To have good sex, you need to know how your body works. When it comes to sex, everyone has different tastes, so don’t worry about whether you’re “normal.”
How do people have sex?
Sex isn’t the same for everyone. What makes you feel good might not work for someone else. When it comes to sexual behaviour and wants, everyone is different, but here are some common types of sexual activity:
- masturbating alone or with a partner
- oral, vaginal, and anal sex
- rubbing your bodies together
- using sex toys
- phone sex or “sexting”
- reading or watching porn
Different things turn people on, so telling your partner what you like and don’t like lets them know what’s OK and what’s not.
Is sex good for you?
Having healthy sexual relationships is good for your mind and body. Sex can help you connect with someone, and sexual pleasure is good for your health whether or not you have a partner. Your body gives you a natural high when you have an orgasm. You make hormones called endorphins, which stop pain and make you feel good.
There are a lot of other ways that sexual pleasure is good for your health:
- better general health
- better sleep
- better self-esteem
- better fitness
- less stress and tension
- a longer life
How often do people have sex?
There is no “normal” amount of sex because everyone is different. How often you have sex depends on a lot of things, like whether or not you have a partner, what else is going on in your life, and how strong your sex drive is.
Different people have different sex drives. Your own sex drive can change based on things like stress, the medicines you take, and other physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors. Some people want sex every day or more than once a day, while others don’t want it very often. People who have no sexual feelings for anyone can say that they are asexual.
How can I have a healthy sex life?
Taking care of yourself is the key to a healthy sexual life, whether you have a partner or not. Physically, this means having safer sex, getting tested for STDs regularly, avoiding unintended pregnancies, and seeing a doctor or nurse if you have a sexual disorder or any other health problems.
A big part of healthy sexuality is being happy with your body, enjoying sexual pleasure, being at ease with your sexual orientation and gender identity, and having healthy relationships. To have a healthy sexual life, you need to know what you want and what you don’t want and be able to tell your partners. Your partner should honour your limits, and you should do the same for them.
Talking to your partner about your likes and dislikes and your limits helps you build a healthy relationship and have a satisfying sex life.
How do I tell my partner what I like sexually?
Sometimes you expect a new partner to know what to do sexually, but when things don’t feel that good, you’re disappointed. Communication is a simple way to turn okay sex into a great one.
Everyone is different, so your partner may not know what makes you happy, no matter how experienced they are. You should tell your partner what you like and how it makes you feel. Even if you’ve been together for a while, it’s good to keep the lines of communication open, because what feels good or what you’re interested in doing may change over time.
Some people figure out what they like by having sex with someone, while others get to know their bodies by masturbating. If you know how to have an orgasm on your own, it may be easier to do it with someone else.
Where would you like someone to touch you? What’s the right amount of pressure? How quickly or slowly? You can show your partner what you like by masturbating in front of them or by moving their hand, mouth, or another body part. Or you can tell them what makes you feel good or bad.
It might feel scary or awkward to talk about sex, but it can also be a big turn-on. And your partner might be grateful that you brought it up. If you’re nervous, you can always start by asking what feels good or what kinds of sexual activities they’re interested in. After that, you can talk about what makes you happy. It’s also a good chance to tell them what your limits are and what kinds of sex you don’t want.
How do I talk to my partner about safer sex?
Protecting each other from unintended pregnancy and/or STDs shows that you care, and it can even make your relationship better. It’s totally normal to feel embarrassed to talk about it, but once you start talking, you’ll feel better. Most likely, your partner will be glad you brought it up. Before you start having sex is the best time to talk about how to make it safer.
Telling your partner that you care about them and want to do everything you can to protect them and your relationship is a good place to start. You can also start by talking about the safest times you’ve had sex, which might make your partner feel more comfortable. You should also suggest that you get tested together so that you can help each other.
Before you have sex with someone, here are some good questions to ask:
- Which birth control method makes sense for us?
- When was the last time you were tested for STDs?
- Which STDs were you tested for?
- Do you usually use condoms and/or dental dams?
- Have you ever shared needles with someone for tattoos, piercings, or drugs? (You can get some STDs like HIV this way, and then they can be passed during sex.)
