We are all guilty of half-heartedly going through the same motions when we’ve been with the same partner for years.

But some of those ‘healthy’ habits we automatically adopt to help our sex lives, could be doing quite the opposite.

A decade of new research into arousal and orgasm means we understand so much more about our sexual systems and responses. It also means some of the things drummed into us as ‘essential’ for good sex don’t apply anymore.

Time for a reset.

Here’s three things everyone does that you no longer need to bother with – and raunchy replacements that really WILL invigorate your sex life.

A decade of new research into arousal and orgasm means we understand so much more about our sexual systems and responses. Stock photo used


Let me make one thing clear before I go any further on this one: foreplay isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity for women. Our bodies need expert stimulation before penetrative sex happens, to ensure our vagina lubricates and expands. Start ‘cold’ and sex is uncomfortable and not enjoyable.

But not all women need a full 20 minutes for this to happen – and not all sex sessions include penetration.

Tracey Cox (pictured) says that the 'more expert the lover', the less time is needed for foreplay

Tracey Cox (pictured) says that the ‘more expert the lover’, the less time is needed for foreplay

I’m not sure where the 20-minute time limit originated from but, like the ‘couples have sex twice a week’ statistic, it’s been knocking about for decades.

It’s not a harmful premise: better to have too much foreplay than none. But it shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule.

If you’ve just got together and in the glorious at-it-like-rabbits stage, you’re ready for sex in a hot minute.

If you’ve got two kids under two and finally found time to have some type of sex connection, spending 20 minutes on foreplay is a joke. Grab the three minutes you have and use the time well.

Some women arouse very easily and can go from zero to ‘Ready!’ in minutes. No woman ‘warms up’ with her vibrator, and yet can have an orgasm done and dusted in the time it takes to boil a kettle.

The more expert the lover, the less time it takes our body to be ready for sex. The more interesting the sex on offer, the quicker we’ll be turned on by the thought of what’s coming (hopefully us).

Lying there while our partner spends the obligatory twenty minutes on lacklustre, predictable foreplay – playing with our breasts, a bit of a fumble around with fingers, if we’re lucky oral sex – is about as likely to get us in the mood as watching that kettle boil.

Do this instead: Spend less time and make foreplay more inventive.

Add some new hand-job techniques, for starters. Try alternating ten slow strokes with a quick, firm pump up and down his penis. Add an extra firm pump as you keep going. Roll his penis between two flat palms, as though it’s pastry.

He can zig-zag, move up and down and change direction when using his middle finger to circle your clitoris. Try moving first one way, then the other and pay attention which side elicits the most moans. Lots of women are more sensitive on one side.

Make foreplay instantly more exciting by adding new elements. Pop some headphones on us before giving oral and play some hot audio porn; let him watch porn on his phone as you do the same.

Tracey suggests making foreplay 'instantly more exciting' by adding new elements, such as 'hot audio porn' (stock image)

Tracey suggests making foreplay ‘instantly more exciting’ by adding new elements, such as ‘hot audio porn’ (stock image)

Use a vibrator to give us an orgasm and – well, look at that! – we’ll climax in under five minutes. All you need to do is produce one, kiss us sexily on the neck (preferably whispering dirty stuff in our ear) and hold it on the vulva.

Get us ready for a quickie by turning us on before you’re even in the room. Don’t send a ‘d*** pic’ but do send a sexy text, detailing what you’re going to do to us later. (If words aren’t your thing, go online and steal a few lines from an erotic literature website.)

Don’t make all sex sessions revolve around the bit you find the most pleasurable – intercourse. If we’re not having penetrative sex, we don’t need to be fully aroused.


Yes, it’s good to try new intercourse positions to add variety.

But the reality is, most couples settle on two (maximum three) basics that they use regularly – for good reason.

Positions like The Wheelbarrow (he stands, she balances on her forearms or hands, facing in the same direction, while he holds onto her hips) look impressive but rate very low on the satisfaction scale.

Ditto other popular ‘show-off’ positions like The Wall Thrust (she leans against a wall, he stands in front, she jumps up and wraps her legs around his waist and arms around his neck). Looks lusty and manly, feels great for about a minute because it requires lots of upper body strength and thrusting isn’t easy.

There are only five positions (missionary, her on top, side-by side, doggie style and face-to-face while kneeling or sitting), all the rest are a variant of these.

Most couples stick to a mix of him on top, her on top and doggie style. Men rate doggie style the most sexually satisfying; women rate her on top – mainly because it puts us in control of the thrusting to hit the right spots.

