A lot goes into great sex: affection, attraction, anticipation, location, surprise, and much more. To spur your imagination, we spoke to seven women who shared their sexiest, most mind-blowing experiences, then asked experts to help us understand what you can learn from them.
"Our co-workers could have caught us in the act."
This new guy and I had been casually flirting on the job for a couple of weeks. We worked at a photo studio that shot models and clothes and lifestyle products. One of my chores was to manage the product closet. One day I was inside cataloging when my crush came by to chat. We started joking around . . . and the next thing I knew he was kissing me. The closet connected to a conference room, so I quickly shut the door. It wasn't too long before our clothes started hitting the floor. He'd just peeled off my pants when I heard voices. We froze. My boss had come into the conference room with some co-workers, apparently for a meeting. The guy stared at me. I stared back. Trapped! So why not? We picked up where we left off. The thrill was insane: a new guy, a crazy new experience, the risk of discovery. Even better was trying to be quiet. When I was about to climax, he gave me his shirt to bite down on. It smelled like his cologne, and my orgasm was seismic.
– ANGELA, 32
WHY IT WORKED
The fear of being caught sends a gusher of adrenaline and endorphins through your system, heightening the passion, says Dr Jenn Gunsaullus, a sociologist and intimacy counsellor. But there's a subtler kick too: fooling around in secret makes you both feel that you're sharing a special bond – and that connection can linger after the act.
Maybe humping in the break room isn't a career risk worth taking. So draw out the anticipation by limiting workplace escapades to kissing, touching, rubbing – everything but the big finale, Gunsaullus says. Stopping at a PG rating until later is the kind of slow-build foreplay that many women love. The thrill of arousal in a public place will make the later release more intense.
"For the first time, I knew exactly what he wanted."
A few months ago I was in bed with my husband when, in the middle of foreplay, he started making a bunch of requests. "Breathe into my ear," he said. "Now run your hand down my chest." Sure, we'd given each other pointers before, but we didn't really talk that much during sex. Now to hear my husband actually ask for something specific? That was new – and incredibly sexy. It gave everything he was doing to me a much greater sense of intention. When he asked for a certain kind of kiss or touch, everything felt more deliberate and meaningful. And as a result, the sex was better than ever. Talking our way through it made me feel as if we weren't just frolicking in our separate sexual worlds, but rather acting in concert to create a mutually pleasurable experience.
– STEPHANIE, 28
WHY IT WORKED
She craves your feedback in bed. It's partly because of evolution, says Dr Paul Hokemeyer, a family and relationship therapist. "Women require more communication in order to ensure they're in a safe relationship rather than a high-risk or dangerous one."
Start with simple requests, like "Kiss me" or "Come closer", before telling her what you like down below, says sex adviser Dr Debby Herbenick. If she speaks up or guides you, go with it. That shows you care about her pleasure too.
"I'd never tried a threesome, but I was open to the idea."
A friends-with-benefits guy I know asked me if I was open to a threesome with another woman. I was curious, so he arranged a dinner at his apartment. When the woman walked in, I was blown away: skintight sweater dress, tall boots, flowing curly hair. At that moment, I knew what it felt like to be a teenage boy. I just wanted her. I was nervous as we got into bed, but she'd clearly done this before. She asked: "Do you like to be licked or sucked?" Um, both? I started kissing my friend, and then she came over and kissed me. Meanwhile, my friend was touching my breasts. There were so many possibilities. It was such a turn-on to have sex with my friend while she watched, and then to have sex with her while he watched. This was sex amplified. Everything felt a hundred times more intense.
– JEMMA, 37
WHY IT WORKED
People who are open to trying new things in bed report the highest levels of sexual satisfaction, Herbenick says. And, according to Gunsaullus, a willingness to negotiate risky boundaries can bring you closer together.
Work out the details of a threesome ahead of time, Gunsaullus says. Discuss boundaries, and consider leaving close friends out of it; a 2012 Canadian study found who women experienced greater physical arousal at the idea of having sex with strangers than at the thought of having sex with friends.
"I bent over the sink and he pulled up my skirt."
I was washing the dishes after a romantic dinner but really hoping he'd interrupt. I was wearing my sexy best – thigh-high stockings and a short skirt – and was horny as hell. When he came into the kitchen and slipped his arms around my waist, I was up to my elbows in suds. He held me tight and kissed the back of my neck. I bent over the sink and he pulled up my skirt. I gave him permission. I wanted him to control me, and that's what made everything so incredibly sexy.
