We scoured the latest studies, grilled dozens of experts and polled more than 700 women to come up with this enlightening list of 12 rules guaranteed to make you a better lover – tonight.
1. Greater Focus Leads to Hotter Sex
What's the best way to unlock a woman's wildest desires in bed?
"Passion," said 42 per cent of the women we surveyed.
"That means being in the moment and not being distracted," says Dr Joel Block, a psychologist and the author of Secrets of Better Sex. "Sex is a conversation, and she doesn't want to feel like you wish you had your iPhone."
A woman takes attendance during sex in many ways, and the strongest signal you can send comes from your mouth. More than 90 per cent of women we surveyed said a man's primal panting turns them on.
But use words over Tarzan grunts, if you can.
"You want to reassure her, 'Do that more', 'That feels so good' or 'Oh, I love that', " says Dr Logan Levkoff, a sexologist and the author of Third Base Ain't What It Used to Be. Beyond giving her a confidence boost, the extra-sensory seduction intensifies the experience.
Nonverbal communication is important too.
Bursts of eye contact, lip nibbles and any other kind of physical or verbal communication shows her she's the one pushing your buttons, not some fantasy fembot in your head.
If the soulful eye lock's not for you, bury your face in her neck, run the tip of your tongue from her collarbone to her earlobe, and whisper why she's driving you crazy.
2. Foreplay Can Be the Main Event
"'Foreplay' is a terrible word because it implies that it's leading to something more important," says sexuality counsellor Dr Beverly Whipple, a co-author of The G Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality. "You'll both have more fun if you think of it as sex play and make it about discovering and enjoying each other, not just reaching the finish line."
The women we surveyed agreed: two in five said their last orgasm occurred during foreplay itself, not intercourse.
What's more, when asked to rank their partners' bedroom skills, the women's top two complaints were a lack of sexual creativity and subpar manual sex skills, in that order. Ouch.
Your move? Tell her you want to go three sack sessions sans penetration.
Ditching the same old script – foreplay, sex, cuddling – will help your creative instincts spring to life.
Bonus: sexual novelty re-creates those early relationship, let's-do-it-now hormones, says psychiatrist Dr Daniel Amen, the author of Sex on the Brain: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life.
3. Pleasure Isn't Satisfaction
The good news is you can give a woman both.
In a Kinsey Institute study, women and men agreed that sex without condoms feels better – but women said using protection actually helps them feel more satisfied overall in the sack.
Even those using hormonal birth-control methods felt the effect: when they used condoms, they reported a 17.5 per cent higher rate of overall satisfaction with their sex lives.
Why? This one's a no-brainer. When women worry less (say, about STIs), they enjoy themselves more.
4. "Gentle" Means More Than That
"That word is a woman's code telling you to be more sensitive to her cues," says Block. The more nerve-dense the hot spot is on a woman's body, the more careful your approach should be.
Clitoral contact in particular feels abrasive without a proper warm-up, says Lou Paget, a sex educator and the author of How to Be a Great Lover.
If a woman yips or inhales suddenly when you go there, instead of purring or moaning, you've jumped the gun.
Use indirect stimulation first, paying careful attention to her reactions as a guide.
The nerve-packed clitoris actually extends several centimetres under the skin on either side of her vagina (like a wishbone), which means you can massage it without direct pressure to the bud. Trace the extensions with flat, wide, extra-wet tongue strokes or slow finger zigzags. (Don't forget lube.) Then rub a slow spiral around the top, drawing closer with each pass.
The combo of anticipation and indirect contact will bring her pleasure centres to life.
If she coos, you've found her sweet spot. If she fidgets or gasps, take a step back.
5. Climate Is Crucial For Climax
Egyptian cotton and dimmer switches can't hurt, but your love chamber's thermostat is just as important, according to Dutch sex researchers.
"At the beginning of our trials, only 50 per cent of our female subjects were able to reach orgasm," says study author Dr Gert Holstege, chairman of the Centre for Uroneurology at the University of Groningen. "But we learned they were uncomfortable because they had cold feet. We gave them socks and 80 per cent reached orgasm."
The socks aren't the secret, though.
"The amygdala and prefrontal cortex, the brain areas responsible for anxiety, fear and danger signals, strongly decrease their activation during orgasm," says Holstege. "A pleasant environment, which includes the room temperature, is an important part of making her feel safe, secure and comfortable."
"Imagine the ideal day at the beach," says Tristan Taormino, director of Vivid Entertainment's porn series Chemistry. "You want it just warm enough that she's happy to shed a layer or two, but not so hot that you'll end up drenched once you exert yourself."
6. Positions Need a Purpose
"There's no need to be overly fancy during sex – the very best positions are the ones that focus on the clitoris," says Levkoff.
Want to amp up her pleasure without risking a hamstring cramp? Ditch the flesh pretzel for these modified standards. They're all designed to boost stimulation to her clitoris, which has even more nerve endings than the head of your penis.
- Missionary: instead of in-and-out thrusting, "have her grind against you in circles", says sex expert Tracey Cox, author of Secrets of a Supersexpert. "Keep as much of the base of your penis in contact with her outer lips as possible." Another option: place two or three pillows under her bum to lift it off the bed at an angle. You'll rub against her more when thrusting.
