A month or so ago, a Reddit thread asking commenters to share things about sex they wish they were told but weren’t went absolutely viral. Many women’s pubs ran with this idea tweaking it ever so slightly. I think that’s a great thing, because whether we know these things, or need a little reminding the popularity of these types of articles shows us how vital it is to talk about sex, babes. Since it’s the season for countdowns, I’ve started one here, and hope that readers add to this dialogue of things every woman should know about sex (or at least remind herself).
7. Oxytocin: Is this love drug for real? Indeed, this hormone secreted by the posterior pituitary gland is the real deal. Oxytocin, released as a neurotransmitter in the brain, has been proven to be responsible for pair bonding and increased feelings of attachment, especially during sex, birth, breastfeeding, and other physical expressions of intimacy. So, there’s a chemical reason for why you’re that into him after you guys get it on. Post-sex, do men release just as much of it as women? In what other ways can this love hormone modulate human interactions? We are looking to science to answer all kinds of questions about how we have relationships. New research suggests that the chemical (when used as a nasal spray) can help couples stay monogamous by strengthening feelings of attachment to our loved ones (as opposed to acquaintances or strangers). The implications of this research have yet to be determined (but are totally fascinating if you ask me) and revolve around the activation of the brain’s reward system. Retailers have already marketed perfumes and lotions that boast a dose of the love drug. So, will a little dab do you? This remains to be seen. I’m no Madame Curie, but I’ll stick with my eau de bod. What’s exciting here is that science is taking a serious look at the different ways our bodies and mind work in concert to form attachments with one another. And as in all things having to do with sex: knowledge is the best aphrodisiac.
6. Speak up. If a partner does something in bed that makes you squirm, but not in a good way, then by all means, say something. Often times, things happen in sex that might make you feel uncomfortable, or worse, objectified and degraded. It’s tempting to blame porn for a man’s bad manners, but newsflash, women watch porn too. So what’s going on here? Everybody has different standards of what is kinky or sexy, and these standards are likely to change over time, with your mood, and depending on the nature of the relationship you have with your partner. So if your partner does something that rubs you the wrong way, speak up and let him know. In life and sex, everything is subjective, but your feelings are real, so know that. They will consume you if you don’t express them, and a sensitive partner will be mature enough to react to your needs without getting defensive.
5. Know the effects of your birth control pill. There are about as many urban myths about birth control pills as there are wacky ways to avoid pregnancy, and you should pay attention to none of them. Everyone and her aunt has something to say about the pill: you should stop taking it every year to give your body a break; it causes breast cancer; it can prevent breast cancer; it is ineffective when used with antibiotics. Please, do not make a decision about your awe-inspiring reproductive health based off of an article you read on the Internet or learn about from your friends. See your doctor or health care professional and research whatever you ingest into your body.
4. He notices your cellulite; he just doesn’t care. Everyone has flaws. It’s a cliché, but it’s the imperfections that make a person who he or she is. In a world mediated by filters, apps, lotions, potions, and scalpels to make us into someone else, isn’t there something breathtakingly beautiful about embracing the skin you’re in, back dimples and all? You can spend your time trying to cover up or obsessing over what someone else thinks of you, but that’s awfully time-consuming and a waste of effort. I’m not saying don’t care about how you look (to yourself or to others) but looks don’t define your sexuality. Ruminating on them can. You are your hardest critic. So why waste your own time? I’ve talked to many, many men, and it’s not that they don’t notice the little imperfections about us that drive us crazy; they just don’t care all that much about them. What they do care about is how we approach them. So own yourself and keep that self-shame out of the bedroom. After all, if you’re going to get naked with someone, half the fun is letting it all hang out.
3. Queefs. These occur when air uncontrollably is expelled from the vulva. While you might be tempted to feel embarrassed when these occur, don’t be: Queefs happen when a woman is getting extra tight (sign of arousal or possible on-coming orgasm). So they’re actually really hot. Plus, any partner who laughs or teases you is just proving his man-child status, and that is not.
2. Stride of pride, or walk of shame? Only you have to live with your sexual decisions. Slut-shaming was one of the more distasteful trends of 2013, and I’m the last person to get on board, but it is a scientific fact that women experience sex regret more intensely, and most likely after casual sex, more so than men. It would be foolhardy to ignore all the social constructions about sex and gender expectations, and I like to believe that biological and sociological explanations for feelings and behavior are not mutually exclusive. Regardless of the cause, let’s not lose sight of the unpleasant feelings a woman can have when buying her morning latte in last night’s cocktail dress. Forget what your barista thinks, what’s important is how you feel about yourself. And while casual sex can be exciting, you’re more likely to have passionate, mutually pleasurable sex when you are invested in your partner. The majority of women can climax only when they feel an emotional connection to their partner, or have an established sense of trust with that person. Casual sex is just that: casual — like a cheap thrill.
1. Simultaneous orgasms. The double your fun simultaneous orgasms happen when you are connecting with your partner — and communicating. Don’t be shy about telling your bedmate what you are feeling. You don’t necessarily have to talk dirty; start with verbal cues on the level of your arousal. Use the Tantric stop and go method to slow things down until you are both at similar arousal levels. Engage each other’s erogenous zones — neck, ears, nipples — whatever they may be. When you feel your arousal level peaking, instruct your partner to intensify his movements. Bear in mind that no one likes to be “instructed” or told what to do (unless that’s a specified turn-on). To avoid sounding like a drill-sergeant, frame your desires with saying something like, “It really turns me on when you …”
All photos appear courtesy of Jill Di Donato, a writer in New York City.