Do you remember your first sexual experience? There was likely some fumbling in the dark; awkward, slobbery kisses; rushing and finishing; and then wondering what all the fuss is about. What if you had knowledge about how to have good sex or even great sex? What if someone had taught you to talk with your sexual partners to learn what they like and don’t like? What if you understood that sex has negative consequences AND positive consequences?
Imagine learning about sex like we learn about math or chemistry – matter-of-factly and without judgment. A class that teaches us about anatomy including the clitoris, penis, perineum, g-spot, prostate, etc. Creating class projects that map out the largest sex organs – the brain and skin, and participating in groups that practiced communication, consent, and respect.
That first time having sex would look significantly different. The people involved would know to ask their partners what areas of the body to touch, kiss, lick, or spank. The goal would be bigger than orgasm; it would be about pleasure. The owners of each body would know how their body is built and they would have language to describe what they want and how they want it.
Now, I understand that the US of A is a prudish society or pretends to be, and the idea of teaching about sex at any age is – *gasp* – horrifying. Sex is a secret best taught through R-rated movies, porn, or the writing on a bathroom stall instead. These being such inclusive mediums for healthy sex. (You can’t see but I’m rolling my eyes.)
Listen up, folks. Sex happens.
Why? SEX feels gooooooood. Unfortunately, it very often doesn’t lead to orgasm or we settle for just OK sex, because most of us don’t receive comprehensive, inclusive, and positive education about sex.
Unless you are asexual, chances are you are engaging in sex. Masturbation is sex, for all those InCels (involuntary celibates) out there who are yelling at me right now. Kissing might be sex for some, and for others, only sex leading to procreation counts.
Honestly, how you define sex is up to you with the ever important caveat: sex should always include consent of all parties involved.
Since this is our first time together, I am going to walk you through some positive sex education with the goal of possibly elevating your sex life. Besides the brain, the largest sex organ is the skin, and our skin is full of nerve endings. There are so many ways to interact with skin that feel good, and I encourage you to spend some time getting to know them. Heat, cold, firm, soft, stroke, peck, lick, kiss, nibble, caress, spank ... where is my thesaurus?
The brain is busy dumping chemicals and hormones into our bodies that intensify our senses and reward us for our lust and attraction. Don’t let the fog of anticipation distract you from communicating – use your brain to pay attention to your partner’s body language and ask questions so you are clear about needs, wants, and desires. Speak up for yourself as well, and be clear about your needs, wants, and desires.
There is a good chance that you may not know what you want or desire. Say hello to masturbation ... again! If you don’t know what feels good for your body, why would you expect a partner to know? You are not alone in this expectation, and when most people don’t know how their bodies are built, it is not surprising that orgasms are elusive or sex is a chore.
If your partner has male genitals, the glans or head of the penis is where the majority of nerve endings reside. If the penis is uncircumsized, the foreskin can be used in the stroking of the penis. The scrotum is holding the testicles and likes to be held and caressed. Ask your partner how much pressure to use because the testicles are fragile and folks have different pressures they may like. The prostate, when stimulated, can intensify an orgasm or just feel really, really good. Accessing the prostate requires inserting a finger or appropriate toy and lots of lube into the rectum. If you are interested or just getting started with anal play, please do some research first because a lot of damage can be caused to the body by rushing this activity. Finally, don’t forget the perineum, the spot between the scrotum and anus. Stroke it!
If your partner has female genitals, the glans or head of the clitoris has a lot of nerve endings but so do the legs and bulbs of the clitoris. What?! The clitoris has legs? The legs of the clitoris are behind the labia, extending down. The vulva consists of the inner and outer labia, the clitoral hood, and the glans of the clitoris - this whole area wants attention. The legs of the clitoris swell during arousal, making the labia sensitive to touching, licking, vibrating, and so on. The vagina is the internal part of the female genitals and it is a muscle, expanding to fit around anything entering or exiting. The majority of nerve endings in the vagina are located near the entrance and the g-spot is located on the front wall of the vagina. Stimulating the g-spot can be done with fingers or a toy, curved towards the front of the body. Again, visit the perineum between the vagina and anus.
Everyone is built differently, and although I used the binary of male and female, genitals include a spectrum of differences including Intersex. Genitals come in all colors, shapes, and sizes with an infinite number of ways to stimulate them. If you don’t know what to do with a partner’s genitals – ask them.
Is it beginning to make sense as to why communication is so important? Ask yourself and your partners what feels good, what turns you on, what works, and what doesn’t.
Approach your next sexual engagement with awe and wonder. Become an explorer of the body, a thoughtful student of pleasure with nothing but time to learn and sink into sensations. Challenge your expectations, biases, judgments, and misconceptions. Make each encounter with pleasure your first.
Erin Brandt (she/her/hers) has been a sexologist for 15 years. When she’s not spreading sexual knowledge, Erin can be found learning from her child, hiking with her partner, cuddling with her pitbull, knitting with her cat, dancing with friends, and searching for the nearest hammock and ocean breeze.