- Have you had any STDs before? Which ones? Did you get them treated?
If your partner won’t get tested or use protection, it could be a sign that your relationship isn’t healthy. When someone says no to safer sex when you want it, it means they don’t care about your health. They might not be the best person to date or have sex with because of this. You should feel safe, well, and happy.
How do I say no to sex?
You can say “no” to any kind of sexual activity. Don’t rely on body language or hope they’ll figure out you’re not interested. Say “no” when you don’t want to do something. No means no, no matter how many times you’ve had sex with them or why you don’t want to do it.
You can also change your mind while making love. Maybe you started having sex but then stopped because it didn’t feel right or you didn’t like it. You can stop whenever you want, and your partner shouldn’t make you feel bad or guilty about it. If they do, it’s probably a sign that your relationship isn’t healthy.
Sexual consent means that both people say “yes” and mean it. There is no agreement without that “yes.” It’s rape if your partner makes you have sex against your will. If someone makes you do something sexually that you don’t want to, that is sexual assault. And it is never your fault if you are raped or sexually abused.
What is sexual arousal?
Arousal is how it feels to be sexually aroused. When you’re turned on, your body and mind go through changes. Your penis or clitoris may get hard, swollen, and sensitive, and you may feel wetness on your vulva or vagina or at the tip of your penis.
You can get excited by sexual stimulation alone or with a partner, by fantasising or having sexual thoughts, or by reading, watching, or listening to erotic materials (like porn). Arousal can also happen when someone touches very sensitive parts of your body (also called “erogenous zones”). But touch doesn’t make everyone feel sexually aroused.
When you feel excited, your body can do many things or nothing at all. When you get excited, some of the things that can happen to your body are:
- Your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature goes up
- Your nipples, labia, and clitoris fill with blood and become more sensitive
- Your penis gets harder and stands up (this is also called getting an erection)
- Your vagina lubricates (gets wet) and expands
What’s a sex drive?
Your sex drive, which is sometimes called your “libido,” is when you want to be sexual or are excited about sexual activities, like masturbation, sexual thoughts, fantasies, or sexual contact with a partner.
How do I know if my sex drive is normal?
Everyone has a different sex drive. There is no “normal” amount of times you should want to have sex. Everyone’s sexual desire and interest in sex is different, and it can change over time.
Stress, the medicines you take, and other physical, emotional, and lifestyle factors can change your sex drive. Some people want to have sex every day or more than once a day, while others want to have sex rarely or never. Some people need to feel very close to someone before they are interested in sex with them (sometimes called demisexual). Some people may not need or even want to have an emotional connection with the people they have sex with. Asexual people are those who don’t feel sexual attraction to anyone.
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is what you might have if you don’t want to have sex much and it bothers or upsets you. If you want to, you can do a lot of things to boost your sexual drive.
What are erogenous zones?
Your erogenous zones are the parts of your body that have a lot of nerve endings and make you feel excited or aroused when you touch them. Most people’s genitalia, which includes the vulva, clitoris, labia, vagina, anus, perineum, penis, scrotum, and prostate, is their most erogenous area. Your breasts and nipples, neck, lips, mouth, tongue, back, fingers, toes, hands, feet, earlobes, buttocks, and thighs are also often erogenous zones. But the clitoris and penis are usually the most sensitive parts.
Everyone is different, and so are their erogenous zones. Any part of your body can be sexual. What makes you feel good might not make your partners feel good, so you need to ask them to find out.
What’s the sexual response cycle?
The way your body responds to sexual stimulation is called the sexual response cycle. It can happen alone, with a partner, or even while you’re sleeping. You don’t have to go through all of the stages of the cycle; you can stop at any time.
The first step is to want to do it, or to have sexually exciting thoughts. When your body gets ready for sex, that can make you feel excited. Your heart rate goes up, your muscles tighten, and blood flows to your genitalia.
The next step is the plateau phase, when you’re really excited and keep that feeling going by masturbating or having sex.
At the end of the plateau phase is orgasm, when all the tension you’ve built up is released in a series of muscle spasms that feel great. Endorphins are hormones that your body makes that make you feel happy and calm.
