Information to Educate and Empower
Many people have asked me for resources to help them on their own journeys towards healthy sexuality. The information below is aimed at those 18 and older, especially women, who are wanting to come out of the shadows of shame and guilt about their sexuality and regain their power in the sexual arena. This information is not meant to be comprehensive, but just point you in the right direction. Also, I’m not a sex expert, nor a licensed therapist. These are just things that I’ve learned along my personal journey into healthy sexuality. If there is anything that is glaringly wrong, please let me know.
Also, my experiences and suggestions come from my woman’s point-of-view. But, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that everyone can learn a lot about sexuality by learning about women’s sexuality. Of course I’m open to suggestions geared towards men as well.
I welcome feedback for this section. Please feel free to share any suggestions for resources you may have.
Jump to text:
- Developing a Sex Positive Outlook
- Masturbation, Sex Toys & Orgasms
- Porn & Erotica (you know, dirty books!)
- Notes On Losing Your Virginity (or having sex with a virgin)
Healthy Sex Education
Learn More About Sex Surrogate PartnersLearn More
Starting Your Journey
- TED Talk: Al Vernacchio, Sex Needs A New Metaphor
- TED Talk: Debby Herbenick, Making Sex Normal
- TED Talk: Sheila Kelly, Let’s Get Naked
- Sex Out Loud: Megan Andelloux on Reducing Sexual Shame and Advancing the Field of Sexuality
Be prepared to open your mind to a very broad world of sexuality. Realize that there is no “right” and “wrong” when it comes to sex between consenting adults. What is right for you might not be right for someone else, and what is right for someone else might not be right for you. If you meet people that send sexy pics, talk dirty, and sleep around, don’t judge. That’s where their sexuality is at the moment. If that’s not where you’re at, that’s fine. Not everybody matches up. Or, perhaps that is where your sexuality is at the moment. That’s fine too. Don’t let others shame you for being where you’re at or who you are. Realize your sexuality is developing and will continue to develop, so don’t try to define it or control it.
You will discover many communities with special interests – from BSDM (please, don’t take 50 Shades of Grey as your only source of information), to Swinging, to Polyamory just to name a few. Some people are monogamous, others aren’t. The key is open and honest communication with your partner or partners. Take the time to learn and explore with an open mind. You might discover something about yourself that you didn’t know was there. Don’t be afraid if you find out you like something or wish to try something that is out of your comfort zone.
- Benefits of Masturbation for Women
- Benefits of Masturbation for Men
- TED Talk: Jane Langton, A Motion for Masturbation
- Woman’s Genital Anatomy
- Men’s Genital Anatomy
- Stages of Orgasm
- Beginning Masturbation Tips for Women
- Babeland.com beginner vibrators, cleaner, lubricator
For many people masturbation has been put in a negative light, whether you come from a religious background or not. This is unfortunate, because this is where we really discover sexuality within ourselves. All the stories about it making people go blind, or that it leads to sexual assault are complete bullshit. Masturbating does so many good things for our body and brains. It increases circulation, leads to lower cancer rates, releases endorphins, and helps us have a healthy relationship with our body and a healthy body image, when not couched in fear and shame.
First thing you should do is study your own genital anatomy, for women especially since our genital anatomy is not out in plain site. Get a mirror and get down there! Learn about the different spots that have nerve bundles that could be stimulated on your body. Learn about the clitoris. Learn about the stages of orgasm for both men and women.
If you didn’t masturbate as a child it might take a little practice to get things going in your body. Your brain never had a chance to build the necessary neural pathways that teach your body about what feels good. When you start masturbating don’t worry about “coming” (or “cuming”), i.e. reaching orgasm. Just see what feels good. Explore your body. For me just being naked under my covers just feels good. Betty Dodson has some great articles on masturbating for women. Men can also explore – and not everything has to end in quick ejaculation (in fact, did you know men can orgasm without ejaculation, sometimes called a dry orgasm?). The point is to explore, explore, explore!
As far as orgasms go, there is no one way that is right. Women most often reach orgasm with clitoral stimulation, but the clitoris can be overstimulated which can prevent clitoral orgasm. Many women rely on clitoral stimulation even with vaginal penetration to achieve orgasm, as many women cannot achieve orgasm with penetration alone, though some can. Women can also orgasm via the G-Spot, though not every woman does. Women can also have a cervical orgasm. And of course, they can experience a combination orgasm with all of those spots being stimulated, and multiple orgasms in one or more of those spots. Some women can also ejaculate, often call “squirting”. Each type of orgasm feels different. Orgasm doesn’t have to result in screams of ecstasy. Again, this is all individual.
My clitoral orgasms result in a pretty high spike, and I need a bit of a refractory period afterward (men physically need a refractory period after ejaculation). I seem to only be able to feel my G-spot when combined with clitoral stimulation. I can orgasm via penetration alone, though it is a completely different sensation. My pelvic floor muscles contract and it is a stronger sensation overall, though not as spikey for me. That orgasm is usually achieved for me in as a result of cervical stimulation (a cock or dildo hitting my cervix). This is how I’ve learned my body works. These are my experiences and your’s may be completely different.
