A sex and relationships therapist wants you to know the sex advice she follows herself

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    So, you’re on the hunt for sex advice. There’s blogs, books, heck, even sex influencers now… but how do you know what advice is legit and what’s, well, not?

    By making sure the top tips you’re paying attention too are from a qualified pro, that’s how. We’ve been chatting to doctor Laura Vowels, a sex and relationships therapist and researcher at sex therapy app Blueheart, on the most important bits of advice she normally gives out to her clients – and practices herself.

    A bit like our edit of the best sex apps, and guides to tantric sex, bondage for beginners and sex dream meanings, this expert-led piece has got all the tips you need for a seriously steamy sex session.

    Vowels is an ICEEFT certified emotionally-focused (EFT) therapist and a PhD researcher at the University of Southampton so trust us when we say – you’re in good hands.

    Sex advice: A couple walking along holding hands and kissing

    So, can sex advice boost your sex life? 

    It obviously depends on the individual and, in turn, the couple.

    Relate charity report that sex therapy has helped 93% of couples who’ve used the service. While reading sex advice isn’t a replacement for actual IRL therapy, it’s certainly a step in that direction.

    What does Vowels reckon? “As a sex and relationships therapist, I’ve advised hundreds of couples on how they can improve their sex lives,” she shares. “While there’s certainly no right or wrong way to have sex, there are a few universal principles that can help almost everyone enjoy a healthier and more fulfilling sex life.”

    Like…? Below is the advice that Vowels often given to her clients – and that she likes to follow herself.

    Sex advice from a pro: 6 top tips

    1. Stop kink and fetish shaming

    Ever confided in a partner or friend-with-benefits figure only to be teased or mocked for your sexual fantasy? Yeah, it’s happened to the best of us. It’s important not too, though – sex should be a safe, judgement-free zone, according to the therapist.

    “If your partner is comfortable enough with you to share their kinks and fetishes, the worst thing you can do is judge them,” she explains. “Passing judgement will only damage the safe space that you’ve both created in your relationship, and it can also hurt their feelings or prompt them to feel shame or embarrassment about their desires.”

    Try this: Encourage your partner to be honest with you when it comes to their kinks and fetishes, and don’t pass judgement if it’s not something you’re into, Vowels advises. “It’s ultimately a joint decision as to whether you feel comfortable engaging in their kinks (this isn’t an obligation in any relationship, and you won’t necessarily find the same things pleasurable). But at least be open to hearing about them and accepting them without judgement.”

    “Discussing them openly might even help you to discover sexual desires that you didn’t know you had.”

    This advice is invaluable because…

    Exploring what turns your partner on is a great way to please them sexually, or so says the expert. “You also might find that you enjoy what they enjoy, which can bring you closer and lead to enhanced sexual pleasure as well as a deeper bond between you both.”

    “Not to mention, being open to what they like will encourage them to be more open to your desires and wants.” Winner, winner.

    Sex advice: A shot of an unmade bed

    2. Share what turns you on

    Sounds simple, isn’t so much in the moment sometimes. “Expressing what turns you on and appeals to you sexually can sometimes be scary because it makes us feel vulnerable, but as long as you trust your partner, sharing what truly appeals to your sexual nature can enhance sex for both of you,” shares Vowels.

    Note here – just because you have shared something, doesn’t create an obligation for your partner or you to do anything they don’t want to do, she says. “But being open and honest creates connection and intimacy in a relationship, and being clear on what you both like can also help you get the most out of sex, making it a more pleasurable experience for you both as you confidently press each other’s buttons.”

    This advice is invaluable because…

    It’s invaluable for making sex more fulfilling. “Your partner can learn to please you, making sex generally better as you both work to achieve what works for you. It can also bring a greater sense of intimacy to your relationship when you’re honest with your partner,” she explains.

    3. Don’t be afraid to use sex toys, alone or with a partner

    So you’ve stocked up on sex toys, even opting for some eco-friendly sex toys and sex toys designed specifically for men, too. What now? Time to get to work, says Vowels.

