Our sexual desires aren’t static: As we change over time, so too do our erotic inclinations. For both committed couples and casual partners, this truth presents risks and opportunities. Some lovers delight in the shared exploration, taking pleasure to new heights through novel forms of intimacy. Others find their sex lives going stale as they get older, growing bored with the same sexual repertoire.
Many couples would like to maintain fulfilling and thrilling sex lives but struggle to communicate desired changes to each other. Additionally, it can be difficult to know which kinds of experimentation will actually deliver real pleasure. There’s no playbook for improved intimacy, even when both partners are committed to that goal.
To see how real people sustain and expand their sex lives, we asked roughly 1,000 Europeans and Americans about the sexual experiments they’ve undertaken with their partners. Our findings show which sex acts people typically try and whether these attempts successfully spice things up. Ready to learn how people actually enhance the sex they’re having? Keep reading to find out.
Experimentation ConversationsTo initiate a change in one’s sexual routines, you’ll probably need to convey your desires to your partner. Indeed, experts suggest that clear and open communication about one’s erotic preferences can transform your sex life for the better – while communication issues can undermine intimacy.
Our results seem to indicate that Americans were slightly more comfortable than Europeans when it came to discussing fantasies and desires with their lovers. Some may find this surprising: There’s a long-standing stereotype that Americans shy away from sexual subjects, whereas Europeans are more comfortable discussing them frankly.
Additionally, respondents who identified as gay tended to be more comfortable with these conversations than their straight counterparts. This finding resonates with existing research suggesting that same-sex partners are particularly likely to demonstrate healthy communication patterns – and devote attention to each other’s sexual needs.
Regardless of location or sexual preference, however, communication seems to pay off in pleasure. Comfort with discussing sexual fantasies and desires correlated with more orgasms each month. On average, those who were “extremely comfortable” talking about their fantasies enjoyed four more orgasms per month than people who were not.
Spicing Things UpAs sex experts will readily tell you, foreplay is an essential means to enhance one’s sexual experiences. Among our respondents, the most effective foreplay adjustment was giving or receiving an erotic massage, with over 65% of respondents saying that the technique improved their experiences. Watching one’s partner masturbate was another top technique. Conversely, setting the mood seemed less effective: Music and candles didn’t make a big difference for many respondents.
Moving towards sex acts, receiving oral sex was the most effective upgrade, with nearly 77% reporting significantly better sexual experiences as a result. This result reaffirms our past research regarding the importance of oral sex, but our findings also suggest plenty of other promising possibilities. Adding manual genital stimulation was also helpful for most people, as was sexually submitting to or dominating one’s partner. For straight couples specifically, trying doggy style seemed to work wonders.
In a result that many will find all too predictable, male respondents averaged roughly six more orgasms per month than their female peers. And while this discrepancy is due, in part, to ineffective stimulation, differences were also found between those who had engaged in different amounts of sexual experiments. For instance, those who tried fewer than six sexual experiments in our survey had about seven fewer orgasms a month than those who tried 20 or more sexual activities.
One of the most interesting sexual experiences in our survey had to do with electronic cigarettes or vapes. These devices are growing in notoriety and popularity in and out of the bedroom: In the United States, about 1 in 20 adults now use e-cigarettes, and in Great Britain, more than 3 million adults vape. Compared to cigarettes, more discreet devices like Juul have a lower risk of setting fire to or leaving a scent in your sheets. This could be one of the reasons that 1 in 10 survey respondents admitted to vaping during sex.
Sex Toy Success
Some partners are hesitant to introduce sex toys into their love lives, worried that this new element may somehow outshine their unassisted abilities. Yet, our findings indicate that many people bring vibrators into the bedroom, including a whopping 57% of Americans. In fact, Americans were more likely than Europeans to experiment with every kind of sex toy and tool, from anal beads to blindfolds.
Women were particularly likely to benefit from vibrators: More than three-quarters of women who used them reported significant sexual improvement as a result. Female respondents were also more appreciative of dildos than men. Conversely, men were more likely to report that handcuffs and other kinds of restraints improved their sex lives.