As part of masturbating, sex toys are great tools (they’re also great to use with a partner!). Every woman should have a vibrator and a dildo in my book. I started with a small vibe that I used around my clit and vulva. I found I also enjoy using a vibe on my inner thighs, and even my breasts. A basic glass dildo can be helpful in exploring inside your vagina and even your cervix. It’s great to use to begin stretching the muscles, especially if you are a virgin or are new to sex. (Some exercises, call Kegels, also help develop your internal pelvic floor muscles which contract when you orgasm – the more control you have over your muscles the stronger your orgasms may be.) It’s also a great tool to contract your pelvic floor muscles around when it is inside of you. Be sure to clean sex toys after every use. You may also find using lubrication to be very helpful. You can use it with or without sex toys. I love using lube by itself as I explore my body. If you are unsure as where to get started, GoodVibs.com and Babeland.com are great sites for beginners – you can even call them up and they will help you get just the right thing.
Lastly, masturbating while in a relationship is a good thing! It doesn’t mean you or your partner have any less desire for each other. In fact, when I have a pretty robust sex life I seem to masturbate more (I think it’s because my engine is revved up). However, again, that’s just me. You might feel a need to masturbate less while in a relationship. It’s all up to you and how you feel and what you need. Remember, no right or wrong here!
- Porn World vs. Real World
- TED Talk: Make Love Not Porn
- Savage Lovecast Episode 308: Make Love Not Porn
Let’s get something clear right off the bat. Watching porn does not turn you into a porn addict. Just like drinking alcohol does not make you an alcoholic. If one becomes addicted to anything, there is an underlying issue. Are there porn addicts out there? Of course. However, the substance is not the problem. It may be a trigger, but it is not the cause. For example, many people that are sexually repressed become addicted to porn, so those who aim to control sexuality tell us that porn is addictive. However, wouldn’t a more plausible cause be the sexual repression?
The point I’m trying to make is do not be afraid of porn. Instead, be informed about porn. Porn is entertainment, most of it geared towards men and produced by men. Just like most erotica is geared for women and produced by women. There is a great deal of variety of porn, and many sites are now geared towards women. Many people watch porn or read erotica to help them get off. This just goes to show that the mind is the biggest sex organ! Also, just because you like to watch a particular type of porn, or a certain kind of porn gets you off, doesn’t always mean that you want to experience that type of porn in real life. Fantasy is a way our mind can process things without having to experience everything we think about.
Personally I love watching lesbian porn, but I don’t have a strong desire to be with a woman (though I’m definitely leaving that possibility open!). Perhaps I love watching it because the mirror neurons in my brain associate with the experience of viewing orgasming women. I also like watching gay men porn. Who knows all the reasons why? I also love reading erotica. Bottom line, porn and erotica are just means of entertainment in the sexual world, which is not a bad thing.
I do want to make one last point. As with masturbation, if you or your partner likes to watch porn, it doesn’t mean that you or your partner have any less desire for each other. A great movie that addresses porn is Don Jon. In it Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character Don is addicted, truly addicted, to porn, despite the fact that he gets laid practically every night, or even when he gets a bombshell girlfriend. His girlfriend eventually discovers his porn watching and freaks out because she feels that Don shouldn’t need to watch porn since they have sex. But as I said, having sex wasn’t the issue. Don then meets another woman, who on discovering that he watches porn helps him understand why he’s so addicted to it. He’s eventually able to break his addiction, not because they have great sex, but because he resolves his issue of truly learning how to connect to himself and to others. Porn was not the real problem ultimately.
- Types of Contraception
- Search “Family Planning Clinic Near Me” to find a clinic in your area
There are several different forms of contraception beyond the pill, which is what most people think of off hand. The Planned Parenthood website has a very comprehensive list, including what each method is and how it works, how effective it is, the pros and cons, and more. Personally, I’m on the Depo shot. I chose it because I hate remembering to take a pill every day and hate having a period every month (you do still get one regularly on the pill) – though on the Depo shot a side effect is irregular periods and/or spotting, which I have experienced some.
To get contraception you can visit your doctor, though some may find that awkward. You can also search for a Planned Parenthood or other Family Planning Clinic in your area. If you search for “family planning clinic” you should be able to find one. I went to my county’s family planning clinic and found everyone to be friendly, completely non-judgmental, and very helpful especially as I had a lot of questions for my first time. Many family planning services also are free, or low-cost.
Man, I wish there was another way to phrase that. “Losing” your virginity is always portrayed as something that destroys something. Turning something clean into something dirty. Used. A loss of value. Something you give away that you can never take back. Yes, having sex for the first time will change something about you. But it’s not from something whole into something damaged. It’s just a transition from one part of your life into another. Being a virgin doesn’t make you better; nor does having sex make you better. They are just stages in our development.
