Sex Ed 101

You've got questions, we've got answers

Blame it on developing early or having had access to HBO as a kid, but I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t, for lack of better phrasing, fascinated with sex (family members of mine, now would be a good time to put on your ear muffs). It wasn’t that I was planning on having sex so early; I just wanted to fully prepare myself for the inevitable chance that it would happen one day. And having never had older siblings, I set out to educate myself the only way an indoor-cat kind of over-achiever knows how: I studied. As a pre-teen I devoured the puberty books my parents stealthily left on my bed, memorizing the diagrams and text like I was preparing for a test (which I later aced in high school health class). In high school, having seen too many episodes of Sex and the City, I bought my first vibrator, and in college I fulfilled my Resident Assistant educational programming requirements by hosting sex toy education classes.

Most of the limited sex education we get in our lives is about the big important stuff. STIs. Pregnancy prevention. What your Fallopian tubes look like. The rest is that Cosmo crap about helicopter sex moves and 135 different ways to perform fellatio, which is pretty much useless unless you’re in a heterosexual relationship with a partner who likes having chocolate drizzled all over his man parts. Which leaves us with a dearth of practical information about how to actually enjoy sex once we start having it. So to kick off Feminism Month, Meg has agreed to let me take the reins on a mini-series about sexual exploration within relationships, and how to make the most of what I consider to be the great reward of monogamous relationships.

So let’s go. Ask the questions that have been swirling around in the back of your mind but you haven’t gotten up the nerve to ask. Ask about things you think nobody else wants to talk about. Ask the things you’ve been otherwise too embarrassed to talk about in real life. (Ways to initiate? Orgasm advice? Sex toy recommendations? Lay it on us.) We’ll round up our answers later this month, along with insights from the staff and a few of the most downright useful things I’ve learned on this journey so far.

And don’t forget, you can always leave your comments anonymously. Just make sure both your name AND email address are anonymous, or else Gravatar will pick up your photo and autopopulate the comments section with it.

Photo: Kara Schultz

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  • moonitfractal

    How do you keep sex fun after trying to conceive for what feels like an eternity, while contending with things like ovulation tracking and having to time intercourse?

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      Oh lady, I feel you. Add in a permanent houseguest and back problems and… please make it fun again?

    • Jessica B

      While I cannot say I’ve been in that specific situation, I have been in a rut. Vibrating cock ring, those “sexy truth or dare” cards or dice, perhaps some porn (or not, you do what you feel comfortable with), and definitely throw in a bottle of wine/alcoholic beverage if you drink. You may feel silly at first, but those things are a great way to get all touchy-feely without being gross, and can be fun in a giggly sort of way.

      • moonitfractal

        Good suggestions. I think part of the problem is a general lack of libido, along like feeling like sex is not only work, but pointless work. Can anyone speak to that?

        • Anonymouse

          I haven’t been in your exact situation, but I have also struggled generally with getting it back on track, and for me, the longer I wait to have sex the more frustrated I get and then it makes it even harder to initiate/want to be a part of it.

          My suggestion though is to try and focus on your sensuality without thinking about any of the other things that are making it impossible for you to enjoy sex right now. So — take a long bath with a glass of wine and some candles you love the smell of. Put on some clothes that make you feel sexy. If intercourse itself is feeling like work, focus instead on just connecting with your partner — have a makeout session that gets a little handsy. If sex isn’t the end goal, if just feeling sexy is, it takes a little of the pressure off which may (hopefully) make you WANT to have sex.

          • Sarah

            I know I’ve reached a new stage in my life when “a make-out that gets a little handsy” sounds really, really lovely and something we should try…

        • Ali

          I don’t have experience with trying to conceive, but I’ve been stuck in a huge rut before. Think back to the times when sex was still semi-forbidden (high school if applicable) and how exciting it was then! And now you can do it whenever you want and if it results in pregnancy, GREAT instead of SHIT!

    • Rachel

      We were trying to conceive for over a year. What helped us was making sure we had sex on days when it was not possible or likely to conceive. By making sure we had regular just-for-fun sex, we didn’t get to a place where sex = chore. Of course, on those days were trying to conceive, it could get a little perfunctory, but that feeling didn’t pervade our sex life.

  • Anon for this

    I am a woman in a heterosexual marriage and… Well, I really want to try anal sex. And while my partner has done some exploration in that region (and I very obviously liked it) this is far outside of what we usually do. And I have no idea how to talk about this with him because this seems like such a super – taboo topic.

    Also, I can’t be the only woman fantasizing about this, right? It’s usually portrayed as something only men want to do, not something women want…

    • In SB

      When he’s near the area just ask him in a breathless voice,”Do you want to put it in?” I say breathless because that’ll physically show him that you’re excited and into it. Otherwise, do what I did: grab his penis and put it in. :)

    • SexEdAnon

      I’m the opposite: my (male) partner is REALLY interested in anal–both giving and receiving–and it makes me scared and uncomfortable. I’ve allowed some experimentation so far, but he keeps bringing it up, and…I just don’t want to. I’ve never heard of a truly 100% positive no-pain experience.

      But I would love to be proven wrong, because I want to make him happy if I can!

      • In SB

        Lube and relax the muscles. Gotta remember that your first vaginal experience wasn’t a walk in the park either.

        • SexEdAnon

          Actually, mine kinda WAS awesome and easy and good. So it’s like “why would I stop doing this thing that feels great to do something I already think is going to hurt?”

          • moonitfractal

            Maybe concentrate on the ‘giving’ side of things for a while? There are a lot of great toys out there designed for men…

          • Nonametoday

            Lots of kissing and touching so you are super turned on, then lots and lots of lube, then one finger, then 2, then let him put it in slowly and not move and maybe stimulate yourself at the same time, then gradually start moving and I promise you it can be awesome. My first experience of this was super painful but with my current partner I’ve had some amazing orgasms this way and have definitely been known to request it. Try to go into it open minded and not expecting it to hurt because then you will tense up and it will hurt. Tell yourself to relax over and over again, remember that he loves you and doesn’t want to hurt you so communicate throughout and I promise tht it can get really good.

            Sorry for the slight tmi!! But wanted to share my advice as a woman who has enjoyed it.

      • AnnieAnonEMouse

        I’m also gonna say, if you try it (or things like it) and you just don’t like it, then it’s possible you just don’t like it. It’s wonderful and important to care about your partner’s desires, but you’re also allowed to have things you don’t like.

        I had a positive, no-pain experience, but it’s still not something I like (fingers? sure! dick? not again, no thank you!) for a variety of not-lube-related reasons, and so that’s kind of just how it is. I wish my partner wanted to receive, but he doesn’t. so that’s kind of that.

      • Jess

        I’ll start with this (which is my go-to line for every time one of my girlfriends asks me about anything): If you’re not ok with it, it’s 100% ok to say that.

        If you are interested in maybe seeing how it is, even if it’s just a little curiosity:

        Start small. Being with someone who really wants it can be intimidating, because what if you don’t like how it feels?! If that’s the case for you, maybe do this part on your own. Try stroking that area first, maybe while you’re stimulating other areas to help bring focus off of that one directly. Assess how it makes you feel. If it feels good, maybe try inserting a small finger or a small bullet vibe (not buzzing). Assess how that makes you feel. Go with something bigger or try movements or turning a vibrator on.

        At any point, if you find something that feels really good definitely vocalize that. Even if it’s just a quick, “What you are doing right there feels good!” If you find something you don’t like, vocalize that too.

        And again, it’s fully ok to say, “I really don’t find this to feel good at all.” There are a lot of things out there in the sex world. Not all of them are for everyone.

        • Cam

          Since I think Jess is talking about experimenting with anal play: DO NOT INSERT SMALL TOYS WITHOUT BASES ANALLY. Unlike the vagina [where unless you are actively dilating the cervix you really can’t get anywhere inside the body beyond the vagina] the rectum keeps going and turns some pretty sharp corners and things can get stuck.
          Bullet vibes (in condoms if you also plan to use around the vulva and vagina, anus germs are bad for them) are great for external anal stimulation, but for insertion look for toys that have bases or handles.

          • Jess

            Good point, Cam. I never went full insertion at first, so I didn’t think about the issue of a base. Probably should have, and definitely did later.

            Also, condoms for toys and gloves for hands!!

      • Anonsexworker

        Platinum lube by wet – the best and available in most drug stores – also note that it is high enough quality that it won’t destroy your condoms or toys unless they are low quality silicone.

        Lay on your back – I know doggy style looks like it makes sense, but you are naturally more relaxed on your back and you can see each other’s faces (crucial so he/she can “read” you) plus he can make an entrance from one hole to the next easily.

        If he/she warms you up first with a finger rubbing then inserting (also with lube!) it won’t hurt and will feel good. Also consider an enema to clear yourself out so embarrassment isn’t even an option.

        Good luck!!!

    • This is another one where I want to recommend reading Savage Love. So much advice on this topic for straight people. So, so much advice.

      • Savage Love is the BEST. We put it on when we’re on long car trips, and it always leads to great discussions.

        • Jess

          For a while Playboy had a satellite radio show (I think they still do, but it’s probably only with special subscription now), and they had some really interesting discussions that sparked conversations for us.

          I’ll have to suggest downloading some of the podcast episodes for our next road trip.

    • Lydia

      You’ve got a great opening! (I see what I did there). Tell him how much you enjoyed the explorations when he went there, and tell him it made you curious. See what he says!

      Also, while I favorited the idea of just lending a hand yourself, it’s great to have a conversation about it, lube on hand, and an agreement to go slowly at first.

    • SarahG

      Don’t do it without lube! Really really don’t. But with lube it can be awesome :) As for bringing it up, I think it’s all about presenting it in a hot way, like the comment about asking breathlessly. Like “this is a fun thing we can try!”

      Also, on the logistics side of the equation: LUBE. :)

    • Chitown

      You’re totally not alone! Female here, and anal sex is something I love. I was always curious, and I really enjoy it. For those saying there are no 100% positive pain-free experiences, I am here to happily say that there are!

      My suggestions, talk about it before (even just in the heat of the moment), absolutely use lube, and don’t be afraid to try multiple positions (this can make a huge difference) or to just stop and try again another day if you’re uncomfortable/in pain. Even as a veteran, occasionally it just doesn’t work out.

      • In SB

        Yeah, once you got it down it’s AMAZING!!! LOL.

      • Anon

        So, have you ever gone through a period where you didn’t like it anymore? Like, I used to like it, and then the last time we tried it, I got all tense and it was awful and now the thought of it induces serious clenching and fear and anxiety and misery. Anyone been through beginner stages twice?

    • I personally didn’t like it, but I have a girl friend who loves it. So it is definitely not a guy-only thing and you shouldn’t feel weird about being interested in it!

    • anonymous

      Can someone explain the physiology of this to me? Maybe this is a stupid question – but what’s the point of anal if you’re female and therefore don’t have a prostate?

      • anon today

        So for me, the physiology depends a lot on the position. If I’m on my back during anal, I’m 100% doing it for my husband, because I don’t get anything out of it in that position. It doesn’t hurt, but it isn’t pleasurable either. But if he enters me from behind, it just creates a different sensation of pressure in just the right spot that feels amazing, especially if I’m also rubbing my clit at the same time. So it is certainly possible for anal to feel good for a woman, regardless of the non-existence of a prostate. Even just playing with the anus can feel pleasurable. If you’re at all interested, the best thing I can suggest is to just play around with it and see what feels good to you and what doesn’t.

      • Anon

        I had a female partner who is guaranteed to have an orgasm through anal. It can still feel really good.

        I’d recommend, pre inserting anything, try just massaging externally, along with rimming. Rimming feels really good. If you’re not a fan of licking barrier free, use a dental dam or non-porous clingfilm/saran wrap, and put a little lube on the underside as that enhances the experience for the receiver.

        It’s a great way to relax and get ready for more – if that’s what you want.

    • Anonymouse

      I’ve had anal sex with every one of my partners EXCEPT my husband. We tried once, he freaked out a bit, and we never tried again. You’re definitely not the only woman fantasizing about it.

      I would broach it either: during postsex afterglow, assuming you’re one of the annoying couples (like we are!) that discusses the sex you just had after you had it, OR while you’re having sex bring up that you’ve been fantasizing about it a lot.

      When you finally try it though: USE LUBE, RELAX and GO SLOW.

    • We’ve found that lube, wine, and the missionary position worked really well here. Something about the different angle made it much more comfortable initially than the other way. And for me at least, the initial pain/weirdness is the only problem – once that’s over, it feels great! Try different things, communicate constantly, and take a break when you need to!

      • Anon

        Okay, so this is super gross, but what about hemorrhoids? My partner is really into the idea and I’d like to try, but I have skin tags/hemorrhoids there that already make me kind of self-conscious and I’m worried we’ll hurt something. I can’t be the only one.

        I’m kind of icked out and also dealing with a long-ago trauma in this area, but at the same time, I really would love to be able to move forward and explore this with the guy I love and trust so much. The annoying physical issue is the main barrier at the moment.

        • Anon

          Weirdly, it is meant to be good for them. Though I’d recommend fingering first.

          Of course, in general, you should always work up to it – never just go straight for the… well, p-in-a I guess!

          • Anon

            Thank you, I was wondering the same thing. ok, deep breaths, i guess we’re going to start trying this again.

        • anon

          I know this post is supposed to be about sexual exploration, but as someone who used to like this, but now has to deal with hemmorhoids, just do NOT go there. Trust me. It’s pure pain and no pleasure. You will thank me later.

          If you get rid of the annoying H, then go for it. Until then, I would highly recommend not trying it.

  • more anonymity

    Oh! Can we talk STDs/STIs? Please.

    My specific question is how to encourage ADHD partners to get tested already without nagging all the damn time? Currently I’m nervous because we haven’t been as 100% safe as we *should*. Anything to head off my nerves before my doctor appointment Friday would be much appreciated.

    • ElisabethJoanne

      My husband has ADHD. We find rewards work best to motivate him. The best rewards are ones he can get immediately after positive behavior. I keep a few chocolate bars hidden for this purpose. A reward he has to use executive functioning to get after the behavior is ineffective. He loves books, but because he has to choose a book and order it, offering him a book for each 5 lbs. he loses has been an ineffective motivator.

      Also, break up the task into each step. Taking out the trash is 2 chores on his list: taking out the trash, and replacing the liner bag. A clinic visit would be at least 4: make appointment, gather health insurance information, attend appointment, call for results.

      • more anonymity

        I like the rewards idea. We’re currently long-distance so I’m not in a position to implement it right now. But I’m filing it away.

        And breaking out the steps makes a ton of sense. That much I can do from here!

    • Jessica

      Maybe you could go w/ your partner to get tested? Are there any community clinics in your area? The standard STI tests can be done w/a simple urine sample (+HIV w/a cheek swab) and many community clinics will do these tests for free…

      • Jessica

        Sorry, posted too soon. If it was free, you could go w/him even if you don’t need testing, and if you could be in charge of making/remembering the appointment and following up on the results, that might help.

        • more anonymity

          Going with may work, but I think the bigger hurdles are figuring out what insurance covers and where it works, finding clinics in my partner’s area, and making the actual appointment.

          I am resisting taking point on those because I don’t have the insurance information (long-distance dating) and I’m trying to not set a precedent of me always being in charge when a project requires planning (or other executive functions). Definitely struggling through the process of learning how to work together.

  • Anonymous1

    Ok, let me start this (I’m sure to be very popular) post ^^ (see? I’ve even mastered the anonymous identification :) At least I hope… Mom if you can read this, please stop reading ^^)

    So here’s my question… How do you stay interested ? I really love my husband and he’s the sexiest guy on the planet for me, but between work, the baby, breastfeeding, taking care of the house, general tiredness… Not to mention having been together for several years… Often I really have to work at it to get in the mood. I don’t even “practice” alone anymore, I’m just so tired :( Do you have any suggestions on how to get our sexy back (that do not involve swapping wives or tying ropes… no judgment at all I just do not see us going this far… yet ;p )

    Thank you

    • Anonymous1

      Oups sorry did not realize 4 had posted before me, not start the post’s comments then but continue :)

    • Hey nonny nonymous

      Caveat is we have no baby, so I don’t know if this would work, but we’ve had some success recently just making appointments during the day and … not having super high expectations? Like, we’re making an appointment and we’re having a quicky and it’s sort of to keep us in the habit? Then at other times there’s less weight of “OMG we haven’t had sex in forever and it has to be amazing because it won’t happen again for so long.” And, honestly, the afternoon quickies have been unexpectedly lovely at times. Maybe because there’s less expectation, maybe because we actually sort of plan our days around it and it’s not at the end of the day when we’re both exhausted, I don’t know, but they’ve exceeded my expectations for them as events in themselves.

    • Anonymous38

      I feel really bad, because my BF is NOT the sexiest guy on the planet for me… He is the love of my life, I am very positively sure about that.
      But the sex just isn’t as good as with some of my ex-boyfriends. This makes me question sometimes whether we should marry or not.
      Any advice on this? I feel like I could still be very very happy with him for the rest of my life, but at the same time I’m wondering if I wouldn’t be denying myself some seriously good sex..

      • alsoanonymous

        Anonymous38 – Sex is an important part of marriage, but it is just one part. It is also a learned behavior – it doesn’t just stay the same forever and it can change to fit your needs. If you two feel loving and committed to each other (and it really comes out in your post that you do), then hopefully you will feel secure enough to communicate with each other and things will improve.

        As good as your ex may have been, considering the commitment of marriage means considering a lifelong dedication to each others’ happiness – and this includes happiness in the bedroom. Don’t worry if everything isn’t perfect now. You have years ahead of you to discover and practice and become the best possible sex partners for each other – adjusted ‘just so’ to fit each others’ needs. :)

    • I don’t have nearly all those issues that could interfere, but I wonder if you could reframe how you think about sex? In other words, for me orgasms make me sleepy, so if I’m tired I usually want to have one to help me get into a deeper and more restful sleep.

      How much just touching do you do? Maybe before you get back to full on sex you could enjoy more physical contact during the here and there seconds that you’ve got with the understanding that it is not going to further?

      • OMG YES with the great sleep! Orgasm = best sleep ever and wake up refreshed and contented. I thought I was crazy, and my poor husband can’t understand why I pretty much roll off him and pass out. I wish he knew it was a compliment!

        • I always joke with my husband that we’re opposite of stereotypes! He wants to cuddle and I want to fall asleep! :)

      • peek-a-boo

        The only times my fiancee and I fall asleep wrapped up together is after sex. Orgasms make me wicked sleepy and we always cuddle together afterward and I think my deep breathing puts him to sleep too =)

    • happy anon

      We started tumblrs which we post to whenever we come across something we’re interested in doing, or just generally arousing. Keeps us excited throughout the day/week.

    • Maria

      Interested is… and interesting concept. There are some things in life, sex included, that you don’t need to be interested in or excited about to enjoy. Think exercise – you might not be terribly enthusiastic about going for a run, but once you get out there, it’s usually enjoyable (substitute in any activity you like, if running makes you cry, that’s obviously not a good comparison!). Sex is the same.

      I’m not quite advocating “lie back and think of England” but the science is pretty solid – once you get started, you’ll start to enjoy it. Sometimes it is as simple as making the time, and let go of any high expectations. Good is good enough, sex is great when it’s mindblowing, but doesn’t have to be mindblowing every time.

      Timing is important for me too. I can’t do nighttime sex anymore – too tired. Weekend mornings, lunchtime and mid afternoon are good go times. Knowing that helps to make the most of what time we have.

      Works for me at least. I’m much less interested in sex than my partner but we still have a great sex life cause I’m generally happy to give it go even if I don’t feel like it to begin with. Oh, and that’s not to say that I never say no. For me there’s a difference between “not really interested” and “definitely don’t want to”.

  • no one

    I have so many questions, since I’ve never really talked with friends or anything about sex!
    1) How do you get it to stop feeling so awkward to want sex/initiate sex? It feels weird to me to put myself out there, even with my HUSBAND, and I can’t get over it. I know he wants it, but somehow letting him know I want it makes me feel too vulnerable or exposed.
    2) Is there a subtle way to work in lingerie in everyday sex? It feels so fancy and almost overdone to break it out any old time!
    3) Period sex. I enjoy it, he’s grossed out. Any way to make it less messy other than doing it in the shower?

