There are millions of sex experts out there, and not all of them have shows or columns to air their sex tips. They're called "women", and they're a hell of a lot more fun to talk to than your average doctor. They conduct all their research on their own bodies, and they're much more likely to let you in on the experimentation.
So here's what we did: we went to the women first and asked them what works best. Then we consulted the smartest sex docs around, so they could tell us why their sex tips worked.
"Great lovers don't memorise complicated techniques. They master the simple things that give women pleasure," says Lou Paget, a sex educator and author of How to Give Her Absolute Pleasure. Here's what she's asking for. The more you give, the more you get. Simple, right?
"When I'm about to climax during oral sex, my husband flicks his tongue really fast along the length of my clitoris. A few seconds of that and walls shake"
Why it works: most men think of the clitoris as just that little bud under the hood, but it actually extends deep inside a woman's body, explains Paget. When you flick your tongue quickly along its shaft, you're not only covering more territory, you're also creating vibrations that help carry your stimulation beyond the tongue's reach.
How to do it: the key here is to make sure that the clitoral hood is out of the way. Don't be afraid to pull it back gently and then make quick, darting motions with your tongue as far down along the tiny shaft as your tongue can go.
"I love it when my man makes circles around my breasts with his finger or tongue before coming in for a nipple landing"
Why it works: like the ripples that circle out when you throw a rock into a pond, concentric zones of sensitivity radiate outward from a woman's hot spots. "The area surrounding erogenous zones such as the nipples tends to be highly sensitive too," says Dr Linda DeVillers, a psychologist and author of LoveSkills.
How to do it: begin right at the point where her breast starts to rise from her chest, and spiral slowly inward with your fingertips until you reach the nipple. Once you hit the bull's-eye, suck and gently bite. To really tease her, try circling in until you just brush her nipple, then pulling back out for another tantalising spin.
"All of a sudden, without warning, my guy stops midthrust. Then he goes super slow, entering me inch by inch for a few minutes. It sets me off like nothing else!"
Why it works: the key to keeping her aroused is to keep her guessing. Predictability really takes away from pleasure, not to mention that, in the beginning, too much of the same sensation makes a woman go numb, says Paget. You don't have to do anything fancy to jumpstart her sensation; just stop. "Stopping and restarting a touch or a thrust builds on the previous sensation, and it lets you skip up a few rungs on the pleasure ladder," says Paget.
How to do it: pick a thrust and stop – you can be inside or halfway out or just have the head of your penis touching her vaginal lips. Catch her eye, pause for a few seconds, and start again. For maximum effect, resume thrusting in slow motion and build back up to speed gradually.
"Before we make love, my husband often stands in front of me after I've undressed and holds his fingertips right above my skin. He moves his hands all the way up and down my body. The sensation is unreal"
Why it works: positive anticipation is a huge part of what turns women on, says Dr Michael Seiler, sex therapist and director of the Phoenix Institute in Chicago. By levitating your fingers above the skin so they brush those fine body hairs, you're creating a delightful shiver up her spine and making her feel as though you appreciate every bit of her body.
How to do it: help her undress (another anticipation stoker); once she's naked, take her hand and stand facing her. Brush her hair back and let your fingertips hover over the surface of her skin. You're where you should be if the fat part of your fingerpad is touching her skin ever so slightly. Now go ahead and run your pads over her arms, breasts, belly and thighs.
"I love it when my boyfriend hums while giving me oral sex. And when he follows it up with very light finger taps, I detonate"
Why it works: there's a reason vibrators are so popular – anything that shakes, rattles or rolls primes a ton of nerves for peak sensation. "Any time you touch the skin with something vibrating, you transmit sensation to a wider area than you would through simple stroking," says Paget. So you're activating twice the nerves with half the work. "Top it off with a direct touch at the right time and to just the right place – in this case the clitoris – and you'll probably send her over the edge."
How to do it: relax your lips (think Mick Jagger) and hum a tune (think Brown Sugar). Bring the outermost portion of your lips in contact with the outside of her clitoris (the hood that covers the little nub) and her vaginal lips. Move your mouth around her clitoris – very slowly. When she can't take any more, tap gently and in a circular motion with your fingertip on the swollen nub of the clitoris; or give it a few long, languid licks, staying in contact the whole time.
"As he's thrusting, my guy presses hard with his hand right below my belly button. I have the most incredible orgasms"
Why it works: on the belly-side wall of her vaginal canal lurks a small zone of pleasure known as the G-spot. The reason many women don't think they have one of these secret pleasure buttons is that the G-spot responds only to firm pressure – and that may not occur during intercourse, explains Dr John D. Perry, a sex therapist. But pressing on her G-spot from the outside while you're thrusting inside can bring her pleasure place into fuller contact with your penis and trigger mind-blowing orgasms.
How to do it: since the exact location of the G-spot varies from woman to woman, you'll have to play it by feel. Start by gently pressing the heel of your hand into her belly button as you're thrusting. When she yells with pleasure, you'll know you've hit the target.
"My boyfriend has this amazing thing he does on my nipples, private parts and neck: he licks a small area and then blows on the wet patch. It creates these sexy tingles down my spine"
Why it works: remember blowing on soup to cool it off? The same principle governs the evaporation of liquid on skin: blow it and it cools. Couple the cooling trick with a warm lick and you've got a contrast that'll make her head spin. "The further apart two sensations are on a spectrum of feeling – hot/cold or hard/soft – the more intense they'll feel done in succession," says Paget.
