Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 6/4/2021
For much of the internet and newsstand world, better sex is a driving force. Everyone wants better sex, whether they’re having some, none or tons.
Better sex isn’t something that should be optimized, though — it’s about a deepened physical connection with one (or multiple) partners.
Because of that, there’s no magic pill to suddenly make sex 50 times better. What will make sex better is practice, communication, patience and taking care of your health.
Maybe those aren’t the kind of buzz words that will sell magazines, but they’re the things that are going to take your bedtime activities to the next level.
Before we dive into all the things you can do to improve your sex life though, it’s a good idea to assess what the problems are.
Are you unsatisfied? Is your partner? How do you know? Have you talked about it?
Satisfaction and communication are deeply linked — not communicating effectively with your partner is possibly the number one underlying cause of most intimacy problems.
Communicating is easier said than done though, particularly if you’re worried about whether your partner will be welcoming or judgmental of your wants or needs.
Perhaps it’s understandable. Everybody has different needs in life and in the bedroom.
Your partner or partners may be more wild or more mild than you, and finding that common ground can be a pretty anxiety-inducing experience sometimes.
But on the other hand, if you’re failing to articulate your needs (or they, theirs), you’re only robbing yourselves of a better time. Voicing immediate needs — harder, faster, slower, softer — is a seemingly simple problem to some, and an obstacle to people who are a little more reserved in the bedroom.
But communication isn’t something you can avoid.
A 2018 study found significant links between satisfaction (orgasm frequency) and communication.
They concluded that sexual communication has broad-ranging implications for sexual satisfaction in committed relationships.
Communication is also important for the opposite problem — that is, pain or discomfort during sex.
We’re not talking about candle wax here and nipple clamps here, either. Painful or uncomfortable penetration is a serious issue for women especially.
The condition, called dyspareunia, is essentially an all-inclusive name for painful penetrative sex.
Painful sex can be attributed to a handful of causes, included inadequate arousal (not enough foreplay) or inadequate lubrication.
These are things you and your partner need to communicate about, and the bad news is that the responsibility may be on you to take the first step in bridging that gap.
If the relationship is important to you, and one or both of you are unsatisfied, it’s worth the effort.
Communicating can be a profoundly impactful tool for finding new levels of intimacy, satisfaction, and connection, but there’s more everyone can do. We’ve compiled a list.
Okay. You understand how important communication is. As far as we’re concerned, we can pack this one up right now and call it a day.
Right? Wrong, fellas — there’s a hell of a lot more at stake here than just learning how to pillow talk properly.
It may be obvious now, but one of the best things you can do to improve your sex life is learning.
And to keep learning after that.
Learning is a never-ending pursuit, and when done alongside a partner it can help both of you explore issues and questions that might be causing some conflict.
Plus, let’s not forget that every partner is different. Like a snowflake, but with sex.
Education is another way to broach subjects that are difficult to talk about — you can share articles, passages and materials without having to, you know, say it out loud.
Both men and women can benefit from kegels — exercises of the pelvic floor muscles.
Essentially, you’re flexing the muscles that you would use to stop urinating. Your goal is to tighten them for two seconds to three seconds, for 10 reps.
Harvard Medical School recommends approximately five sets a day. You can do them anywhere, so there aren’t any excuses.
We have more kegel pro-tips in our guide, Kegels Are The Workout You’ve Been Missing — yes, we said it, and damn it, we stand by it.
Every issue of Cosmopolitan has probably mentioned this, but trying new things is what helps keep your sex life interesting and gives it forward momentum.
But there’s an added benefit to trying new things: finding ways to deepen your pleasure, and your partner’s.
Different positions may stimulate different erogenous zones, like the G-spot and prostate.
You may find a new favorite in the exploration.
The possibilities are endless.
It may scare some people to bring sex toys (like this penis vibrator) into the bedroom, but for heterosexual men, inviting a toy into your intimate space may help you satisfy your partner in ways you didn’t know were possible. Some sex toys may even help with ED.
It may help your partner achieve orgasm more quickly, more easily or more intensely.
Think of it as a teammate, rather than a competitor.
This advice gets batted around on sex advice blogs, but it’s actually valuable to communicate things to a partner on paper — especially if communicating is proving difficult for you or your partner/s.
Sharing a favorite movie scene, act or fetish may arouse your partner, but at the very least it may help people have a framework for what to do to please a partner, or have their partner please them.
We’re not telling you to hop on the good feelings train here — having patience and compassion for yourself and your partner is the key to achieving your goals.
Especially as you age, sexual responses can slow down.
Declining hormone levels can reduce function, and so it might just take a little longer to get where you want to be.
The same is true of other things besides aging.
Point being: you and whoever you’re sleeping with are human.
You have flaws, you’re not machines and you may need time, medical help or deepened trust connections to function the way you dream about functioning.
Something that can help with this is remembering simply to relax.
Deep breathing exercises and yoga may not be what you consider foreplay, but doing some before things kick off in the bedroom may help you maintain some control over things like performance anxiety.
There are some underlying causes of sexual performance issues that may need more than practice and patience from a partner.
Things like erectile dysfunction often need medical attention, if only for a healthcare professional. to help assess the root cause and set you on the appropriate treatment course.
Desire disorders, for instance, leave you without any desire for sexual activity. It can come from anything — stress, anxiety, or performance issues in the past.
And men with ED can lose interest in sexual activity, if only to avoid further embarrassment.
Another thing that can cause issues is premature ejaculation: ejaculating before orgasm or before penetration.
A healthcare professional may recommend a variety of treatments, including SSRIs and numbing agents.
ED can definitely be the result of physiological factors: diet, drug use, weight, blood pressure and alcohol intake can all cause it.
If we can leave you with one parting piece of wisdom, it’s this: everything really does come back to communication, at the end of the day.
Whether you and your partner need to communicate more effectively, or whether your best course of action is addressing these problems with a healthcare professional, your next step is definitely a conversation.
Talk to your partner. Be vulnerable, be open and frame the conversation to make it clear to them that you’re talking from a place of desire, for them and for more. Sincerity is your best asset.
And worry not — there’s a chance your partner has a lot of the same feelings, and maybe some of the same desires.
Healthcare professionals are another story: what you’ll want to share with them are the physical and mental problems you’ve noticed in your intimacy.
They may prescribe medications, lifestyle changes, or refer you to a therapy professional.
All of these things are good, because they’re the next task on a to-do list to achieve a more satisfying sex life. To continue reading check out our blog on more sex tips for men.