    • Anonymous

      Re period sex: try using a product called Instead. It’s a disposable menstrual cup and you can have sex while wearing it. I love them for this and many other reasons. They don’t keep 100 percent of the blood away 100 percent of the time for me, but they do keep 95 percent away! Put down a towel in case and try it!

    • Rae

      First — disclaimer! I’m not a sex therapist, just a regular lady. Hopefully this is helpful and doesn’t sound like a horrible Cosmo sex column, because I don’t mean it to!

      Does your husband seem interested in lingerie? If yes, then maybe wear something that makes you feel sexy under your clothes (new panties, extra cute bra) and ask him to undress you. Or sexier than normal pjs that you put on before your nightly teeth/face routine. Or pull them back on in the morning — coffee with a side of sexy, ooh la la!

      My fiance tells me he is a ‘bottom line kind of guy’ and, while he likes that lingerie makes ME feel sexy, he could kind of take it or leave it! For him, he likes when I unbutton my shirt or wear something with a low back – or just walk into the room naked. He prefers naked to lingerie — so, there’s that possibility for you to try too!

      Period sex — for me, after the heaviest days have passed, I also like it. We use a condom, a little lube, and a ‘sex towel’ on the bed. Maybe seems not so romantic, but I think we just joke about it and feel like, hey, we’re having sex so who cares?! Add some candles to the mix and could balance it out a bit.

      • KW

        I second the sexier than normal jammies. I have a pair that is a top that has a very low neckline and matching capri pants, black with white polka dots. The top alone looks almost like a teddy but WAY more comfortable. They are silky and more feminine than my usual evening wear of tshirts and yoga pants. DH really enjoys when I wear them, esp since I don’t do low cleavage clothing.

    • I suppose, anonymous-ish

      I don’t really have anything for 1 or 3, but 2…

      a. some lingerie can be worn underneath regular clothing (or underneath regular clothing that’s on the thicker/more-concealing side; lace and sequins under thin fabrics isn’t a great plan if you have to take the bus)
      b. some lingerie can be worn as regular pyjamas
      c. some lingerie is just kind of ridiculous and will make your spouse laugh/giggle, and *this is not a reflection on you*
      d. sometimes he will not be in the mood or up for it (especially during stressful or exhausted times) even if you are, and again, *this is not a reflection on you*

      I would say that my husband finding out and/or figuring out that I’m wearing lingerie under my clothes and have been all day is possibly the world’s second-easiest way to get him very, very turned on. (easiest: just go straight for the penis, but this would probably fall under Awkward for you, given question #1)

      At least for me, I’ve gotten more comfortable with vulnerability as we’ve been married longer (I was comfortable with nudity from day 1, which was a bit surprising, but some aspects of emotional vulnerability took a few months to years longer). The “just add time” thing doesn’t always work, and there are usually mild setbacks (see: spouse finding certain lingerie entertaining rather than sexy), but time and comfort with him not making fun of you will probably reduce barriers to initiation. (and if he does make fun of you in a he-thinks-it’s-just-cute-teasing-but-it-makes-you-want-to-hide-under-a-rock way, then tell him that’s how you feel. It may also be worthwhile to note to him that teasing [or whatever behavior makes you feel uncomfortable] makes you less likely to initiate sex. Spouses: not mind readers.)

      Also, each individual usually goes through waves of higher or lower libido (hormones, sleep deprivation, stress, distractions, having-just-cleaned-out-the-really-gross-moldy-tupperware, etc.), so really-really-really don’t take it personally if you inquire re: sex and he’s not interested at a specific time. Totally normal to have husband’s libido higher than wife’s; also totally normal for a wife’s libido to be higher than the husband’s (I don’t remember the statistics, but they’re both extremely common “defaults”). Not weird or shameful for either of you either way.

      Hope all goes well!

      • Jessica B

        I’m a big fan of lingerie being something that makes YOU feel sexy and comfortable. My advice would be to stay away from things that seem really intimidating (latex body suit? probably not. Sheer bra that is still supportive? Good place to start). One of my favorite lingerie blogs did a couple How To posts on wearing lingerie for your significant other:

      • Anon

        Ok, so, I totally agree about finding out i’ve been wearing lingerie all day really turning him on, but my problem lately has been, he gives me a kiss and a squeeze on the tush when I come home, notices the lingerie, and wants to get busy. and i’m like, i just walked in the door, have you fed the cat, can i see the mail, do we have to do this right now? Is something wrong with me? I mean, that was my goal, to get him interested, its just that, i’m not interested at that point. how do you turn off the little voice of the internal to-do list to focus on sexytimes?

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      How does he feel when you initiate? Does he like it, does it turn him on? Or is it kind of hum-drum if you start it? I know that when I’m feeling uncomfortable about starting it, his huge reaction to it makes me feel hot. So I try to think of it that way – that if I do this, I feel sexy, rather than vulnerable.

      • Rowany

        My husband is the one that is nervous about initiating. I co-opted the ’40-beads’ thing I read somewhere and just gave him a bunch of beads. He can hand it to me whenever and we’ll have sex in the next 48 hours. It helps him feel less nervous than talking or worrying about rejection. It doesn’t have to be beads, any clear non-verbal signal could work.


          This is so lovely! I hadn’t heard of it. Does that mean that when it comes to the actual physicality, you feel like you’re initiating, or does it feel like he’s initiated to you?

          • rowany

            The first step of saying “I want sex” is always the hardest, it doesn’t matter if it’s a touch or a word or a bead. So we count the bead as initiating for sure.

    • 1. I’m still weird about it and I’ve been with my husband for almost 4 yrs. I was like this with past partners too! Honestly, I think the most you can do is just keep at it and remember that he is going to appreciate your efforts no matter what. Do what makes you comfortable.
      2. Whenever I get something fun, I will put it on and go show him. That is a really easy way too initiate without feeling uncomfortably “in control” (I guess I am somewhat submissive).
      3. Lay down a towel, use gloves if you’re doing any foreplay, and shower after.

    • We put a towel under us for period sex. But my husband is not at all weirded out by period sex.

      Maybe for initiating you could have a funny signal? Some inner joke kind of thing that makes you both giggle when you say it, but still means you want sex? I waggle my eyebrows at him and he knows what that means!

      • anontoo

        A similar thing – we have a silly nickname for sex – I think it helps both of us when we’re talking about it to call it “codename” instead of “sex”. Somehow asking “are you interested in banana tonight” feels less intimidating. (Disclaimer: not the actual silly name we use.)

        • Strega Anona

          Yeah, we say “sexytime”. It’s not that far off, but it feels less intimidating and more endearing than just “sex” or “intercourse” or whatnot for us. And usually we talk about it earlier in the day or a day or two in advance, like, “do you want to/could we have sexytime tomorrow/tonight?” I like that because the other person can say yes/maybe/no, and you can either plan on it or not, so that you don’t get in the mood and then ask, to be turned down and feel sort of annoyed or hurt about it. (However, even in the case of being turned down, I don’t take it personally because sometimes I’m the one who’s not into it, and it’s not at all a reflection of general desire, etc.)

          Aside from that, I think open two-way communication in general translates to comfort initiating. As I’m comfortable saying literally anything to my partner, sharing my interest in sex is just in line with that. So, maybe becoming more vulnerable about other thoughts/feelings (if there’s room to develop in that way) could be transferable…

        • Rachel

          We call it “lighting a candle”! Like “hey wanna light a candle?” *wink wink*

          • Maddy

            Haha, my fiancé and I like to “play” or have “plays” it’s very silly, but it definitely lightens the mood when talking in general and also helps us distinguish between serious conversations on the topic, as we’re more inclined to just call it what it is in that setting.

          • Or to quote Lily and Marshall:

            “We have to go.”

    • Kris

      1) I’m not sure how you stop feeling awkward about doing it, but I guess practice initiating and work on convincing yourself (if you need convincing) that it’s not weird to ask, and a rejection isn’t a reflection on his feelings for you. As for how to do it, I just flirt a bit (kiss, pat on the butt, compliment, etc) and then take him by the hand and lead him to our room; he understands what that means (yours should figure it out no trouble). Some times he says no, fairly often he will “take care of me” and then go back to what he’s doing (and I will do the same for him if he’s frisky and I’m not).

      2) I hate “lingerie”, my best friend loves it. She just wears it to work. I think the secret is to find some that’s sexy and comfortable…after all itchy isn’t sexy…then you can wear it whenever and it’s a fun surprise when the clothes come off.

      3) I’m going to second using “instead”, I use them for my period (sex or no) and I looooove them.

  • A. Nonymous

    First off, thank you so much for this open thread. I was actually wondering why APW didn’t have something like this.
    Okay, now the questions. How can I initiate a threesome? I’m really interested in it and so is my FH, but we don’t know how to safely go about having one (especially since the friend I asked earlier doesn’t want to now that my FH and I are engaged). How can I keep sex in a positive light when I have body issues? How do I make sure that we still have sex even when we both get really stressed out and my brain won’t let me get aroused?

    • Definitely Anon

      You took the threesome question right out of my mouth. FH and I have been talking about it for years and it just hasn’t happened yet. The girls that I am interested in involving, turn out to become friends and I just can’t do that with friends. And FH is the same with with his friends so we’ve constantly reached a dead end.
      So anyone out there that has done a threesome that has tips and would like to share, please do!

    • also anonymous

      Another threesome-curious lady here, hoping someone chimes in with advice!!

    • Anonymous

      …well, anonymous for a reason, I guess:

      I had a great, great Craigslist threesome a few years ago. I was single, and living abroad, and saw a post from a couple from my home country. We emailed a bit, seemed to get along, and then I went for coffee with her and we hit it off, I went home with her and met her boyfriend and…it was great. One of my favourite single days-memories ever.

      I was worried it was going to be creepy and weird, but it was fantastic. That said, I was kind of a slut through college, so while I had never had internet stranger sex, I had enjoyed enough random hookups that it didn’t feel that strange for me.

      • anonymousx

        please please be VERY CAREFUL finding someone- a friend of mine did this and the woman who contacted her and her boyfriend lied about her age (she was 16, my friend was 20), and there were serious long-running legal consequences. Seriously ask for a few forms of ID if you have to, just in case!

  • Rae

    My fiance obviously wants me to get off during P-in-V sex, but it only happens 1% of the time. So, sometimes he gets me off via cunnilingus before sex, but sometimes we just go for it. Once he finishes, game over and sexytime is done.

    Anyone here have experience suggesting asking your partner to help you finish after they do? I feel like I should just ask already, but it feels like a sensitive topic — he can’t go for round two (or is afraid to try), and since we use the pill instead of condoms usually, there’s perhaps an ick-factor after he finishes. Any advice?

    • Definitely a tricky subject to broach. Dan Savage (if you are someone who likes his style, which some really don’t) has a lot of advice on this one in particular.

      I think I’d broach the topic on how cunnilingus feels really good and how much you love it from him. Then mention that *like many women* you don’t always get off from vaginal intercourse. (If it feels good, even without an orgasm, mention that. Let him know that you have been enjoying it, just not to the point of orgasm. Positive talk can help.)

      You can encourage him to give you more oral attention before vaginal intercourse. If you enjoy giving, you can make that part mutual. If you would like more attention *after* the intercourse, but the “ick-factor” is a problem, dental dams can help with that. Also, manual stimulation or having him help you with a vibrator could work.

      I think a key is to keep the conversation positive and encouraging, while also being firm about your needs. Let him know what *is* going well and how much you enjoy that, and it will help keep him out of the “Oh noes! She doesn’t like my sexing!” mindset and keep him more receptive to input.

      • Rae

        Thanks so much for the thoughtful response. Haven’t asked him to use a vibrator because it seemed intimidating, but I think we could try that. Hadn’t even thought of dental dams, also worth looking into. Positive and encouraging, I definitely want to be that way, I’m a little terrified of putting my foot in my mouth though! We try to be open though, so I think this is all possible :)

        • For things like vibrators and dental dams, if you are able to find a woman-friendly shop, they are great resources for all sorts of things. Some of them also have online stores.

 Gets my personal recommendation.

 is another good one.

        • Anonymous

          I’d suggest a bullet or other smaller, non-anatomically correct vibrator–these are small enough that in certain positions you can use them during intercourse.

          As a bonus, he’ll be able to feel the additional stimulation too. If it’s intimidating, you can frame it as something for both of you, not just something for you.

          • anonimal

            Gotta second the bullet–dude and I use it for before P-in-V, during, and after. I’m just like Rae in that I almost never get off on standard intercourse, and our sexual script seems to follow something very similar to yours. My guy got me the bullet, and it’s really added a lot to each different stage of getting it on. Also, I am totally able to finish more often during P-in-V when using it, which makes both of us happy :).

          • Rachel

            I (or maybe I should say we) agree with all the vibrator comments! It doesn’t need to be anything special either. I think I bought mine online a long time ago because it was one of Oprah’s faves? We both like it a lot and he usually requests it more than I do. If I haven’t had an orgasm and he has I request “finger duty” and we live happily ever after most times.

        • A NO NAME US

          A female sexpert, also featured on Savage Love, recommended cutting a condom open and using that instead of a dental dam. Condoms are a lot easier to find, cheaper, and thinner than dental dams.

          • AnonCat

            Our campus health center recommends cutting open gloves for the same thing.

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      This was hard for me to figure out for a while, too. Can you cuddle back up to him after? Is there anything physical to do to let him know you’re turned on before sex that you can also do after? I outright ask for it – with either a “can you touch me?” or something like it. Because of the ick I ask him to use his hands, and that usually gets rid of the ick. You know, it’s not like I’m asking for his tongue.

      If that kind of wording isn’t for you, are you comfortable asking more coded?

      Also, re the PinV, if he touches you while you’re having sex, does that help get you off then more frequently?

      • Rae

        Wow, that is so simple and sounds like such a good idea. Why did I not think of this?! I say ‘can you touch me?’ before sex, why not after?! Great idea, sincerely.

        For me, when he touches me during sex it feels good, but its just never ‘enough’ to get me there — like it isn’t consistent enough, or in quite the right spot for long enough, or is just awkward depending on the position. We’re most successful when we have a ton of foreplay and have sex while spooning and I touch myself — and its amazing, but I want to mix up the positions as much as he does.

        • AnnieAnonEMouse

          I totally get the wanting some different things. I’d say he touches me after sex probably every time that I don’t come before sex. Now its just part of what we do, and to be honest, I almost enjoy it more than the during-sex orgasms (that only come if I’m on top rubbing against him or if he’s touching me during) because somehow, I feel closer to him after and am more likely to have multiples). I worried in the beginning that he didn’t enjoy it, because he was already unaroused, but I’ve gotten to trust him that he does. So I get why it didn’t occur to ask.

          I think no matter what, the ton of foreplay probably makes the biggest difference for me. And lube! lots of lube!

      • AnnieAnonEMouse

        To add: guys feel their own spunk all the time, you know? Unless he doesn’t masturbate, in which case… I have no idea. I realize tasting it is different.

    • SarahG

      I pretty much never finish before my partner or with him. I dunno, it’s just how my body has always worked. It takes me forever! Like, an hour sometimes. I love sex, but that can feel like forever. Anyway, our thing is that he finishes and then lies next to me and gently eggs me on in various ways (verbal and physical) while I finish myself off. He gets to decompress a bit from having his orgasm and be supportive of mine.

      We have talked about our different, erm, timelines and tried different things over the years but this is generally what works. We have also both had sex where one of us hasn’t come, but still has a good time. As the years go by I notice that we have lost a bit of the new relationship excitement (would love some help on that topic, APW!) and so it takes us both a bit longer. At points this has stressed me out, but just trying to cultivate a generous and non-judgmental attitude towards each other helps with taking some of the anxiety out of that.

      Also, Dan Savage is always saying that 75% of women cannot come from vaginal penetration alone, so you are not alone! I could *never* orgasm from that alone. It’s not how most of our bodies are made. The clit is it! :)

      • AnnieAnonEMouse

        I really only come from PinV if I’ve already had an orgasm before sex starts. Amazing, but true. Which makes for fun multiples, when it works!

      • Rae

        Thanks for your reply — I feel the same way, I love sex, but it takes a while for me!

        We’ve had some conversations about ‘timelines’ as you say, and I know he understands it takes me longer, and that I can still really enjoy sex even if I don’t get off, but I think we haven’t (or, I haven’t) fully discussed that I would STILL LIKE to get off some of those times when P in V didn’t get me there. So, that’s something I’ll be working on!

      • Anon anon

        I take forever too. Under and hour for us is really good, sometimes it’s an hour and a half, and it’s always because of the time it takes me. I have no idea how quickies work.

        I can usually come before or after, and one thing we often enjoy is have the P-chillin-in-the-V while I rub my clit, with us lying side by side (but a little angled toward each other for obvious reasons). This weekend he finished first and kind of dozed while I finished myself. That wouldn’t always work for me, but since I have been feeling like I take a long time, it took the time pressure off while he was still keeping me company. He always says he doesn’t mind, so this one’s just in my head. But it’s good to know it’s not just me!

      • Maija

        I have had years with problems getting off, so i really get how frustrating this is. It has changed with time/ beeing madly in love and very intimate with my now partner. The thing that we usually practice is that while we are in missionary he holds his upper body high enough for me to be able to freely access myself and then i just masturbate while he makes love to me vaginally. He swears by the great view and also says that the pressure he feels inside is really good. I get off very quick due to double stimulation and the sexynes of it. Also the time needed has got shorter and shorter as my body has learned that this is the way to get release. I think in some aspects chenge and variation are overrated, sometimes you got to find the way and stick to it. ;)
        If its a quicky than i usually let him go first and then have my go with vibrator.

      • Anonymous

        I think this is great advice.

        I am a lady with a male partner, but I almost always orgasm before he does, even from intercourse. And then after I orgasm, I get way too sensitive to keep having intercourse and (ugh, I am a jerk) am often too exhausted and bask-y to go down on him. He takes a long time to orgasm when someone else is touching him, and can finish pretty quickly when it’s just him, so we go with that.

        Also, since I so often am the first (or only) one to orgasm when we’re having intercourse, I try to make sure that there are plenty of times that I give him no-strings blow jobs, so that he can get off without my orgasm getting in the way. So if there’s an orgasm imbalance in your relationship, it’s worth asking for that, too. I don’t think everyone has to get off every time, but it’s good if things even out over the long haul. Marriage is long.

    • So, I’m a lady who does not get off from P-in-V sex very easily. I spent the first couple of years with my mister being frustrated almost all the damn time after we had sex, because he’d finish, but I wouldn’t. And I didn’t say anything, and I grew to resent it, and I started keeping score. DON’T BE ME!

      Addressing a slightly different aspect of your situation: communication is KEY. I had to learn to speak up and say to my guy ‘hey dude, it’s cool that you can get so hot and bothered so quickly, but I work differently, so let’s work on this.’ It was so awkward for me, but once I was able to explain that my motor needed some extra time to get going, he began focusing more on that, and now (almost five years into our relationship) I’m up to about a 75% getting off rate. And when I get mine, I very literally give him a high five, and he feels like a champ because he KNOWS how hard it is to earn that high five, because I’ve explained to him that timing is different. Maybe your dude, awesome though I’m sure he is, doesn’t realize that you’re not getting yours all the time?

      Positive reinforcement is the best thing ever, at least for us. If I can say to him “hey, you know how you spent, like, 20 minutes going down on me, and then I got off so fast when we were P-in-V-ing? That was AMAZING.” then he kind of wants to reproduce those results.

      And sometimes you have to be a little pushy. This weekend my mister and I were going at it, and he was ready for P-in-V, and I felt SO WEIRD about it at the time, but I pretty explicitly said ‘hey, so, you need to pay a little more attention to my ladyparts before you’re putting that thing anywhere near me.’ And, well, it worked.

      • Rae

        Seriously, you rock. I think I can use your line “hey, so, you need to pay a little more attention to my ladyparts before you’re putting that thing anywhere near me” in a nice, but firm way!

      • AnonCat

        I’ve definitely used that sort of “umm hey, no. Absolutely no until you get me warmed up more. Then yes, definitely, but you are not putting it in me until I am ready and I am not.” Type of technique on occasion.

    • Anonymous

      I had this conversation myself and it’s hard. I waited until a neutral time and brought up the fact that I don’t orgasm from sex alone. I emphasized that foreplay and sex are really arousing and I’d like to orgasm too. I compared it to stopping having sex before he came of him. It turns out that he was feeling awkward about it as well and also putting pressure on himself to figure out how to make that happen-so much so that it sort of paralyzed him. It ended up being something we worked on together after our talk which is good. Now every time after we have sex he asks to touch me (we always cuddle and clean up a bit first). Now that we know what I like he loves making sure I orgasm too.

