Unlocking the secrets to how to have better sex is just as easy as asking the right questions. So, we turned to Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist if She Was Your Best Friend to set us straight.
1. Embrace Pillow Talk: "It's hard enough to talk about sex when you're in the middle of making love. Instead, discuss positions you'd like to try, things you like, things you don't like, while you're in a relaxed setting to take any judgment out of the conversation."
2. Work for Your Orgasm: "The women who are able to orgasm from sex, alone, have learned how to put just the right amount of pressure on the clitoris. It's completely normal to need added stimulation from oral sex, masturbation, or sex toys to fully orgasm."
3. He Can't Always Get It Up: "After ejaculation, most men experience a period of time where they're psychically incapable of achieving an erection, no matter how much they're stimulated."
4. It Will Always Smell Down There: "Every vagina has its own smell and certain things can alter that scent. Bacterial overgrowth can make it smell like fish. Working out also increases the funk, because your girly parts are full of sweat glands, just like your armpits."
5. Some Old Wives' Tales Might Be True: "While there's no solid evidence to support the myth that certain positions during and after sex will help you conceive, it does make logistical sense to choose positions that optimize the amount of time sperm spend near the cervix."
6. It's Ok to Fake It... Kind Of: "You should never fully fake an orgasm, but going through the motions of being sexual can get your juices flowing, even when you're not in the mood."
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7. Some Women Are Allergic to Sex: Not sex, actually, but, "In rare cases women develop allergies to semen, condoms, lubricants, and/or spermicides. Most experience itching and swelling after intercourse, but some cases can be life-threatening. So, see your doctor if you're concerned."
8. Always Try New Positions…: "...And take your cues from erotic movies and books as you send your inner critic on a time-out."
9. Schedule Sex Dates: "If you're up late doing dishes, doing laundry, and doing the children's homework, you won't feel like doing your lover. Plan ahead and make it happen."
10. Get a Little Kinky: "If you've been in a sexual rut, take out your vibrator and initiate playtime with your partner. If you've never tried experimenting with sex toys before, it might be time to go shopping."
11. Understand Viagra: "While Viagra is known to bring blood flow to the clitoris the same way it brings blood to the penis in men, women seem largely indifferent to this physical change. Why so? Arousal in women relies on many complex factors, which are usually more psychological than physical."
12. Pain During Sex is Not Normal: "Painful sex is normal when you lose your virginity. But, after that, an array of conditions (tissue inflammation, involuntary muscle contractions, etc) can be responsible for continued discomfort. Remember, women can also manifest physical signals in response to psychological issues, so make sure you're discussing your needs with your partner, and see your doctor if symptoms persist."
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13. You're Allowed to Get Randomly Horny: "It's not weird to want sex more than your partner. A recent survey showed that almost 80% of married women craved more from their sexual relationships. If you're in this boat, open the lines of communication and sensitively explore why your man's dealing with a decreased libido."
14. It's OK for Your Body to Make Noises: "Vaginal farts happen to almost all women because the vagina and uterus shift during sexual arousal, causing air to get trapped. If you make a funny noise, just giggle and say, "Excuse me." Sex is supposed to be fun, and there are likely to be other squeaks, squirts, and gurgles that erupt from a good romp in the sack."
15. Bodies Can Adapt to "Larger" Men: "Vaginas can be trained to accommodate men with larger penises. But it takes dedication and time. Talk to your doctor and experiment with lubricants and muscle relaxation."
16. Female Fantasies Don't Make You a Lesbian: "Finding women in a porno sexy does not make you lesbian."
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17. Certain Things Will Kill Your Sex Drive: "Hormones, medical conditions, and stress are all factors that can influence how horny you feel. When you wish your partner would take a hike, express your feelings, but be sensitive. A sexual relationship requires compromises to achieve long-term bliss."
18. The Deal With Discharge: "The fluid that drips out after sex is mostly abnormal sperm and other components of semen that nourish sperm, including proteins, citric acid, minerals, enzymes, and sugars. Once they serve their purpose, the result is the inevitable wet spot."
