As is my usual Monday gym ritual, I was on the elliptical with one of my good friends, discussing her love life. She’s in her early 30s and finds herself regularly facing down the barrel of dating peril: Tinder dates and emotionally stunted f*ckboys in the all-too-often depressing single scene in Chicago.
As she told me of yet another lackluster hookup, I found myself waxing poetic about anatomy, the need for egalitarian sexual etiquette, and other basic sexual health advice that I find myself regularly giving to my friends. I find it rather vexing that my close friends—friends who have access to me and the wealth of my sexual health knowledge—are still asking the most rudimentary sex-ed questions.
It got me thinking about the women who don’t have a sexuality educator at their disposal whenever they need a lube recommendation. While it might be slightly annoying to answer questions I consider basic, that doesn’t mean other people think they’re basic. After all, as a society, we’re still pretty backward about sex, and when I was first starting to understand my own sexuality, I was pretty backward too. I’m still learning to this day, no matter how much of an “expert” I think I am. (Related: I Tried a 30-Day Sex Challenge to Revive My Marriage’s Boring Sex Life)
While there isn’t an “end” to learning about sexuality (both my own and in general), there are countless things I wish I’d known about sex when I first started getting busy in my teen years. I sincerely hope that these lessons will help other women looking to own their power and enjoy their sexuality to the fullest—even if they don’t have a sexologist BFF.
1. Your clitoris the key to your pleasure.
Man, if someone had just explained what a clitoris was when I was growing up! Maybe I wouldn’t have spent the vast majority of my teens and early twenties wondering why intercourse isn’t making me scream with pleasure.
The powerhouse of female pleasure is the clitoris. It contains 8,000 nerve endings (!), while the vaginal canal has nearly no touch-sensitive nerve endings at all—and that’s why orgasms don’t happen during intercourse for the vast majority of women. So if you’re one of the many people who wonder why you can’t orgasm during sex (I get that question in my inbox nearly every week), it’s probably because you’re not paying attention to this majorly important area. Get the clitoris involved, girl! That’s how you’ll make that O happen. (Try one of these sex positions for clitoral stimulation or get a partner-friendly vibrator involved.)
2. Experiment with G-spot wands and see what that’s like for you.
With that being said, I didn’t know jack squat about the G-spot until I became a professional sex researcher. I had been told, by porn and other non-scientific sources, that the G-spot was either A) a myth or B) was located inside the vaginal canal and should magically give all women orgasms during (mostly useless) sexual intercourse.
Once again, a thorough understanding of what the G-spot is would have made my sex life a whole lot more interesting. If I could tell my younger self anything, I’d say to experiment with G-spot wands, sister! You’re not going to find it by sticking a penis up there, since your G-spot is curved up behind the pubic bone. Do it yourself, and see if sensation around this area feels good to you. (Here’s a full guide on how to find your G-spot and maybe even have a G-spot orgasm.)
And what’s more, it’s totally OK if you’re not into it—G-spot stimulation isn’t for everyone, (Imagine!!! To be a sexually explorative woman without the shame and guilt of not being able to orgasm like fictional porn characters.)
3. Masturbate ALL the time.
Masturbate. Masturbate yourself to the high heavens, my friends. Masturbation is normal and healthy (and objectively awesome). You need to learn what brings your body pleasure in order to have better sex. Studies have even shown that masturbating makes your libido higher, your vaginal lubrication more plentiful, and even makes you more likely to want to engage in partnered sex. (And there are even more benefits of masturbation for your health!)
Orgasms are amazing and you deserve to have as many as you want, forever and always. No, you can’t get addicted to your vibrator. That is a myth. Go forth, get that self-love action, and have fun with your gorgeous body. Go! Go now!
4. Your orgasm comes first.
There is this wild, pervasive idea that women are supposed to prioritize their partner’s pleasure while ignoring their own. It is damaging and, frankly, super messed up. Dear Younger Gigi (and all women everywhere): Your orgasm is the priority. You are not to expect anything less than sexual pleasure and fulfillment in all sexual experiences. (Related: How to Have an Orgasm Every Time, According to Science)
Yes, this includes casual encounters. It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship or non-relationship you’re in; every sexual experience should be positive, wherein your pleasure is considered critical to the success of the hookup. End of story.
5. YOU are responsible for your orgasm.
That said, it is you, not your partner, who is responsible for your orgasm. Ask for what you want. If you’ve been masturbating (like I hope you have), you know how you like to be touched and what brings you pleasure. Don’t fake orgasms to please someone, don’t “take what you get,” and don’t just lie there like a dead fish and wonder why you didn’t see stars in the wake of orgasmic bliss.
Communicate what you need to have an orgasm. Be kind and gentle with your partner. We all feel vulnerable during sex. We all just want to do a good job and have orgasms. If your partner is a jerk to you because you asked for what you need to orgasm, don’t hook up with that person. Ever.
Remember that orgasm doesn’t happen during every single sexual experience, either—and that’s really okay! Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to “finish.” This isn’t a race. It’s sex! And sex should be fun. Focus on enjoying pleasure. If you have an orgasm, great. If your needs were met, you felt safe, and your partner did everything they could to make sure you had a positive experience, that’s great too.
6. Enjoy your sexuality.
Lastly, be a slut if you want to be a slut. This whole idea of “slut” as a negative way to describe a woman who has a lot of sex is just something the Patriarchy made up to keep you down. Enjoy your sexuality. Have as much or as little sex as your heart desires. Go out there and do your thing. Shame is such a waste of time when you’re out here trying to live your best life. (Just don’t forget to do it safely.)
By Gigi Engle