      • Strega Anona

        Going along with waiting for a neutral time to discuss it… sometime (not in the middle of sex so it feels less pressured), you could suggest something like, “Something I’d like to try is when you come first, I am really turned on and I’d like for you/me to touch me so I can come too. What do you think?” I like planning ahead/setting expectations, so that’s why this approach would appeal to me.

    • Rachael

      You’ve mentioned that touching yourself during P-in-V doesn’t quite do it for you, but have you tried changing the position or the speed (both of the in-and-out but also of how you touch yourself?). Some of the best orgasms I’ve ever had were from manual stimulation while riding my husband. The trick, for me, is to slow it down – a lot. Crazy slow. May just be me, but worth trying different speeds and positions until the stars align. Super hot for both of us – major tease for him, plus really gets me in the mood for continued P-in-V action.

    • AnonCat

      For us, our usual pattern is various play, PiV, then lay back and cuddle while I get myself off, often with him providing caresses, kisses, nibbles, and playing with my breasts. It works pretty well, I’d say. I get off 95% of the time when we have sex, either with cunnilingus before or masturbating while snuggling after. I wish he could help me get off a little more sometimes but he isn’t very good at getting me off with his fingers.

    • Allison

      Same issue for me, and yes…it is an uncomfortable topic to bring up. I can only orgasm from sex if I am on top (and this is true for some of my friends too!) so I would give that a try maybe. Something about the position and being in control of speed/rhythm helps sooo much. I come in that position 90% of the time but no other position seems to work yet (6+ years of trying)!

      I did want my fiance to help me finish the other times when we didn’t do that one position, but was nervous to ask. I brought up how I masturbate and get myself off and I asked him one day to help me do that after we had had sex. It was AMAZING! A lot better having someone help out and he was happy to have me feel good. With time, he realized that I almost always want his help to finish. I used to have to ask him after sex if he would help me finish but I just mentioned after a while that I would love if HE would ask me…kind of take the stress off of me for asking nearly every time. Now when he is done and finished, we spoon and then he asks “if I want him to play with/touch me.” Having us both feel satisfied has definitely improved our sex life and feeling connected to each other.

      • Ruth

        I just want to totally second the woman on top thing. It seems like in our culture and media, missionary is kind of seen as the default, and all the research says it’s a very difficult position for most women to climax in. I also only cum if I’m on top, and it’s also a great position to give both of you access to your clitoris. Communication is so key when it comes to sex- seriously, I don’t think you can communicate enough. And the communication can be light and fun, it doesn’t have to be heavy or awkward. I always start with the attitude of – my husband loves me and wants me to be happy, he wants me to enjoy myself and enjoy sex with him – so whatever information I can share to make that easier for him, he wants to hear that. I firmly believe that the partners that love us want us to get off, they just might not know how, until we tell them

    • Practicing solo with a vibrator would be a good thing. You can introduce it, show him how to use it.

      I didn’t orgasm for years. Part of it was birth control, part of it was antidepressants. It was frustrating to feel all riled up, but not be able to finish. P-in-V sex works better for me now, but it takes just the right angle for everything to get contact (plus grinding). A vibrator with a clit & g-spot stimulator (simultaneous) worked well to help me figure out orgasms from penetration alone.

      I think another thing that helps me when I can’t get off is to extend foreplay. Make MOST of the encounter about foreplay. He enjoys pleasuring me, I enjoy the pleasuring, and at least one of us finishes.

    • Sometimes after he cums, he stays in me for a little while and I use my vibrator.

    • Anonymouse

      This is the same for me too, but I have two ways I deal with it. One — if it’s a little more planned (we know sex is where it’s headed that night) I try and aim for me to get off first, where it means he goes down on me, gets me off manually, or uses a vibrator on me/I use a vibrator on myself while he kind of holds me from behind and “helps” whether from holding the vibrator, stimulating my nipples or just engaging in a helluva lot of dirty talk while he holds me tight.

      If the sex was more spontaneous or I didn’t get off beforehand I do some combination of the above too — but I usually start by either playfully saying “okay me now!” or grabbing his hand and putting it on me while saying something like “I’m not quite done with you yet”. It’s awkward sometimes, but the more you practice asking for what you want the easier it gets.

    • Anony

      what about manual stimulation or fingering? or vibrators? Or flat out just talking about it and letting him know that since you have needs too, if he isn’t interested in helping you achieve orgasm after he has, you will do it on your own. And than you can decide to either incorporate masturbating after sex into something you do together, or something you do privately afterwards.

  • Dan Savage Forever

    Not a question, just a plug for Dan Savage’s column “Savage Love.” Growing up in a liberal fairly prudish family Savage’s column basically helped me to realize that it’s ok for girls to have sexual fantasies; kinks are pretty normal; self-exploration is not only ok, it’s an important part of maturing sexually; communicating about sex is an essential part of any relationship; and it’s ok to be awkward and inexperienced – just be GGG (good, giving, and game) and find a partner who is too!

    • Maddie

      YES! Love Dan Savage. Love love love.

    • Totally. He’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, and some groups have had legitimate beefs with him, but on the whole, he is a great advice resource.

    • I gotta say, reading Savage Love in college was awesome. (I don’t read it much anymore because I forget.) It was incredibly educational for a gal with a fairly limited sexual history. Not every situation applied to me (hell, hardly any of them did), but damn, if I didn’t learn a lot about the intricacies of intimacies.

    • anonimal

      Greatest piece of sex advice I’ve gotten from him: Fuck First. As in, a sexy tryst before the big anniversary dinner is an excellent idea because LORD KNOWS I’m going to be too full of great food and champagne to get it on afterwards.

      • Hell. Yes.

      • Strega Anona

        Yes….post-large meal sex….as if I need to be stuffed with something else. No thanks ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I struggle a lot with the fact that I don’t want to have sex a lot of the time because I’m TIRED. Also, my sex drive has been a lot lower than it used to be for a variety of reasons, including depression/anxiety, body issues, having RA, not feeling well, etc. My husband is wonderful and understanding and doesn’t ever make me do anything I don’t want to do (duh). I know that sex is an important part of a marriage/relationship, but it makes me feel weird to just “have sex” to do it. If I don’t, I feel like my husband’s needs aren’t being met, and if I do it, the sex just isn’t that good.

    I’ve tried the whole, “Once you get into it, it’ll be fine/you’ll get turned on/etc” but most of the time, I am so exhausted/not feeling aroused that I am just glad to go to bed when it’s over. I enjoy being close to my husband in that way, but it isn’t quite the experience I wish it was.

    So my question. How do you balance “having sex for the good of the relationship” when you don’t want to do it with staying true to you/your body/your desires? Anyone?

    • In SB

      Ask him to give you a massage with oil. And I mean to massage EVERYWHERE with the oil. That always does it for me no matter how tired I am. :)

      • I suppose, anonymous-ish

        Query: how does this work in terms of location/not getting oil stains everywhere?

        • Towels! Seriously. Keep ratty old towels just for this sort of purpose. Throw ’em down wherever you are, and they’ll protect the couch/the bed/the living room carpet.

        • Remy

          I’ve used coconut oil for massage, and it comes right out in the laundry.

      • Kestrel

        Oh god, I love massages. Start off lying face down on the bed, but eventually switch over, and it’s fantastic.

        Also, as I have really dry skin (eczema) another thing my SO does is to put lotion on me. It’s not quite as awesome a massage thing as oil, but it’s less messy, and helps my skin not bleed! So wins all around.

    • Anonymously Anonymous Today

      Are you taking a hormone based birth control? I’ve been on a number of different types of birth control over the years and have found a number of the hormone based ones cause me to completely lose my sex drive. Apparently this is actually a pretty common side effect of hormone based birth controls. While I was using the Nuva Ring my interest in sex diminished tremendously and I hardly ever orgasmed. Then, I switched back to the pill (Lutera) and it was better, but not as good as when I’m not on the pill. Now I’m on Reclipsen and that seems to work better with me and my body chemistry. I’ve been on this one for about a month and I’ve noticed a big difference in my interest and enjoyment in sex, as has my husband. It’s a total pain to try all these different birth controls and essentially experiment with my body, but at he end of the day we’re not ready to try for kids, and just using condoms feels too risky for us. It feels like there’s too much room for weird things to happen with condoms. I tried a hormone free IUD for a while, which was great, but my body rejected it. Anyway, if you are on a hormone based birth control, it might be worth looking into trying a different one that doesn’t totally kill your libido. Good luck!

      • Strega Anona

        Yes, BCPs are more libido/orgasm-killing than anti-depressants for me. No wonder they are so effective…they make some people abstinent. A lot of ObGyns are still sort of “oh, really?” about sexual side effects of hormonal contraception, which is stupid given the studies that have been done on this.

        However, I couldn’t tolerate the PMS, heavier periods (made me anemic), and return (with a vengeance, ugh) of PCOS symptoms when I stopped taking BCPs. I was on the Paraguard copper IUD. I’m now on Sprintec and haven’t experienced significant impact on sexual function, and my skin is sorrrrrrrt of starting to clear up.

        If you take an anti-depressant that dampens your desire, “talk to your doctor about adding” Wellbutrin (you thought I was going to say Abilify, didn’t you, lol), which for some people can counteract the libido problems. But it can have some funky side effects, too.

        • Anonymously Anonymous Today

          So true! I’ve definitely been like that before on certain birth control pills, where I’d rather abstain than have sex. Just had no interest! Lame. Defeats the whole purpose! Or, maybe not since there was no risk of pregnancy since we weren’t having sex…

          I’m glad Sprintec is working for you. I used it for a month and experienced the worst mood swings of my life!! Just goes to show that we are all different and respond to medication in different ways.

    • Sex-Not-Educated

      I have this problem too – and suffer from anxiety/depression that coincides with my cycles. We practice natural family planning, so no hormonal or other birth controls. My husband would enjoy nothing more than sex – all – the – time, but is incredibly respectful and tries to be conscious of how I feel all the time. That, on top of back issues and physical discomfort – it’s just hard for me to get out of my head and enjoy it.

      How do I keep the physical part of our relationship healthy when I’m so not there mentally?

      • This is just my experience, but I have a lot of anxiety, some seasonal depression, and spells where I want nothing to do with sex whatsoever. On a whim I started doing hot yoga several times a week, and holy cow it made a huge difference! I suddenly went from crying at the thought of “having” to have sex to wanting it several times a day.

        I don’t know if it was the act of doing any kind of exercise (which I’m not great at doing), or the specific types of compression and gland stimulation that comes from hot yoga, but it was so, so, so helpful.

        • Sex-Not-Educated

          SO weird – I go to Bikram once a week (have been for about 3 years, on and off – I went a TON before the wedding, then it kind of fell off for awhile). I love it when I get there, but find it difficult to persuade myself to take the time out of my schedule to go. How often do you do yoga/when did you notice the change?

          • I JUST started. I got a 30 day unlimited pass for a good deal and have been trying to get a good return on the investment. It actually expires this week, and we are digging in our budget to afford a monthly pass on the regular, because it’s been so good for me, and by extension him.

            I went 5 times the first week, 2 for week 2, and 5 for week 3. For week 4, I went today and plan to go Wed, Thu, and Fri, too. I took a 6:30 class on days I had a booking, because I know myself, and there is no way I’m working out at night. On days I’ve worked from home, I’ve gotten up early to make breakfast, gone to a 9:30 class, and worked the rest of the day. (Which is odd for me. Usually I’d start working at 8am, not get up from my computer all day, and be totally exhausted but still working past 7pm. Doing it this way, I’m actually working better and faster.)

            I started noticing a difference around day 3. Like I said, I’m not a person who works out regularly, so the benefits for me could just be what anyone would get doing any kind of consistant excercise.

    • stillanonymous

      I don’t have any words of wisdom for you, unfortunately, but I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone – I also have RA (along with anxiety/depression issues), and both the disease and the treatment make me SO FREAKING TIRED. It is an unstoppable force of fatigue. And of course, it doesn’t help when I’m in the middle of a flare and my entire body hurts. I’ve also tried to just do it even when I feel like crap, but my husband can always tell that I’m not into it and shuts the whole thing down.

      So, sorry for not giving any advice, but if you figure out any solutions, I’d like to know too. :-)

    • Ann

      I have a lot of the same issues you described (other than RA). Have you ever had your thyroid checked? I was discussing some symptoms (weight gain, fatigue, depression, low libido, etc.) with my GYN at my annual appt. this year, and she suggested going off my hormonal birth control to see if it would help, which I was all set to try, but then she also sent me for a blood test to check my thyroid. And guess what? I have hypothyroidism. And all of those things (and many more) are symptoms. I think I’ve been suffering with it for quite a few years, but just recently started treatment and am seeing some improvements.

      I believe having hypothyroid along with RA is not uncommon. If you have a rheumatologist or endocrinologist, they should have some knowledge of thyroid issues. MANY people have thyroid problems and don’t know, or are not treated. I really think just about everyone should have their levels checked from time to time, because your thyroid influences pretty much every system in your body. When it gets out of whack… things can start to really suck.

    • Amanda

      Do you have room in your relationship for him to take care of himself sexually at least sometimes so you don’t always feel pressured to? Maybe if you know that he can/will be satisfied even if you’re not into it you can release some pressure from yourself.

  • AnonCat

    So… A couple of questions/issues:

    My partner is a big guy, very very broad. I find I have trouble with a lot of PiV sex because finding positions that aren’t ouchy on the rest of my body is difficult. Getting my legs around him (useful for a lot of the ways of having sex I find hottest), requires a lot of stress on my hips, and I have a chronic hip injury. Sex often involves a few minutes of fun, and then switching positions because my hips hurt, over and over. Any tips?

    Also, I find he wants vaginal intercourse WAY longer than I do. I’d like lots of other play, then a few minutes of vaginal intercourse. I love it, but more than a few minutes stops being fun: my hips hurt, the lubrication wears out and it goes from good to meh. I’m not sure if he actually enjoys for intercourse to last a really long time or just thinks that is what he has to do to be manly, but I’ve tried saying that it is more fun for me if it is shorter, and it doesn’t get through. I want him to get off, but if it takes a long time it goes from awesome to “this kinda sucks can you finish already, because my discomfort is way more than my pleasure.” But I’ve tried talking about it and have not gotten through to him.

    Also, I’ve lately found that there is one fantasy I can use to get off and nothing else gets me to orgasm. If I read sexy stories, I can get off to lots, but there is just one boring fantasy that lives in my head accessible to get me off whenever I want. It wasn’t always this way. How do I get a diversity of fantasy back?

    Also, I have a really hard time noticing when I’m horny, which is bad for our sex life. I don’t have a problem initiating when I realize I want sex, but that is rare. I’m just really not in tune with my body. I often realize I’ve had to pee for 3 or 4 hours, or that I’ve been horny for a week, and hadn’t realized it or done anything about it.

    I know none of these are really phrased as questions but I guess all of them are “is anyone else dealing with this? How do I make it better?”

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      I feel you on the first thing! Can you get your legs around him without getting them around all of him? I have hip problems too, and so we frequently do the lazy spoons or a sort of crossed spoon thing, so that I’m holding him tightly with my thighs, but only the protruding parts of him, you know? Sometimes I also lie on top of him with my back on his chest, or do the reverse cow girl. Basically, anything where I can get that “right up against me” feeling without butterflying my hips. Thoughts?

      • AnonCat

        Hmm, I don’t know. Spoons has been not so successful, I think because of the angle of my vagina. It really pulls on the front of my vagina in painful ways. I’ve tried not putting my selfs all the way around him, but the main issue is mostly the spread of the hips, which doesn’t change so much regardless if my legs are all the way around him or not. To get them out of the way thy have to be way spread. I think part of the problem is my fave positions are missionary (being pinned under him, yum!), which is especially hard on the hips and cowgirl, which I like and isn’t bad on the hips but because my legs end up so wide apart, I have little leverage and is exhausting. I think I need to find some other positions I love instead of ones I can tolerate which are better for my hips. Any non-weird acrobatic Cosmo position guides/idea providers you recommend?


          Ah, your hip issue and my his issue seem to be the opposite of each other…

        • SexEdAnon

          It sounds acrobatic and can be if your quads are tight, but try putting your feet over his shoulders, or at least, sort of…straight up in a missionary position? In my experience, he’ll like it because it’s a “tighter hug” and it takes the pressure off the open-ness of the hips. I don’t have the exact problem as you, but my hips will painfully pop out of position sometimes (ow!), so it’s good to have other things to switch to.

        • M

          I have some weird RA/hip issues and what works best for me and my guy is sex from behind. If I’m having a good RA day then we can go full on hands and knees sex but usually we end up with me on my stomach beneath him. I especially like it because it’s an easy clit access position for either him or me to stimulate during sex.

      • Anon

        Lay down across him so your two bodies make an x – where your hips line up, and you’re on your back. Then, he turns on his side. he can penetrate you from underneath/the side without you having to spread.

    • Chitown

      My husband is one of those ‘take forever with vaginal intercourse’ types too. We’ve talked about it, but it’s gone about the same as it has for you.

      My suggestion is to propose quickies whenever you have the opportunity. If you’re crunched for time, that’s a great chance to have fun when they know they can’t take too long.

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      Also, on the lasting long thing, can you reapply lube? Or go down on him a bit before he goes in you?

      • AnonCat

        I’ve tried both. I love giving fellatio, and would say 80% of sex features it for us. I think the problem is he associates long sex with good sex, and so tries to last as long as possible, and will get close, and want to cool off 3-6 times before coming. I love it when he comes and don’t love long sex, so this is not ideal for me. It isn’t that it takes him so long to orgasm, he just isn’t ready to be done as fast as I am.

        Lube definitely helps, and we use it regularly, but I feel like I get so much more sensation in the begining of sex and then even with lube, a lot less as we continue for a while. But you are right, I ought to use lube more. It would help.

        • Anon

          What’s helped me is to speed up or encourage him to go faster. Also morning sex since there’s a pre-determined time limit.

        • Anon

          Yes, I was going to say, does he respond to encouragement from you? Like, sometimes if I’m just kind of not feeling it or am ready to be done, I’ll just straight up say, “I want to watch you come now,” and that seems to do the trick.

    • AnonCat

      Oh, a couple other questions: how do you teach a guy to be better at fingering you? Everything else is, overall pretty good but he just isn’t very good at fingering me and has never gotten me off that way. (He has with his tongue plenty). He’s happy to try, but it is so much work trying to communicate what I want, and I’ve basically given up and get off via cunnilingus or my own fingers because there has been little improvement in that regard in 7 years.

      Also, how do you learn to have better sex together? I feel like we have good sex and we both enjoy it but it could be better. We’re both eachother’s firsts and we’ve improved a lot over the years, but I want to learn to be an even better partner for him and vice versa and I don’t really know how to become a better lover and have better sex.

      • Rachael

        What has worked for me: lube (slippery is way more forgiving), showing him / guiding his fingers, and verbal coaching of what you like. Give him some instructions based on how you like to touch yourself.

      • A. Nonymous

        I had to show my FH how to finger me. Communication sort of works sometimes, but it’s definitely difficult to do. I had the most success by describing the area he needed to stimulate (ie. “do you feel that little nub right here?”) and using his hand to rub myself the way I like to be rubbed. He learns super quickly that way and the experience is better for both of us.

        As for how to have better sex together, may I recommend this book (FOR EVERYONE as far as I’m concerned): How to be a Great Lover by Lou Paget. It goes over everything you have ever wanted to know (and some things you didn’t know you wanted to know). She talks about lube, oral stimulation, hand stimulation, sex positions for P in V intercourse, anal, etc. It really is a great book and improved our sex life so much. Good luck!

      • moonitfractal

        This may seem contrite, but I’ve gotten the best results from grabbing his finger and putting it where it needs to go…even moving it the way it needs to move. I’ve found this to be worth a thousand words…

      • Anon

        As far as having better sex I think the first step is just honest, open communication. What are your/his fantasies? What do you want to explore? Reading erotic stories and watching porn (if you’re into that) can also give you some good ideas. Try some new things and see where that takes you.

    • peek-a-boo

      When we’re both lazy we do the “Sunday Morning” position, which is him on his side and me on my back with my legs resting on top of his body. We both have nice access to the clit this way too.

