One-third of Americans say they were more experimental with sex in 2021.
Trying new things in bed could be connected to pandemic-related anxiety and stress, a sex researcher said.
Sex experts offered tips for getting out of a sex rut with your partner and having satisfying casual sex.
This year Americans ramped up their sex lives, reporting more satisfying and experimental sex, according to a July LoveHoney report.
According to Justin Lehmiller, a Kinsey Institute research fellow and Lovehoney scientific advisor, times of extreme anxiety and stress can make it more difficult to get in a sexy mindset, which can lead to innovation.
"One way that people might cope with this is by trying new and immersive sexual activities that allow you to be in the moment and free your mind of distracting thoughts. Trying new things is also a way that people can 'feel alive' during periods of stress and boredom," Lehmiller said in a press release for the LoveHoney report.
In 2021, therapists and sex educators told Insider their top tips for improving your sex life, whether with a partner or on your own.
To spice up your sex life with a current partner, try making a sex script.
To help couples work through their intimacy issues, sex therapist Ian Kerner wrote his new book, "So Tell Me About the Last Time You Had Sex." In the book, Kerner, who has counseled couples for 20 years, details how he helps people transform their lackluster sex lives.
"When somebody would tell me about the last time they had sex, that sexual event told a story. It had a beginning, middle, and an end. It had a sequence of interactions that were psychological, physical, and emotional," Kerner told Insider. "And very often, that sequence was reinforcing, perpetuating, or even creating the problem."
To rewrite your 'sex script,' Kerner suggests first creating one that captures how you currently have sex with your partner.
Kerner suggested you and you partner start separate "sex in action" journals, where you individually reflect on a recent time you had sex, answering questions like:
When and where did it occur? Who initiated? Did it feel mutual?
What was the context? Waking up in the morning? Coming home from an evening out?
Were you in the mood for sex at the time? Was there a reason for having sex, like knowing your partner wanted it, or it had been a long time since you last had sex? Did desire come from an internal feeling or an external motivation?
Once you decided to have sex, how did things get going? Did you undress each other, or undress yourselves? Was the lead-up sexy, erotic, fun, predictable, or routine?
Was there any psychological excitement?
Who had orgasms, and who didn't? Did it matter?
Go through your journals together, treating them as clues into your exciting sexual future, said Kerner.
"Every session, we're either working our way towards creating a working sex script or we're encountering obstacles that are interesting. They represent turn ons and turn offs, discrepancies, clashes, sexual personality, and issues related to history and trauma," Kerner told Insider.
Also dedicate time to explore new turn-ons, kinks, and types of sex with your partner, Kerner said.
Kerner calls this concept the "willingness window."
It's a time when you may not be the most excited to be intimate with your partner, but you're still willing to show up and learn more about each others' sexualities, he told Insider.
According to Kerner, that could mean you aren't turned on, but you're willing to have an intimate conversation about your sexual fantasies. It could also mean you're willing to try a new position or turn your partner on in a way you never have before.
Most importantly, couples shouldn't have expectations for what will happen during these windows.
"This lack of pressure is crucial to feeling safe and willing," Kerner wrote, because it allows for experimentation to rebuild your sexual connection.
Kerner often suggests couples use mutual masturbation to reignite their sex lives.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, Kerner likes to take sex off the table as couples rebuild their sex lives.
"It's about blocking out everything else and becoming centrally and erotically present and focused. So we need to get absorbed, and that's a process," Kerner told Insider.
He's found that taking sex out of the equation helps couples focus on the emotional and physical building blocks they need for good sex, instead of jumping back into their old ways.
But sometimes, you're horny. When that happens, Kerner suggests couples partake in mutual masturbation, or pleasuring yourself while your partner pleasures themself. You can also take turns watching each other and masturbating, said Kerner.
"When you're not touching each other, you're finding other ways to connect, like through seeing, looking, and gazing, and there are things you can notice (about yourself and your partner) in the space between touch," Kerner wrote.
