Want to improve your sex life? Looking to better understand your (and your partner’s) needs? Here are some easy ways to physically and emotionally enhance your sexual expression.

1. Understand and learn to communicate your sexual needs.

Communication is vital in a relationship. Sexual communication is even more important, and, unfortunately, it is often one of the hardest things to do in a relationship. People often assume their partners know what they like in the bedroom. Often to please partners, people don’t say what they think feels good, and this leads partners to just keep doing the same thing. This can result in a never-ending circle: Partners think they are doing the right thing and keep doing it. To learn how to more easily talk to your partner about sex, [link to related article] use humor, be honest, and be open to new ideas.

2. Do Kegel exercises.

These exercises are designed to strengthen and give you voluntary control over the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle, which controls urine flow and contracts during orgasm in both men and women. There is a correlation between good tone in the PC muscle and orgasmic intensity. Kegel exercises can help you to:

  • increase your awareness of feelings in your genital area.
  • increase blood circulation in your genital area.
  • add to your sexual responsiveness.
  • restore vaginal muscle tone after childbirth.
  • increase your control over your orgasms.

To find your PC muscle, when you urinate, see if you can start and stop the flow of urine with your legs apart. The PC muscle is the one that stops the flow.

Slow Kegels

Tighten the PC muscle and hold it as you did when you stopped the flow of urine for a slow count of three. Then relax the muscle.

Quick Kegels

Tighten and relax the muscle as rapidly as you can. At first it will feel like a flutter. You will gradually gain more control.

It may help you to remember to do these exercises if you associate them with another activity: watching TV, talking on the phone, or waiting in line, for example.

Your muscles may get tired at first, but that is normal when exercising any new muscle. Just remember to keep breathing naturally.

3. Engage in self-pleasure (masturbation)

Understanding your body and how it responds to touch is important to your sexual pleasure. Based on research, between 80 and 95 percent of men self-pleasure and (depending on which studies you look at) between 50 and 85 percent of women do. Also, women are more likely to have an orgasm from self-pleasuring than intercourse.

This exercise will assist you in learning how your body responds to touch. You will learn to build up sexual pleasure and find what touches please you.

Do this exercise for approximately 30 minutes to an hour:

1. Self-pleasure until you:

  • feel your breathing increase.
  • feel like going very fast.
  • feel yourself wanting to thrust your pelvis.

2. Once you reach this point, stop, and experience these feelings for a while. Do not aim for orgasm.

3. Take a short break, one or two minutes.

4. Now begin to stimulate yourself again using light stroking. Incorporate the Kegels you have learned.

5. After two or three times you may rest, go on, or do whatever you wish.

4. Let yourself fantasize.

Sexual fantasies may be the most common form of sexual expression (if not No. 1, they are a close second to masturbation). Not everyone has sexual fantasies, but it’s fair to say that everyone is capable of having sexual fantasies. In this way they are a great sexual equalizer between men and women.

In a survey of dozens of academic research articles on sexual fantasy, psychologists Harold Leitenberg and Kris Henning found the following themes among the top sexual fantasies.

Having sex with your current partner

Some people might be surprised to learn that the most common sexual fantasy was having sex with a current partner. Sexual fantasies aren’t just the over-the-top dream sex you have; every time you think about sex and feel aroused is considered a fantasy. So it makes sense that we would think more about the person we’re currently having sex with, especially — and hopefully — if the sex is memorable.

Having sex with a stranger or imaginary lover

This fantasy removes the guilt that can be associated with sex, and it is more common for women. It represents the sexual partner who will do wonderful things to us unasked and with no romantic or relationship price to pay.

Being taken against your will (or taking someone else), i.e., romance novel sex

Being taken is more about forceful, passionate sex than a violent abuse encounter. The amount of force is usually minimal. It is just enough to get a high level of excitement but not enough to have to take responsibility for the act.

Sex with two or more people

This common fantasy allows people to be more sexually adventurous than they may be in real life.

Different sex positions or locations

Most couples have sex in the same two or three positions their whole sexual lives. This fantasy relieves sexual boredom. A new place, such as the outdoors or at the office, gives the excitement of being naughty.

Sexual fantasies have a lot of important functions. They can be creative outlets and give you new ideas. They can satisfy desires that can’t be met with real-life partners, and they allow you to safely practice new behaviors before trying them out with someone else. And, perhaps most importantly, they get you aroused.