19. Spermicides Aren't the Only Things That Slow Down Sperm: "A few foods and lubricants have been shown to impair the mobility of sperm. All that said, if you're trying to conceive, do your homework, but don't forget to have fun."
20. Kegels Are Key: "Childbirth and age can stretch vaginas, making them looser over time. While you can't tighten vaginal tissue itself, you can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles around the vagina with Kegel exercises to counteract these effects."
21. Don't Douche: "Douching washes out the vagina's normal bacteria, allowing bad bacteria to overpopulate and increase the risk of vaginal infection. Deodorants can also mask the pheromones that your body secretes. If your vagina smells funkier than usual, check in with your gynecologist. Chances are the cause of a funny smell can be easily fixed."
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22. Fetuses Don't Care if You Have Sex: "While fetuses show positive responses to being "tickled" during pelvic exams, the fetal mind actually has no clue what's going on down there. So, rest assured, you're not messing up the baby's psyche when you have sex while pregnant."
23. Old People Have Sex Too: "Just because we age doesn't mean we go out of business. When my patients experience menopause, most feel young at heart but may need a little help getting their bodies to cooperate."
24. There are Different Types of Multiple Orgasms: "Women can experience multiple orgasms in multiple ways. They can range from short and distinct to numerous and separated by mere seconds. Ultimately, each woman's orgasm is completely unique, an "orgasm fingerprint" of sorts."
25. Porn is Photo-Shopped: "Porn stars' vaginas have usually been air brushed to appear picture-perfect. Some women even undergo surgery. In real life, vaginas come in all shapes, sizes, and colors."
26. You Can Make Your Vagina Smell Better: "If you bathe daily and are infection-free, there are a few things you can try to make it smell fresher down there. Go hairless (hair traps odors); wipe with baby wipes instead of toilet paper to remove all residue; drink cranberry juice; take probiotics; steer clear of tight jeans; and opt for breathable cotton panties when possible."
27. Signs He Might Have an STD: "While you should always use condoms with non-monogamous partners and get regular STD tests to scan for symptom-less diseases, there are some signs to look for that might indicate that your partner is infectious, including: cauliflowery warts on the genitals (HPV), green or yellow discharge from the tip of his penis (gonorrhea or chlamydia), reddish ulercations (herpes), and little white eggs (pubic lice). Though, at the end of the day it all comes down to trust. And do you really want to hook up with someone you can't trust?"
28. Get Loud!: "Men usually find louder sex sessions to be gratifying, instructional, and affirming. That said, some men do not (for a whole host of deep-rooted reasons), so give your partner the head's up before letting loose."
29. When to Worry About Bleeding: "If you're expecting your period, sex can stir things up in your body, resulting in some blood. If you're not close to menstruating, and you bleed more than once, alert your gynecologist to make sure it's not something more serious."
30. Sometimes Your Body Won't Cooperate: "Natural lubrication happens when blood flow increases to the vaginal walls and glands produce fluid to make you wet. As we age, levels of estrogen may drop, resulting in vaginal dryness, even when you're turned on. Try using olive oil or an artificial lubricant to simulate what isn't happening systemically."
31. O.M.G-Spots: "While there's no medical evidence to support that G-spots exist, many women argue otherwise. The G-spot is suspected to be a cluster of blood vessels, nerves, glands, and part of the clitoris that lies two to three inches inside the vagina on the side closer to your belly button. That said, the goal of sex is intimacy, so don't let you or your partner stress about finding a proverbial holy grail if it's going to keep you from enjoying the wine."
32. Women Ejaculate, Too: "Some women may pee during orgasms, but others have been known to emit fluids that have different chemical compositions from urine. The truth is, no body knows for sure what's up down there when these squirts happen. But if you're a squirter, embrace it. Guys do it all the time and don't feel self-conscious about it. And you shouldn't either."
33. Sex Can Be Really Good for You: "In addition to the giddy euphoric effects that make our toes curl, safe sex can have other health benefits, such as enhancing fertility, lowering your risk of heart disease, and boosting immune systems. The evidence is mounting. Orgasms aren't just good-they're good for you."
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.