At the end of the sexual response cycle, whether you have an orgasm or not, you go through the resolution phase. Resolution is when your body goes back to how it was before you got aroused.
What’s an orgasm?
When you reach the peak of your sexual desire, you usually have an orgasm. Most of the time, it feels great. When you have an orgasm, also called a cum or climax, sexual tension builds up until it reaches a peak. Then, pressure in your body and genitals is released.
What happens when you have an orgasm?
There are a few physical signs of an orgasm that are the same for everyone. The most obvious sign is a strong, good feeling in your genitalia and all over your body. About 5–8 times per second, the muscles in your anus, vagina, and penis contract, or squeeze. Your heart rate and how much you breathe also speed up.
During an orgasm, your penis usually squirts out a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of semen (cum). This is called ejaculation. You can have an orgasm without ejaculating or ejaculate without having an orgasm, but usually they go hand in hand.
Before and during an orgasm, it’s common for your vagina to be very wet. Before or during an orgasm, it’s also possible for a different fluid to come out of your vulva (this is sometimes called female ejaculation, or squirting). This is not urine. Ejaculating from the vulva is less common than ejaculating from the penis, but both are totally normal.
Right after an orgasm, your clitoris or the glans (head) of your penis may feel very sensitive or uncomfortable to touch. You might get a “sex flush,” in which case your chest, neck, and face change colour for a short time. Endorphins, which make you feel good, are released when you orgasm. This is why some people orgasm to relieve pain, stress, or to help them fall asleep.
Orgasms don’t feel the same for everyone or every time they happen. Some are very strong, some are very weak, and some are somewhere in the middle. They vary depending on how comfortable you are, how sexually excited you are, and how much sexual tension you built up before you had your orgasm.
How do you know how to orgasm?
Most orgasms happen when you or your partner touch or rub your genitalia during masturbation or sex (oral, anal, or vaginal sex). Most of the time, people with vulvas have orgasms when their clitoris, vagina, or anus are stimulated. Most of the time, people with penises get orgasms when their penis, testicles, or anus are touched. Some people can get orgasms from other things, like putting pressure on their nipples or just thinking about sexy things.
Your hormones, emotions, past experiences, beliefs, lifestyle, relationships, physical or mental health, taking certain medicines, and using alcohol or drugs can all affect your ability to have an orgasm.
Some people can get orgasms quickly and easily, while others have to work harder and spend more time on it. Depending on who you’re with or what you’re doing, you might be able to have an orgasm in some situations but not in others. There is no “right” way to have an orgasm because everyone has a different body.
Some people can’t have an orgasm unless certain parts of their bodies are stimulated in a very specific way or with very specific things (like vibrators). Many people with vulvas can have orgasms by stimulating their clitorises, but not by penetrating their vaginas. Some can’t even have an orgasm through their vaginas. All of these are normal differences. To learn how to have an orgasm, it may take time and practise. Trying out what feels good can help you learn more about your body and what it likes.
Try not to make yourself or your partner feel like they have to have an orgasm. Some people can’t have orgasms when they’re having sex or when there are other people around. Or sometimes the situation just isn’t right, like when you’re nervous, tired, or preoccupied. Some people don’t ever have an orgasm. If you and/or your partner don’t have an orgasm, it doesn’t mean you’re not into each other or that you’re bad at sex. Masturbation and sexual activity can be intimate, fun, and satisfying even without orgasms. If it bothers you that you can’t get an orgasm, you may have orgasm disorder. It happens to a lot of people, and there are ways to help.
What are sex toys?
Sex toys, which are also called “adult toys” or “marital aids,” are things that people use to make sex or masturbation more enjoyable. If you have a sexual problem or a health problem, sex toys can sometimes also help you. People use sex toys for many different reasons and with many different kinds.
It’s fine to use sex toys, but it’s also fine to not use them. It’s a personal choice, and everyone is different. There’s no harm in using sex toys as long as you do it safely.
Why do people use sex toys?
People of all kinds may choose to use sex toys for a variety of reasons. Some people find that using sex toys is the easiest (or only) way to have an orgasm. People with vulvas do this a lot. People sometimes use sex toys to help them do it. People also use sex toys when they are making love.
