high-heat passion can make a man’s mind go blank. That’s understandable—and a compliment to the woman. But sex is different for us women. When the clothes come off, our brains go into overdrive. For proof, have a peek into the secret thoughts of more than 1,000 Women’s Health readers while they’re having sex.
Here’s your job: Read her mind. No pressure—only your sex life depends on it. Researchers find that in order to reach orgasm, women must quiet the parts of their brains linked to anxiety and fear. So if you know what all the chatter inside her head is about, you can react and help bring her to an awesome, cranium-calming climax. Our survey shows you where to start.
Secret Sex Thought #1
“I worry he won’t think I’m any good, and that I’ll kill any chance of building the relationship.” —Meghan, 19
Fifty-seven percent of women said that during sex they’re wondering if you’re enjoying it—enjoying her, really. So consider that license to be loudly enthusiastic. “But be specific about what you’re enjoying,” says Lou Paget, author of How to Give Her Absolute Pleasure. The more fully you describe something she’s doing that you like, the more convincing you’ll sound.
Worry not. Here’s how many women are critical of your . . .
Facial expressions: 11%
Penis size: 4%
Secret Sex Thought #2
“I wish he’d hurry up and finish already.” —Laura, 22
Surprise: Sex ideally lasts between 3 and 13 minutes, a survey of sex therapists found. Read her breathing and body language. No highs and lows? She’s probably had enough.
Secret Sex Thought #3
“Oh, crap—did I shave my legs?” —Carly, 26
More than half of women said they thought about their body hair nearly every time they had sex. So touch her as if you don’t care, or you’ll make her self-conscious—and that makes sex worse for both of you, says Joy Davidson, Ph.D., creator of the online series The Joy Spot. Then go ahead and distract her by becoming really enthusiastic about a part of her body she’s feeling good about.
Secret Sex Thought #4
“I think about threesomes during sex—but I’d never want to have one.” —Alexis, 28
Many women spice things up with far-fetched fantasies; they’re exciting and not relationship-threatening. So go with it. During sex, whisper crazy fantasies (that involve her!). Tell her where in public you’d like to go down on her, say. Or give her those two men in bed—by being both of them, Paget says. “Be the wild guy, then switch and be the sensitive lover who lies on top and kisses gently.”
Secret Sex Thought #5
“I fantasize that I’m completely uninhibited—taking control, and introducing sex toys.” —Jen, 37
But she’s often too shy to act. More than a third of the women we surveyed said that during sex they’re thinking of dirty things they’re embarrassed to talk about. One in four is imagining a position she’s afraid to ask you to try.
“Often her hesitancy to speak up is related to other inhibitions, like worrying about how she looks or tastes,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., the author of Sultry Sex Talk to Seduce Any Lover. So to start, describe senses: how great she smells, how good she looks or feels. If she says something, respond. If she hints at something, go for it. The more you show your excitement—and the more you lead—the more comfortable she’ll be.
Secret Sex Thought #6
“Sometimes I’m thinking, ‘I still have laundry to do after this.’” —Jennifer, 22
It’s a cliché, but a true one. More than one in four women said they thought about household chores during sex, and 20 percent thought about work. “It’s just the way my mind operates,” says Stephanie, 27. So bring her back. Our poll’s top suggestion: Turn up the passion—and let her feel it. “When she’s bored, it’s because the sex is routine. So take charge. Move her around and be more assertive,” says Davidson. Hold her tighter, run your nails up her legs, pin her arms down (if she’s comfortable with that). A lot of little things can make her take notice. What laundry?
Here’s a bonus tip: There’s no one way to gain her attention, women say. Some of their suggestions:
Talk dirty: 17%
Become more assertive: 27%
Pull her hair: 7%
Secret Sex Thought #7
“I occasionally compare him to my ex. I can’t help it!” —Jessie, 28
Yes, she thinks about other men during sex. Sometimes she even fantasizes about them. Ouch! But she’s conflicted. Consider: 51 percent of respondents said it was natural to fantasize about other men during sex, but 74 percent said they’d be hurt if you fantasized about other women.
Focus her attention. Ask her, “What do you want me to beg for?” Fulbright says. “It gives her the sense that she’s steering the action.” And she’ll know you’re the one giving her what she wants.