If you want variety with positions, redirect your energy…

Do this instead: Find new positions for oral sex, not intercourse.

Suggesting that switching up positions may help, Tracey recommends 'dropping to your knees and play the submissive rather than just do it sideways on the bed'

Suggesting that switching up positions may help, Tracey recommends ‘dropping to your knees and play the submissive rather than just do it sideways on the bed’

When it comes to coming with a partner, lots of people rate oral sex orgasms as better and more reliable than intercourse orgasms. Yet most of use the same old-fashioned positions for giving each other oral sex. He slides down and lies facedown between her legs when it’s her turn; she slides down and turns sideways when it’s his.

Switch to more inventive, easier access positions and you’ll inject a far bigger erotic boost to your lovemaking than trying Kama Sutra position number 75.

Drop to your knees and play the submissive rather than just do it sideways on the bed. Or you sit on the side of the bed while he stands in front of you.

If you’re using your hands on him, stand behind him and reach around. (Especially sexy if you do it in front of a mirror so he can watch.)

He can put your legs over his shoulders (or you can pull them up to your chest while lying on your back). Try you on all fours while he slides underneath, faces the opposite direction and uses pillows to bring him up to the right height. A great power position: you stand with your legs apart, leaning back against a wall.


Yes, having sex in bed is comfortable. But it’s not doing you any favours.

First up, you’ll have sex less often.

We’re all bingeing on box sets. Wait until you’re in bed to have sex and you’ll never do it – the next episode wins every time. Instead, sneak in a quickie in between episodes. Better still, choose something sexy to watch, hit pause during the good bits and have sex on the sofa, in the moment while you’re all hot and bothered.


Try the ‘Kivin method’. Position your head at right angles to her body when you’re giving oral. You’re licking up and down but because your tongue is perpendicular to her body, your tongue travels from side to side, producing entirely new sensations.

Buy a new sex toy once a month. They’re a cheap, zero-effort way to keep sex fresh and zappy. Choose one from a different category each time: a vibrator, glass dildo, ‘stroker’ for him, love egg, vibrating penis ring, bondage toys…

Change your thrusting style. Abandon the traditional way of pushing in and pulling out, instead move your hips in circles and grind against the base of the penis.

Have sex at a completely different time. If you always have it at night, do it in the morning. If it’s always in the morning, do it at night. You’ll have a different type of sex by changing the time of day. Don’t forget midday, mid-morning, mid-afternoon.

Add pillows. They make any position feel better, more comfortable and doable. Even missionary feels exciting if you shove some hard, firm pillows under her bottom.

Stop having ‘full’ sessions. Sex doesn’t have to have a beginning, middle and end. Have kissing only sex. Oral only sex. Hands only sex.

If you’re having sex in bed, you’re probably doing it last thing at night. If sex is the last thing on your ‘to do’ list, it’s the first thing to get knocked off. 

(If you’re having sex in the morning, go right ahead. That’s one habit you don’t want to break: your nerve endings ping to life after a good sleep!)

If you’re only having sex in bed, you’re also probably sticking to the same format and routine. There’s only so much you can do while lying in bed and not being adventurous with location suggests you aren’t mixing it up elsewhere, either.

Make this one simple change – ban sex in bed – and reap big benefits.

Do this instead: Ban the bed for three months.

Change the room and you change the mood. Bed sex is cosy, comfy sex. Great for Sunday morning spooning; a boring choice if you’re both feeling loose and lusty and up for trying something you’ve never done before on a Saturday night.

We get stuck on how often and how many orgasms, but it’s the emotion behind sex that resonates the most.

Think mood when you’re planning your next sex session. If your last was leisurely and romantic, make the next one a feisty quickie.

If you’ve never had sex on a kitchen counter, you are missing out: it’s the perfect height for him to deliver oral sex and to stand and deliver for intercourse. Stairs work well to even up height or weight differences between you; the dining room table is perfect to lean over as your partner takes you from behind.

Your bed squeaks and you’ve got flatmates or your mother-in-law staying? Grab the duvet and pillows and get down on the floor. (If your mattress is super soft, make the floor your go to. Hard beds make for much better sex.)

Do it on the hood of the car in a deserted spot, make out in the back seat if you need a bit more cover (or do it in your garage).

Sex should be fun so don’t forget to try out places that seem ridiculous: the loo, your walk-in closet. Being in a tiny space forces you to be playful.

Traceycox.com is Tracey’s one stop sex website. Here, you’ll find her blog, product ranges, podcast and lots of practical information to help make your sex and love life better.

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