      • Rachel

        Now I can’t wait for Sunday to be here to try this. :)

    • Anon

      I used to have that problem with my husband. Have you tried propping your pelvis and/or legs with pillows? I found taking restorative yoga classes really helpful to learn how to use props to support my hips and legs.

    • Anonymous

      My fiance is also sort of girthy in the important bit (although he is long and lean physically) and he also likes to go on for longer than I usually like.

      Our favorite position is one I had never heard before but one time we just tried it – he lies on his side sort of perpendicular to me. I lie on my back, with one knee hitched up over his hip and the other leg between his legs. We get deep penetration and I get to lay on my back (a position I find it easier to orgasm in). It’s less stressful for him, body-wise also because he’s not supporting his full weight on his arms.

      I’ve also found that if you (the woman) orgasm first before his sexy funtimes are over, it can get very dry and uncomfortable down there, especially without a little simultaneous self-love (which I strongly recommend, by the way). So my recommendation is to try and hold off on orgasming until he is much farther along.

      Also – we like to fantasize together – out loud. That can help a lot, but you have to be on the same wavelength. For instance, we like to fantasize about me and girls (or me and two guys, or us and another girl), but we both like it. It’s not like he’s fantasizing out loud about me doing something I’m uncomfortable with.

      Because of extenuating circumstances, we only have sex about once a week, and we’re fine with that. Sometimes it’s less. Sometimes he wants it and I don’t. Sometimes I want it and he doesn’t (yes really). We don’t try and force it or the sex is just really unsatisfying.

      Also – naked cuddling. It’s awesome and can sometimes lead to sexy-times, even when you initially think you’re not “in the mood.” It’s got to be no-pressure though, otherwise it doesn’t work.

      • AnonCat

        Hmm, I will have to pay attention to whether coming before or after PiV makes a difference. I don’t orgasm during it. But usually I do come before or after PiV sex. I’ve been wanting to get a vibe to try during though, so maybe this will motivate me to do so. I’m not so great at touching myself during intercourse, because I find it challenging to do so. I find my clit sort of pops out of it’s hood a bit when my legs are flexed, which makes the clit a little sensitive not in a good way. But maybe trying something different like a vibe might help.

        Haha naked cuddling occasionally leads to sex, but really, we naked cuddle so much it often doesn’t. (We’re kind of at-home, closet nudists. The clothes usually come off when we get in the door and stay off until we leave, so almost all cuddles are naked. Seeing him walk around naked does often turn me on though.

        We like that position sometimes. It depends on the time of the month. When my cervix is lower, it is really too deep, and this painful, but when it is higher, it can be quite fun.

      • Strega Anona

        Totally agree re: orgasming first. After I orgasm, PiV can sometimes feel like a very mild version of fingernails on a chalkboard.

    • Kris

      My guy is nearly a foot taller than me (and I’m 5’11”!) and also takes forever so I feel ya on the sore hips from having a big guy laying on top of you for-like-ever.
      Have you tried… doggie? tuck your knees under yourself (child’s pose if you yoga) to adjust the angle. There’s no pressure on your hips at all.
      Also… cat (coital alignment technique)? put a pillow under your butt, for me that allows my to get my hips above his and around his waist. I’ll still get sore eventually but it works for much longer than normal missionary.

      • Apples

        I love love love CAT. It’s the one way I’m guaranteed to orgasm through P in V. I don’t need the pillow, it’s more of how I angle my hips and legs myself, but that could definitely help take the pressure off hips.

    • anon

      Have you tried spooning? He can enter you from behind as you both lay on your side, and his hands, and yours for that matter, and totally free for exploring.

  • Annie-Nonymous

    Just putting it out there – if you’re not feeling into sex, double check your BC. For me, the pill make my libido take a nose dive (I’m pretty sure it actually hit the ground and started digging). So, if you want to want it, but realllly don’t… talk to yo’ doc about your options!

    On another note – AMA-zing post idea; looking forward to keeping an eye on this thread and all the awesome sure to come this month!

    • This! And not only BC — my drive absolutely tanked when I went on anxiety meds. Switching to a different one helped, but it’s definitely still a side effect.

    • Anonymously Anonymous Today

      I’ve certainly experienced this, and it really depends on the birth control. I’ve tried a lot of different ones over the years and some kill my libido while others don’t. I really wish that there were better hormone free options. We’ve struggled with condoms falling off or getting stuck in me, which just feels too risky without any other method. I had an IUD for a while, which was great, but then my body rejected it. And, because it was such a painful experience getting it inserted and there’s a possibility my body will reject it again, I’m not willing to try it again until after we have kids. I really hate that I have to take hormones all the time to ensure that I don’t get pregnant right now. Definitely looking forward to the day I can stop taking the pill!

      • Anon

        Yeah hormonal BC has a lot of less-than-desirable side-effects. Now, what I’m going to suggest is a lot of work and has a fair learning curve to it, but have you thought about doing a Fertility Awareness Method like Natural Family Planning? It takes discipline, but it is totally natural and doesn’t have nasty side effects or the “interruptus” of condoms. NFP has actually helped me to be much more in tune with my body (knowing exactly when my mood swings and my period are coming? Yes). A lot of people think that couples who do NFP hardly ever get to have sex, but the data shows than these couples actually have more sex than other couples, so all is good there! I’d highly suggest reading the book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. A really good read for all women, even if you’re not planning to do the NFP stuff.

        • Nonna

          I second the FAM and the Taking Charge book. Amazing stuff. I *thought* I was well-educated about female fertility. I wasn’t. At all.
          Downside is, we’re one of those couples who never has sex because of starting this. This is because we’ve discovered some real inconsistencies in my cycle though, so can’t rely on changes to my cervical mucus, which means we get to have sex once a cycle. But you know, this is also a plus as I wouldn’t have known anything about this otherwise.

    • A non-moose

      Do you know if there are enough differences between generic BC pills to possibly cause a problem? I’ve been on BC for several years without a problem but lately my sex drive has just tanked and based on some comments here I’m wondering if it might be because my pharmacy switched the brand I was getting. I’d assume if they’re swapping stuff around on me it would be the same formula but I’d figure I’d double check since the lack of sex drive is getting downright frustrating.

      • Anon

        This. So this. Started BCP at 19, libido was perfectly fine/on the verge of overdrive for about 6 years. Last three years: slow decline to today’s “meh” Am I just old? Is 29 the end of my sex drive?

  • AnnieAnonEMouse

    Well, this is totally what Chrome Incognito tab was meant for at work!

  • Emily

    My now-husband and I had great sex in the early part of our relationship before deciding to wait until marriage for sex (about 6 months prior). Since our wedding night about a month ago the moments where it’s been pleasurable have been few and far between. I am certain 9 times out of 10 the problem lies on my end with failing to be fully mentally present. I can get to that point if I think on kinky things that I’d rather keep to myself due to the high level of kinky-ness, but my husband, who, with great patience and who attempts to initiate sexy talk/role playing to help us both get to X point, wants me to share what I think about to get me there. It is either too off the deep end, or, by talking about it, it takes away from my self-arousal process. We then start off sex with a lot of quiet awkwardness wherein it feels like there’s a wall between us. :( We usually have to get our own engines going before I’m ready for P-in-V, and from that point, the rest of sex is about surviving what is more painful than pleasurable.

    Sometimes sex is not a problem at all, and it is pleasurable, but I can’t figure out what makes one session successful and the next, not; or what made our relationship sex better than our married sex. Is it hormonal or mental? If it’s mental, what can I do that doesn’t require thinking about something completely weird?

    He gets very much into oral, and I of course am less into it…

    On some nights, when I *know* the problem is a mental one, how can I get my brain to shut the hell off and be full present? Of course the harder I try, the harder it is to accomplish.

    • CC

      Hi there!

      Ok, so first of all, I know from talking to lots of women that those feelings are normal, and finding your sexual rhythm is a process and a journey, and you’re both along for the ride :)

      Second of all, even if you don’t necessarily feel it on the surface, you just went through a HUGE transition- getting married! It can take some time for us really sensitive folk to absorb the enormity of it, and while we feel totally fine and normal on the surface, our bodies and psyches are still going through their shedding/journey/change. It can bring up a lot of surprising walls around vulnerability, allowing yourself to experience pure, accepting love, and just adjusting to your new role in general. These things aren’t talked about enough (the things that go on in our psyche; the underbelly of the transition) in our culture and it ends up making a lot of women feel isolated or like they have a problem. Sorry I’m rambling, but I guess what I’m trying to say is: You just did something huge. It can take some time for the dust to settle, to relax, to adjust and get gelled in together :)

      (sorry I don’t have more detailed actual tips!)

    • Chitown

      When you’re stuck in a mental block, the most helpful thing I’ve been told is to focus on your breathing. Just only pay attention to breathing for a minute, helps snap your brain out of it!

      • Strega Anona

        Yeah I’d recommend researching and practicing this and other mindfulness techniques. Have been life changing for how present I can be in virtually all circumstances.

    • Rowany

      Another option could be role-playing. It’s hard to think about groceries when you are Xena:Warrior Princess or whatever.

    • Rachael

      When I’m mentally stuck and my mind is wandering when it should be in-the-moment, I do a mental running dialog of what is happening as if it’s an erotic story. “He playfully licks her nipple and he moves his way down to…” is way more engaging than “did I start the dryer?”

      • moonitfractal

        That sounds like a great idea! Will definitely try it.

    • anonforthis

      While I don’t have a solution for you on how to stay present, I just wanted to say that your fantasies aren’t weird- they are what excite you and that’s valid!! It may be hard to explain to your husband- I know that I get shy when I have to talk about what I want with my fiance, even though I consider myself hugely sex positive and an advocate for open communication. Could you communicate with your husband through writing? sending him sexy stories you found, or maybe asking him to send you some he likes and you can read them before he gets home or when he is busy with some other chore (depending on your schedules), so he isn’t watching you read? That might spice things up a little, and take the edge off.

    • Rachel

      Maybe its unrelated but I find that when I have these types of issues its because I’m not as turned on by him as I like/want/have been in the past. For example, I’m turned on a lot by smells – his natural body smell, deodorant, sweat, cologne, shampoo. I notice that if I don’t smell the good stuff or smell something ‘bad,’ it can either help or hurt my “focus” in a big way. If his smell is amazing and I’m really turned on, the sex is a lot better and he just drives me nuts. Maybe this helps?

  • Anon

    Is there a reason this discussion will focus on sex in monogamous relationships? (Just what I’m reading into Maddie’s statement: “how to make the most of what I consider to be the great reward of monogamous relationships.”)

    My husband and I (together 9 years, married this summer) have spent the past year working on opening our relationship to other sex partners and it has been simultaneously the best and hardest thing we have ever done in our relationship. But it is so taboo that there are very limited resources to learn from and discuss with. I would be so interested in having an open and honest discussion about monogamy, monogamish, poly, open, etc. and how other couples have journeyed beyond the bounds of our monogamy-centric cultural narrative.

    • Maddie

      Definitely not meaning only monogamous relationships. Just a casual turn of phrase (i.e. lots of practice with the same person makes you better at stuff and there’s so much cultural BS about the end of sex in monogamous relationships that I’d like to acknowledge that there’s an upside). That does not, however, mean that we’re talking exclusively monogamous. If you’ve got information to share, by all means. I think some of the questions in this thread indicate that you’re not alone!

    • lady brett

      i don’t have anything of use to add regarding advice, but i think it is an important and interesting subject.

      as for narratives – pushing the bounds of the monogamy-centric narrative is one of the great joys of our relationship (which started many years before we had even remotely considered anything beyond monogamy). we have always been ones to make jokes about things you’ll have to do with “your other girlfriend” – and possibly my favorite phrase in response to anyone making assumptions (even or especially true ones) about our relationship: “you don’t know what our rules are.” oh, dear, how i love seeing people’s reactions to the idea that relationships can have different rules. plus, to be on the safe side, people always assume that anything they find alarming is a joke

    • Anon Too

      Thanks for this. I too would appreciate other stories of opening up a relationship (or being open from the beginning).

      My partner and I introduced a third person into our relationship after we’d been together for 7 years, and she stayed with us for 2 years before sort of breaking our hearts. But the original pair of us are still together, and I think we’d consider trying that kind of arrangement again with the right person. It was never something we planned on; it just happened because of chemistry.

      Also, I love the term “monogamish” and intend to use it, thanks!

      • Ruth

        I would really love to see APW run some posts on monogamish relationships

  • AnnieAnonEMouse

    This is a bit different, I suppose, and I know I need to go back to therapy. But! Anyone have an panic/trauma/PTSD issues about sex? How do you handle them? My partner is amazing and we’ve figured out what a lot of my triggers are, but sometimes I still panic, and while he handles it really well (and ALWAYS) immediately stops what he’s doing, I still feel so, so guilty, and even more, so far away from him when it happens. And then a little gun shy about getting back in the saddle the next time. Are there any coping mechanisms you guys can recommend?

    • CC

      Aw, I don’t have any tips for you, and am so glad you are in therapy :) That’s a wonderful thing! Just wanted to reach out because I can relate to what you said, not word for word, but I understand the feelings and the anxiety around it. You can do this, it’s a journey, and every single wound can be healed :)

    • SexEdAnon

      Patience. That’s what it took for me, and there were several times when a certain touch or a *feeling* (emotional, not physical) sent me into uncontrollable tears and flat-out ended the session. It took some courage on my part and some patience on his, but eventually those “bad spots” have been overwritten by good feelings.

      Best wishes, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

    • Jess

      So sorry you are dealing with this. You are not alone at all, and you are super lucky to have a partner that is willing to work around your triggers! I wish someone like that for everyone struggling with such an issue.

      My friend is also struggling with it right now, and has the mixture of guilt/fear/distance. From what she’s said, it sounds like as they find more things to avoid (which they do), it gets easier for her to let go of the fear and they stop less often.

      For the distance after they are forced to stop, she has also found that cuddling/comforting in a way that doesn’t trigger her afterwards helps her to feel closer to him when she feels isolated (haven’t asked her what comforting works for her, but I’d imagine pretty similar to the way you’d calm someone down when they were having a really bad day).

      Sorry that other than that, the only advice I have is patience and second what CC said, “Every single wound can be healed.”

    • Anon

      I’ve found a couple of strategies work well for me.

      1) Recognizing that fear is an extremely salient emotion. Our brains are wired to hold onto and remember the scary stuff. I like to just acknowledge that it makes sense that stuff with sex is going to be a trigger at times.

      2) Schedule in more sex. This seems so counter-intuitive, but I find it lowers the pressure.

      3) For me, moving into a more active role helps to switch off some of the scripts in my mind. If I can notice I’m starting to freak out, I might do something for my partner that I know he loves. I start feeling more confident and in control.

      GOOD LUCK. This is really hard stuff. I’m glad you have the support of your fellow.


        You know, it’s funny. I was always opposed to the sex-scheduling because I thought it would make it worse, but we’re TTC and somehow, while this sex is partly soul sucking, it is partly fantastic – I haven’t panicked yet, and I’m still having orgasms. Maybe you’re on to something here…

        And to all you, thanks for the support. Just reading that it will heal, even all these years later, is really helpful.

    • I haven’t been triggered in a long time, but I do have it. It helps me to know that my husband loves taking care of me. It is a way that he can express love. So I don’t feel guilt anymore when I panic and can’t do it. I find that the guilt and the mental stuff builds it up and makes it so much worse, you know?

    • M

      I have a weird thing where I will have anightmare/flashback and will then will immediately want to have sex with my husband, almost to erase the bad. My husband doesn’t understand how I can go from crying in my sleep to being awake and now raring to go. Any one else experience this sort of thing?

    • Annonny

      I have a related question (don’t mean to derail, so I can repost below if needed). How does one find a therapist who deals with these kinds of issues? I’m fortunate in that I don’t have a trauma history, but I have a pain condition that’s led to me having a lot of anxiety/panic about sex. It’s not bad when I initiate… but I pretty much never do because of the anxiety… So our sex life is now very few-and-far-between. All the things I’ve tried aren’t cutting it anymore and although my partner is very supportive it’s causing some issues. So, how do I find a professional? (And get over the embarrassment of calling?)

      • anon

        You can use the search tool “Find a Therapist” on the website and look for one in your area. You can also ask for recommendations from your primary care physician or a practitioner you trust. Even a google search will give you names of therapists who work with trauma survivors and use a specific approach (see more below). Any professional counselor will be completely open to you calling and asking questions about their background, philosophy and their approach with clients. You can narrow down many just from making those inquiries. In my experience it can take going to more than one therapist before finding the right “fit” or one you click with, so be patient and be open to trying someone new if you aren’t making progress with someone or finding it helpful. It can be a lot of work, but it is so worth it!

        My biggest recommendation for anyone with trauma would be to find someone who specifically works with trauma survivors, particularly one who has experience with those whose experiences relate to your own. PTSD can originate from many sources and if it is related to sexual assault, it can really help to have someone who knows how to work with that kind of trauma. What helped me tremendously, especially for resolving flashbacks, was EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) treatment. Another very successful approach to trauma recovery is SE (Somatic Experience). Both of these changed my life profoundly.

        For your situation, it sounds like SE might be a really good way to go. It is centered on the connection between mind and body and how our bodies respond to us feeling threatened/stressed/afraid/anxious. It helps in developing an understanding of the responses our body makes under certain situations, especially those that trigger the “flight or fight” response and how to create parameters that will help one feel more comfortable and safe within our own skin. It’s a relatively new approach so might be hard to find a practitioner in your area at first, but it might be really helpful for what you are wanting to address.

        It can be hard to make the initial call and get started on the path toward help, but I can tell you that you are most definitely not alone and you have nothing to be embarrassed about. It is completely normal for our brains to process experiences of pain and encode them in a way that creates anxiety and panic. Your life and the relationship you create with your partner are worth every bit of energy and courage you will put forth to making it a deeply happy and enriching one. So go for it and know you can do it. Be well and take good care of you.

        • Annonny

          Thanks so much for this. You rock.

    • Nonna

      No tips for you here as I’m in the middle of this too. Virtual hugs :)

  • Anon

    Ooh, love this thread! I have already learned a lot from the questions and answers!

    My question is that I don’t really get enjoyment from my partner’s approach to cunnilingus, but he’s my first, so I don’t have specific tips to offer him.

    I don’t want to just say “Hey, this gentle smushing feeling isn’t working. Can you be different?” Anyone have specific pointers I can offer him?

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      Does he get you off with his fingers on your clit? Can you ask him to think of his tongue more like a finger? More pointed, more swiping, perhaps? Do you have a sense of slower or faster? I try to think of a tongue like a more delicate finger, and that might help with the advising.

    • The book “She Comes First” helped my first boyfriend out a lot.

      • Anonymouse

        I cosign “She Comes First”. And don’t be afraid to move his head, ask for it more gently or harder, etc.

        I would probably ask him to move his head back a bit and focus more on flicking his tongue — changing up the tempo. I find it helpful to moan/be enthusiastic when it feels good, and when it stops feeling good to say “ohh can you go back to doing X, I was so close” etc.

    • Another anonymous

      You should still try and get him to try different techniques, but I just wanted to put a word in that not every lady loves oral sex. For me, the stimulation isn’t quite enough no matter what he does. If you think that might be the case, I highly recommend the hitachi magic wand!

      • I’m nobody!

        Not all women are fans, and not all men, either. (That, or my husband and I are both being jerks to each other. But we’ve tried and both are pretty meh on the matter, soooooooo.). There’s a strong assumption in life that to not give head is just Bad, but if you aren’t into it, and he isn’t into it…why force yourselves you know?

      • Nema

        I’m with you on that! I feel sort of guilty for not loving oral sex. There’s nothing unpleasant about it for me, and I feel like I’m supposed to love it — but my husband enjoys giving it more than I enjoy receiving it. It actually just makes me feel kind of sleepy. As for the Hitachi, oh hell yeah.

      • Anon

        Also, some women can love oral sex one day and it might just not get the job done literally the next day.

    • Kris

      “Can you be different?”
      I just did exactly that with my now-husband (the first guy interested in spending time down there). He’d never done it before, and I’d never had anyone want to do a good job at it before. So I told him that before hand and then just kept telling him “not like that, try something else” until we found the solution. For me the solution was to have him turn around (his feet near my head) so he could lick the other way. I don’t know if that would work for you but don’t give up, your solution might be similarly odd!