Since it’s a transition from one phase of life to another, many wish to mark the occasion in a special way. You may wish to do it with someone you feel love for, or you may just wish to move onto the next stage without any fanfare. Be that as it may, be aware of putting too much pressure on this event – to expect it to be the “perfect” event. Some wish to save the occasion until their wedding night, which is fine if that is your choice, not something imposed out of guilt or because of a false sense of “purity.” It is not a matter of “pure” versus “impure.” If you decide to wait until marriage, do it because it is a meaningful way for you to mark the occasion of transitioning from one part of your life to the next.
The other extreme is the need to just “get it over with.” Although having sex for the first time doesn’t need to have undue pressure on it, it also doesn’t need to be done with an attitude of apathy or dislike, like ripping off a band aid or taking a dose of horrible medicine. Just treat it appropriately. It’s a natural desire to want to transition from not having sex to having sex. If you wish to commemorate it, or ritualize it, that’s fine. It is normal for us to want to do that, just as we do with other transitions in our life. But please, don’t judge the way someone does it (or how you did it, or wish to do it) as the right or wrong way.
As such, remember, that just as when you start anything new in your life, like a new job, or learning a new skill, things are never perfect at the beginning. When I was young I thought that sex was just something that I would automatically know how to do once I got married. It wasn’t until working with my surrogate partner that I discovered that sex was just like learning any new skill – it takes practice. And it’s a sport that doesn’t just involve you. As in any team sport, you have to learn how to work with, and communicate with, another person.
I must admit, when I first had penetrative sex I was in the mindset of “let’s just get this done!” Of course I was 39, so I give myself some slack for that. I actually lost my virginity anally first, because the guy I was with didn’t want to be the one to take away my virginity. Instead, he asked to “take my ass” (real romantic words there, I know). I wasn’t sure, but eventually consented, and it was uncomfortable to say the least. I actually thought I was consenting to vaginal sex – that’s how under-educated I was. Although “technically” I hadn’t lost my virginity in the traditional sense, and it took me a few more months to have vaginal sex, I still count this experience as when I “lost my virginity” because really, it still was a sexual penetrative act with a dick.
My first experience with vaginal intercourse was painful. Looking back, I know it was due to several things. My hymen actually “broke” and I did bleed. Not all women’s hymens break though. Sometimes they just stretch. And sometimes pain or discomfort is also from the stretching of the vaginal muscles, which was probably the case for me as well. The other reason for the pain and discomfort was I didn’t understand anything about adjusting my body position. I didn’t realize that although my internal anatomy was made for something to fit inside, some ways were better than others for me. Although my partner tried to do some other positions, he didn’t know, or know how to explain, that I needed to adjust my own body position to accomodate having something inside me, especially for the first time.
I also experienced discomfort with the next man I had sex with, though not as much pain as my first time. But I was very upset. I thought that penetrative sex would always be uncomfortable and that I was doomed to be incompetent at sex – I mean, after 39 years of waiting I couldn’t believe it came to this. I cried after we had sex. My partner was very kind, but again, didn’t understand how to help me help myself. His only words of advice were that I needed to relax. Which, when someone is already anxious about something, is the last thing they need to be told.
It wasn’t until I worked with my surrogate partner that I started to learn that my discomfort could be alleviated by adjusting my body. After first penetration he didn’t do or say anything. He let me take my time in feeling him inside me so that I could adjust to my body to him, instead of him trying to adjust to me. If anything, this was the best thing that anyone who is having sex with a virgin, especially a woman (or anyone who is the party being penetrated). Give them space to feel how you feel in their body and adjust. Women, try adjustments such as lifting a leg, or spreading your legs more to open up your pelvis. Perhaps you need a pillow under you, or to arch your back. Just like with everything else, learning about your body just takes practice and trying new things.
This is just one of the many reason why I’m such an advocate for sex surrogacy. It was a way for me to learn and practice how my body works with another without all the emotions and expectations that a partner often brings to the table. My surrogate partner was simply my “canvas”. Someone I could practice the new things I was learning with him at my pace and in a way that worked for me, without pressure or judgement.
No matter how you choose to have sex for the first time just realize that this is a new world your entering. A world of new sensations, and a world that involves another person. Patience, empathy, and communication go a long way to stoking the fires of passion. Loving yourself and your body, and taking the pressure off this transitory period will go a long way for helping you enjoy yourself, and set a good foundation for awesome sex from here on out!
Healthy Sex Education
Learn More About Sex Surrogate PartnersLearn More
Planned Parenthood (great for comprehensive sex education and planning): plannedparenthood.org
Kinsey Confidential, the Resource Page especially contains great information: kinseyconfidential.org
The Kinsey Institute for Sexual Health and Knowledge: kinseyinstitute.org
Sex Educator, Betty Dodson: dodsonandross.com
Sex Educator, Emily Nagoski, Ph.D.: thedirtynormal.com
Sex Educator, Tristen Taramino: puckerup.com
CatalystCon, a conference created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality: catalystcon.com
BOOKS & VIDEOS