Some sex toys may help transgender, nonbinary, or nonconforming people feel more confident in their gender identity or get rid of gender dysphoria.
Some people with disabilities or limited mobility use sex toys to make it easier for them to masturbate, have sex, or do sexual activities or positions that would otherwise be hard or impossible for them.
Some disorders, like erectile dysfunction, genital arousal disorder, hypoactive sexual disorder, and orgasm disorder, can be helped by using sex toys. Some people also find that sex toys help them deal with the sexual side effects of certain medications, health conditions, or menopause, such as a low sex drive or less feeling in their genitals.
What are the different types of sex toys?
There are thousands of different sex toys out there. Some of the most common ones include:
Vibrators (aka vibes, personal massagers) — Objects that vibrate (move continuously/buzz) to stimulate your genitals. It’s very common for people to use vibrators to stimulate their clitoris and other parts of their vulva and vagina. But vibrators can also stimulate the penis, scrotum and testicles, nipples, and anus. Vibrators come in all shapes and sizes. Some can go inside a vagina or anus, and others are meant to be used outside the body.
Dildos — Objects that go inside a vagina, anus, or mouth. Dildos come in many shapes and sizes, but they’re often shaped like a penis. Some look like realistic penises, and others are more abstract. They can also be slightly curved, to help stimulate your g-spot or prostate. Dildos can be made out of lots of different materials, like silicone, rubber, plastic, metal, or, break-resistant glass.
Anal toys — Sex toys made specifically to stimulate and/or go inside your anus. Anal toys include plugs (usually called butt plugs), anal beads, prostate massagers, and dildos with a wide base. You need to use lube to use anal toys safely. And it’s very important that any toy you put in your butt has a flared base (meaning it’s wider at the bottom) or some other way to pull the toy out, so it can’t accidentally slip all the way in. If a sex toy goes all the way inside your butt, it could get stuck and you may have to go to the doctor to get it out.
Sleeves (aka masturbation sleeves, penis sleeves, or strokers) — Soft tubes that you put your penis into. Sleeves come in all shapes and sizes, and often have different textures on the inside for more sensation. Some even have vibration or suction. There are also strokers that are specially designed for a larger clitoris or smaller penis, particularly for intersex people or trans men on hormone therapy.
Penis rings (aka cock rings, erectile dysfunction rings, or constriction rings) — rings that go around your scrotum and/or penis. Penis rings slow blood flow out of the penis when it’s erect (hard), which can increase sensation, or make your erection harder and longer-lasting. The safest penis rings are made from soft, flexible materials that you can easily remove, like silicone, rubber, or leather with snaps. Some penis rings have little vibrators on them, to stimulate you and/or your partner. Because penis rings restrict your blood flow, don’t wear one for longer than 10-30 minutes, and take it off right away if you feel any pain or discomfort. And talk to your nurse or doctor before using penis rings if you have a bleeding disorder or are on blood-thinning medicine.
Pumps (aka penis pumps, vacuum pumps, or vacuum erection pumps) — Vacuum-like devices that use a hand or battery-powered pump to create suction around your penis, clitoris, vulva, or nipples. Pumps drive blood flow to the area, which helps increase sensitivity and sensation. Some people also like the feeling of the suction. Penis pumps can help you get an erection, but they won’t make your penis permanently bigger. Some pumps are designed to help treat erectile dysfunction, genital arousal disorder, and orgasm disorder — you can get more information about these pumps from a nurse or doctor, like the ones at your local Planned Parenthood health center. But most of the pumps you buy in sex stores or adult shops are not medical devices, they’re just meant to enhance pleasure during sex and masturbation. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging, and don’t pump for longer than the instructions say. And talk to your doctor before using a pump if you have a blood disorder, or are on blood-thinning medication.
Ben Wa balls (aka Kegel balls, Kegel trainers, vagina balls, orgasm balls) — Round objects that you put inside your vagina. They can help you do exercises that tone and strengthen your Kegel muscles (aka pelvic floor muscles). Kegel balls are usually weighted so you have to squeeze your vagina to keep them inside your body. Some are hollow with smaller balls inside that roll and bounce when you move, making a jiggling sensation. You don’t need these balls to do Kegel exercises, and not everyone uses them for that purpose — many people just like the way they feel inside their vagina.
