Some of the best sexual scenarios are spur of the moment. You know, the gotta-have-you-right-now throwdowns. But other sex situations give us a little more time to prepare—say you’ve got a hot date scheduled, or a reunion with your partner after too many days apart. To take advantage of that time in advance, we asked the experts exactly what you should do before sex to make it the best physical, mental, and emotional encounter it can be.
Get in the mood.
- “Start thinking sexy thoughts and think about what’s going to turn you on,” says Rachel Sussman, a licensed clinical social worker in New York City. Rather than focusing totally on what you’re going to do to your partner, “start thinking about what is erotic to you,” she says. (Or give yourself some pre-sex pleasure with the powerful Jimmyjane Form 2 vibe from the Prevention shop.)
Take care of any outstanding deadlines.
- On a practical note, thinking sexy thoughts can be hard to do if you’re stressed out about your to-do list. The day before your big night, tackle any nagging work deadlines and switch off. “This allows your mind to stop focusing on work lists and pivot towards pleasure,” says Sari Cooper, director of the Center for Love and Sex and certified sex therapist and coach. If you’re heading off for a romantic getaway, go ahead and change your email signature to reflect your offline status, she adds.
- Don’t forget to clue your partner in to your pre-romp excitement. “Check out a sexual position or activity that you have not tried yet and download a picture or save the link and send it to your partner,” Cooper says. That will definitely have him or her counting down the minutes.
Assess your wardrobe.
- Ah, the age-old question: What should you wear? Reach for an outfit that will make you feel sexy, Cooper says. If the feel of silky lingerie gets you in the mood, now is the time to bust out that slip dress.
Om before you O.
- Right before getting your O on, Cooper suggests getting your Om on. “Sit down and use an app like Headspace to meditate and focus on your breath to fully relax, or play music that gets you in the mood.” And as you start getting frisky, the best thing you can do is be present,” says Sussman. “Try to focus on exactly what’s going on in front of you in that moment. It’s really an exercise in mindfulness.”
Leave work at work.
- If you’re coming from the office, it’s helpful to shed your work self and cozy up to your sensual self, says Cooper. “This can be as easy as taking a shower, changing one’s clothes, or lighting a certain candle.” To kick it up a notch, take a few minutes to read or watch some erotica alone or with your partner, says Millheiser. “This can be a really great way to kickstart your libido, especially at the end of a stressful work day.”
Groom as you wish.
- If you’re a fan of below-the-belt grooming (like waxing or sugaring) make sure to head to the salon at least 24 hours before your big night. “When you wax this very sensitive area—especially when you get a Brazilian—there are micro-tears that can occur in the skin which can make you more susceptible to infection during sexual activity,” says Leah Millheiser, MD, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford.
Eat frisky-friendly foods.
- In addition to noshing on aphrodisiacs, you may also may want to stay away from foods that cause bloating or bad breath—sexy time saboteurs, Millheiser says. If that big lentil and bean salad is going to be on your mind (and causing gas in your intestines) later that evening, skip it at lunch. You also might want to pack a toothbrush or mouthwash if you’re heading straight from the boardroom to the bedroom.
Change your undies.
- If you’ve been wearing your tried-and-true breathable cotton panties all day, now’s the time to slip into your sexier skivvies, says Millheiser. Slipping into something that makes you feel confident can do wonders for your mental state, too.