Last year, the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon lead to an unprecedented rise in the sale of any sex toy that was mentioned in the book. The vast majority of women who got off on Fifty Shades have yet to pitch up at a FetLife convention and there are, undoubtedly, countless unused Kegel balls rolling around in knicker drawers all over the country.
However, EL James particular brand of BDSM lite succeeded in demystifying and publicising the potential joys of restraint and submission. Beginners bondage is more satin and Swarovski than gimp hoods and chains, but it certainly makes sex more sensual. You don't need fancy props or products. Just a simple blindfold will do the trick...
• Eliminating one sense heightens the other. Not being able to see makes you almost entirely reliant on sound, touch, taste and smell. By eliminating visual cues you don't know what to expect and this dramatically increases sexual anticipation.
• Because men rely more on visual cues, wearing a blindfold can decrease their arousal. It tends to have the opposite effect on women. Wearing a blindfold makes them feel less inhibited and they find it easier to fantasise which boosts their arousal.
• Using earplugs to eliminate sound can heighten the excitement and the introduction of different textures such as feathers, fur, or soft fabrics such as satin, velvet will increase the sensory overload.
• Though wearing a blindfold is not dangerous, it requires an element of trust. Some people find it frightening, particularly those who have a tendency to be claustrophobic, so be sensitive to signs of stress.
• Blindfolds should be snug, but tightening with brute force can damage the eyes and leave marks on the bridge of the nose. It can also be painful for the ears. If you are tying a double knot in any blindfold do it at the side because it will dig in to the back of her head if she lies down on it.
• More and more people are experimenting with blindfolds. In 2008, the Durex Global Sex Survey reported that 27% of women and 19% percent of men had used a mask or a blindfold during sex. In a 2013 survey of 2,500 people by online retailer Lovehoney, 69% of people said they had played with blindfolds.
• That explains what there are so many fabulous blindfolds on the market. Current favourites are the Jimmyjane Wink silk and suede blindfold (£45), the Ophelia Midnight Blue Silk Eye mask (£33), Lelo's Intima Black Silk with elastic adjuster (£40) or Coco De Mer's 'Always be Desired' embroidered navy silk blindfold (£25.50).
• You don't actually need to spend any money though. Items of clothing such as nylon tights and silk scarves can be used to make impromptu blindfolds.
• And you don't just have to have sex. Spread a rug on the floor. In the centre, set a tray of aphrodisiac delights. Oysters, figs, honey almonds, chocolate, champagne, and the mandatory vanilla Haagen Daz. Get naked. Blindfold your partner. And feed them with your fingers. Mmm.
• Finally, on a practical note, make sure that the room is safe and your partner won't bump into things or fall over. And when you remove the blindfold, dim the lights so that your partner can adjust to the light gradually.