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Different ways of having sex

Different ways of having sex

At LOLA, we’re dedicated to providing you with trusted products and candid information so you can make the right decisions for your reproductive health and wellness. And when it comes to your sexual wellness specifically, education is key to making these deliberate and purposeful decisions.

There’s no formula to doing the deed, but here are some helpful tips to ensure that you and your partner are having an enjoyable and safe experience. 

Masturbation

Masturbation, or the act of stimulating your own genitals, is one of the best ways to figure out what you like and don’t like sexually. It’s a safe and informative way to get comfortable with your genitalia, understand your body, and identify what arouses you, as well as how you respond to sexual arousal.

The female anatomy is fairly complex and made up of radically different parts, with layers of labia, a sensitive clitoris, erogenous zones, and an elusive G-spot, so needless to say, there are a lot of different ways that women masturbate. The best way to find out what works best for you is to start with what comes naturally within your own comfort zone. 

To warm up, run your hands along the parts of your body that are super responsive to touch, like your neck, breasts, and inner thighs. If you need help getting in the mood, try thinking sexy thoughts or watching porn. Find and touch your outer labia and then your inner labia and clitoris (check out our diagram of the female anatomy for reference). Take time to explore your body — there’s no wrong way to do it, and experimenting with new things is half the fun. 

A high percentage of women need clitoral stimulation to reach an orgasm, so pay special attention to this area. Rub your clitoris in a circular motion and try different types of pressure and speeds. 

Another way to achieve orgasm through masturbation is with penetration. Some women skip penetration when masturbating, but you may want to try it in case it’s helpful for you. Start with one finger, moving it in and out slowly, and then work your way up to two fingers. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, speed things up if that feels good for you, but don’t forget about the clitoris. Stimulate both areas until you hit your climax.

As you begin to orgasm, keep up with the stimulation. Lighten up on the pressure during the first extremely sensitive moments, but keep it going to enjoy any aftershocks. If you’re on the brink of an orgasm but can’t quite bring it all the way home, try taking deep, long breaths and increasing stimulation by caressing your nipples or experimenting with penetration until you feel it coming on. 

A common misperception is that masturbation should always include an orgasm — it definitely doesn’t have to (though it is a great way to discover how you might achieve different types of orgasms!). Sometimes, just the general sensation of touching yourself can be enough. Don’t worry if you can’t climax; there are so many things that can affect whether or not you have an orgasm — from stress to fluctuating hormones — so there’s nothing wrong with you if you don’t have one.

There are a ton of sex toys out there that can enhance masturbation. Two of the most popular types are vibrators and dildos. A vibrator, usually battery-powered and intended for external use, stimulates your clitoris through pulsing vibrations. Many come with different speeds, so you can increase the level of intensity as you go or just play around with various sensations. A dildo is a phallic-shaped object that’s typically made of silicone and usually used for vaginal or anal penetration.  Some women like to use dildos for vaginal G-spot stimulation, while others just enjoy the feeling of being penetrated, with or without some clitoral vibration.There are also vibrator-dildo hybrids for the best of both worlds. 

You can use a personal lubricant during masturbation just as you might during sex with a partner. Put some on your fingers before clitoral stimulation or on a penetrative sex toy before insertion. Make sure to choose a personal lubricant that is gynecologist-approved to maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance (not all lubricants are created equal!).

Being comfortable with your body and knowing what makes you feel good will enable you to better articulate what you like (and what you don’t like) to someone else. Though it might sound anxiety-provoking, it is really empowering to put into words what your partner can do to please you. Trust us — they’ll appreciate the guidance. 

The most important thing to know about masturbation is that it’s totally normal (and fun!) and can help inform a healthy sex life. So go ahead: sit back, relax, and start exploring.

Sex with a Partner

As we discussed earlier, the definition of sex can (and usually does) differ from one person to the next. If you’re not sure where to start or haven’t yet fully refined your definition of “sex,” you’re not alone. Since definitions of sex are typically formed through experiences, it’s normal to change your mind or evolve your notion of what “having sex” means to you. To help inform your definition, we’ve put together a rundown of some of the most popular ways to have sex with a partner.

Dry humping is when two partners simulate penetrative sex by grinding, humping, and rubbing their genitals on each other, either over clothes or in underwear. “Dry” can be misleading here, since it’s definitely possible to orgasm and ejaculate from dry humping, which can either be a prelude to oral or penetrative sex, or a sex act in and of itself. Dry humping is a great method of clitoral stimulation — which is especially key considering a lot of women have trouble orgasming from penetration alone.

Fingering and handjobs both involve touching or stroking your partner’s genitals, and each is usually done with direct skin-to-skin contact (though you might often begin over underwear). Fingering is when one partner manually stimulates another’s vagina, and it often includes a mix of clitorial rubbing and finger penetration. A handjob is when one partner rubs or strokes another’s penis. Both of these acts can either be done “to completion” — an orgasm — or as foreplay.

Oral sex is essentially the same idea — just swap out your partner’s fingers for their mouth. Both partners can give or receive oral sex, and like fingering and handjobs, oral sex can be performed until one or both partners climax or as a prelude to other sexual activities. Oral sex often includes manual stimulation as well.

Vaginal and anal sex, often viewed as the main event, involve penetration of a partner’s vagina or anus by a penis or sex toy. Two of the most popular positions include missionary (with one partner lying on top of the other while facing one another) and sex from behind (when one partner penetrates the other while they lie on their stomach or are positioned on all fours). Both styles work for vaginal and anal penetrative intercourse and are common among heterosexual and homosexual couples.

For female same-sex couples, all of the above positions can be done using a strap-on (a dildo that has a strap attachment). Another popular position is scissoring, in which both female partners straddle each other and connect at the vulva for clitoral stimulation.

For male same-sex couples, it’s courteous to ask whether your partner identifies as a “top” (someone who prefers to penetrate), “bottom” (someone who prefers to be penetrated), “power bottom” (someone who prefers to be penetrated and assumes a dominant role), or “versatile” (someone who likes to both penetrate and be penetrated).

While the vagina naturally self-lubricates during arousal, different factors — such as stress or where you are in your menstrual cycle — can impact how much natural lubrication is produced,10 which is why it’s a great idea to keep a bottle of personal lubricant handy during sex to provide additional moisture and reduce friction. Since the anus doesn’t self-lubricate, using lube before any anal penetration can make a huge difference when it comes to comfort. And lube isn’t just for penetrative sex: you can also use it during foreplay and other sex acts, such as fingering and handjobs.

No matter where you fall on the sexual orientation and gender spectrums, the ways in which you have sex with a partner should be based on your and your partner’s preferences, not what you think others may find desirable. Whether you’re trying something new or keeping it old-school, practicing safe, consensual sex with your partner or partners is a constant. 

LOLA’s Sexual Wellness Guide

If you found this article helpful, we recommend downloading our full Sexual Wellness Guide. The guide features tips on safe sex, solo sex, sex with a partner, and how to talk to your doctor, all written by experts.

This chapter was written with contributions from Stephanie Montes.

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