Maybe you recently started seeing a new partner and you’re trying to think of great ways to set the scene for excellent sex. Or maybe you’ve been with your partner for so long, you’re hoping for a refresher on how to create a more sensual mood in the bedroom. Either way, there’s a to-do list before you hit the sheets.
If you want to be really ready for intimacy, consider this a one-stop checklist. Below, experts’ tips on what to do before having sex.
1. Hint at sex long before you have it.
While spontaneity is often praised, creating some sexual tension well before you hit the bedroom can make for a more exciting encounter. Hours of anticipation will pay off.
“Give your partner a lingering kiss in the morning, a flirtatious text during the day or a suggestive wink when they walk in the door,” said Sarah Hunter Murray, a sex researcher and relationship therapist. “Something that indicates sex could very well be on horizon but gives time you time for your imagination to wander and your body to get warmed up.”
2. Have condoms ready.
Safe sex is obviously important, which for some may include protection. For men, have condoms ready to go before you get busy so you’re well prepared, said Sunny Rodgers, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach. “And know the proper way to place a condom on a partner’s penis,” she said. “I always recommend purchasing large-size condoms since there is a minuscule difference between regular and large sizes.”
3. Stash lube by your bedside.
Rodgers called lube “another bedside essential” that should remain within arm’s reach. She recommended trying “beautiful bedside dispensers that warm lubricant and have hands-free dispensing so there’s no fumbling with bottles,” which could take you out of the moment.
4. Consider the details.
Thoughtful touches to your environment help set the mood. Maybe it’s a favorite playlist, dimmer lighting, candles or scents, all of which can enhance the experience, Rodgers said.
5. Stimulate your brain.
For women especially, sex begins in the mind. “The brain is a more powerful sexual organ than genitalia, because it’s where sex drive stems from, so reading erotica or visually imagining sex play will do wonders to heighten senses in preparation for sex,” Rodgers said.
You can pepper imagination sessions throughout your day in the hours leading up to sex ― and don’t forget foreplay once you’re finally together.
6. Make a to-do list and then put it away.
You’re going to enjoy sex a whole lot less if you’re thinking about everything you need to get done. If your mind is constantly wandering toward thoughts like, “We need more milk” and “I have to move my dentist appointment on Thursday,” then you need a strategy to stay in the moment.
“Those everyday things can get in the way of being able to focus on enjoying sex,” Murray said. “So if you feel things piling up in front of you, make a list of what needs to get done and then put that list off to the side so you canjustfocus on enjoying sex for a few minutes.” The list will still be there in an hour.
7. Do one thing that makes you feel sexier.
Feeling sexy and desirable to our partner is a key component that contributes to sexual enjoyment, said Murray. “So before sex, do something that makesyoufeel a little sexier and confident,” she suggested. Maybe that’s having a shower, wearing some underwear you feel confident in or listening to a sensual song. “Something that makes you feel more attractive will put you in a more sexual headspace.”
8. Take a few deep breaths.
“We’re seeing more evidence that mindfulness can help increase our attention and focus on pleasurable sexual sensations, which of course leads to better, more satisfying sex,” Murray said.
Even if you don’t meditate, you can easily separate your sexual experience from your daily routine. “Before shifting from your busy life to a sexual environment, take a moment to inhale and exhale a few deep breaths,” she said. “This will help you relax and get in a more Zen headspace for sex.”
9. Start off slow.
One major thing to keep in mind? Most women need about 20 minutes for their bodies to fully prepare for penetrative sex. “This means that taking time to enjoy some foreplay can go a long way in providing both partners with an incredibly enjoyable sex experience,” Rodgers said. “Undressing each other piece by piece — giving each other’s body kisses along the way — is a great way to get to know your partner’s body and sets a sensual tone.”
Don’t rush in the heat of the moment; slow it way down. Then you’ll be more than ready for the main event.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.