doesn't even cross his mind.
2. Wide Beats Long Every Time.
If you care at all about penis size (and studies show that women are far more into how penises look than how they're hung), you know that width matters more than length.
3. All the Girls Are Doing It.
Masturbating, that is. In a 2004 survey by AARP, nearly half the women between the ages of 45 and 49 said they had taken matters into their own hands in the previous 6 months. And many women have used more than just their hands. In a 2009 survey by the University of Indiana, more than half the respondents had used a vibrator at least once, and nearly one in four had used one in the previous month.
4. He Likes the Cuddling Part...
...and not just because he's half comatose when you snuggle up after sex. During lovemaking, both men and women release the chemical oxytocin—the so-called “cuddle hormone” that helps new moms bond with their babies. So what does than mean for men? Oxytocin boosts their desire for intimacy, along with their feelings of trust, according to a 2008 study by the University of Zurich. And in this case, what's good for the gander is good for the goose. Want to increase your cuddling power?
5. You Really Can Tell a Guy's Size by His Hands.
The longer a man's ring finger, the longer his penis, a study by University of Liverpool shows. Both are determined by the amount of testosterone he was exposed to in the womb. If his ring finger is the same size or smaller than his index finger, he received lower levels of testosterone. If it's bigger... watch out!
6. It's Worth a Try.
Variety is the spice of life...and of sex. Whether you do it in a hammock or an airplane; on the kitchen floor or in the shower; dressed in leather or in lace, if it's new, it's improved.
7. Porn Is Hot.
The idea that women take longer to get aroused just isn't true. Show us some skin and we're off and running. In a 2007 study, women who watched porn got turned on as quickly as men did. Using thermal imaging technology, researchers at McGill University in Montreal found that while watching porn, men became fully aroused in 664.6 seconds (11 minutes), compared to women, who took 743 seconds (12 minutes).
8. Say Ohh Instead of Ohm.
Craving the calm you get from yoga? Go for an orgasm instead. You feel relaxed after climaxing because you were practically brain-dead while you were doing it. Using scans to measure brain activity, researchers from the Netherlands found that women experience no emotions during orgasm—including fear, anxiety and stress. When you're in the throes, there's no worrying about the kids' report cards, the weekly grocery list or the pile of bills on your desk. But it's a chicken and egg situation: The only way to reach orgasm is to clear your head of that stuff to begin with.
9. Faking It: Pointless.
Showing him what you like: brilliant.
10. It's Better with Your Socks on.
If your sex life isn't hot, it may be because you're cold. Research from the Netherlands shows that couples with cold feet had a harder time reaching orgasm—only 50 percent made it. When couples put on socks, the number jumped to 80 percent.
11. Honesty: Not Always the Best Policy.
So you've thought about cheating—maybe even stolen a kiss or snuck out for coffee. Should you confess to make up for it? No way. Coming clean only inflicts pain on your partner and damages his sense of trust. If you want to protect him and keep your relationship going, swallow your guilt and keep your mouth shut.
12. Love Is in the Air...
...as long as your man doesn't shower after his workout. The musky smell of male sweat can be a real turn-on for women. In a 2007 study from the University of California at Berkeley, the scent of a man boosted women's sexual arousal, mood, heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
13. It's Never Too Late.
Even if having sex is something you do only on birthdays and Bastille Day, you can always get back on the stick. All you have to do is...have sex. You may have to force yourself at first, but the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Start with once a month, then once a week, and who knows? Maybe you'll be a once-a-day woman.
14. When it Comes to How Big, How Often, How Many Times in One Night...
...your friends are lying.
15. Phone Sex Is Worth trying.
It's the next best thing to being there, but not that many forty-somethings know it. According to a 2004 survey by AARP, only 17 percent of men and 18 percent of women between the ages of 45 and 49 have had phone sex.
16. Nobody Does it Better Than You.
You can lie around waiting for your partner to bring you to orgasm, but you'll get there a lot faster if you take care of it yourself. When women masturbate, they typically climax in less than 4 minutes. When they're engaged in foreplay and intercourse, it can take 20 minutes. Your best bet for a speedy climax: using a vibrator.
17. Fantasy Is Fabulous.
If your regular sex routine is a little stale, invite Johnny Depp and his pirate hat into bed with you. Losing yourself in a sex fantasy spices up the real thing, and boosts your overall sex drive. Sharing certain fantasies can add even more zip. In a 2004 ABC News poll, more than half of all men and women said they talk about their fantasies to boost their sex lives. The most common fantasies? Unexpected sex, threesomes, and sex at work.
18. If You're Too Tired, it's Too Bad for Him.
The best thing about getting older is that you can do—or not do—whatever you want. Say it nicely, and your partner should understand if you've got a headache or you want to binge-watch House of Cards instead of making love. Unless, of course, the marathon—or the headache—is a weekly event.