  • CC

    love this conversation, and love all of you for being here! ( sorry, drinking coffee, which is making me overly happy!)

    i had a question about anxiety medication and sex drive. i’m going through a very difficult transition in my life right now and it has brought up a lot of my fears and anxieties times a million. my therapist thought it would help me to try zoloft (she’s not a pill lady, it’s after 6 months of working with me and several panic attacks which have brought me to the doctor). ive read those things can affect your sex drive, but because of the anxiety in my body i feel like my libido is already killed bc of that, so i would be taking the meds to get BACK to normal, to try to get my sex drive BACK. has anyone taken an anxiety medication and had it bring you more back to yourself instead of less-yourself?

    • I’ve found that my anxiety meds are kind of a double-edged sword. They get me out of my head so much and make me panic and stress and freak out less, but there is definitely a libido-killing side effect of what I’m on (lexapro, in case anyone is in the same boat). So I’m not always 1000% ready to go when my mister is, but being able to get the constant intrusive thoughts (“omg, am I don’t this right? does he like this? does my face look stupid?”, etc. — all the stupid things that should not be in my head) is totally worth it. Being able to not overthink sex like I would overthink everything else is TOTALLY WORTH IT. For me, at least.

      And keep in mind that anxiety medication isn’t a permanent change. If you try it and you don’t like it, you can always stop, or try another medication. (I’m on my second type of meds.)

      • CC

        Wow, thank you so much!! You get intrusive thoughts too?? Reading that gave me such comfort!! That’s exactly why my therapist thinks I should try them, because with everything I am going through right now, my panic and fear are sky high almost, and that in result causes constant rumination. Before this anxiety really hit, I loved my sex life with my partner. Just when my anxiety is high, it’s like I have this negative bully in my head screaming things at me. Ugh. thank you , your response really comforted me.

        • You are SO welcome. Sometimes one of the best realizations you can make is that you’re not the only person out there facing this sort of thing, there’s always more of us. *solidarity fist bumps*

          Intrusive thoughts and my “inner critic”, as my therapist calls it, are my worst enemies. But thanks to therapy and my lexapro, they’ve been dialed back quite a bit. That’s not to say that the occasional panic attack doesn’t sneak in (just had one Friday while I was packing to move! yay!), but it’s amazing how much more “normal” I feel.

          My favorite example is from about a year ago, a couple of months after I started my new meds, my mister and I were on our way to a wedding, and we were really cutting it close. There I was, doing my makeup in the car while he’s navigating traffic, and we’re ten minutes from the time the ceremony was supposed to start and we still had to park, and I had this moment of… clarity. I wasn’t sitting in the passenger seat quietly panicking about how we were going to be late and the bride was going to find out and hate us and how everyone was going to judge us for being the last ones into the chapel. Instead I was able to sit there and sort of shrug it off. And it was one of the best, most amazing feelings ever, not being trapped in my head worrying about things that I couldn’t control.

          Being able to turn off your brain is liberating — and I have my fingers crossed SO HARD that you and your therapist can figure out what works best for you to get you out of your head, too.

    • Anonymous

      I’m on Lexapro too (a very low dose though, not sure if that would affect it) and I’ve found it to have no effect on my sex drive. For reference, my libido has always gone in waves – sometimes I want it all the time, sometimes I don’t really care, but I almost always get excited once something starts, and as far as I can tell the phases aren’t caused by any outside circumstances. Also, I’ve never found hormonal birth control to have an effect.

      So I think it really varies by person – the same medication can affect people very differently. If you’re not happy with the first medication you try, try another one (I took Zoloft once and it made me horribly ill).

      And this is exactly how I feel about the Lexapro – I feel more myself on it, and less off it. My original fear about medication was that I wouldn’t be myself anymore, and I have found it to be exactly the opposite.

      So – if what medication is what you and your therapist think you need right now, don’t let fear keep you from trying. But if your first try isn’t good, say so and try another kind.

    • moonitfractal

      I’ve had to stop my anxiety meds (prozac in my case) because we’re trying to conceive (see first comment, heh), and I think that’s a huge part of the reason my sex drive is crap lately. For me anxiety is a way bigger mood killer than SSRIs. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but my experience with anxiety meds re: sex drive has been overwhelmingly positive.

  • Anon Mom

    Since giving birth four months ago, intercourse has become completely impossible for me. It feels like husband is running into a wall. Penetration does not occur, and trying is incredibly painful. I’m finally in physical therapy for this, after a month and a half of doctors’ “wait and see” approach and another month of waiting for appointments. So in theory, it’s supposed to get fixed in the next month or two. In the meantime, I’m dealing with:
    1) guilt at making my husband live in a sexless marriage for 6+ months
    2) a serious slow-down (or failure to resume) non-intercourse bedroom activities, just when they’re needed most
    3) offering oral sex to the husband, and getting turned down (seriously, who does that?)
    4) resentment toward husband about getting rejected and not getting to have hardly any orgasms myself, when I need them the most
    5) resentment of my body, which just started menstrual cycles again. Like it’s saying it’s ready to make another baby, when it’s obviously soo not ready.
    6)being upset with the doctors, midwives and physical therapists I’m working with, because the “wait and see” approach and delays in treatment make me feel like they don’t care or don’t see my problem as urgent
    7) breasts still being off limits in the bedroom because of breast-feeding, though they’re not as painful as they were 2 months ago, thank God
    8) not being able to talk to anyone about this because I’m a really private person who keeps her sex life to herself
    9) being really, incredibly horny and wanting nothing more than a hot, fast, vigorous fuck

    Advice on dealing with the relationship/emotional parts of this? Commiseration?

    • AnnieAnonEMouse

      Total (though babyless) commiseration. I went through a long physical recovery from an accident where I couldn’t have sex. Period. End of story, basically. The recovery was 7 months. My husband also didn’t want oral sex because it wasn’t intimate enough, and it didn’t feel even to him, and I think he was also creeped out by the idea of me doing it while not turned on, but I’m not sure. Are there non-penetrative things you can do in the mean time? Fingers, tongues, who knows what? Is mutual masturbation an option, to be intimate and releasing together?

    • Hey nonny nonymous

      I have a friend who experienced this after having a baby, and it took forever for it to go away, IIRC. Good for you for getting physical therapy — she took the wait and see approach and I think it may have been close to a year?

    • Would a vibrator or other external toy/stimulus help?

      It sounds like you need to talk to your husband about all of these things, if you have not already.

    • Anon Mom

      Just this afternoon the physical therapist recommended this thing called a ‘dilator’ which is basically a dildo, which I am terrified of using.

      No shit I need to talk to my husband. And I have, and nothing has changed. Talking about things like guilt, resentment, and rejection is not exactly easy. Yes, there are non-penetrative things we can do in the bedroom, and a big part of my problem is that these things are simply not happening, for no reason I can see or understand.

      • Anon

        I had this exact problem for about three years–it was just like “hitting a wall”. I was finally diagnosed with vaginismus and tried dilators, but didn’t see any real improvement. Eventually I went to this doctor and got botox injections (yes, injections in my vagina):

        I know that sounds crazy, I know it’s expensive, and I know Dr. Pacik looks super sleazy in his photo on the website, BUT! Holy crap, those injections worked so well. After about a week I was able to have sex without any tensing of muscles or pain, and even after the botox wore off (three months later), my muscles never returned to that reflexive tensing. It was really a miracle for me and for my marriage.

        It’s not for everyone, but I wanted you to know that you’re not alone and you have options!

      • Anon

        “Talking about things like guilt, resentment, and rejection is not exactly easy”

        YES. I’ve been dealing with vaginismus for years and even though my partner is an absolute saint about it, we built up plenty of guilt, resentment, and rejection on both sides as I tried to figure out how to get my body and mind to do what I want them to do.

        The only thing that has helped has been going to see a therapist who specializes not only in sex therapy but sex therapy for people with pain issues. Going to see her ever two weeks or even just once a month when things are really busy has massively improved our relationship. I’m still working through treatment for my physical issues but I can honestly say neither of us harbor any guilt or resentment toward each other anymore about sex (and when these things start to pop up, we both have tools for dealing with them).

        I know there’s a social stigma around seeking sex therapy, especially if you’re young and not dealing with something like infidelity or sexual trauma. But seriously, you should check it out.

      • Anon

        I also had to have physical therapy for vulvodynia (basically pain whenever anything touched my vaginal opening). I don’t know if your partner sits in the sessions with you but mine did and it helped us feel closer and in it together. It also allowed us to laugh at the whole thing, like “wow, prescription dildo!” The dilators really aren’t so bad. I found it much less intimidated than having my partner try to enter me. Too much pressure on both sides. To be intimate we did a lot of dry humping. Embarrassing to say, but it worked at the time. Eventually “wait and see” (about a year) worked for me. I did not end up with that partner (for other reasons) and now I am able to have mostly comfortable sex with my husband.

        All this to say, what you’re going through is extremely tough stuff but you’re not alone. Thank goodness for the internet because I know it’s impossible to just talk to friends about this because there is so much shame around not being able to provide sexually for your partner. Good luck to you!

      • Anon

        I developed vaginismus about 3 years ago and wasn’t able to have penetrative sex. We got married during that time and it felt pretty bad not to be able to have “proper” sex on honeymoon. We talked about the situation a bit and he was supportive, but we didn’t have much sex at all (partly because I was super stressed with studying, which lead to me developing it in the first place). Recently he told me that he felt guilty that all his fantasies involved P-in-V sex, which we couldn’t have, so he just suppressed his sex drive instead. Maybe your husband is doing the same thing?

        Anyway this year I finally went to get treatment. I don’t know what your doctors told you but I’ll write what my instructions were, I hope this can reassure you somewhat.
        The specialist gave me a set of small to large dilators. The small one was tiny, like my little finger. I also got a referral to a physio specialising in women’s pelvic health. For the dilators I had to start with the smallest, do some Kegels then insert it and leave it there for half an hour. I did it every day for a month? 6 weeks? – literally every day, it was pretty tedious, I didn’t get much housework done – moving up to the next size whenever it felt easy to get it in there. I did it while reading a book and my husband kept out of the room during so it was less embarrassing. The physio also helped a lot as she unknotted the tense parts of my vaginal muscles, and taught me proper breathing. I continued using the dilator every few days for another month or so. The specialist also recommended learning meditation as vaginismus is linked to anxiety and stress (I imagine both are involved in being a new parent?!), plus again the focus on correct breathing to ensure the pelvic region has enough oxygen.

        In the last month we have been able to have penetrative sex again, although not for long periods as I still get sore easily. But after 3 years of not being able to, it’s really great and I am very positive about moving forward and improving our sex life.

        I understand your guilt at “making your husband live in a sexless marriage”. In the end though, it’s just a health issue like any other chronic illness that could affect your sex life. He needs to understand this and be supportive of you, both now and during the treatment. Being supportive definitely includes providing orgasms!
        Good luck.

    • EIM

      I can commiserate, in many ways. Also have a new baby (5 months) and due to end of pregnancy discomfort, tricky birth, nursing, baby sleeping in room and a variety of other issues, we haven’t had sex in 8ish months. The longer we go down our sexless path, the harder it is to get back into it. So far it has been easy to use the excuse of “being tired” but we both know there is more going on.
      I have no answers, only lots of questions myself. I too am very private about it with real -in-person friends as it is hard to talk about.
      I wonder how I would go about finding a non-creepy sex therapist to work on getting some of our sexytimes back.

    • Anon-momtoo

      Anon-Mom – I totally totally totally get your frustration and pain. Because of an injury during delivery, (not exactly what your situation is, but) my husband and I weren’t able to have ANY kind of sex for about six months, and it didn’t get fun again until about 10 months postpartum. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this too. Sometimes postpartum just takes a long, long time to get back to your normal physically and emotionally, and that can suck. I have no idea if it will help you, but I was prescribed an estrogen cream to help with healing and bring blood flow to the area. So glad you’re seeing a PT – I also went to a physical therapist who specialized in pelvic floor stuff, and she was so amazing. Please keep going to your PT.
      On 6) I finally realized that no one else cared as much about my body and healing, and that it was ok, because they don’t live in my body and can’t know what it’s like. I had to come to grips with being my own advocate and pushing for referrals and advice, even though it did feel isolating sometimes.
      On the emotional side, I don’t have specific advice, just a hand from the other side, saying I know you’ll make it. You will get there. Hope this helps.

  • somebody else

    Two questions.
    1. How have you all handled imbalanced sex drives in your relationships? (One person wants it more often than the other and sometimes feels slighted when the other person doesn’t initiate.) How do you stay passionate when it’s like that part of your brain that used to be there is sometimes missing?
    2. It’s me that wants it less often. Part of my problem is possibly birth control related: I have an IUD, and I read online that one of the symptoms can be significant … dryness. It’s super unsexy to always need lube (or to need to stop to reapply during), but without, it can be painful. Did not use to be a problem, and my fiance was convinced I was totally turned off all the time until I explained the side effect. I know it also has a dampening effect on the libido, but I’ve adopted a “go for it!” attitude even when I’m not in the mood at the moment but he is, and we do well that way. I love the convenience of not having to do anything with the IUD, we don’t like condoms, and several types of pills did weird things to my body … what else is working well for other people? Definitely a “lock that shit down” type of person, not up for leaving things to chance at this stage of life.

    • ANON

      IUD user here. Love it, but I am also way more dry now. So we have just embraced the lube….lots and lots reapplied during sex.

      Also, I have found that not all lube is created equal. I personally like astroglide, and for fun every now and again, the KY his and hers. And we just tried coconut oil for the first time recently and that was fun since you can use it for massage and I think it tastes yummy…but a little more of a clean-up hassle.

      Maybe we could have a poll on what types of lube people like and use most often?

      • somebody else

        I probably just need to get over the “needing lube is unsexy” thing for myself … but fuck yeah, lube poll!

        • Anonymous

          I’d love to hear more about people’s favorite lubes!

          • Anon

            Liquid silk. I think it was kind of pricey, and it works really well, but we are in a dry spell that has nothing to do with the lube (which works really well) so i don’t remember how much it cost. that is sad. but beleive me, when we used it, it was wonderufl.

      • Coconut oil works wonders! It’s long lasting, slippery, free from some of the scarier chemicals that are in a lot of lubes (as long as you buy it organic), and it even has some antifungal properties that can be helpful for anyone prone to yeast infections.

        • Abby Mae

          Coconut oil all the way! After trying it for the first time with my husband I could not go back to anything else.

        • Kris

          Yes! Coconut oil! Feel so much nicer than astrglide (though not really like what lady parts make).

      • Rachel

        Another vote for coconut oil here!

        • anonimal

          Thirded! We’ve used it with a lot of success, including anal. TMI?

          • Rachel

            Anal? Pssh…try using it for making fajitas!


    • Jessica B

      I didn’t know IUD’s could cause dryness! That makes me feel better about needing lube more often now. I just thought I was dehydrated.

      While applying more lube might be less sexy, painful sex or no sex at all is a completely unsexy.

      • Fake Name

        I didn’t know either – and I’m on #2 (7 years)! We just have gotten used to lube every time.

        Also, when flying with lube, it has a tendency to leak. I unscrew the cap and cover the mouth of the bottle with saran wrap and screw the lid back on – no more leaks! (And it is important that it comes with us on holidays!)

    • Rachael

      For some reason I’ve never really been shy about wanting/ needing to use lube. It feels better for me, it feels better for him, you can have all kinds of nice times sliding parts against each other… Plus I find it fairly essential for pleasurable external stimulation, which is great fun during sex.

      I’ve been wondering about dealing with this also. I feel like lately my sex drive has been way off. I blame stress about my current job situation as the culprit, but it is really putting a strain on my marriage. I keep telling myself to just get back in the habit of doing it and getting into that “go for it!” mentality as you put it. Working on it.

      I have an IUD as well, but the non-hormonal one. So I don’t have the typical “BC” side effects, but one of the side effects of the Paragard is that you can cramp more – during your period, after sex, just sitting at work minding your own business, etc. Definitely makes getting in the mood more difficult when I’m cramping most days of the month.

    • AnonCat

      We use condoms. Not ideal, but I hated hormones, and was kind of meh on my diaphragm (lack of spontinaity. We can grab a condom without really interrupting things). We’ve gotten used to them though and don’t mind them. I would like to try the Fertility Awareness Method when we are in a place where babies would be okay if an accident happened, but I’m not sure about it right now when babies would be really not good.

    • Amy Elizabeth

      If you aren’t using condoms or other latex, I highly recommend coconut oil for lube! It is seriously the best lube ever – super long lasting and anti-bacterial/anti-fungal to boot! We started using it when I got an IUD and have never looked back. Pro tip: freeze it in small pieces and insert for mess free internal application! Oh and another important tip, the oil will stain, so use a towel or something!

  • CC

    Can I just say that all these comments about sex drives and issues in the bedroom is so refreshing? I sometimes feel like because I’m engaged we’re supposed to be having this hot, passionate, “early relationship” sex all the time – but in real life sex takes effort, is work, and isn’t a movie. So thank you all for your honesty and wisdom.

  • Jess

    Despite a lot of experimentation (self and w/ FH), I very very very rarely orgasm. I get really close, then I get distracted for a second, or one of us gets tired of trying (“Ok, my hand is really tired now”), or he comes. To be honest, I was pretty sure I just wasn’t ever going to until he was able to push me over the edge once fairly early on in our sexual relationship. I have always been really honest about the fact that it’s difficult for me to actually achieve orgasm.

    This has been true my whole life – masturbating, partner, whatever – and I’m pretty ok with it by now. I’m content, I feel really really really good 99% of the time (sometimes things get uncomfortable or don’t really work for one/both of us. we always switch it up if it does, or concede that we’re both just really tired and cuddle for a while instead), I just don’t have any earth shattering, mind blowing moment. I enjoy sex and enjoy feeling good and making him feel good.

    On the other hand, he is really uncomfortable about it. He apologizes for not “getting me there” all the time, and it really stresses him out to keep trying and not having it work.

    Other than just telling him the things that I really enjoyed or how good I felt (which I’m already doing), how can I try to help him be more comfortable with not getting me off and less “It’s all my fault!” ??

    • My personal experience was that I could not orgasm until I got off my anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication (SSRI’s). Vibrators REALLY helped me though.

      • Jess

        Totally love vibrators!

  • Jessica B

    Ok, ladies and gents: Phone/Skype sex. Tips? Anecdotes? Advice? Husband and I have been married for 2.5 weeks and he leaves in 2 weeks and will be gone for one year, and there is NO WAY I can do that without some sort of sex talk with him, but sex talk over the phone can be super awkward.

    • Definitely Anon

      FH and were in a long distance relationship for 2.5 years so I’m quite familiar with phone/Skype sex. If you don’t have already, get one. Not only will you need to use it just for your own satisfaction, he’ll like watching you use it. Let him give you direction in how to touch yourself and how to use it.

      As far as conversation, you can’t be afraid to talk dirty. No time for modesty. Talk about fantasies. Of course, since you’ll be separated for a year, you’ll need to ration what you share.

      • Jessica B

        I assume you meant vibrator there, to which the answer is yes, I have several. I will also be sending him a bottle of lube and a flesh light for when he wants to mix it up from the endlessness that is his right hand.

        “No time for modesty.”

        I like that ^^^

    • Speaking from four years of LDR experience:

      If you’re okay with this sort of thing, have a glass of wine or your adult beverage of choice to sort of relax. I know we are definitely more flirty after a drink with dinner.

      Also? Flirty texting during the day works wonders. Don’t make it all “hi, we’re on the phone and it’s time for dirty talk now,” because that typically won’t work. Wearing a particularly cute bra? Snap a picture and send it to him (if you can). Have a hot dream about him? Text him about it in the morning. Let him know that you’re thinking about him and there will be days that you can’t wait until the designated phone/skype date so you can tell him about all of the terrible things you want to do to him.

      And yeah, sometimes its awkward, and you have to figure out what verbal prompts work “best”, but after practice, it can be pretty natural.

      (Oh! And don’t be offended if you’re in the mood and he’s not, or vice versa! That’s what the internet and toys can be for.)

      • Jessica B

        Unfortunately texting is out (he won’t have a phone and will have limited email access). I’m thinking of just starting a journal of fantasies to email/mail him periodically, perhaps with some pictures attached.

