If you were a certain kind of person and someone asked you what the ideal temperature for sex was, you would probably say, “69 degrees.” You would be making a well-timed if arguably infantile joke, but you also wouldn’t be wrong, exactly.
While there’s technically no magic number in scientifically calculated degrees Fahrenheit that will guarantee an ideal climate for sex, temperature can absolutely make or break a sexual encounter. Most of us can probably recall a time we’ve had sex in either too hot or too cold temps — and those recollections are probably somewhat negative. Sex is all about enjoying physical sensations, and being too cold or too hot is not only an unpleasant physical sensation in and of itself, but that discomfort can prevent you from fully enjoying all those other bodily experiences that are happening during sex.
“If you’re uncomfortable (e.g. too hot or too cold), you may be less likely to get in the mood for sex,” says Dr. Jess O’Reilly, PhD, resident sexologist for ASTROGLIDE. “If the temperature is distracting, it might impede arousal and sexual response.”
Obviously, there’s no single temperature that will guarantee an ideal sexual climate for all sex-havers. As Dr. Jess notes, “It’s all about comfort, and comfort depends on an array of factors: What type of sex are you having? What’s your personal preference with regard to body temperature? Do you enjoy a little sweat? Are you uncomfortable if it’s cold?”
Still, while ideal temperature in any context is obviously a matter of personal preference, there are some semi-scientific reasons to believe a certain range of temperatures fall within the ambiguous “not too hot and not too cold” ideal that Tyomi Morgan, in-house sexpert at Sweet Vibes, says partners should shoot for.
“A solid 69 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal,” says Morgan, who highlights this range for a couple of reasons. For one thing, you don’t want the room to be too cold during sex — especially at night — because cold temperatures might signal to your body that it’s time to skip sex and go right to sleep. “The body naturally decreases in temperature as it moves towards sleep. For sleeping, temperatures between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit are recommended by specialists to support the decrease in body temperature that facilitates the sleep state,” explains Morgan.
Sex, on the other hand, “is an activity that requires alertness,” she continues. “The temperatures that I recommend facilitate in maintaining the body’s temperature during wakefulness. 69 degrees provides an environment that can help bodies maintain a good temperature for alertness while allowing the room to warm up as kinetic energy radiates outward from body movement.”
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While 69 degrees is warm enough to keep you awake, it’s also cool enough to keep you up — in an entirely different sense. “I have personally witnessed within my own sexual practice and within coaching clients a decline in male performance and erections when men become overheated,” says Morgan, adding that while an overheated environment can result in sluggishness for bodies of any gender, men in particular tend to require cooler temps to achieve and maintain peak sexual performance, “especially when being the top partner putting in most of the work.” Once again, lucky number 69 seems to check all the right boxes. As Morgan previously told InsideHook, “If you want to ensure penetrative sex will last longer, keep the room at a good 69 degrees.”
On the other hand, it would seem that while men tend to prefer and perform better in a cooler environment, women may feel more comfortable at slightly higher temperatures. “It appears that women tend to need the environment to be warmer to feel more relaxed and secure enough to climax,” says Morgan, while various other experts I spoke to for this article cited an infamous study that found people — especially women — are more likely to orgasm while wearing socks.
It’s worth noting, as sexologist Gigi Engle wrote for InsideHook earlier this year, that there’s actually relatively little scientific evidence to support the buzzy sex-with-socks theory. Still, as she put it, “Being cold during sex absolutely fucking blows.”
Fortunately, 69 degrees still seems to be something of a sweet spot, one cool enough to maintain men’s peak sexual performance without freezing out their female sex partners. While Dr. Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., sexpert for sex-toy brand LELO, maintains there is technically no scientific evidence identifying 69 degrees as the ideal temperature for sex, she concedes that 69 degrees “is a cool temperature, but not too cold,” and one that allows for modifications should one partner still find themselves a little on the chilly side. “Getting warm under the blankets and with body heat could be excellent in this temperature,” says Mintz.
Still, if you and your partner can’t agree on a temperature that suits both your needs perfectly, it’s best to err on the cooler side. “Most people I’ve talked to prefer sex in a cooler versus hotter room for a simple reason — that is, most of us don’t want to be touched when we are already sweating, hot and uncomfortable,” says Mintz.
“It’s better to err on the cooler side for sure,” echoes Morgan. “The room will warm up as bodies move, and if one partner feels cooler than the other, covers can always be brought in to warm things up.”
In other words, you’re likely to heat up physically as the sex does metaphorically, and as Mintz puts it, “It’s easier to warm up than to cool down during sex.”
Still, should one find themselves getting busy in unideal temperatures beyond their control, Mintz maintains that there are ways to work around any climatic inadequacies. “If it’s too cold, snuggling together under blankets can make things feel more fun and intimate, and if it’s too hot, this may be a great time to experiment with temperature play,” she says.
So while scientists apparently have better things to do than confirm that 69 degrees is, in fact, the ideal temperature for sex, there is some not totally groundless reasoning to support this coincidental, only semi-factual little factoid, which is good enough for me. Temperature preference is obviously as personal a matter as sexuality itself, but when in doubt, feel free to confidently crank that AC to a nice 69 degrees.
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