Think back to the days before you’d ever had sex. You were probably a little nervous about it. A little excited. A little afraid. And, if you were a normal teenager, you undoubtedly spent a whole lot of time wondering what it would be like.

Kinky sex is a lot like that. For those who haven’t given it a try, the thought of it often comes with a little apprehension - and a lot of excitement. We talked to Jessica O’Reilly, a sexologist and the author of The Little Book of Kink: Sexy Secrets for Thrilling, Over-the-Edge Pleasure. It’s a book geared toward helping curious beginners connect with their partners by getting a little kinky.

Want to get your kink on but not sure where to start? Here are some tips on how to take your sex life from nice to naughty.

What Exactly Is Kinky Anyway?

Good question. A lot of the apprehension about "kinky" sex is what it actually entails. The answer is pretty straightforward - and appealing: Kinky can be whatever you want it to be.

O’Reilly defines kink as "engaging in activities that are a little taboo, that are new or outside the boundaries of what we consider socially acceptable. It’s anything that challenges you to push your limits."

That means you don’t have to [insert preconceived notions about whips and chains and aggressive-looking sex toys here] - unless you want to. OK?

Oh, and one more thing. O’Reilly says it’s important to understand that people who are into kinky sex aren't in it to hurt each other.

"They’re in it for the excitement, the taboo, the pleasure, the opportunity to play roles they wouldn’t normally play, and the option to play in realms outside reality," she said. (It's also good for your health. Read more in The 6 Little-Known Health Benefits of Kinky Sex.)

Tip: Take It One At a Time

Maybe you’re excited about having the kinky encounter of your dreams, where all the sex toys and sex acts you’ve been itching to try come together in a crescendo of orgasmic ecstasy.

That would cool, but it’s pretty unlikely, and O’Reilly cautions against it.

"If you have a fantasy of being tied down, being spanked, having a group of people watch, and being humiliated, introduce those components one at a time," O’Reilly said. "And do it in a relationship where you’ve already established trust."

This helps ensure that all the new activities you try adhere to the No.1 rule of kinky play: They’re safe, they’re sane and they’re consensual.

Tip: Start With the Old Standards

Sometimes our sexual fantasies just don’t line up with reality. If you pull out that huge dildo right off the bat, someone could get hurt. And if you don’t have fun, you sure won’t be keen on giving the whole kinky thing another go. The key is to get started with some good old fashioned foreplay. The kind you know works for you and your partner.

"Wait until you’re really turned on to introduce a kinky element or even a new element. You’re more relaxed, and your pain thresholds are higher," O’Reilly said. "So start with what you’re used to doing and add the kink element later on."

Foreplay first. Actually, that’s pretty good advice all-around. (Get some tips on how to bring sex toys into the bedroom in How Sex Toys Can Help You Play Nice With a Partner.)

Tip: Talk First, Sex Later

Because the aim of kinky sex is to push peoples’ boundaries, couples have to really communicate to ensure no one gets pushed farther than they want to go. That’s part of consent, and the only way you and your partner can negotiate it is by talking about it.

"If you’re on the fence about engaging in an activity, talk about it first, maybe integrate a component of this new fantasy by talking about it to see how it makes you feel," O’Reilly said.

"With kink you may have to be aware of safety precautions in a way that you wouldn’t have to if you weren’t using props. Those activities require more talk, planning, agreeing on boundaries ahead of time, and debriefing and caring after."

Tip: Decide on What You Want (and Don’t Want)

Many a major sexy time malfunction could have been prevented with some good, frank negotiating. No, you don’t have to write a formal contract a-la "Fifty Shades of Grey" (although the "The Little Book of Kink" includes a handy checklist) but you should lay out your soft limits (things you might consider) and hard limits (the oh-hell-no am I ever doing that things). It can be a little awkward and embarrassing for newbies, but it’s a lot better than the reaction you might get if you spring a kinky new interest on your partner. A whole lot better. It also helps ensure that you and your partner are aligned in terms of your desires. If one of you is interested in a silk blindfold and the other wants to head down to a dungeon, you may have a problem.
Free US delivery on sex toys, lingerie, gifts & accessoriesO’Reilly says you can negotiate this verbally, on paper or using an app like KinkMe.

Tip: Stop Judging

Maybe you think handcuffs are kinky. Or sex toys. Even a new position can feel kinky. That’s OK. There is no sex Olympics, and there are no Russian judges standing by to give you failing marks on your not-so-crazy sex life. The key to using kink to create a better, more exciting sex life is defining "kinky" for yourself based on what interests you, what you’re comfortable with and what turns you on.

"I think that if we’re really going to be sex positive and inclusive we have to let people define what kink means to them and we need to stop using 'vanilla' as a pejorative," O’Reilly said. "Everyone can be kinky, so stop judging. And if you don’t want to be judged for wanting to be tied up like a pony, you can’t judge someone who wants to do it once a month, in the dark, in missionary position." (Read more about the joy of plain vanilla in Reclaiming Vanilla Sex: Why It's Hot.)

Time to Get Kinky?

Research shows that the more types of sexual activities a woman engages in, the more likely she is to orgasm. (We can only imagine that men like a bigger sexual repertoire too ... alas, no data!) O’Reilly says dabbling in a little something kinky can intensify the connection between partners, broaden the scope of communication and increase couples’ sexual satisfaction. To accomplish all that, however, your brand of kink must be unique - it must be you. If you think about it that way, getting kinky really isn't that intimidating. So, if you've had enough of nice, go ahead and get naughty.