Seven steps to more sensual sex
Pamper your senses
Sensual loving begins with indulging and lavishing attention on your body. When women feel stressed, tired or run-down, they often lose the desire for sex. Take time to give your body a treat; indulge yourself and awaken your five senses of smell, sound, sight, touch and taste.
Self-pampering gives our senses a kick-start. Book yourself a quiet night in; turn off your mobile, dim the lights and let yourself relax. Try having a long, hot bath with scented candles and sensual oils, whilst playing relaxing and uplifting music. Lie back, close your eyes and concentrate on taking deep breaths. This simple exercise will unlock your potential for relaxed, alert physical pleasure.
Both women and men can be a little too goal-oriented when masturbating, focusing on the end point, rather than enjoying the whole journey. Savour the pleasure by prolonging the experience.
Let your hands wander all over your body, touching yourself as you would like a lover to touch you. Seek out your sensitive spots and linger on them; your buttocks and inner thigh can be especially sensitive.
When you are with your partner, masturbate together and show each other how you like to be touched. The more you and your partner can arouse each other all over, not just through the penis or clitoris, the more sensual your lovemaking will become.
Indulge in fantasies
Some people worry about their sexual fantasies, but really there's no need. Your fantasies are a healthy expression of your inner life. Don't worry if you wouldn't consider doing them in real life; this isn't 'real life,' so you can let yourself go.
Your fantasies might be romantic scenarios, involve 'kinky' toys, or be just downright depraved! They may involve sex in public, with more than one partner, or might even be forced sex fantasies - expressing an inner, often unconscious desire to break free of any sexual limits or repressions that you may have.
You might also want to share your fantasies with your partner - or play out a few . Even if you don't want to make your fantasies a reality, talking about them with your partner can take you both to a new level of intimacy.
Embrace emotional intimacy
Communication is the key to great sex. There might be things we feel we can't say for fear of being hurt, especially if we've had a bad experience or been let down in the past. However, if you can't communicate properly with a partner, you can become distant from one another - and that distance will affect your love-making.
Make sure you're able to ask for an 'emotional hold' when you need - be that a hug or some words of reassurance - and that you're able to offer the same when it's asked of you. Don't be afraid to show your partner your 'bad side' - any weaknesses you have, or ways in which you feel you don't quite match up.
Your sex life with your partner is a reflection of the rest of your relationship. A healthy level of emotional intimacy with each other will come through in the bedroom, and lead to a far more sensual experience for both of you.
Walk sexy, talk sexy, think sexy!
There's nothing sexier than confidence, especially when it spills out between the sheets! Even if you're not feeling confident, learn how to fake it!
Pretend that you're a confident woman that oozes sex appeal. It takes 28 days to change a habit, so if you start thinking every day that you are a beautiful woman who oozes sex appeal, in one month's time you will be that person.
People respond to the image portrayed, so if you think and act sexy, you'll find that the people around you will think that too!
Create a sensual love nest
Is your bedroom sexy? Is it well and truly dedicated to making love? Is it clean, crisp and fresh? Or is it simply more of a room to sleep in, not make love in?
Think about what is in your bedroom that reminds you of sex, it's often the small touches that make a difference. Warm vibrant colours like reds, pinks and oranges enhance sensuality.
Create a setting that you would like to make love in. Replace tinny radios, fluffy toys and mangy blankets with arousing scents such as lavender, rose and ylang ylang to stimulate the senses. Your bedroom should relax you and help you to feel aroused - and sensually switched on.
Lastly, reposition the mirror to get a more exciting view.
Why is it hard to discuss sex with our partners? Usually, it's because of repressions - the nagging sense that sex is a bit secretive and should be kept 'sectioned off' from the rest of who we are.
By getting into a 'habit' of talking to each other during sex, you are breaking down repressive barriers and paving the way for more expressive and intimate pleasure.
Talking doesn't mean giving each other a running commentary of their performance - although that can be a great way to learn what each other likes!
For more tips on passionate, loving sex, check out the latest DVD from The Lovers' Guide; Satisfaction Guaranteed - 7 Secrets to a Passionate Love Life presented by Tracey Cox (presenter of C4's Sex Inspectors and BBC's 'Would Like To Meet').
For more hints and tips on sex and sensuality, chat to other iVillagers on the Let's Talk About Sex message board.