- Girl on Top: make a V with two fingers, and place it so the point of the V (just between the two knuckles) is directly over her clitoris. Your fingers should come down on either side of your penis as she rides you. "This will stimulate the clitoris, inner labia and urethra – as well as add intensity for you," Cox says.
- Doggy Style: "Have her lift her bum up or spread out your legs to move down and touch the supersensitive vaginal wall," Cox says. Then reach around to play with her clitoris using your fingers. (Use a small vibrator for extra intensity.) For over-the-top stimulation of her most nerve-packed parts, "keep thrusting short and shallow, rather than deep and fast", says Cox.
7. Club Orgasm Isn't "Members Only"
Only one in five women we surveyed said their last orgasm came during penetration. "Most younger women want their partners to slow down and use their hands and mouths more," explains Australian sex researcher Dr Juliet Richters, who surveyed more than 19,000 people for her book Doing It Down Under.
In her survey, more than 90 per cent of women were able to reach orgasm when their partners used only oral and manual stimulation. Here's the rub: 52 per cent of the women we surveyed said they've made a guy stop because they were afraid of taking too long.
So how can you be sure she's not letting you off easy? "Say 'I love doing this, I could do this all day. Are you sure you want me to stop?'" Whipple says.
If you're the one worried about 20-plus minutes of exhausting tongue-lapping, though, "don't go faster – it won't make her reach orgasm sooner", Cox says. "If anything, slow down. The gentler and slower and more consistent you are, the quicker she'll arrive."
Another option: enlist help. A small vibrator on her clitoris and your moist lips everywhere else should do the job.
8. Don't End Quickies With "Thanks!"
Only half of all women can reach orgasm when sex lasts 10 minutes or less, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. "That means during a quickie, you'll probably finish and she won't," says Levkoff.
If she doesn't orgasm, make sure you'll have access to future rapid-fire sessions by saying, "Later tonight, it's going to be all about you".
Then follow through on that promise. Leave her hanging too many times and she won't stick around for long.
9. The G-Spot Has Friends. Find Them
You're goal-oriented. Good.
But the G-spot and the clitoris aren't the only bull's-eyes.
"The most recent anatomical research suggests that the clitoris is perhaps better described as the 'clitoral complex'. where the vagina, urethra and clitoris all function as a unit rather than as individual parts," explains Kinsey Institute researcher Dr Debby Herbenick.
Try working that clitoral complex by hitting multiple hot spots at once. Some researchers believe there's something called an A-spot, located far inside the vagina on the side closest to her belly button.
"Stroke this spot and she'll lubricate almost instantly," Cox says. "Put one lubed finger into her vagina as far as it will comfortably go. Use the whole length of your finger to explore the front wall of her vagina."
Now triple the sensation: place both index and middle finger inside her, and stick out your thumb like you're hitchhiking. It'll pull your fingers more snugly against her vaginal walls, stimulating both A-spot and G-spot simultaneously.
Then use your thumb to also stimulate her clitoris, and gently twist your hand.
10. "Ready" Is All Relative
"Just because a woman is lubricated doesn't mean she's ready for sex," says Richters.
Your woman's real prime time comes once she reaches a phase of arousal called "uterine tenting".
It's just like it sounds: the uterus backs out of the way and the vagina grows in length by as much as 2.5cm.
"You'll experience deeper penetration, and the vagina will provide an intense grip to the head of your penis," says Dr Barbara Keesling, a lecturer on human sexuality and the author of Men in Bed. "The orgasms are incredible."
Keesling says the best position is the butterfly: "Have her lie on her back and pull her knees up to her shoulders, tilting her pelvis so her vagina points up almost to the ceiling," she says.
Since tenting can take anywhere from 30 seconds to, well, forever, focus on synchronising the stimulation between your penis and her outer lips before entering her.
Lie pressed against each other with your penis snug between her legs, allowing her to slide and rub against you while you use your hands and mouth elsewhere. The warm, slick and firm contact will bring her to a boil in no time.
11. Want to Have Sex? Do the Dishes
"If a woman is distracted by anything – work, lack of sleep, chores, a fight she had with a friend – it can interfere with her arousal," says Whipple.
Seven in 10 women we surveyed said helping around the home was a turn-on, but men do only about 30 per cent of the chores, according to the US-based Council on Contemporary Families.
12. Don't Make Orgasm Your Only Goal
Desperation sinks her sex drive: a 2008 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that stress about sexual performance significantly decreases female arousal.
"Whatever you do, don't look up and ask, 'Are you close?' or 'Did you come?'" Whipple says. "It's distracting, and it adds unnecessary pressure."
See if you're on the right track by asking questions such as, "Do you like that?" and "Should I keep doing that?" instead.
And if you're waiting for her to reach orgasm during penetration, it's sometimes better to finish first, rather than holding out for half an hour.
"Women don't have orgasms every time, and they know it's not necessarily their partner's fault," Whipple says.
So take turns, Levkoff says. "You can always go back and use your hands and fingers to please her, if she's still turned on."