How to do it: creating a wet spot with water is good, but wetting with alcohol is better. Since alcohol evaporates more quickly than water, it creates a cooler effect when you blow. So bring that glass of wine into the bedroom. Swish some around in your mouth and lick a choice spot. (Try her breasts first.) Then blow gently, give it a second and take a long, slow lick. Repeat as necessary.
"I love it when my man lightly bites my nipples while touching me down below. There's something about the combination that drives me crazy with pleasure"
Why it works: women and the sex experts who study them know there's often a direct sensory connection between the nipple and the genitals. "For many women, lightly biting or tweaking the nipples produces a tingle in their genitals, especially the clitoris," says Paget.
How to do it: the easiest approach is to lie side by side and bite her nipple while touching her down below. Don't be surprised if she drapes a leg over your side – that just means she wants you to go deeper.
"One night my husband and I were fooling around on the La-Z-Boy and he pulled up a footstool and knelt as I lay on the chair. Then he used the rocking of the recliner to help him thrust. Something about the back-and-forth motion heightened every sensation"
Why it works: adding something unpredictable, such as a rocking motion, can be highly erotic. "Surprise is almost always sexy – it's almost as though the rocking adds a fourth dimension to the experience," says sex therapist Dr Louanne Cole Weston. Also, any position in which you're lower than she is ups your chances of hitting her G-spot by helping to angle your penis towards her front (belly-side) vaginal wall.
How to do it: choose a recliner or rocking chair that's comfortable for her and a footstool or low table that puts you at the right thrusting height.
"When we're in the missionary position, my husband gets up high so his hips are above mine and enters me at a downward angle very, very slowly. Often he pauses midthrust and I have the most over-the-top orgasms"
Why it works: during typical thrusting, a woman's clitoris generally gets neglected. But when a man positions his hips above his partner's, he can thrust in such a way that his penile shaft remains in direct contact with her clitoris.
How to do it: from the standard missionary position, just push yourself forward with the balls of your feet and your toes so you're "riding high". (Your hipbones should be at least 2.5 centimetres above hers.) Then enter and start thrusting very slowly.
"When my husband gives me oral sex, he also enlists his finger to provide firm pressure deep inside. The combination feels unbelievably good"
Why it works: although it seems logical that the clitoris and the vagina would be hooked up on the same nerve network, they actually activate separate pleasure frequencies. That's why touching inside your partner's vagina with the fingers of one hand and her clitoris with the fingers of the other hand doubles the amount of pleasure she feels, says Paget. Bonus: many women like to feel "filled up" when they reach orgasm (having something to contract the vaginal muscles around increases sensation), so two fingers inside can make all the difference when she climaxes.
How to do it: start by touching or licking her clitoris. Once she's stimulated, put a finger in her vagina and give her a few firm strokes. When she's about to climax, add a second finger to give her more to flex against.
"I was with this guy who would pucker up his lips and seal them around my nipple. Then he'd alternately inhale and create a vacuum and exhale to put pressure on my breast. It was the most amazing feeling"
Why it works: just as alternating between hot and cold can heighten the effect of each, so can switching between pulling and pushing. "Pushing and pulling activate separate sets of nerves, so combining the two effectively doubles the pleasure she feels," Paget says.
How to do it: the key here is to be gentle – then increase the intensity. Once you've taken a few spins, pucker up your lips and apply them so you create a gentle seal around her nipple. Then take in air from your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Now suck in through your mouth. Repeat, and keep increasing the intensity.
Related: 12 Sex Secrets Women Wished You Knew
"My boyfriend puts me in orbit when he gives me oral sex. It's not his technique per se, or some quirky aspect of his tongue that has me mesmerised – it's the way he seems to savour every minute of it"
Why it works: one of a woman's greatest fears can be how she smells or tastes below the belt. Allay that fear and everything else you do will be golden. "When we know he's totally into it, that alone takes us to another level of pleasure," says Paget.
How to do it: catch her eye in the midst of the action, moan, or simply tell her how much you're loving what you're doing.
"My boyfriend turned me crosswise on the bed the other night so that my head fell over the edge. I thought he was nuts – until I had my biggest orgasm ever"
Why it works: any time you turn your head upside down, you'll feel a rush as blood pours in and oxygen is depleted. "And this head rush, combined with physical pleasure, can heighten orgasm for some women," says Seiler.
How to do it: have her lie on her back across the bed, with her head and shoulders dangling over the edge. (Make sure she keeps as much of her lower back on the mattress as possible, and stop if she gets too light-headed.) Enter her slowly, and show restraint when you thrust – you don't want to knock her onto the floor.
"My man puts a pillow under my bum before we get going in the missionary position. It tips me in such a way that every thrust feels a million times better and I climax very quickly"
Why it works: when it comes to thrusting, angle is everything – when your penis slides in at just the right slant, it tickles her clitoris and makes solid contact with her G-spot. Since the G-spot is on the front (belly-side) wall of her vagina, anything that tips her pelvis back makes that hot-spot contact more likely. That same pelvic tilt also raises the clitoris, putting it in a better position to come in contact with your penile shaft.
How to do it: as you're moving into the missionary position, slide one pillow (start with a fairly flat one underneath your partner) right where her lower back meets her bum. Let her fiddle with it until she's comfortable, then thrust as usual. Don't be surprised if your efforts produce more pleasure than you bargained for.