19. Size Matters—to Him.
A survey of 50,000 heterosexual men and women showed that the vast majority of women (85 percent) felt satisfied by their man's size, while nearly half of all men (45 percent) were unhappy with their package. Let him know he's all you need.
20. He Doesn't Care...
...if you wear flannel to bed.
21. Money Isn't Everything...
...but when it comes to sex, it certainly helps. Women who had wealthy husbands or boyfriends reported having more orgasms than those who didn't, according to a 2009 survey by the University of Newcastle in England.
22. Good Kissing Is a Good Sign.
Studies show that women tend to assess a relationship by how skilled his smooching is. And they're more likely to have sex with a man who does it well.
23. Ladies First.
You're likely to be eager—if not aching—to give right after you've received. So everyone wins if he gets you off first.
24. Intercourse Doesn't Cut it.
In case you thought you were the only one, you'll want to know that nearly one-third of women don't have orgasms during intercourse. That's because thrusting rarely stimulates the clitoris, our most reliable source for the ultimate pleasure.
25. Less Sex Means More Work.
If you're not having sex, what are you doing with your time? Chances are, you're working more. Men and women both turn to work to fill the void when they have sex less than once a week, according to a survey of 32,000 people by the University of Gottingen in Germany. Bo-RING.
26. A Little Cleavage Goes a Long Way.
Do you really think you look hot with your shirt buttoned up to your chin? Or a T-shirt shrouding your tankini? Get over yourself already. You may have stretch marks and spider veins everywhere else, but with the right support, your boobs can still hold their own. So let 'em show, and you'll feel sexier than you have in a long time.
27. Making the First Move...
...is as much a turn-on for you as it is for him.
28. It's Not You...it's Him.
Contrary to popular belief, men aren't always ready and raring to go—especially middle-aged men. Many go through their own form of menopause as their testosterone levels start to drop. After the age of 40, testosterone levels decline approximately 1 percent per year, with a steep drop between the ages of 45 and 50. So if he takes longer or is less gung-ho, go easy on him…and yourself.
29. He Doesn't Care if You Can't Quite Button Your Pants. He really doesn't.
30. His Nipples Are as Much Fun as Yours.
Imagine if your partner never touched your nipples during foreplay or sex. Ignored them entirely. Well, why are you ignoring his? Men's nipples are as important to them as yours are to you. Slightly more than half of the men surveyed in a 2006 study by the University of Sheffield in England said nipple stimulation caused or enhanced their arousal. But only 17 percent ever asked for it.
31. Nobody Wants to Hear About it.
Spare your friend, sister, college roommate and, especially, your colleague the details of your sex life. It might have been fun to compare notes in your 20s, but as a grown woman, it's embarrassing and just plain gross. Put yourself in their shoes: Do you really want them to picture you and your husband doing it on the roof?
32. Smutty Is Sexy.
Dirty talk (a.k.a "Aural Sex") is a real turn-on for some couples. It can be as clean or raunchy as you both like. Just make sure you know where your partner draws the line between dirty and disgusting.
33. Casual Sex Isn't for Everyone.
Brief casual sexual encounters may sound like a kick, but for many women, they're not a great experience. In a 2008 study by the University of Durham in England, only 54 percent of the women who'd had a one-night stand had positive feelings about it. Surprise, surprise: 85 percent of men thought it was just dandy.
34. Anything Goes.
What used to be too "kinky" to contemplate is jolly good if you've finally shed your inhibitions in your old age. What better time to make a sex tape, strip, try a threesome or whatever you've secretly wanted to do? Guaranteed, if it's exciting to you, it will be orgasmic for your mate.
35. The Toes Have it.
Next time you go down on your mate, go way down. If you haven't discovered this already, toes are one of the key erogenous zones for both men and women, along with fingers, earlobes and the back of the knees.
36. He Doesn't Care if You Haven't Showered. He's just happy to be having sex. Wouldn't you be?
37. It's Not You...it's Your Hormones.
Let us count the ways perimenopause can mess up your sex life:
Your period lasts forever: you bleed like a stuck pig for seven days, and stain for another three.
Your sex drive has shriveled up.
You're as dry as dust.
Your mood swings like a wrecking ball.
Still, it could be worse.
38. Romance Can Last Forever...Or at Least for a Long Time.
New research shows that long-term relationships can keep their sexual chemistry, intensity and engagement going strong. If they're missing the passion of short-term relationships, that's probably a good thing, according to a 2009 study by Stony Brook University in California. That means they're also free of anxiety and insecurity.
39. Marrieds Do it More.
Believe it or not, if you're married, you're having more sex than single people. That may not be saying much—the average of times that married people have sex is 69 per year. But that's nine more than single people do, according to a 2002 study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. And by now, you're old enough to know that quality counts more than quantity.
40. He Thinks You're Hot...Just the Way You Are.
Here's how you can, too.