A few weeks ago I posted a blog article about what people don't tell you about sex. The topics of sex and sexuality fascinate me because there is so little collective knowledge out there for people to access. Even so, much of the information out in the universe is pretty crappy.
Here are a few more things about sex that no one ever tells you.
- Masturbation is healthy and good for you! I was an early masturbator. I learned that it is a private thing and not something that I should do in the family room (what can I say, I liked rubbing myself on our couch). I don't remember ever being told it was bad or unhealthy. Masturbation is fabulous for lots and lots of reasons. As a sex educator, I think it is so important for people to be able to bring themselves to orgasm. Masturbation puts you directly in touch with your own sexual response cycle. This can be a scary thing to those who have grown up with the belief that masturbation is dirty. My personal thought is that female masturbation is talked about less because our genitals are mostly hidden. This can give someone the feeling (whether it is directly said or implied) that female genitals are dirty, gross, or any number of equally disparaging descriptors.
- Masturbation can result in deeper, more robust orgasms than having partnered penetration! The majority of my orgasms while masturbating are pretty freaking amaze balls. There are times, of course, that partnered sex can result in fabulous orgasms. The fact that I know my body (and the way it responds to sexual stimulation) so well is a huge factor. Simply put, no one can make me orgasm the way I can, and that it totally ok.
If you want to see a hilarious bit about masturbation vs. partnered sex, check out this video from a Wanda Sykes stand up bit. For those of you who lack patience, skip ahead to the 2:40 mark.
- Genitals come in all shapes and sizes! This is huge! Genital shame is not only very real, it is one of my most favorite topics. Classic medical text book drawings and most of the mainstream pornography shows genitals in a very specific way. Labia are small, pretty, proportionate, and pink. It's great if you have this type of labia, but it really sucks if you don't. Factors like your ethnicity and having had a vaginal birth can affect the way your labia look. As someone who is half asian, my labia are different from the "norm" because of my skin pigmentation. I also have larger labia than the "norm". At one point, I even asked my ob/gyn about labiaplasty and the reply I got was less than encouraging. This is what he told me (I now see a fabulous female doctor) "well, they're larger than normal but definitely not the largest I've seen." Now my philosophy is that, unless your lips are so large that they get in the way of zipping up your pants, labiaplasty is a huge waste of money. The scar tissue as a result of surgery can also de-sensitize your labia, and that is something many physicians don't tell you about either. When it comes to male genitals, there are a few different types that are considered the "norm". Medical drawings show flaccid penises that (in my humble opinion) are pretty long and most porn movies show hard penises that are pretty darn big. Ethnicity can make a big difference when it comes to the color of your penis. Many ethnic men have penises that are significantly darker than the color of their skin.
- Porn is not sex education! Now let me be clear, there are some really good sex education videos out there. What makes them different from random pornography is that they are specifically labeled as sex education. People on the screen may very well be porking each other, but there is usually some sort of introduction to the activity or even voice overs telling you what the people are doing. It is disturbing to me as a sex educator that people look to porn as education. Porn is made to be as visually stimulating as possible. Pornography is not reality and the performers are sexual athletes.
- The majority of women can not reach orgasm via intercourse! Estimates are that between 20% and 30% of women have the ability to achieve orgasm through penetrative sex. Even so, orgasms are never a guarantee. In case you missed it, that is a pretty significant number of women! This can result in some pretty frustrated women (and their partners). Thankfully, many women find that using a well placed clitoral vibrator can get them over the non-orgasmic hump.
- Sexuality is fluid! This may be a shocker to some. I'm the first to admit that I have experienced some strong sapphic lust. As someone who is 40, I can see that I probably had some of those feelings years ago, but was never comfortable enough to articulate them (much less act on them). Just like our preference for food can change as we age, our preference for what type of sexual behavior can change.
- Sexual behavior/activity is not the same as sexual identity/preference! I get the "am I gay?" question A LOT. Many heterosexual folks get really confused if they happen to enjoy a sexual activity that is deemed "gay". A dude who enjoys getting "pegged" or anally penetrated with a strap on dildo isn't always and necessarily gay. Sexual behavior does not always correlate with sexual identity. Yes, there are definitely men out there who love getting pegged and self identify as gay. Think about this: enjoying Chinese food doesn't necessarily make you Chinese any more than wearing make-up makes you a female.
- Everyone has body image issues! Repeat after me "no one thinks about you more than yourself." Most of the time we are so consumed by our own body image issues that we have little time to dissect and judge whomever we are sleeping with. As a dating and sex coach I know that men are super afraid of rejection. They also tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about their penis size and if they are able to satisfy their lover.
- The vast majority of people who have an STI don't know it! Most research estimates that between 70% and 90% of people who have an STI are not aware of it. If left untreated, many STI's can cause major fertility and other health complications. At the very least I recommend getting a complete HIV/STI screening on an annual basis. People who engage in barrier free sexual activity or have several partners (and don't know the status of their partners) should be tested every 3 to 4 months.
I know that I am probably only touching the surface of what people almost never tell you about sex. Feel free to leave your personal comments below (hint, hint).