– REBECCA, 38
WHY IT WORKED
This is really about helping her feel safe enough to let herself go and live in the moment, says Herbenick. When you trust each other, she knows you want to make the experience as much about her pleasure as yours.
Act on her signals – like when she's wearing especially sexy attire, Herbenick says. In a close relationship, you can be impulsive about taking control and seeing how it feels – if she's into it. Afterward, talk about what she liked, didn't like, or might change.
"It was incredibly sensual. We'd never felt closer."
It was around 4am, and my husband and I were standing in the bedroom of a secluded cabin in the country. We'd been married for only a couple of hours and, to be honest, neither of us had planned on having sex that night. Our friends had warned us, saying we'd be too tired and drunk. And they weren't wrong. I was fully prepared to just fall asleep. But then he started helping me off with my dress. It was complicated – all the hooks and buttons and zippers. It wasn't a striptease. He was careful and gentle, and he kept stopping to kiss me. I was just so happy to be undressing in front of my husband. And it felt different than all the other times I'd been naked in front of him. Usually when we have sex, it's light and playful. We crack a lot of jokes. But this was slow and serious, and when we looked at each other and touched each other, I felt this heightened sense of connection. It was incredibly sensual. Eventually we ended up on the bed, and the whole time, I remember thinking, I get to have you like this for the rest of my life.
WHY IT WORKED
Herbenick studied thousands of couples and found emotional intimacy to be one of the strongest predictors of sexual pleasure and orgasm. "In some cases, emotional intimacy was even more important than love," she says.
Deepen the emotional charge in the bedroom by slowly appreciating her body and genuinely voicing that appreciation. Linger over typically neglected areas, such as her earlobes, Gunsaullus says, or the back of her neck. Both regions scored high in a 2013 study of erogenous zones by UK and South African researchers. Other overlooked hot spots? Her lower back and inner thighs.
"We ended up in missionary, and even that felt exciting."
My boyfriend was a fireman, and one night he invited me to come by the station. We had the place to ourselves. He gave me a tour and we ended up in the garage. We played dress-up, trying on the firefighter uniforms, and then we climbed onto the trucks. I'd never been in one before, so he opened it up and ushered me inside. The firefighter gear was really heavy, so we started taking it off – and didn't stop. It was freezing, which made us more eager to get close. We ended up having sex on the floor of the truck. He sat on this low ledge inside, and I sat facing him on his lap. It was a familiar position, but it felt new because the location was so random and wild. We ended up in missionary, and even that felt exciting because we were on the floor of a rescue vehicle – somewhere I'd never been before, and somewhere I didn't belong.
– ASHLEY, 24
WHY IT WORKED
Women are just as aroused as men when they're introduced to unfamiliar titillations, researchers from the University of Lethbridge in Canada found.
This won't require breaking into a fire station. Pretty much any setting outside the norm, Hokemeyer says, will achieve the desired effect because it'll add a new and exciting page to your sexual play-book – whether you decide to go for it on the kitchen floor, or in the laundry room while the washer is on the spin cycle.
"He pulled my underwear off, but the dress stayed on."
After a fancy holiday party one night, my date and I headed back to his place. I was wearing this red satin gown with a plunging neckline and black stiletto heels. He wore a tuxedo. We'd spent the night dancing, and it all felt very glamorous, like we were some movie star couple. It was romantic, even a little dreamlike. When I asked him to help me unzip my dress, he flipped me around to face him and started kissing me – all the way down my neck and into the plunge of my neckline. Then he pulled down one of the dress straps and started kissing my breasts. I looked down at my gown, at his tuxedo, and at his mouth around my nipple. It felt so naughty – our sophisticated clothing combined with our animal sexuality. It felt even better than if I'd been standing there naked. Then he started kissing his way down my dress, all the way to my feet, still in those stilettos, and worked his way back up – under my dress. Eventually he pulled my underwear off, but the dress stayed on. It was the best orgasm I've ever had.
– LAURA, 30
WHY IT WORKED
Any break from the expected puts our senses on high alert, from the visual (the contrast between red satin and his mouth) to the touch of his lips on her legs, Hokemeyer says. "For centuries, men have used the element of surprise in battle and sport to their advantage – two endeavours that on a primal level have similar qualities to sexual relations between women and men," he adds. "In all three there's an element of heightened awareness and sensation. And the accompanying rush of adrenaline can be quite seductive, titillating and physically gratifying."
Propose something radically different: in a survey of Women's Health readers, 65 per cent said they might wear a mask in the bedroom, and 75 per cent were at least somewhat interested in using a sex swing. You could also try couples vibrators, Herbenick suggests, like the Tango and the Touch from We-Vibe.