        • I think a journal sounds like a great idea! Plus, writing/sharing that stuff will help you (not like you need help, but you know what I mean) suss out what it is that you like best, and this is all sorts of great communication fodder. You two will navigate this year like champs. :D

        • Anonymouse

          I did an x-rated tumblr page for my husband when we were living apart and found that often gave us a good starting point (lots of softcore black and white pictures too! They just had to be sexy for me/us) But really I find for good phone sex you just have to be prepared to let it go where it goes — it’s a good time to explore fantasies, but it’s also a good time to just go with “If you were here right now I would do X”

          Really though, the thing that helped me get into it the most was reading erotica so I was already in the mood before we got started.

          • Jessica B

            Sexy gifs are like, in the top 3 things that turn me on. Great idea!

    • Jess

      I travel a ton for work, so we’ve been doing this recently. I’ve found that he’s way more into seeing things visually than just on the phone, so I set up a computer/smartphone camera so I’m in full view. I’ve found that the phone is easily movable to get a different view and I can set it up to just have a full picture view if I need both my hands at any point. And we discuss what is going to happen ahead of time, setting up dates of a sort.

      It’s totally awkward for the first few seconds. Every time. Even if I’m already in the hotel bed naked, and have read steamy novel scenes, and gotten myself a little warmed up already. I open up the conversation and he looks at me and I look at him and we smile awkwardly. And then he’ll start asking me about my day and I laugh hysterically, thinking, “I’M NAKED AND UNDER A SHEET AND HOLDING A VIBRATOR AND YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW WORK WAS?!”

      But… after those few seconds? I just end up doing what I’d normally do by myself or to initiate sex with him, and he gets into it and starts telling me what he’d like to see, and it becomes way less awkward and way more sexytimes.

      • Jessica B

        We should start a smut book club. Some of those books are SO GOOD, like, bookmark and read over and over again good.

        And then some don’t even have sex scenes. What the hell?

        • Not in a LDR, but I want smut book club recommendations!

          • Jessica B

            Would Good Reads have something that we can make a community for this?

          • Jessica B

            A Practical Smut is now a group on GoodReads!

        • I bet they would!

          • Jessica B

            We totally can. What should we all it–A Practical Smut? Better ideas much appreciated!

          • Jess

            I kind of love A Practical Smut…

        • Jess

          Can we PLEASE?! I have some that I just read over and over. Forget those books filled with men doing household tasks, they are real porn for women. You know the saying about men needing more visual stimulation, but women needing ideas? These were the ideas they were talking about.

          And I agree, what’s the point of reading totally predictable plots if there’s no sex?!

          Funny story time, because this was my favorite moment a month ago:

          I was at a wedding in a library and they had cocktail hour in an anteroom with “new releases” on the shelves. One of the guys in our group of friends pulls down one of these books, and goes, “Why are women reading these?” We end up having a competition to find sex scenes first. All three girls found at least two before any of the guys found one. Chapters 3-5 was where things get start to get interesting.

          • Jessica B

            That sounds fun!

            What should we call the group on goodreads?

          • Jessica B

            A Practical Smut is now a group on Good Reads!

          • Jess

            Oh my gosh, awesome!!

          • Ruth

            Do share titles!

      • I don’t have any ideas on a name, so if you start A Practical Smut, I’ll join!

    • AnonCat

      Seriously, phone sex is the best. It always makes me ready for more and the moment we are together, I’m raring or sex all the time. It’s the only thing I miss from being long distance. (Obviously, the actual sex is good too, but the phone sex enhances the in person sex so much. When we get 1 bedroom instead of a studio, I plan to make it part of our sex lives.

      Phone sex is really about description. “I wish you were here because I’m horny.” “Oh yeah, tell me what you would do to me.” “Well, first I would…” Even if you are describing upper vanilla sex, describing it, hearing eachother’s hot and heavy breath and horniness in the voice, can be so sexy. It can be awkward at first, but just masturbating while telling the other person what you want to do to them or them to do to you can be hot. Also, quiet moments in phone sex are okay.

      • Jessica B

        I think you just turned me on. Good thing husband hasn’t left yet!

        “Also, quiet moments in phone sex are okay.” That is something I needed to be told.

        • Anonymouse

          Sometimes just breathing is the best part. ;)

    • Fake Name

      We were horrible with saying the things, but typing (over skype or email) was so much easier!! Eventually we grew brave enough for picture, but still no sound. But it was really good….. You will probably find the method of communicating that feels least embarrassing (I’m sure others would be horrified to see those ideas in print!)

    • On the other side of LDR

      Hey! Me and my FH did the LDR thing for a year and a half, and the Skype machine became our best friend. Now…do I take it with the limited email access and no phone that there is no webcam? Because if there IS a webcam, just the sight of pixelated boobs and penises will become very very arousing (because, damn it, that pixelated penis across the country/world is for you!) However, eventually you start doing irrational things like petting the screen because you just want to touch his face, so you know, double edged sword.No webcam? I think the x-rated tumblr/journal thing sounds great. On the phone, someone suggested describing what you would do, which for me in the moment required too much presence of mind. It was much easier to describe a specific incident that already happened that was really hot. Ex: “hey remember that time we did THAT THING in the hotel room/your parents’ place over the holidays/on our camping trip and then you did that OTHER THING and omg….” etc . I don’t know about anyone else, but phone sex kind of gives the freedom to fantasize/say things that you wouldn’t probably do in real life. Very hot.
      On the lighter side, because all that separation and longing and desire for each other can get kind of…heavy…check out Hoochy Mail. . Erotic story mad libs sent to your email. It’s kind of silly and funny and sometimes hot but it can get things started with a giggle and an “oh if we were really having sex on a ski lift would we do it like that?” Good luck!

  • Miriam

    Guys, go here. It is awesome:

    • Miriam

      I should clarify what it is: It is a sex toy review site in the form of an adorable, gender- and sexuality-nonspecific and body-positive webcomic written by a husband and wife team.

      • Jessica B

        Another good one is Freddy and Eddy, a couple that does reviews of sex toys and videos. They started off just for heterosexual couples (since they are one), but have moved on to all sorts of pairings or more.

    • I love Ericka Moen’s work!

      • I discovered her through Strip Search and really liked her work!

  • Sex after baby.
    When you feel like your body is no longer your own because you are breastfeeding, and carrying around this needy being all day. You are exhausted from lack of sleep. You feel frumpy, fat and generally ugly, and your husband does not realise that he needs to tell you he thinks you are gorgeous (because he thinks you know that, even when you’ve told him otherwise).
    Its just so hard to get in the mood, I’m often having sex out of a sense of duty rather than a real desire to have sex. And I’m tired of it, but I cant break the mindset!

    • Anon12561

      Agh I reported this comment on accident but I meant to say Exactly. I’m 6 weeks post partum and when my OB recommended one more week it heal I was sort of relieved. My husband has been patient but he is ready for sex and I’m so blah about it. Between the baby on my tits all day and night and generally being fat and sweater then usual I’m just not feeling I right now. The bc my doc prescribed has been sitting unopened in the bathroom for a week now.

  • Anonymous

    Wondering of anyone has a good recommendation for a small, quiet vibrator that can be used during sex to stimulate the clit?

    Thanks in advance!

    • anonimal

      The bullet! Go for it!

      • Anonymous

        Is it literally just called the bullet?


        • Jessica B

          Sure is! It’s describes the type of vibrator it is, not any brand.

          It also makes those magic bullet infomercials even MORE hilarious.

    • Jess

      I’ve been really liking the LELO vibe I got recently. It’s small, the battery life is pretty decent, it’s not very loud (still buzzes, but not distracting), and has a lot of settings.

      I have the LYLA 2, because it has a remote that he liked the idea of (and likes the use of). It can be used with or without the remote (or you can use the remote to adjust to a pattern/intensity and then just set it down) and a ton of different patterns.

      • Thanks to an earlier commenter, I just read this review, which might be what you’re looking for:

        • Anon this time

          We just bought the We Vibe and I have to admit I hate it. Uncomfortable, distracting, and just plain painful. We’ve only tried it twice for P in V sex, but I can’t imagine wanting to give it another shot. Just no.

    • SamiSidewinder

      Not sure what kind of partner you have, but if it’s a man, a cock ring with a vibrator attached is fun for both of you! Mine has an elephant as the part that vibrates and the battery powered bit is removable for cleaning of the rest of it.

    • anonforthis

      Jimmy Jane makes an awesome, small, pretty quiet one. I think it’s great- has three settings, very discreet and elegant.

  • embarrassing question

    Has anyone else had the experience of feeling like they have to pee, specifically when they are about to have an orgasm? This happens to me all the time, and it makes it totally takes me out of the moment, making it difficult for me to orgasm fully. Any ideas/ suggestions?

    • me too!

      it used to happen to me all the time and a couple times it was so bad, I had to stop in the middle to go pee (and that SO kills the mood), but I figured out a way to circumvent it…

      1. I realized my partner gives off certain signals before he’s going to initiate.
      2. Before he starts really initiating (i.e. once I’ve figured it out), I pee
      3. If I want sex, I pee before initiating.
      4. Knowing that my bladder is empty makes me feel confident/comfortable that even if I feel like I’m going to pee, I won’t (or only a little will come out, which…kind of gross, but sex is supposed to be a little wet…sorry, that’s gross too, but…)

      I hope this helps!

    • Anonymous

      You may be a female ejaculator. I squirt (the colloquial term) and it feels like you need to pee right as it’s happening. If you actually release into the experience, it is really fun and feels really good. It does require a mental effort to release, and you may want towels down. :) I’m pretty sure you can’t *actually* pee during orgasm due to the physiology of the situation, but if you want to be doubly sure, pee before sex. If you pee right before sex and still feel the stimulation, you’re probably going to squirt instead. ;)

      • Strega Anona

        For more info about squirting you can watch the free educational G-SPOT STIMULATION & EJACULATION VIDEO here:

        For others… there are also videos about cunnilingus, fellatio, strap-ons, dildos, bondage, vibrators, and impact play.

      • more anonymity

        Seconding this. Though it doesn’t take mental effort for me to release there are times where the pre-release sensation feels a lot like “I really have to go NOW.”

    • eq2

      Me. Though not necessarily pre-orgasm, just in many many positions, and it’s super annoying. Sometimes all I can think is “I need to pee” and, well, that’s not very sexy. Commiserating but would love some advice.

  • anonymous

    Feeling sexy after tearing/complications from a vaginal delivery. It doesn’t bug my husband, just me.

  • Faker

    What can I do if I’ve faked it for years (try 6) and don’t want to anymore?

    It’s not that I’ve had to EVERY time, but definitely the majority. It started because I was young and inexperienced and she was older and more experienced and I was nervous at the beginning and then things just got away from me…

    It was easier back then (before I knew we’d end up married!!) to just keep faking than to go through all of the work to really try. Plus I was embarrassed.

    But now what? How can I ever reveal the truth? How can I not fake it?

    • Anonymouse

      Personally, I would just stop faking it. Try and be more vocal about what she’s doing that works for you while it’s working for you. If she questions that you’re not getting off “like you used to” say you’re not sure what’s up but you’re really loving it when she does X. It might be weird for awhile but it’s worth it to start getting the orgasms you deserve. :)

    • Anonymo

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this!

      I wanted to ask the same question but was discouraged since I was a bit afraid of being ridiculed (even as awesome and accepting as APWs are) for faking since I’ve never even seen in mentioned anywhere on APW or previous sex threads.

      I started young when I was so focused on “what should happen.” Now I’m with a guy where marriage is on the table. Originally, I tried really hard at not faking with him when we first started out, but we ran into some emotionally related performance issues on his end. I tried faking it once or twice and ta-dah! it solved his problem. Bad part is that I kept doing it and to just stop faking now I know would confuse and frustrate him, and I know it would kill his ego/trust if I were to admit to it. In a perfect world, I know it’s something that should be discussed but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

      I can rarely O by myself even after having tried everything in the books. Only thing that really works is grinding up against hard surfaces. The only time I’ve ever actually gotten off with a guy was while grinding up against his pelvic bone, but have never been able to do it with him actually being inside of me (it feels distracting?) Having sex (both oral and P in V) feels great, but it just doesn’t get me there and I do not have the endurance nor desire to go for really long periods of time.

      Ahhh, it feels so good to just get that out there.

      • Grinding was the only way I could get off for years. Vibrators SERIOUSLY work in this case. You might need a strong one, depending on how hard you need to grind to get off.

        In my case, hormonal birth control & SSRI’s (for anxiety & depression) are what stopped me from orgasming. Once I got off SSRI’s, it became a lot easier, and it was even better off hormonal birth control.

        I would encourage you to start talking about it…you don’t have to shatter his ego all at once. Putting it into the guise of uncertainty (“not sure what’s going on, just having a hard time”) helps, though that obviously makes you blame yourself (which I think is a bit unfair). I don’t think you should have to compromise yourself and your enjoyment for his emotional issues, he needs to find another way to deal with that. Maybe eventually, you get to the point where you just don’t orgasm and don’t fake it either, but he understands that you enjoy the sex anyway :). A good thing to work on now before marriage perhaps?

      • Apples

        I love dry humping, and the best position I’ve found for P in V to help w/ that sensation is CAT, mentioned way farther up in the comments. And having all of his weight against me helps a lot too.

    • AnonCat

      I faked it for about a year or so, and then I fessed up. He was very very hurt, but it did overall improve our sex life hugely and we are now getting married. I’m not sure the best way to do it, but it was good for us, in the long run, for me to tell. For me, I was young and inexperienced and so was he and he wanted me to come so badly that he kept asking if I had when I wasn’t remotely close. It felt easier to just fake it than ask for whatI needed to get off.

      • Anon

        Thank you for asking this!! I’m in the same boat. Engaged to a dude, really enjoy sex, but have been faking it since starting young and uninformed. Would love to hear more from people who have figured out how to transition from faking, any tips on how to learn more about what gets you off so that you can start to give more clear direction about what you like. Thank you!

    • Anony

      in the same boat. and i know if i was truthful it would kill him.

  • Nahanahnonon

    So here is my totally awkward question for people not using condoms…what do you do after he finishes? I feel like I need to lay down a dedicated sex towel to catch all of his man juice but when you’re in the moment it just seems to slip my thoughts until he finishes and it’s like EFF I JUST CHANGED THE SHEETS. Lately I just have him pull out and he finishes in my mouth (protein right?) but am wondering if there are any pro tips

    • Rachael

      Sounds familiar. We have a box of tissues next to the bed, within reach (well, I guess it depends on where we end up on the bed). I try to catch the bit that would spill out. It took some time, but now we’re pros and hardly ever have a mess. If we’re in another room I either use my hand or sometimes his boxers or under shirt. Alternatively, sometimes I’ll have him finish on my chest or something and let him go grab a tissue or paper towel afterward.

    • M

      This might be TMI/ kinda gross but I make sure to go pee right after and sometimes that’s enough to have all his stuff come out but other times I’ll kinda waggle around until things come out. Then a swipe with a baby wipe and I feel all fresh and good to go.

    • Nan

      We have a little stack of rags/towels that live next to our bed so he can grab me one after.

    • BedsideKit

      We keep a freshly laundered set of old wash cloths in a bedside table. They are handy for both of us right afterwards. We used to use tissues, but the tree hugger in me felt so bad when he’d go through 6 to clean up. I toss them in with the laundry after use.

    • Strega Anona

      I’m not sure if you mean you’re using pulling out as a contraception method… if so, this won’t apply. But, if we don’t already have a towel near the bed, I’ll stay lying down (or move to lying down) so he can go get one. Then I wiggle walk with it to the toilet and let gravity do it’s thing. However, the other day he just stayed inside me while carrying me to the bathroom. Laughing all the way, but it worked.

      I have a distinct memory of seeing the occasional towel next to my parents’ bed, but for some reason I never thought to wonder why it would be there. They never left towels lying around otherwise. Haha

    • T

      Ugh, this was my one real issue with getting an IUD (after using condoms exclusively). I’ll probably have him pull out most of the time because I no matter what I do (peeing afterwards, squatting, whatever), I end up dripping cum all day or all night. It’s gross & it messes up my vaginal environment! I get yeast infections easily and the cum messes up my pH levels. Taking a shower after helps the most, but I don’t want to shower multiple times a day.

      We use towels underneath us sometimes, but usually I’ll just grab some dirty laundry & then make my way over to the bathroom to clean up as best as I can.

  • Anon

    How to not take a partners lack of libido personally.

    • Jess

      Honestly I wish I had an answer. This was a major issue in an otherwise… also not so great relationship.

  • Marty

    I have a question I haven’t seen answered here, which makes sense since I don’t have any friends that I’ve talked to who share my issues.

    It’s taken 2 years of struggle and sex therapy and living apart at times, but finally my husband is seeing a doctor for erectile dysfunction/premature ejaculation. We’re both young, in our early 30’s, and have been married for 4 years.

    When we married, I was aware that sex wasn’t our strong suite, but I figured we would have a lifetime to get better. Things got progressively worse over the first year and then my husband was transferred for his job and we had to live a part for 6 months, which made our sexual encounters less frequent and I just ignored the issue. When I finally admitted that my needs weren’t being met sexually, it was hard for him to hear and three months later he agreed to couples therapy. Long story short, therapy made things worse. Especially since my husband describes himself as almost asexual and I have a very normal to high libido. He was hurt and offended that I masturbated to take the pressure off of him, when I only thought it was healthy and for the best. Since things seemed easier when I could be close to my family and friends where we used to live, I spent a lot of time away from my husband and with this arrangement, we could have a positive sexual encounter once a month, but never anything involving intercourse for more than 20-30 seconds.

    Now that he’s said he recognizes that there is a medical issue here and says he’s dedicated to making our marriage work, I thought I would be thrilled. But instead, I’m feeling sad and exhausted. It’s taken so long, that I no longer look at him and get excited or get aroused when he touches me because I associate it with disappointment. I feel like this is just as much my issue as it is his. Everyone I have talked to about this has said we need a lot of sex therapy or that this is just too little too late. That his needs and my needs are not the same. I’m kind of at a loss. Even with all of these struggles, I still consider him my best friend in the world. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Anonymouse

      I just wanted to say I identify with this…. When my person decided finally they were ready to change things, I was like, you know what, actually…. I already gave up. But man, I am not wanting divorce. I want to feel differently. I do not know what to do.

    • BedsideKit

      Oh man. I feel you on this one and it’s not something to really talk to your friends about privacy/embarrassment-wise. My partner, early 30s and a bit overweight, struggles with erectile dysfunction. Early in our relationship, he assured me that “this never happens.” Later he claimed to have talked to his physician about it, but I’m not sure that’s true. 2 years later and things haven’t changed. I’m convinced that losing some weight might help him, but I’ve never said as much to him. I found that the only way for me to overcome this is to give him head to the point that he becomes solidly hard, then I have to jump on within 2 seconds or all hope is lost and he goes limp. Depending on my mood, I either go back down to get him going again, or I give up. :/ Anyone else with other ideas about overcoming this?

      • Anon

        This sounds crazy similar to my life! For a long time we just didn’t have PIV because of it, and the trying becomes SO discouraging/stressful. We are pretty sexually compatible other than this so there were orgasms happening thankfully, but still a not good situation. I (in a kind of joking way?) included regularly occurring PIV in a list of pre-engagement requirements that we had, and he finally talked to the doctor and got a prescription for little blue pills. In our case they helped tremendously to get ‘over the hump’ so to speak :)

        It’s still an ongoing challenge though, and for me it is such a challenge for us both to be ready at the same time–I find the blowjob approach works so great for him, but the window is so short and things on my end get a little rushed sometimes.

        Anyways, just wanted to commiserate a little (not exactly something you can talk to the girls about over drinks), and my only real advice is tone more firm about the doctor thing ( although believe me I know how hard that is!!) and one other thing that has worked for us is having lots of sexy times without the expectation of PIV, which takes the pressure off and seems to make things a little easier for him.

        Good luck–it’s a terrible situation but you aren’t the only one!!

    • EIM

      The above are similar in some ways to my experience. However for my husband I think the difficulty is anxiety and anxiety medication. He is not at all interested in sex, or is perhaps not attracted to me sexually anymore. It is awkward to talk about (I have also written him a letter) but I am now starting to feel like I can’t go for much longer in such a sexless marriage. I am not sure how to change things. I imagine we need to see someone, but I may have a hard time asking him. I have been thinking of looking for sex outside of the marriage (with his permission). Not fun.

  • Just a lurker

    Guys. Queefing. All the time. As I get close to orgasm and then during orgasm. Does anyone know anything about this?

