One can be fun
Here at Cosmo, we've even got our term for this-it's musturbation. If you don't know what makes you feel good, how the heck will he? And just because you're in a couple doesn't mean you should ease up on some solo pleasure. Dr Ian Kerner, sex counsellor and author of She Comes First, says, "I find couples with healthy sex lives masturbate more because their testosterone levels are up and they're generally more aroused; it's nothing to feel weird about." And like normal sex, going solo can get repetitive, so test your likes and dislikes with a seven-day challenge where you road test a different way of arousing yourself each day-with a toy, without one, with a sexy book, while stroking your breasts... We'll let you decide the rest.
Orgasms are worth pursuing
According to one of our most recent sex surveys conducted online, one in five of Cosmo readers would like to have more orgasms, and nearly 10 percent of you never orgasm while having sex. Sonia Borg, author of Oral Sex She'll Never Forget, helps clients who struggle to orgasm and she says all too often, women don't devote the time and the space to working out exactly what turns them on.
"It's extremely important to identify the exact things that arouse you," explains Sonia. "I always suggest getting yourself a small box and then filling it with all the things that make you feel sexy-like fabrics, candles, fragrances, toys, feathers, music, whatever. These things will become your personal sex anchors so you can shortcut your way to arousal. So, for example, Norah Jones' music is in my sexy box and it instantly turns me on."
But if you find your orgasm triggers don't help, Dr Ian says you shouldn't panic-in fact, it's really quite common for women to only hit their stride as they get older, "when they truly feel comfortable in their own skin and in their relationship, and when they don't feel inhibited about saying what they want and how they want it." Basically, your sex life is only going to get better. Cheers to that.
Fantasies are there to be fulfilled
If you enjoy having a sneaky think about your boss while you're getting it on with your boyfriend, don't (we repeat don't) feel guilty. According to Dr Ian, fantasies are scientifically necessary to feeling turned on. He explains, "There's increasing evidence that shows women need to be able to disconnect from their everyday concerns in order to be aroused-switching off to turn on, as it were."
Fantasies are the perfect way of achieving this as they let us escape into thoughts we wouldn't normally entertain.
"I've always fantasised about bondage, of being controlled by my partner in bed," says Kanika, 30. "But while I thought of it a lot, I didn't have the courage to tell my husband. Then one night, we were both a little tipsy, and I blurted out my fantasy. I was surprised at how keen my husband was to try it, and later that week, we did. That night, we both had the best sex ever. We spoke about it afterwards, and he said he really enjoyed it, and couldn't wait to do it again. Turning my bondage fantasy into reality was amazing, and it's done wonders for my sex life."
You and he won't always want it the same amount
First the facts: your sex drive is constantly fluid and prone to fluctuate. Therefore you won't always want it when he does, and he might not be in the mood when you're raring to go. Deal with it.
Dr Ian says, "Sex isn't just a light switch you can turn on and off-couples tend to think that you shouldn't have to put much effort in it, but you absolutely have to put it at the top of your to-do list and make time for it. If your libido is flagging and you want to want sex more often, then try going through the moves-kissing, hugging and snuggling, having a bath together and so on. Quite often, when you put your body through these motions, your mind will follow very willingly."
However, if your libidos are still mismatched, don't assume you are mismatched as a couple. "Having a satisfying sex life starts with enjoying spending time together outside the bedroom," adds Dr Ian. In other words, get emotionally intimate and the physical intimacy will follow.
You can talk your way to better sex
For the lucky few, talking 'dirty' is the most natural thing in the world-the bad words and saucy demands come flying out like an order in a Chinese restaurant. But don't get panicky if you find talking about what you want in the bedroom rather more awkward. The trick, according to Dr Ian, is to just do it-the quicker you get into the habit of talking about sex, the easier it will become, and you'll both reach a whole new level of honesty and intimacy, he says.
"You may worry that saying exactly what you want will end up in damaging your partner's ego, but you can say it in a way that's constructive," suggests Dr Ian. "Make it clear that you want a great sex life as much as he does-be positive about the relationship and he shouldn't have a problem. And be direct: 'I want to try this position because it will help me orgasm'. He can't argue with that!"
Batteries are a girl's best friend
So we've covered the uninhibited joys of masturbation, but life without a sex toy is like going to the cinema and skipping the popcorn-you're missing part of the fun. First off, vibrators can offer something no man ever could-repeated vibrations at constant pressure and breakneck speed. "There's not a man in the world who can move his tongue that fast," says Sonia, "so if you haven't tried it, you really must." And if your man is a bit put out by your using a vibrator, reassure him that it's not a replacement lover-it's a totally different sensation. "I always tell men, 'Your lover is going to be off the charts if she likes to masturbate with a vibrator and you should make the most of it'," adds Sonia.
And anyway-who said anything about you and your toy having an exclusive relationship? Resting a small bullet-shape vibe beneath his balls on his perineum will send jolts of electricity towards his prostate gland-the closest thing he has to a G spot.
Life is better with lube
A lot of people are into lube. Our sisters at US Cosmo talk about it constantly in their magazine (they even have their own recipe for it) and we have to admit, we understand why. Lube intensifies the most crucial sensation of all-friction. Use it when stimulating him with your hands and get him to return the favour with a generous squeeze. Why not try some fruity flavours for an extra zing? Just make sure that if you're using condoms, you don't go for lubes that are oil-based, like Vaseline, as these have a tendency to weaken the rubber. Check the label before you buy.
Put yourself in his place
If you were in possession of a penis, what would be going through your mind as you went to bed with you? Odds are, you wouldn't be thinking about getting the car serviced... "Men," says Dr Ian, "have no problem focusing on what's happening in front of their eyes." A quarter of you say you feel self- conscious in bed. That's a lot of you worrying about squelchy noises and wobbly bits-things that he won't be bothered with because they're a normal part of sex. "Don't think, 'Oh, he doesn't know what to do to make me orgasm,' " says Sonia. "That's bullsh*t-take responsibility for your own arousal." That means believing you deserve to be satisfied, devoting time to your satisfaction and explaining what you want from him. Remember those three rules and you will become the sex kitten you always knew you were.