Perhaps what you've been doing in the bedroom isn't as exciting anymore, or you're looking to reconnect with your partner on an intimate level. One way to start the process of re-energizing your sex life is to start exploring with different styles or approaches to what constitutes sex.
"Seeing sex through different lenses can open up some creativity and receptivity we may not otherwise have had," Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and creator of Finishing School: Learn How to Orgasm, tells mbg.
Many people have a certain routine when it comes to sex—they have essentially the same process each time they get in the sheets, go through the same movements, and try to recreate the same energy each and every time. But routines take away a lot of the excitement and dynamism of sex and can sometimes turn it into a more passive habit instead of an active experience.
Tackling the monotony of habit starts with communication, says Dr. Anna Cabeca, D.O., OB/GYN, FACOG. As a couple, talk about what's not working for both partners and then brainstorm ways to try out something that you're not as accustomed to. To help you get started, here are a few approaches for you and your partner to consider trying out. You might be well-acquainted with one while the others sound totally foreign—good! Lean into the latter.
Incorporating play into your relationship is a great way to reclaim intimacy. While there are many reasons couples may stop being intimate, Dr. Cabeca points out that stress can often play a significant role. Stress can interfere with our hormones causing imbalances, which can be a root cause of loss of libido.
If you suspect stress might be at the heart of why your sex life has lulled, play could be what you need. "Bring some fun games into it—hide and seek, what room can you find me in, and a cat and mouse kind of chasing, something like that not in bed," said Dr. Cabeca.
People often approach sex too seriously, Marin explains. They often think there's only one way to do it right, and then in an effort to meet that standard, they overthink their own performance or fret over what their partner might be thinking during sex. But when we view sex as a way to play and explore, all that self-imposed pressure of doing it the "right way" falls away.
"There's no right or wrong way to play," Marin said. She recommends just getting creative with it, "seeing what you like, and following down that path."
For those who like working out or are open to giving it a try, "sport sex" could be an interesting way to change things up. Sport sex is an approach that includes more physically demanding positions and more changing of positions, Dr. Cabeca says, and it can certainly be considered a workout.
Here are a few active positions Dr. Cabeca recommends trying:
- In a slightly modified missionary position, whoever is on top can get into a plank-like position and see how long they can stay up, which uses their arms and core. If there's a penis involved, you can do this one in combination with thrusting. If a person with a vagina is on top, their partner can stimulate them while they "plank."
- One person sits upright while the other gets on top of them in a semi-crouched position, almost in a squat, with their hands on their partner's shoulders. This position requires you to work your whole lower body and arms, and a person with a vagina can enjoy some extra clitoral stimulation that can intensify orgasms.
- Any position that requires one partner to stand and the other to hold themselves up on their partner's body is certain to fire up the muscles as it requires all of your muscles and core for both people. You can also experiment with one partner standing with one leg up, requiring a little extra muscle engagement.
Although it may sound a little odd to have sex also be considered your workout, Marin explains that it could be helpful to think of the activity of sex similarly to the way we think about a workout. Think about it: Even in our busy lives, many people still make exercise a priority as an essential part of their wellness routine, whereas sex is often thought of as an extra. In reality, it should be an equally central part of our wellness practices, Marin says. If it feels like sex falls toward the bottom of your to-do list, she recommends scheduling it into your weekly calendar like you do your workouts.
Sex as a mindfulness-based spiritual practice? You bet. Almost the polar opposite of sport sex, spiritual sex involves much slower movements and allows time for both partners to experience a full sensory awareness and to be truly present for each touch, Dr. Cabeca explains. It often includes deep breathing, small and rhythmic movements, and direct, soulful eye contact, which can allow for more connection, intimacy, and oneness during the sexual experience.
Dr. Cabeca describes this approach to sex as energetic, an experience where pleasure builds from a present awareness from both partners. "It can be very slow sex, very minimal movement, very subtle, and yet the power of the orgasm and pleasure can be even more," she says.
To start practicing this style, try a breathing exercise to reconnect with your body in the heat of the moment: "Focus on your breathing, noticing how it feels on the way in and out," sex therapist Jessa Zimmerman recommends. "You can even try synchronizing your breathing with your partner's so that you inhale and exhale at the same time. Once you are breathing in unison for a while, switch to alternate breathing, where you breathe in as your partner breathes out and vice versa. This intentional exercise brings you back into your body, and matching it with your partner helps you focus on them again."
Couples exploring spiritual sex may even want to explore some sort of intention, perhaps connecting "to your own sense of a higher power," Marin says.
Combining the approaches
While these approaches can seem widely different from one another, combining them and alternating between the styles can be another way to explore.
"We could combine sport sex with energetic sex and really reap the benefits of the powerful hormones that are surged and connected that goes above and beyond what is typical in your workout," Dr. Cabeca says. Sex releases a hormone called oxytocin, what Dr. Cabeca calls "the most powerful hormone of our bodies," as it elicits feelings of love and connection. That oxytocin is also linked to longevity and anti-aging, pain reduction, and is good for the brain. Meanwhile, exercise is known to increase happiness and reduce stress, so alternating between energetic and sport sex could give us double the benefits.
For example, if you and your partner are trying sport sex, you can still pause to "breathe, and allow time to connect on an energetic level with very little movement," Dr. Cabeca says. "The combination of the two [styles] and especially alternating more into the powerful, really karmic sex—that's the icing on the cake."
Ready to explore?
Sex plays a different role in every person's life, and some approaches will work better for some couples than others. If you're looking to create some new, exciting energy in the bedroom, exploring one of these approaches to sex—or some combination of them all—could be a great place to start.
Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.