09 things you should always do before sex if you want to have an orgasm
Having good sex often depends on what happens before sex.
In theory, having sex is easy. You find someone you like, make sure that person likes you too, and consensually have at it.
But in reality, sex often comes along with more complications than many people would think. And some of these complications have much to do with what a person does before sex, rather than just during sex.
But just what, exactly, are those things? INSIDER talked with two sex therapists, Isiah McKimmie and Vanessa Marin, to figure out the things you should always do before having sex.
"Having really clear consent is so important. It's easy to assume that it's a given, but I never want anyone to forget about it," McKimmie told INSIDER. "You need consent about what feels good for each person, what they're willing to do, what they're not willing to do."
This is vital for individual personal safety and comfort during sex, as well as a better experience for everyone involved — and it should be an open discussion that happens throughout sex, not just beforehand.
"Communicate with your partner with what they like, don't like, and what kind of sex they are in the mood for," McKimmie told INSIDER. "You can also ask if there's anything out of bounds, which gives them a sense of permission to vocalize anything they might not be comfortable with."
If you want to have an orgasm while you're having sex, it's a good idea to figure out what actually makes you have an orgasm.
Not only will this help you figure out what needs to happen in order for you to have an orgasm, it should make it easier for you to talk about with your partner.
"Being able to talk about your orgasms and what you need to feel pleasure with your partner is so important,"Marin told INSIDER. "Because a lot of women go into sex — especially heterosexual women — expecting that it's just supposed to happen."
Obviously, this isn't always the case, which can make sex disappointing if you don't know what you really need.
Another thing that will help make your experience better is getting tested regularly.
"It's not really a sexy thing to talk about, but it can help put both people's minds at ease," McKimmie told INSIDER.
If you're having heterosexual sex, another important thing to consider is birth control — but you can't rely on the pill or an IUD alone to have truly safe sex.
"It's important to remember that just because you're on birth control, that doesn't mean you can't contract an STI," McKimmie told INSIDER. "So make sure that you're getting tested regularly and being prepared in terms of safer sex practices. All of those things can help us feel more relaxed and just enjoy the process."
Find out if your partner has gotten tested recently.
You should also take some time to discuss your sexual health with your partner — and find out anything you need to know about theirs — before you have sex.
In fact, McKimmie recommends making an effort to do so before you go into the bedroom, not after you've started hooking up.
"It might feel a little bit uncomfortable, but taking that time to have a conversation about where things are going, about sex, to make sure you're on the same page as your partner is so helpful," McKimmie told INSIDER. "These things are harder once you've got your clothes off."
If penetration is a part of your sex life, it's vital to ensure that you're actually turned on before having sex.
"A lot of couples tend to speed right into things, but people with vaginas have varying levels of lubrication," Marin told INSIDER. "Some people can just go straight into that, but most will need to make sure that they're fully aroused before any kind of penetration occurs. [Failure to do so] can result in little micro-tears to the vagina or a yeast infection, but being properly aroused can prevent sexual pain from happening. So definitely give yourself some time to warm up."
Self-lubrication sometimes isn't an option, no matter how much foreplay there is — if that's the case for you, it's always a good idea to have a personal lubricant handy.
Exercise can help with many things, including sex.
If there's a day in which you know you might be getting some action, it can't hurt to get a little more action — aka hitting the gym or taking a quick walk — beforehand.
"There have been some studies that have shown that even 10 or 20 minutes of moderate exercise can really boost people's arousal and desire, so just going on a quick little walk around the neighborhood can have a surprisingly good effect on your sex life," Marin told INSIDER. "Increased blood flow can also help women with orgasms."
Both McKimmie and Marin emphasized the importance of getting more face-to-face time with your partner leading up to sex.
"We need to have more of a focus on being connected throughout the day. Particularly for couples who are in longer-term relationships, one partner will often complain, like, 'We haven't seen each other all day, we're like ships passing in the night,'" McKimmie told INSIDER.
Making an effort to spend some time with your partner — even if it doesn't have anything to do with sex — can also improve your sex life.
"Most couples are so rushed, and it can feel like sex is just another thing on the to-do list. So a lot of people just try to jump right to it, like, 'Let's get this done.' And sometimes that's totally fine, but oftentimes it's hard to fully get yourself in the mood and feel connected," Marin told INSIDER. "So quality time together, where you're not looking at your phone, you're not looking at the TV, you're not on your computer, you're just together, the two of you."
Making an effort to be fully present during sex can pay off.
If you need some extra help being present, McKimmie recommended thinking of it as a "switch."
"Take time to really switch to what you're doing, so you become really present to yourself and to your body and to your partner. We can get so caught up in thinking that we end up not really being present during sex," McKimmie told INSIDER. "Even something like taking a shower beforehand can help switch you into that different state of mind, or just taking some deep breaths and focusing yourself, or sitting down and looking at your partner in the eyes. We so often don't do that, and it's such a powerful way to connect, and it can enhance your sexual experience."