10 Things everyone should know about sex
For an activity that's so vital to the survival of the human race (and so enjoyable), most of us don't talk enough about sex - if at all. Whether you're a teenager having sex for the first time or a married couple looking for answers to sexual questions, the internet has a wealth of information - it can all seem a little baffling at times. Sexual intimacy in a relationship is important when it comes to feeling happy, fulfilled and in love, so we've rounded up 10 things everyone should know about sex - let's get started, shall we?
#1. Condoms don't protect you from everything
Yes, it's true that condoms do provide a high degree of protection against HIV and STD's, but herpes and HPV are spread through skin-to-skin contact. Not to mention, the pregnancy rate with condoms ranges from 2% to 15%, depending on how careful you are. It's always a good idea to double up on preventative measures, so get tested, make sure your partner gets tested and/or take another form of birth control. Better safe than sorry.
#2. You should avoid doctors who make you feel ashamed about your sexuality
Doctors and gynaecologists are there to care for your health and educate you on how to have a healthier sex life - that's it. They're not there to make moral judgements or coerce you into making decisions you don't feel comfortable with. They should offer support if you find yourself with an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and if they don't, it may be time to find a new GP. Sticking with a GP who makes you feel ashamed can close the doors on communication, which could leave you unwilling to talk about your sexual health with medical professionals (and partners) in future - leaving you more at risk of unwanted pregnancy or infections.
#3. Learning to communicate is key
Bad sex is usually down to a lack of communication. You should never be afraid to tell your partner what they are doing right and where there is room for improvement - sex should be enjoyable for both of you! The sooner you talk about what pleases you, and what doesn't, the sooner you'll be having great sex. And if you don't feel ready to discuss that with them, you're probably not ready to spend time between the sheets with them either!
#4. STI's don't always come with symptoms
Chlamydia is a good example of an STI that usually has no symptoms - you may not even know you have it, and it can affect your reproductive system and fertility. So it's important to get tested regularly; annually is a good idea if you're sexually active. If you don't get tested, how can you expect your partner to?
#5. It's not the end of the world if you do catch an STI
Nearly all sexually active men and women will contract an STI at some point in their lives, and most STIs go away with treatment. But even if you do contract an STD which doesn't go away, it's important to remember that it is just a health issue like anything else, and we all have health issues. Your GP can offer advice and support that can help you come to terms with things.
#6. It can take a while to find the right birth control
Hormonal birth control methods such as the pill and the patch can have a pretty profound effect on your mood and well-being, with mood swings, depression, anger and other emotional changes affecting you. So if you find yourself weeping at the John Lewis Christmas advert (although we do that anyway), it could be your birth control that's to blame. When trying out a new pill or hormonal birth control it's important to track your moods and note any changes. It can take time and a bit of experimentation to find the right fit for your body chemistry, so don't be afraid to shop around.
#7. Confiding in a friend or family member is ok
We're allowed to talk about sex; it's a natural bodily function. And we should be talking about it - you just need to find somebody you feel comfortable talking to and that you can trust, whether that's a work colleague, close friend or even a family member. If you have a question about sex or find yourself unexpectedly pregnant, this support network can be invaluable.
#8. Sex gets better as you get older
It really does! They say 'you have to kiss a lot of frogs,' to find love, and we guess the same is true when it comes to sex. But it's not just about 'kissing' frogs - as you get older you'll get to know your body better, and that means being bold enough to say what you like and what you don't - communicating your wants and needs is second nature the older you get. Plus, the older you are, the more confident you're likely to feel about your body, even if you're not as fit or young as you used to be!
#9. It's ok to not orgasm from intercourse
In fact, the majority of women don't orgasm from intercourse alone, despite what's depicted in pornography and mainstream Hollywood films. Around 75% of women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. Even orgasms from vaginal intercourse could be more closely related to clitoral stimulation than we realise - many researchers believe that G-spot orgasms are actually clitoral orgasms stimulated from deeper inside the body (1). Remember, there is no 'right way' to have an orgasm, it's all about experimenting to see what works for you (and that's half the fun!).
#10. Size doesn't matter as much as most men think
There are loads of men out there wondering, "Is my penis too small?" Well, we've got some good news for you. Size does matter to some people (2) but not nearly as much as you might think. The average penis is around 5.5 inches long (3) and most men are close to that average. Comparing yourself to men in porn isn't going to give you a realistic idea of what yours 'should' look like - it's a bit like watching the Olympics to see how you should look after a gym workout! Far more important than size is the willingness to please and the connection between you and your partner.
READ THIS NEXT: Can casual sex make you unhappy?