Sexologist and author Catriona Boffard reveals the top sex trends. Think mindfulness, adult toys, open relationships, sex education, and embracing your sexuality.
What’s new this year?
CB: CBD oil, taken orally or used as a massage oil or lubricant. Research shows it decreases anxiety, which in turn increases your ability to experience pleasure. Used as a lubricant, it can heighten pleasurable sensations in both men and women. Another trend that’s becoming more common is mindful sex, which I think is fantastic. It’s an approach I use in consultation with clients to help them address sexual concerns and improve the experience of having sex. Open relationships and polyamory have become hot topics of conversation, and even though these two concepts have always been around, they’re becoming more accepted as the norm by couples.
What are the major sex issues putting strain on relationships?
CB: In my opinion, stress and anxiety are the biggest culprits. We’re expected to do so much more with our day and still have a family and work out at the gym. As a result, we struggle to meet our partner’s expectations in the bedroom. I often have couples ask me if there’s something wrong with them because they feel like all their friends are winning at sex. Often, they haven’t seen the hard work it takes their friends to have a sex life and the difficulties they face behind closed doors. If you feel like this too, avoiding it is the worst thing you can do.
Are popular sex trends putting too much pressure on couples to spice things up?
CB: They can cause anxiety if one partner doesn’t feel as excited about them as their partner does. If a couple is struggling in their relationship, sex often becomes a problem to fix. In this case, spicing things up may lead to disappointment and put them under further strain. Building an emotional connection, and bringing fun back into their relationship that doesn’t involve sex, would benefit these couples. A sex trend that appeals to you might push your partner’s boundaries or cause them to feel anxious. If you want to try a new trend, communicating how you feel about it and why you want to try it
Can open relationships survive long-term?
CB: Open relationships have been more widely discussed in the last few years, and people are beginning to show curiosity in exploring their sexuality. It’s as if having these conversations has permitted people to explore. Open relationships can survive, but only if there are clear, mutually-consensual boundaries, trust and respect, the reason for wanting and exploring an open relationship is mutually understood, and both partners want to be in one. Even then, they can still fail.
Tell us about the concept of mindful sex.
CB: Research has shown mindfulness improves the sexual experience. Sex isn’t just physical: your brain is your biggest sex organ, and psychological engagement is as important as physical sensations you experience during sex. Intimacy is holistic, which means it’s a spiritual and emotional experience. A couple that connects on all these levels doesn’t rely on sex as their only form of intimacy.
Can introducing adult toys help couples re-establish sexual intimacy?
CB: Toys are a great addition to a couple’s sexual experience but unfortunately won’t help to re-establish intimacy on their own. Using sex toys in conjunction with open and honest communication about sex and your sexual needs is one way to do this. Using a toy introduces fun and playfulness, which are essential ingredients for increasing sexual desire and intimacy.
How can sex toys help women to embrace their sexuality?
CB: Women’s sexual pleasure is a learned experience, and using toys can help you discover what works for you. Sex toys are a great way for women to explore and understand how their bodies respond to pleasurable sensations. Always start by using something small, if you’re new to using toys. Use a bullet vibrator on your hands, arms neck and upper body and notice the sensations. A bullet vibe is a great entry-level toy, which you can use alone or with a partner, and it’s small enough not to feel intimidating.
Why is sex education important?
CB: Sex-positive education is imperative for both men and women. Sadly, none of us received a good enough sex education growing up (today’s kids aren’t any better off). We’re neither permitted to be sexual and explore ourselves nor told that things can go wrong. I’ve found that women are far more open and curious – they want to know about sex. Men do too, but women are so much more eager – plus, we need it more!