Differences also surfaced between gay and straight respondents. Whereas straight people were slightly more likely to say butt plugs and handcuffs spiced up their sex lives, gay respondents were more into vibrators, dildos, and blindfolds. Interestingly, some experts say that the sex toy industry remains largely heteronormative, with manufacturers failing to market to the LGBTQ+ community. Still, it seems many gay couples are successfully enhancing their sex lives by introducing toys.
One means of mixing things up is adding another partner or including attraction to others in your sexual routines. In some cases, men and women reported trying a sexual experiment at equal rates but differed in their perceived pleasure. For instance, while similar percentages of men and women reported having a threesome, men were far more likely to say that the experience greatly enhanced their sex lives.
Likewise, women were much more likely to report that going to a strip club had energised their sex lives – whether they went alone or with their partners. This finding is especially interesting, given how often strip clubs are criticised as patriarchal institutions. Similarly, women who watched porn alone were more likely to report sex life benefits than men who did the same, despite the prevalence of sexist themes across the adult entertainment industry.
Gay respondents were also more likely than straight people to report that going to a strip club – either alone or with a partner – had significantly improved their sex lives. Additionally, straight respondents were far less likely to have had a threesome, although each group seemed to enjoy them at roughly equal rates.
Erotic Evolution: Intimacy Over Time
Perhaps our findings have illustrated intriguing options, suggesting some sexual experiments to try with current or future partners. But whether you’re eager to attempt something new or are just fine with your current sex life, keep the principle of creativity in mind. If you’re ever feeling stuck in a sexual rut, there are plenty of ways to reach new levels of intimacy. All you need is the willingness to communicate your desires and the openness to indulge your partner’s fantasies, too.
Of course, some sexual challenges result from medical issues best addressed with a doctor. If you’re experiencing any issues of this kind, don’t let your sex life suffer. Superdrug Online Doctor provides an extensive array of health care services, treating you entirely online. Pairing total privacy with fast, free delivery, our process removes inconvenience and embarrassment from the health care equation. That means you’ll be back in action shortly and ready to build more intimacy with your partner.
For this study, we conducted an internet survey of 985 sexually active adults from Europe and the United States. There were 507 Americans and 479 Europeans from the following countries:
- Germany: 217
- Italy: 60
- United Kingdom: 59
- Spain: 53
- France: 25
- Austria: 18
- Netherlands: 11
- Portugal: 6
- Greece: 4
- Romania: 3
- Hungary: 3
- Finland: 3
- Denmark: 3
- Belgium: 3
- Sweden: 2
- Russia: 2
- Ireland: 2
- Switzerland: 1
- Serbia: 1
- Poland: 1
- Norway: 1
- Czech Republic: 1
55.5% of respondents identified as men, 44.3% as women and 0.2% were nonbinary. 80.5% of all respondents were straight/heterosexual. 17.6% were gay or lesbian, 1.7% were bisexual, and 0.2% were asexual. Of men, 82.3% were straight, 15.7% were gay and the remaining 2% of men were asexual or bisexual. Of women, 78.7% were straight, 19.5% were gay or lesbian and 1.8% were bisexual. Participants had to be at least 18 years old, and participants’ ages ranged from 18 to 78 with a mean of 35.8 and a standard deviation of 10.9.
Responses were grouped in some situations to simplify visualisations. We grouped responses of “moderately enhanced” and “greatly enhanced” to simplify the chart. We grouped responses of “extremely uncomfortable,” “very uncomfortable” and “somewhat uncomfortable” to achieve a significant sample size of respondents.
To determine the number of sexual acts tried, we combined the number of sex toys, foreplay, and sex acts people had attempted. We did not include sex positions tried in this count.
We excluded responses that were outliers in the data, in the cases of the number of partnered sex and orgasms respondents had in one month. Orgasms could have occurred during partner sex or masturbation.
We only visualised questions and answer options that had 100 or more respondents.
The survey was only conducted in English. Not everyone calls the same sex act by the same name, and there are many colloquial expressions for sexual behaviour. We were not able to obtain an adequate sample size of both gay men and gay women, so further studies should be done that give insight into these populations.
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