Some evidence suggests cannabis could boost your sex life.
Dr. Jordan Tishler, an internal medicine physician and the president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists said patients regularly ask him about how they can incorporate cannabis into their sex lives to treat issues with sex drive, pain on penetration, anxiety, and difficulty achieving orgasm.
Additionally, a small May 2020 study found queer men who used cannabis before sex reported feeling less anxious and more open to experimentation than if they didn't use the substance, Insider previously reported.
And a small March 2019 study found women who used weed before sex, typically smoking it, reported more satisfying orgasms, a higher sex drive, and better sex overall, Insider previously reported.
To use cannabis during sex, start with a low dose and avoid edibles.
If you want to infuse weed into your sex life, it's best to start with a small dose and see how your body reacts, said Tishler. Consider talking to your doctor about the best course of action before proceeding, he said.
Tishler suggests newbies start with 5 milligrams and choose a strain with between 15% and 20% THC. Any more could heighten your anxiety and ruin the experience. Tishler said his patients benefit from 5 milligrams to 20 milligrams of THC per dose.
The method you use for getting high also matters.
"Edibles are too slow and unpredictable to be very helpful for sex involving two or more people who need to be ready at the same time," said Tishler, because they can take anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to create an effect.
Instead, Tishler recommends vaporizing cannabis flower because it's the easiest on your lungs and simple to mix into foreplay. He said to take one or two puffs before you get down to business.
Get into a sexy mindset beforehand.
Whether it's a fresh manicure, a new set of lingerie, some new clothes, taking sexy pictures, or masturbating, focusing on the ways you can make yourself feel hot can boost your confidence, Maze Women's Health founder and sex therapist Bat Sheva Marcus told Insider.
If you're having sex with someone new, prepare to be honest about your anxieties.
Accept that sex will likely feel awkward and be OK with that, Marcus, who also wrote "Sex Points," told Insider.
Marcus said it's best to embrace the strange situation, admit your worries to your sexual partner, and tell them what you need, even if it's a one-time hookup.
For example, if you feel safer and more confident having sex with the lights off, be honest with your partner about why, and request they flip the switch. If you only want to engage in oral sex as you reacquaint yourself with the hook up scene, set that boundary upfront.
You could also simply say this is your first romp in over a year, and you're feeling anxious about it, said Marcus.
If you feel like you can't be vocal to a partner about how you're feeling towards sex, it means you're not ready to get back out there, according to Marcus.
If you want to spice things up, try verbally dominating your partner.
Once you have source material from your partner, think up a character that can fulfill their wishes.
"You can be figuring this out as it's happening, because you're the dominant persona," said Jean.
She suggested describing what you see, telling a story, or discussing the future.
If you want to have no-strings-attached sex, write down your boundaries beforehand.
To successfully hook up casually, fantasize about your upcoming hookup while sober to pinpoint your ideal situation, said Lia Holmgren, a relationship counselor, former dominatrix, and author of "Hookup without Heartbreak."
Then, write a "personal disclaimer," said Holmgren, like:
"I know this might be just a one-time thing, and there is a chance that he is only being charming and sweet so he can get laid. I have no expectations of him texting me, calling me, or wanting to see me again. I'm accepting this as an experience that I chose to have in my life, and I'm OK with whatever comes after."
Then, write a sentence or two about your intentions for the sex, like fulfilling a fantasy, having an orgasm, or feeling rejuvenated after the experience, said Holmgren.
She said reading your self-disclosure out loud before a hookup can help you better communicate your needs and boundaries in the moment.
You should also fantasize about the sex, but not the future if you want to hookup casually, according to Holmgren.
Holmgren suggested keeping your daydreams sex-specific. You shouldn't let your mind drift to potential vacations, text exchanges, dinner dates, or introductions to friends and family, she said.
"Thinking about him in a capacity outside the bedroom creates a feeling of a serious relationship that only exists in your head," she wrote.
Instead, fantasize about the kind of sex you want to have, Holmgren said.
Read the original article on Insider