    • Hipponymous

      Is this during PIV/other insertion sex? If so, my guess would be either the positions you’re using, or perhaps even just the fit, is causing bits of air to get inside of you. Your muscles tense up when you orgasm, thus forcing the air out blah blah blah. I have it happen more in some positions than others, and definitely a lot more when the sexytimes are more vigorous.

      If it’s all the time (during penetration), no matter what, my money would be on “fit issues”. Just something about your respective parts packs in air. If it’s not during penetrative sex, then I’m just as lost as you.

    • Anon

      Not sure if you are still checking this, or asked for a reply notice – but YES. I think I just have really strong vaginal/cervix muscles and as they contract near/during orgasm it pulls and pushes the air around. It seriously grosses me out, but hunny seems to like it as a sign that I am enjoying myself. So, it exists! I only get it with either nothing inside me or a smaller object like fingers etc. I don’t get the noise with PIV, but with a different “fitting” situation I imagine it is possible.

  • eppp

    I was in an 8 year relationship with my ex husband and we had a horrible horrible sex life. It’s one of the things that i think ultimately ended us. It was just bland and boring an not at all passionate. Now my current boyfriend who i live with (and who i completely adore)… we have an amazing, incredible sex life. The issue is that he is clearly more experienced then I am and Sometimes i worry that theirs things I don’t know? I just feel some what sexually stunted from spending the majority of my adult time in an relationship that was not at all sexually adventurous. I’m, very daring in bed but i just wish I knew more i guess? I feel like a “Things you should try” list would be pretty helpful. Not like a cosmo article.,, just handy, no seriously you should try this kind of list.

    • Anonymouse

      I have basically the exact opposite issue, so I guess I’ll tell you what I wish my husband would do.

      Read erotica. A lot of it. Find out what you like and what you’re into. Try the things you think sound interesting. Don’t be afraid to explore your boundaries (especially if you’re clear on what your hard and soft boundaries are).

      It could be hot to make a sex bucket list too, if you made it together with things either/both of you wanted to try.

      • Anon90

        You could try together! It is an interactive sex questionnaire that you and your partner take separately about what things you want to try in the bedroom. It offers no, yes. and if my partner was interested as replies to questions such as “I want to try anal” and then only shares the results if both partners said “yes” or “if my partner wants to” so it is a pretty safe way to start exploring things you should try.

        Or most sex stores have books that are good fro stuff like this — my fave is the Sex Games Bible which has 100 odd games to try. Each activity comes with a mild version and a crazy version, and a space to check it off when you complete the task!

    • lady brett

      maybe the place to start is the fantasy/daydream section – because it’s all well and good to see a big list and think “huh, i could try that,” but it’s totally different to hear that your partner is excited about/interested in/has even thought of some thing. my vote for lowest-pressure way to start a conversation about fantasies is immediately post-sex – when you’re all happy, satisfied, totally thinking about sex but not expecting anything (and to be real clear that fantasies are not the same as things you are sure you want to try). i guess the idea is that it gives your more-experienced partner a chance to lead you somewhere new, but in a thought-experiment kind of way rather than something more high-stakes with expectations of follow-through.

    • Amanda

      I’m glad you asked this question because I have a similar problem! For a variety of personal reasons, I didn’t lose my virginity until my mid-20s and now I worry that I don’t have the skills to please my more experienced boyfriend. He says he enjoys it, but I feel like such a novice…plus we are in a LDR so we don’t get many opportunities to “practice.”

    • AnonObvi

      (sorry I’m so late to the conversation) Look up Yes/No/Maybe lists! It’s usually a long list of every sexual activity imaginable and both you and your partner go down it individually and decide if you are definitely interested, definitely not interested, or could be interested possibly. Then you talk about the areas where your interests overlap. (disclaimer, I haven’t actually done this) I feel like it’s a good way to bring up a variety of new things without pressure.

      • eppp

        Thanks girls this was all super helpful. I’m going to check out those lists tonight when I am NOT on my work computer haha.

  • heres_a_llama

    Are there any feminist Jews here who keep tohorat hamishpahah, to any degree? Right now I’m really struggling as a Conservative egalitarian woman whose wedding is in November and who would like to keep these mitzvot in my marriage. I’m trying to find kallah course materials but there isn’t a lot available to Conservative Jews (at least in America) besides the three responsa from 2006. There is the online Nishmat course, but in addition to abiding by Orthodox standards (as it should, given that it comes from an Orthodox donor and source), it also has ideas about shalom bayit that just do not mesh with my understanding of healthy family boundaries, open communication, or common respect. Any tips, insight, etc?

    • hope this helps

      I’m a feminist Jew and go to a Conservative shul. I practice tohorat hamishpahah to a slight degree — I don’t have sex the week that I’m on my period. Once I stop bleeding, I shower (no mikveh) and then I’m back to regular sexual contact. I’ve made this decision on my own, however, and didn’t do much studying on it in a formal way.

      I’m sure this is a dumb question, but have you asked your Rabbi for materials?

      You could also reach out to the Jewish Theological Seminary, the conservative Jewish Rabbinical school, for resources. I’m sure they’d be happy to help.

      I don’t have much to add but a solidarity fist bump and belated Shanah Tovah!

      • heres_a_llama

        I asked my rabbi but he’s not rich in resources in this area. I’m googling like mad and reaching out to other rabbis but this isn’t something we’ve done lately as non-Orthodox Jews. And even then, there’s only so much I can academically read about this before I just want to talk to someone else, a modern couple living life in their home, and ask – how did you decide whether to get separate beds? To not pass things? To ignore it all? To “just” shower at home or to “just” go to the nearby lake or to “just” go to the mikvah? The nitty gritty of real life. Thanks for reaching out though! It is really heartening to hear that other Jewish women choose to observe this in some way because on the other end of the spectrum, I get looks from friends who think my interest in this means I want to call women dirty hussies who should be stuck in red huts for moments of the month….sigh.

        • AnonCat

          Feminist Conservative Jew marrying a non-Jew here. It’s something we talk about. We basically don’t have sex on my period, until I stop bleeding. Right now, I don’t go to the mikveh, and we recommence sex as soon as spotting stops, not waiting 7 days, right now. I’ve been working through the Nishmat Kallah Companion materials. While they are from an orthodox perspective, I HAVE found them to be helpful in understanding the laws about taharas hamishpacha so that I can better understand it. While I doubt I will practice in the way described (pretty sure I will never go to the rabbi to show him a spot ever, for instance, and I’m not sure I will be so strict), I am finding it helpful to understand what a traditional and strict interpretation of the mitzvah looks like.

          I wish there were more resources on it from a conservative perspective. For instance, one of the three responsa you mentioned mentions considering whether the lumping together of waiting 7 blood-free days for non-menstrual bleeding vs only waiting until a certain number of days from the beginning of the period has passed and the period is over for menstrual bleeding is needed, or whether women can tell the difference and thus wait less time.
          I would also love to talk to a real person about it. It is especially hard because, as an intermarrying person, I’m not, under traditional thought, required to immerse in a mikveh, and by some thinking, thus can’t. I don’t immerse right now, but I am planning to start after we marry, althought I have to figure out the logistics of it. (What mikveh I can use and such).

          • AnonCat

            Oh, and I haven’t plans in not touching. We are working right now, on not touching sexually, but we still touch. Right now, that includes not/less sexual intimate touching like cuddles. But no ass grabbing, no making out. (Right now, we do short kisses, sort of pecks, but not making out). I could see shifting away from no intimate touch, although I don’t know whether we will, but I don’t think we will get separate beds, or not touch at all.

        • Married Jew

          Married (8 months) non-Orthodox Jew here. Based on my experience what I’ve garnered from friends (non-Orthodox and Orthodox), a couple figures out how to observe the laws based on how motivated they are to keep them to a particular degree and mostly on what works for them as a couple.

          We learned that most of tacharat hamishpacha wasn’t working for us. I hated the idea of scheduling my life (e.g. vacations) around my menstrual cycle. I hated fitting in going to the mikvah as another task on my evening to do list (I work full-time and attend grad school part-time so I have a lot of evening classes). I really hated preparation for the mikvah. I hated telling my husband when I was in niddah and when I was tahorah. My husband and I both hated the post-mikvah expectation of having to have sex that night. Yes, the actual immersion part was tolerable and I’ve been truly blessed to have good mikvah ladies and that does count for a lot. But it’s not enough to offset everything else I dislike about the practical observance of the mitzvah.

          On top of all that, I felt a lot of anger towards the laws themselves. Why do we even count 7 clean days after normal period blood anyway? Written Torah (not oral Torah) says that one only needs to count 7 clean days for non-normal bleeding and as someone who has menstruated for 14 years, I consider myself capable of telling the difference within my own body. Why do any harchakot have to be kept in public if a couple can’t have sex in public anyway? The prohibitions against daytime immersions? Based on a rabbinic degree that the immersing woman’s daughter might see her and think that immersion on the seventh day is permissible. Never mind that the prohibition applies to women without children, never mind that the rabbinic preference for sex at night seems insufficient to make a law prohibiting mikvah immersion in the daytime. Why can’t Rabbis train women to evaluate their stains by themselves? I have studied the laws and I have looked up on the Nishmat website, but I haven’t found the answers satisfactory, which further fuels my discontent.

          So long story short, my husband and I are at the point where we do barest minimum (no penis in vagina intercourse during niddah until I immerse) and that’s it.

          I don’t mean to discourage you or talk you out of it. I know of non-Orthodox couples who keep taharat hamishpacha and they have a positive experience. Whatever you decide to do, I really hope that you have a positive experience. (Sorry, I just have a lot of residual anger and negativity and I get carried away sometimes.) I guess really, at the end of the day, you can ask and you should ask the Rabbi all the questions you want and get as much information as you can. But the final decision of what you wind up doing will be in the hands of you and your husband.

  • Anonymouse

    My husband and I have sex drives issues — mainly that I want more sex than he does. I don’t take it personally (he’s also busier than I am and under a lot more stress) but I do feel guilty waiting until he’s asleep and then grabbing my vibrator. WORSE — I don’t want to lie to him about the fact that I’m masturbating, so I’m kind of upfront with it, except last night I told him to hurry up and fall asleep because I wanted to get off and I was sleepy.

    It’s not that we never have sex, but sometimes we’ll go a week or so without (and there’s a certain ebb and flow — sometimes he wants it and I don’t, but that’s rare) and that’s not really sufficient for me. Also, I almost always initiate (I think he tries to initiate sometimes but if I’m not ready to go immediately it’s like he gives up). I’m more sexually experienced that he is (he was married for a long time in basically a sexless marriage) and I miss kinky/man-in-control sex. I don’t think I’d ever cheat, but I don’t want to cause resentment (from either of us!) because of this. How can I turn this around?


    I recently discovered Oh Joy Sex Toy, and I highly recommend it for sex ed. It’s a web comic drawn by Erika Moen. It’s LGBTQ-friendly and shows people of all races and body types. It’s accurate, useful, and hilarious.

    Check out the comic on pregnancy, for example:

  • Melissa (The Researcher)

    I want to know where that art came from! It looks fabulous. :)

    • Amy

      Me too! I want it in my place!!


    I might be a little too late on the train here, but as hard as it is to say, sometimes I am not extremely attracted to my fiance sexually. I am so attracted to him on many levels: emotional, intellectual, etc. But want to grab him and throw you against the wall sex? not as much. I have no doubt about that he is the man I want as my partner in life, but society makes me feel like if I don’t find him the sexiest man alive at all times and want to jump his bones there is something really wrong with our relationship. This causes me anxiety as we are getting ready to start a life long journey together. I guess I’m really hoping I might get some validation that there are many levels of attractions and just because I don’t always find my fiances body attractive, doesn’t mean we are doomed??


      I really want to respond to you without minimizing or being judgmental of sex for sex’s sake. So I’m going to try, but my apologies in advance if I don’t get it right.
      Sex can be just sex. As long as it’s between consenting adults behaving in a medically safe way, it’s good. Great, even! That kind of sex typically requires an element of lust, or sexual attraction.
      Sometimes sex is more than just a physical act. It’s connection, bonding, intimacy, vulnerability. And that stuff doesn’t care if your dude has a chiseled jawline or not. That cares much more about what you’re saying- emotional and intellectual attraction, feeling as though he’s your partner and has your back. Now, having a lower libido or being less interested in sex with him than he is with you would certainly be an area of growth for your relationship, if that’s what you’re facing. But just not being lustful towards your guy at all times or thinking he’s the hottest thing out there according to some societal standards? Nah, not technically spelling doom. In a life long journey together, our bodies are guaranteed to change, so sex in marriage cannot be tied up with appearances. It has to be more gracious than that to evolve over the years.

      • I’m nobody!

        “It has to be more gracious than that to evolve over the years.” This is lovely. I like it.

      • anonymous

        Thank you for this.

    • CC

      are you kidding? totally freaking normal! :) I often hear women say how what you are describing is how they feel for their life partner – because there’s no games anymore. There’s no push pull, no infatuation, not as much “oh my god i need you now” passion – this person actually fully shows up for you. no games. just two people, standing still together – real love. :)

    • Anon

      I feel you on this. I have never actually been with someone who I am ohmygodsoattractedto physically. This includes my husband and I sometimes have guilt about it because he tells me all the time how much I turn him on and how he’s so happy he married someone he is so attracted to. And I just don’t feel that way about him. Not to say I’m not turned on by him at all, I just don’t often look at him and think “holy hell, I must have him this very minute because he is so hawt.” We still have great sex and he makes me so happy in every other area of life that I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.

  • Anonymouse

    Can we talk about lesbian bed death? Because it is happening to me. I am feeling pretty sad and hopeless and guilty about it.

    • AnonCat

      I’m sorry. I don’t have any experience with it, but I just wanted to offer an Internet hug. That sounds sucky.

    • CC

      slightly happening to me too, but more of because of the anxiety and emotional stress and soul-journey im going through right now.

      in any intimate relationship, fear walls often pop up. our hearts close. it’s our work to constantly dive into our selves, open our hearts, address our fears, tend to our inner child- make sure we are feeling good and alive and fulfilled within ourselves- being vulnerable is a constant practice! breaking through every intimacy barrier together will only make you closer and your love deeper. (sorry i sound like a therapy CD) ha!


    I have a question about multiple orgasms. The question being less of a question and more the fact that I just have never experienced them. To be honest, I have a terrible time remaining mentally present during sex which, at the beginning of my fiance’s and my relationship, caused me to have trouble reaching orgasm. I don’t have a problem orgasming anymore, but when I’m done, I’m done, you know? I have a hard time staying revved up.

    We’ve taken turns with me coming first and coming second, and my fiance is great about giving me a hand after intercourse if need be, but I’m just wondering: do I just need a long recovery time? Is my body just ill-equipped for this? Have any of you “taught” yourself how to do this?

    I should also so that I have a fairly low sex drive at the moment and so does my fiance – both stress related, unfortunately – so exploring by myself isn’t terribly appealing.

    Any tips or advice?

    • AnonCat

      I’ve done it once. My fiancé is really into the idea of giving me multiple orgasms, but the reality is, usually, one and I’m done with clit stimulation for a while. I definitely have a bit of a recovery period, and I think that is perfectly normal. It does help to work on it, I feel like. To keep up the touch post orgasm. Sometimes, I get bored, and sometimes it is hot, and once it made me come again. A lot of times though, I’m done and bored, let’s move on to PiV or cuddles depending on where in the sexing the orgasm came.

    • Nema

      Please do not immediately assume that you are ill-equipped for multiple orgasms! I’ve had them, and they are completely unpredictable. I’m much more likely to have multiple orgasms during solo sex.

      Here’s a technique I’ve used to rock my own world: read or watch something steamy that brings you to the edge mentally. Try stimulation without vibration (fingers, etc.) in missionary position. Then, try clitoral stimulation with vibration. THEN, vibe stimulation on the pubic bone area just above the clit in a kneeling position. I know you said that self-exploration doesn’t appeal right now but maybe this is something to keep in mind for when the stress level hopefully goes down.

  • Anon

    Here’s my issue: husband and I have great sex in the afternoon on Saturdays. Sometimes Sundays. But that’s it. It really is good sex, I always feel like I wish it could last longer but we both orgasm so fast and hard! On Saturdays I’m sure we’ll both be in the mood before the next weekend, but then it’s Wednesday and neither of us have any interest.

    We don’t have children, and we both just started new jobs post grad school so adjustment is certainly part of it, but how do normal adults have good sex 2-3 times a week?

    APW: please do a poll – if you are happy with your sex life, how often are you having sex? What is “normal”?

    Same question if you’re not happy with your sex life.

    • CC

      There is no normal. There is no amount that you should be having. Once a week is awesome in my opinion. It all just depends on your sex drive, on what’s good for both of you. Honestly, there are so many false and unrealistic messages spread about sex in our culture. It only causes shame and worry that you aren’t doing it enough, or not in the right way, etc. Just breeds insecurities. I’m totally happy with once a week. Sometimes its more cause it just happens, and sometimes its less cause it just happens. It doesn’t define our relationship.

    • AnonCat

      We have sex on average 1-3times a week, but averaged over a month. For us, that we will have sex 4-7 times in two or three days, and then nothing for a week, or two, or three, then twice in a day, then another dry week or two, then once two days in a row, then a dry spell and so on.

      The main pattern is a big burst of lots of sex then a dry spell, then a burst. I would say I’m happy with our frequency of sex.

    • Strega Anona

      I would say having great sex when you’re both interested in it, and not having sex when you’re not interested, is pretty much the ideal!

    • Hipponymous

      Sexually, I am happy with our sex life. We have sex 3-4 times a month which is enough for me. It’s usually in spurts, like twice in two days, then weeks of nothing, followed by another sexy weekend.

      Emotionally/intellectually, I am really unhappy with this. I know my husband would prefer (almost) every day, and him being so patient and kind and understanding just makes me feel even guiltier. He can put up with my sex drive and make sacrifices, why can’t I make sacrifices in his favor when it comes to sex?

      • peek-a-boo

        I clicked the “exactly” button but still had to say: Exactly! I’m in the same boat 100%.

        While I’m in the shower he’s started to leave my underwear drawer open with my thongs peeking out as a clue that he’s thinking sexytime (I don’t wear thongs normally, only for him, and I usually change into them when I get home from work knowing that’s what he wants). It helps me to be ready knowing ahead of time that that’s what he’s thinking and wanting.

    • ANON_v2

      We have sex about once a week (3 times a month is probably more accurate), although it does ebb and flow. For us this seems to work well and keep us feeling satisfied and emotionally close. It’s actually pretty frequent for us, we did go through a period with much longer dry spells (mainly I think due to my low sex drive due to BC). That wasn’t ideal for either of us and raised a lot of stressful emotional conversations.

  • BeginnersSexEdFailure

    I’m 30 and have never been tested for STDs, which makes me feel like a horrible person. Until my current partner, I’ve always been a condoms-only, no cunnilingus gal because I was terrified of receiving anything. Also, my gynecologist works closely with my mother, and while I know he would keep matters private, I feel like this could somehow tarnish my mother’s reputation so I’ve been terrified about breaching the subject with him. I guess I’m also worried about the slight possibility that my results will come back less than perfect and I won’t know how to deal with it. I have other friends who are tested regularly, but I somehow can’t get past all of the mental anxiety about this. I need help. What do I do? How do I go about doing it? Where do I go? How do I mentally prepare for the results?

    • anon

      First of all, big hugs to you. Second of all, if you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor for any reason, go see someone else. There are clinics that specialize in STD testing (depending on where you live) or clinics like Planned Parenthood that offer testing. And the do it ALL the time. Definitely no judgement there. A quick internet search will show you the options in your area.

      From personal experience, it can be nerve wracking to wait for results, but that small wait time is totally worth it to know if there’s anything you need to do about your overall health. I contracted herpes from a partner and had to wait for those results. The doc told me to go about my business and worry about the results when they come in. Well sure enough the test came back positive, but I dealt with it and my life didn’t end.

      So my advice, go get the test done. Maybe bring one of your friends who gets tested regularly or your current partner. Because in the end, your health and the health of your partners is important.

  • KRR

    I didn’t have the chance to read through every post, so if this has already been addressed, then forgive me. I’m engaged to a wonderful, sexy, well endowed man who I love very much. We are in our later-mid twenties, and are working consciously to have a more open and didactic discussion about our likes/dislikes/desires in order to truly feel 100% sexually compatible before our marriage. We have had lots of sex both together and with others, so it’s not as if we will be new to the field. With this introduction in mind, I do have one issue that I’ve always wondered about and don’t have anyone close enough to ask, so here goes-

    My nipples are a massive erogenous zone for me. I can nearly orgasm simply from having them stimulated. I’m a bit concerned about how breast feeding my future children (something which I wholeheartedly support) will mentally and physically affect the sexual nature that I associate with my breasts. Are there any Mamas out there that have or are currently breastfed and can give some advice?
    Much appreciated.