Packers (aka prosthetics) — objects that look and feel like a realistic penis (usually soft) that create a “bulge” in your underwear or clothes. Some packers also let you pee standing up (called stand-to-pee or STP packers). Many trans, genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people use packers to help affirm or express their gender identity. Like with anyone’s genitals, packers aren’t always sexual or used for sex. But some packers can be worn bent down or sticking up, so they can resemble both a non-erect (soft) penis and an erect (hard) penis, and and can be used for sex.
Harnesses (aka straps or strap-on harnesses) — garments that hold a packer, dildo, or other sex toy against your body. Some are worn like underwear or jock straps, and others may go around other parts of your body, like your thigh.
There are so many different kinds of sex toys and ways to use them that figuring out where to start can feel a little overwhelming. Going to a sex toy shop and asking someone who works there about different products can be a great way to learn more about sex toys and what might work well for you. You can also just try something that seems interesting and go from there. Or you may decide sex toys aren’t for you, and that’s totally OK too. The point is that there are lots of options for different bodies and different kinds of sex — so no matter who you are or what kinds of sex you have, sex toys can be an option for you.
How do I use sex toys safely?
STDs can be spread by sharing sex toys with other people. If someone with an STD uses a sex toy, their body fluids can spread the infection to the next person who uses that toy. So, if you and your partner use a sex toy, it’s important to take steps to prevent STDs.
After you use them, wash them with mild soap and water and before they touch someone else’s genitalia. Putting condoms on sex toys can keep them clean and stop the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Just make sure you switch condoms before the toy touches someone else’s private parts.
Make sure you use lots of lube when putting a sex toy in your anus. Since the anus doesn’t get wet on its own like the vagina does, putting something in it without lube can be painful, uncomfortable, and even dangerous. And never put a sex toy that has been in the anus into the vagina without washing it or changing the condom first. Vaginitis can happen if germs from your anus get into your vagina.
Also, make sure that any sex toy you use in your anus has a wide base or some other way to keep it from going all the way in. If a sex toy goes so far into your anus that you can’t reach it, you might need to see a nurse or doctor to get it out. (Your cervix blocks the end of a sex toy, so you can’t lose it in your vagina.)
If your silicone sex toy doesn’t have a condom on it, don’t use silicone lube on it. Silicone lube can react with the solid silicone in your toy and damage it. Any sex toy can be used with lube made from water (and any condom).
If you’re going to put a sex toy inside your body (in your mouth, vagina, or anus), it’s best to use one made of a body-safe, non-porous material, like 100% silicone (not silicone blends), hard plastic, stainless steel, aluminium, or break-resistant glass. Toys made of materials that don’t have pores don’t pick up germs and are easier to clean.
Even if you always wash your sex toy, porous materials like silicone blends, jelly rubber, PVC, vinyl, TPR, TPE, elastomer, and other rubbery plastics can pick up germs that can cause infections. But you can always use a condom on your toy to keep it clean and keep any germs that might be on it out of your body.
Read the instructions that came with your sex toy or ask the staff at your local sex toy store for the best way to clean and care for it.
Use only sex toys that are made to be sex toys, especially if you are going to put them inside your body. DIY sex toys might not be safe, especially if they can break, have rough, sharp, or loose parts, or are made of materials that aren’t clean or can cause an allergic reaction.
Specialty stores, which are usually called sex shops, sex stores, or adult stores, sell sex toys. Depending on the store’s rules, you might have to be 16 or 18 or older to shop there. Some pharmacies, drug stores, and large retail stores sell a small selection of the most common sex toys, like vibrators.
There are a lot of sex stores and sex toy brands with websites where you can buy their products (they usually mail them in plain packaging for privacy). To make sure your sex toy is really the brand and material you think it is, it’s best to buy it from a trusted store or website that has a lot of information about its products.
Some sex stores are more for women or the LGBTQ community than for men or straight people. Feminist and some LGBTQ-centered sex stores have a wide range of products for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations, as well as staff who make women, femmes, and LGBTQ people feel more welcome, supported, and knowledgeable.