    “I find that sex toys are often wrongly seen as a means of pleasure that only single women use, but actually, couples and men should be more open-minded about using sex toys,” she explains. “When it comes to using sex toys in a relationship, men can often worry that their partner won’t enjoy sex without toys and might become dependent on using them, which isn’t true.”

    Top tip: Opt for couples sex toys designed to enhance both partners’ pleasure. Plus, remember: just because you use sex toys one day, doesn’t mean you have to use them every single time you have sex.

    “The most important thing is not to let the stigma deter you from incorporating sex toys into your sex life,” stresses Vowels.

    “If you want too, do, if you don’t, don’t: using toys can be a great way to explore your bodies together and discover fun new ways to enjoy sex with your partner, but there’s no pressure.”

    This advice is invaluable because…

    Keeping an open mind is key when it comes to sex advice. “Sex toys can create a sense of excitement and a new means of pleasure, and forgetting the taboos and stigma that come with using sex toys can also be sexually liberating for both of you,” says Vowels.

    Ready to embrace the fun?

    Sex advice: Romantic young couple kissing in bed

    4. Remember: less sex doesn’t = a bad sex life

    One of the most damaging myths Vowels shares that she regularly encounters? The idea that not having as much sex means your sex life is bad. “This simply isn’t true,” she emphasises.

    “In life, we go through ebbs and flows,” she explains. “You might find yourself wanting to have sex three or four times a week one week, and the next week not wanting sex at all.”

    You and your partner might also connect and experience intimacy in other ways that don’t involve penetrative sex, she goes on. Plus, note that how often you have sex depends on a range of factors, including:

    • Business
    • Stress
    • Anxiety
    • Mental health
    • Being on the pill
    • Your menstrual cycle
    • Major life events

    “These will no doubt affect your sexual desire and the frequency of sex,” explains Vowels.

    “Be mindful and don’t put pressure on yourself – the value of your relationship and your connection with your partner can never be measured by sex alone.”

    This advice is invaluable because…

    “Pressurising yourself to have sex when you don’t want to is unhealthy both mentally and physically,” she shares. “If you don’t want to have sex you may experience issues climaxing or getting turned on.”

    Top tip: Be honest with yourself and accept that sometimes you will want sex, and other times you won’t. Simple.

    5. Re-think your desires 

    Hands up if you’ve fallen into the trap of thinking what pleases you sexually stays the same forever? Again, this isn’t true, or so says the therapist.

    “Over time, our desires change. It’s important to make sure we’re exploring ourselves and our partners to keep things exciting and work out what feels good now,” Vowels explains.

    Try this: try new sex positions, role-playing, Kamasutra or reading erotic fiction. “They’re all fun ways to discover new sexual preferences and behaviours that you might not have considered before.”

    This advice is invaluable because…

    Being sexually curious and exploring new things can make sex more enjoyable and pleasurable – simple. “Relying on the same sexual behaviours to help you enjoy sex can sometimes lead you to lose interest in sex, so don’t be afraid to spice things up,” Vowels reccomends.

    Sex advice: Russia, Moscow, multiracial couple embracing and holding hands

    6. Practise the Sensate Focus technique

    Ever heard of it? Don’t worry – we hadn’t either. “Sensate Focus teaches you and your partner to be more mindful of your intimate experiences, and eventually help you achieve more pleasurable sexual experiences,” explains Vowels. “It can also help to reduce any anxiety associated with sexual situations.”

    A similar wavelength to tantric sex sensate focus sessions involve exploring both your own body and your partner’s body through touching without a goal of having to engage in intercourse or to have an orgasm, the therapist explains.

    “This means that you focus on sensations such as texture, pressure and temperature, whilst learning techniques to help you ignore negative, intrusive thoughts that might occur during intimacy, such as wondering how you look naked or thinking about that presentation at work,” she goes on.

    Struggle to stay present during sex? This one’s for you.

    This advice is invaluable because…

    Although you probably wouldn’t have guessed it, so many people struggle with intrusive thoughts during sex and can sometimes feel a pressure to climax during sex, shares the therapist. “Sensate Focus takes this pressure away and encourages you and your partner to focus on feelings and enjoy being in the moment.”

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