    • mummynonnymous

      This is just my experience, having breastfeed one child for almost two years and pregnant with another, and as someone who normally is into nipple stimulation.

      Short answer, yes, I did find that pregnancy and breastfeeding did change physically affect things (far more sensitivity during pregnancy and while feeding, to the point where stimulation needed to either be really gentle or just don’t go there). Early days of breastfeeding were particularly hard – make sure your baby has a decent latch and stock up on nipple cream. Mentally, not so much, but I have heard stories of this being the case for other people (partners as well as breastfeeding mothers). But reassuringly, as feeding became less intense and then finished, things returned to pre-baby normal.

      Extended answer, this is just one change in a whole set of huge changes. A baby that really didn’t like sleeping and turned us into zombies made sex a rarity anyway for quite a while. And the physical intensity of early parenthood (probably increased by breastfeeding) of someone toughing you so much of the time made sex (for me as an introvert) another demand for touching that I wasn’t prepared to meet. You live with it. You live through it. And when the baby is old enough, find a supportive family member or friend, and see if you can organise a baby sleep-over and a dirty weekend.

    • Amanda

      I haven’t been in this situation but remember talking to my mom about it once. She basically said it was weird because they go from being super sexual to this thing that is not sexual at all for breastfeeding. It sounded like everything pretty much went back to normal after breastfeeding, and I believe even during sex while breastfeeding but not 100% sure on that part.

  • e

    Having an open relationship is the best part of our sex life. I need variety. I need options. Not feeling limited turns me on. We’re getting married this weekend. Already having plans with another partner after our honeymoon is reassuring to me.

  • anotheranon

    Post (vaginal delivery) baby. I have zero sex drive and even though my doc gave the go ahead, it’s still painful (enough to bleed), and that’s a turn off for my husband. I feel guilty because I know we ought to be having sex and he wants it, but I just don’t.

  • Anon90

    My partner and I used to have a pretty rocking sex life, though the sex was primarily initiated by me. 2.5 months ago my Dad got really sick, and a month ago he passed away. I’ve was very close to my Dad, so I’ve been a bit of a wreck.

    Me and my partner have only had sex a handful of times since my Dad got sick. When we have sex it’s great,. but then whatever emotions I’ve been repressing come pouring out and I sob for hours. It’s also difficult to get in the mood, particularly to the extent where I feel comfortable initiating sex. Most days I feel so miserable that even cuddling on the couch feels like too much. But I’m also a pretty physical person (or I used to be) so the lack of sex and intimacy is making me feel even more upset and alone.

    Any advice on how one deals with grief and sex/relationships would be welcome! I’ve had a hard time finding resources. The general theme of what I have found seems to be ‘suck it up and have sex’ but I’m pretty sure the only thing less sexy than thinking about your Dad during sex is thinking about your dead Dad so!


      I’m so sorry to hear that your Dad died and that you’re hurting. It’s such a fine balance between being kind to yourself during a hard time and pushing yourself through it. Now might be one of those times where sex or other physical intimacy just needs to go on the back burner while you are in the early stages of grief. (Also, 2.5 months from illness to death? I’d be reeling.) Or maybe it’s a time to fight your urge to withdraw and figure out what forms of intimacy you *can* handle right now (it sounds like full-on sex is TOO much right now, and as for sobbing afterwards from all the feelings, yeah, I hear you on that). Finding that balance is something for you and your partner to navigate together. Even when it’s hard, as long as you’re talking through it together and gradually re-adjusting you to intimacy as a team, it will be harder to feel alone.
      So sorry for your loss.

    • Strega Anona

      Seems like you’re experiencing a totally reasonable response, and it’s all still very recent. However, therapy might be helpful as you work through your grief.

  • Hey Anonny Anonny

    Just a few general comments:

    In terms of exploration, I think it’s important to let your partner know you’re open to change. If there’s something you try and don’t like, leave it for a bit and try something else later. If this is your life partner, your body and hormones will change and maybe you’ll grow into something. It’s very disheartening to hear and absolute no. “No for now” lets your partner know you respect them enough to revisit it at another time.

    I try really hard not to judge the sex I have with my husband. I think we should all just relax a little bit. We’re not writing articles for Cosmo, we are living our lives. I think we all need to also expand our idea of what “having sex” is, that it doesn’t start with male penetration and end with male orgasm (remember the lesbians!). It’s important to have intimacy in our marriages but sex flexes and changes throughout a relationship. Like food. Sometimes you eat just to eat, sometimes it’s meh, sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it’s out of this world. Sometimes it’s too much and sometimes it’s not enough but we go through our lives eating and we manage. We all want to be Master Chefs and love watching them on TV, but in the end, we are who we are and as long as we’re not starving ourselves, we’re doing OK.

    • CC

      I LOVE this!

    • eppp

      I love this and I know I personally needed to hear this. My boyfriend and I have such an incredible sex like but if we get busy and don’t have sex for a week i freak out. or if we have an off night an its kind of meh i worry that maybe I’m just bad in bed. your right things can’t be perfect ALL the time.

  • Cas

    This is my first time commenting on this website, but I’ve read almost all of the posts.

    My only complaint in my sex life has to do with my partner being inexperienced, I’m his first, and I’ve had one other partner that I was with for 3 years during the peak of my sexuality so I feel more experienced. We’re about to get engaged and I am 100% positive for so many reasons that he is the one for me.

    It’s mostly the foreplay that sucks. I need a little bit of games to get going to interested in sex and he has a hard time getting my excited. His approach to foreplay is gentle, romantic, sensual making out which is really really sweet, but doesn’t get me going, especially when he drags it out for a long time. Whenever I tell him to be a little more passionate he ends up going too far too soon which doesn’t help either. I would say this is the ONLY issue is all of our relationship after 4 years. Part of it is on my end, psychologically, but I don’t know how to fix it. HELP!

    • T

      I guess the obvious answer is: what does “more passionate” mean? It sounds like he’s totally willing to help out, but doesn’t know what to do. Dudes tend to need pretty direct instruction :). Do you have any ideas specifically about what he could do? Is there any porn you could watch together to give him ideas, if that’s something you’re comfortable with?

    • anonymous

      AHHH I have the same problem. He is so sweet and sensual, like the tender make outs you’re talking about, or massages…all very very good, but they get me in the mood for some cuddles and a nap more than sex. (They do make me feel very close to him, it’s not that I don’t want these things!) It’s not a perfect fix, but what I’ve tried is to take control of the foreplay and get it moving to a place that will get me ready to go, rather than waiting for him to progress it. Telling him in more detail what you want might work; showing him is really likely to work.

  • Anonomom

    My husband is the “low-desire” one in our relationship, and always has been. I just want sex way more often than he does. I know he loves me and he shows it in many other ways, but he is fairly disinterested in sex and rarely ever initiates it. He probably says no to 75% of my advances, which makes me want to give up trying altogether. We talk about it regularly, and he always says he’ll try harder, but it never works long-term. I want to be sensitive to him and not make him feel like he has to have sex just to appease me (because please, that sex would suck) but on the other hand I have needs, and it sucks ignoring them. When we do have sex, it’s awesome for both of us, so I don’t get why he doesn’t want it more. Advice??

    • AnonObvi

      Would it work to tell him that you’re not going to initiate any more and wait until he does? I’ve been on both sides of the desire scale (in the same relationship) and when I was the less horny one I never got to initiate because the second I was anywhere in the mood I would just say yes to his advances. We rarely stopped long enough for me to want to initiate. You might get less sex, but he won’t feel pressured and you might feel more desirable as he’s going out of his way to have sex with you. On the other hand, if he doesn’t ever initiate then that won’t be a solution.
      If that doesn’t work I might suggest couples therapy. There are long term emotional consequences to being (what feels like) constantly rejected and it has poisoned a lot of good relationships (read Dan Savage or google “I lived in a sexless marriage” to see the horror). It’s a really sucky situation that a lot of people have dealt with and it’s ridiculous that no one has figured out a good way to deal with it yet.

      • enchanted

        Yeah, I was the low-desire partner, and I felt like I was always forcing myself to have sex. It got to the point where I thought I was asexual, because I was never interested in sex. Like you said, we never had enough of a break for me to actually want to have sex. I asked my partner to stop initiating for a while, and it really helped. I felt a bit obligated to initiate, but it was still coming from me, on my schedule, and I felt better about it. It helped me to once again start thinking of myself as a sexual being with sexual desire.

    • Strega Anona

      It sounds like his amount of interest could very well be in the “normal” range, but if he hasn’t talked to a doctor about it, that might be a route to take. Or a therapist. There’s a chance something physical, or stress, or anxiety, or alcohol, etc. could be at play here.

    • anon

      David Schnarch’s “Passionate Couples” has some really good information about how to address differences in sex drives between partners. It’s an incredible book that helped me understand sex and intimacy in a way that I now couldn’t imagine being in a relationship without having that knowledge.

  • anon

    Female ejaculation — I’d love to learn how to do it! My guy thinks it’s totally hot but it’s not something openly discussed in many places. Where it is (and not as porn — my best resources have been lesbian sex references (thanks for the tip APW)) it sounds like an awesome experience. Thanks!!

    • SquirterG

      Female ejaculation is awesome! I am someone who does so and I wish is was spoken about more often. I am embarrassed in real life to discuss squirting with my friends (luckily my guy is super into it). But, I recommend a Hitachi, a loving partner and lots of relaxation!

  • Nonna

    If people feel like handing out advice on finding your G-spot, please do. P-in-V sex is at best neutral and at worst painful for me, but once, ONCE, years ago, I had a fleeting moment of overwhelming, all-encompassing crazy ecstasy during sex that went as quickly as it came. I’m convinced this means I have the potential for vaginal pleasure if not orgasm but have no idea how to unlock it.

    • Strega Anona

      You might find the video I posted farther up in the comments helpful.

    • Anon

      Imma get real specific with you here, but with the caveat that I have not been able to do this to myself, only with a partner:
      Once you are aroused:
      Lay on your back with your butt propped up on a pillow. Your partner should be kneeling down between your thighs.
      Your partner gently penetrates with their middle and pointer fingers. palm facing up.
      Your partner makes a gentle motion as if they were telling someone to “come hither”
      They should feel a patch of area inside, along the “roof” of your vagina, that feels rough, or generally different. keep stroking that area. perhaps you would like some clit stimulation at the same time. whatever whatever whatever, have your partner vary the pressure on that area, vary the speed of the strokes, whatever you find nice, and eventually, you may find that special feeling again. Or not, but you can always try again another day.

  • anonymous

    So, initiating is a problem for me. Help!

  • Brit

    I was also one of those girls who researched sex like crazy.. and honestly I still do.

    I suggest reading Oh Joy Sex Toy or listening to Sex Nerd Sandra if you’re interested.

    I’m also poly, so maybe something talking about safer sex for the non-monogamous?

  • Anonymous

    I am wondering if anyone has experienced lack of desire in their sexual relationship and whether birth control is the culprit. Can anyone speak to this experience having experimented with being on/off it?

    Furthermore, I am then wondering how married people are having sex without getting pregnant if a woman wants to stop being on the pill and is not interested in having an IUD inserted. Are committed couples still using condoms? That feels weird to be in a committed relationship and using them… wondering what everyone is thinking. Thanks!

    • Acondomous

      Married for 2 years (together for almost 6), sex with condoms the whole time (I’ve never been on birth control because the hormones kinda scare me and I’m terrible about remembering to take pills regularly), and never got pregnant except for the one time we wanted to. :)

      It is very possible! I’m not sure why condoms don’t get more love. Even after the time during the pregnancy when we didn’t have to use them, going back was no big deal.

    • anomnomnom

      We only use condoms. I have never become pregnant using condoms and it has been my exclusive method of bc for over 5 years with my fiance. We’ve actively discussed other options on multiple occasions, including with my OB who has sent me home with pamphlets and whatnot. We’re still happiest with condoms. I hate the side effects, and he hates to see me suffrin. Also he hates when I’m crabby and by god the pill makes me crabby.

      As far as sex drive goes: I have been on the pill in the past and for me, it killed my drive. Getting off the pill definitely increased my drive. That is just my anecdotal experience.

      • Anon

        Exactly the same for me. I was on the pill for a while and the side effects just made me miserable and completely destroyed my sex drive. Now we only use condoms or he just pulls out (we’re not actively trying to have a baby but it wouldn’t be terrible if we did do we’re not too worried about the possibility of that failing).

    • ANON_v2

      The pill definitely affected my sex drive (although it took me years to realise it). Switched to a hormonal IUD and it made a big difference. :)

      • Anon

        Has anyone experienced a gradual effect from the pills, though? I started them 10 years ago, and it’s only been the last three where my drive has fallen out of sync with his. It could be any number of factors, but hearing here so many women having trouble with desire and saying it’s their pill, I’m wondering if I just finally got to the point they were at? Is it possible to feel that effect only after a while?

  • anomnomnom

    I’m kind of embarrassed about this and don’t talk about it much so this is great. Anon hooray!

    I’ve been with my fiance for over 5 years. He’s an initiator, he always has been. Even if I initiate, as in literally make that first move – touching him, sitting on his lap, kissing him – he will kind of flip and take over. I’m certainly no dead fish, but he’s just so much more active than I am. And we’ve almost gotten into a sex routine, where things tend to progress in a very similar way each time.

    I didn’t use to be this way. I used to be almost comically aggressive. I think younger me always felt like, in order to be a sexy woman, I needed to be a little more theatrical and grabby. Haha I’m laughing at memories of clumsy dorm room sex as I type this.

    So anyway, I feel like I’ve lost my ability to really initiate and kind of take the reigns. I’m actually too shy to do it with him! I don’t know, I just feel like he knows me so well, and he thinks of me as this endearingly clumsy little goofball, and I am having a hard time reconciling that with my sexy side. Do I have a sexy side? Plus frankly, I feel like I don’t even know what I’d do with him. Everything just seems so cartoonish or formulaic.

    How do you take the reigns? How do you initiate, and be more active and dominant without being porn-y, or trying to slam him around or like, gyrating like a circus performer? Maybe I just need to relax…

    • anonymous

      Not sure what you’ll think of as too porn-y, but: I have used blindfolds to great success in this department. It sets a clear “I’m initiating this and will continue to be in charge, sir!” tone, my guy at least finds the anticipation really sexy, and even if you do have a clumsy moment or are temporarily thinking, “crap, what next?!” he can’t see it happening! I definitely also have the endearing, goofy thing going, and this approach still works!

      And sometimes things are formulaic because they work. If it’s not your usual formula, it’ll be different enough to not seem formulaic to him, y’know?

      The other thing is that if it ends up a little silly, it’s reallllly not a big deal! Embrace it!

  • anomnomnom

    Oh I just want to throw this out there, it’s not a question!

    I was sexually active for 7 years before I had my first orgasm, and it was with a vibrator. It was big and purple and had rabbit ears, and looked ridiculous. I bought it when I was drunk in a sex shop with a bunch of giggling friends.

    LIFE. CHANGED. I can have clitoral and P-in-V (hehe) orgasms now, which was not even a remote possibility before. I also now masturbate. Before, I literally never did because it was exactly like flicking a bean: boring and pointless.

    All I’m saying is, maybe an intro to sex toys, don’t be ashamed! article would be rad! Some experiences from others, some suggestions. I know it’s out there, but I’d trust this APW over a rando google search about vibrators, any day.

  • Anon-and-on-and-on

    Folks, I have a purely physics question. I’m bad at being on top during sex. How do you sit on a guy, move your hips so the P-I-V motion happens, AND manage to play with your clit? It’s too much for me – I literally fall over. This is as comical in real life as the image you probably just imagined. :) Obviously it works if I just sit still, but we both like a bit more in-and-out. I can also kind of hold myself up and have him move underneath, but then my hands are busy, so no clit fun. So, suggestions?

    On an unrelated note, our friends have makeout parties. Or sex parties, in a to-each-his-own level of involvement way. They’re super fun and are making our sex life better, because we learn new tricks. I’d kind of like to invite a particular pair of friends from those to have a private party of our own. I am not really asking for advice about this, just sharing so all y’all secret-sex-party-havers will know you’re not alone.

    • Anon

      I place his hand to provide the clitoral stimulation so that I have both arms available for balance, etc. It works pretty well for us!

  • fake name

    How do you deal when your male partner has a lower libido? If they are always putting on the brakes, and for them, once every two months or so is sufficient, how do you deal? Is there any way to change this or do I need to either resign myself to a pseudo celibate / self pleasuring life or be done with him? There aren’t any underlying health issues, stress level isn’t horrible, and neither has gotten super unattractive or fat since being together.

  • anon

    Thank you for this thread and for future posts that will come from it. So, so good and helpful!

    How about talking about shame, and specifically how it can get in the way of a healthy sex life?

    I’m married and have always had a great sex life with my husband. In the last while, though, I’ve had a memory from adolescence that was an experience based on natural and innocent sexual curiosity become something I’m incredibly ashamed about. And this thought now pops into my head multiple times a day and won’t let go! It’s as if my mind is trying to sabotage me and make me feel awful. I’m concerned with the power and potential it has to affect the intimacy I have always naturally had with my partner. I’ve told him about it and there’s no secret, it’s just that my mind won’t stop letting me be reminded of it and feel the self-induced shame.

    I guess my question is about how we deal with shame and messages in our society about sex and still be a healthy, sexual being?

    • Alison O

      I know this was several days ago… but anyway, I’d recommend you see a therapist about this. I think it’s pretty common for people to have some mildly uncomfortable memories about normal childhood sexual experiences, but it sounds like these thoughts are interfering in your day to day life to an extent that a professional could really help with (both in terms of helping you accept your past and learn how to address problematic thinking patterns in the present, and possibly in maintaining intimacy with your current partner).

  • anon

    Another idea for a topic:

    Pre-menopause and menopause and accepting the changes in our bodies and our sex lives.

    Note to self: stop thinking about “oh, how it used to be”….

  • Anon

    There have been lots of random comments about orgasm from clitoral stimulation versus penetrative sex. Just found this super fascinating article that (1) taught me SO MANY THINGS I did not know about the clitoris, and (2) kind of suggests that vaginal orgasms are actually internal clitoral orgasms! Mind blown.

  • Annie Nonimous

    My question is three-fold. First off, several people have mentioned sex while dealing with injuries or arthritis, especially in the hips. I have early onset arthritis in both hips and knees, and so sometimes sex in certain positions are… painful. Especially missionary, and doggie style isn’t always our best option (see reasons below). He also has a lot of stamina — sometimes it’s so much harder for him to orgasm than it is for me, and I feel like a wuss for saying “Babe, this feels great and I’d love to go all night, but my hips are giving out.” There’s been tips — but can anyone actually recommend an illustrated guide on specific position? FH and I are both visual learners, and having something I can download onto my Kindle would be fantastic!

    Second, I love doggie-style! Easier on the hips, for some reason I orgasm much more quickly, but he has very long thighs and the right bits aren’t always at the right height to make it happen. Aside from putting lots of pillows under my knees, anyone got any tips to make it happen for us? We thought about getting one of those positioning pillows you see on toy sites, but we’re a little hesitant to spend that much money.

    Third, he’s into butt plugs. I am not so much, but I have no problem if he wants to wear one. However, we’d like to try having sex while he’s wearing one and the one he has doesn’t stay in well during vigorous activity if he’s on top. Any tips for ones that stay put no matter what? Looking at a $30-40 price range, I saw the NJOY on Oh Joy Sex Toy but that’s twice as much as we’d like to spend. We enjoy a good high quality toy, but we are also trying to save money for a wedding!

    • Strega Anona

      To #2, if you haven’t tried this already, you might see if any other furniture configurations work? Of course it all depends on the height of different stuff. Like you on the bed, him standing. Or you on a couch or comfy chair or ottoman, etc…

  • K

    I have trouble de-escalating things. If I’m only in the mood to make out and my partner is interested in going further, I feel guilty stopping – like I’ve been misleading. I don’t know how to communicate that I want some but not everything without feeling like I’m leading him on. I don’t have problems being in the mood, I’m just not in the mood as often as he is.

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