Getting ready for sex

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The Truth About What Happens to Your Vagina When You Haven’t Had Sex in a While

Sex can reduce stress, make it easier to sleep, and improve heart health (all that bumping and grinding counts as a workout, you know). Considering these amazing benefits, what really happens to your body when you stop having it—whether you’re taking a timeout on purpose or are going through an involuntary dry spell?

Since lots of rumors abound, we decided to set the record straight. We asked Christine Greves, MD, ob-gyn at the center for obstetrics and gynecology at Orlando Health in Florida, for her take on what can—and can’t—happen to your vagina during a booty break.

RELATED: This Woman Couldn’t Have Sex Because She Had a ‘Dead End’ Vagina. Here’s What That Means

No, your vagina won’t close up

It’s an urban myth that your vagina will close off, seal up, or grow a new hymen if it doesn’t see action for a while. It comes down to hormones: Even when you’re not having sex, your body still produces estrogen and progesterone, and these hormones keep the vaginal walls open and flexible, says Dr. Greves. Just like lotion soothes dry hands in the winter, estrogen helps moisten and maintain the vaginal rugae, or the folds that allow the vagina to expand during sex.

Still, it is possible for the vaginal opening to decrease in size, but this occurs after menopause and following a long sex pause. “Over time, postmenopausal women who have a diminished supply of estrogen might notice the diameter of the vagina becoming smaller if they aren’t engaging in intercourse,” explains Dr. Greves. “But in my clinical experience, this usually only happens after about five years or more.”

RELATED: The Best and Worst Foods for Your Vagina

It could get drier down there

Even when you’re not aroused, your vaginal walls are moist and supple. But Dr. Greves says that if you haven’t gotten it on lately, your vagina might be on the drier side as you go about your regular routine. Dryness on its own isn’t necessarily a problem, but it can feel uncomfortable.

The solution? Making time for masturbation. Dryness is less likely to occur if you masturbate regularly, since the stimulation can lead to increased moisture. It’s another reason to add “me time” to your to-do list.

WATCH THE VIDEO: How Your Vagina Changes in Your 30s, 40s, and Beyond

Your sex drive may take a hit

According to Dr. Greves, it’s possible that your libido will go down a bit during a period of abstinence. This might explain why: If you’re not getting it on, you’re probably not feeling as sexual as you do when you’re doing it on the regular, and that can have an effect on your sex drive. The good news is, once you’re back in action, you’ll likely start feeling more sexy, prompting your libido to rise.

It might take longer to get aroused

After a sex break, “it may take more time for the vagina to get sufficiently lubricated or for the tissues to fully relax,” says Dr. Greves. When you have regular sex, your vagina goes into arousal mode automatically. Take a long pause, however, and it needs more of a warmup before getting back in the swing of things.

Consider this a great excuse to take things slow and enjoy lots of touching and kissing when you start having sex again. Increasing the amount of time you spend on foreplay can help vaginal tissues relax and produce lubrication, says Dr. Greves. Make sure you have some store-bought lube on hand too, or use a lubricated condom.

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Good news – ESSENCE’s “Ask An OB-GYN” series is back to bring you very public answers to some of your most private questions. When sexual and vaginal health concerns arise, renowned Obstetrics and Gynecology physician Dr. Tosha Rogers wants to ensure you have the answers you need to feel at ease. If you have a sexual health concern or question you want to swing her way, we’ve got you covered. Email [email protected] “Ask An OB-GYN” in the subject line and ask away!

Q: I’m in my late ‘40s and have been abstinent for two years following my divorce. Should I expect things like dryness and pain when I do become sexually active again? Are there things I should be doing to ease back into sex, like kegels?

A: First, I want to say bravo to any sister who can embrace celibacy. Getting back into sexual activity after a prolonged period of abstinence can be scary and filled with anxiety – usually because you are a different person than you were and you’re not sure what to expect. I think it’s funny when I hear women put an age on the functionality or happiness of their vaginas. Unless there are symptoms indicating menopause (hot flashes, mood swings, irregular periods, difficulty concentrating, decreased desire and vaginal dryness), there is no reason to believe that the vagina will be any drier in your ’40s than your ’30s. The vagina responds to the subconscious thoughts, not to the act of sex itself.

My recommendations to ease back into the sex are:

  1. Make sure you desire your partner, not just the act of sex.
  2. Remember it is ok to explore your body. See what you like now and what areas feel good.
  3. Lastly, build your endurance and stamina with cardio exercises. Don’t be caught out there needing a safeword because you’re short of breath.

Share : TOPICS: Health & Wellness Love & Sex Ask An OB-GYN celibacy Sex vaginal health

What’s Abstinence and Outercourse?

The definition of abstinence is when you don’t have sex. Outercourse is other sexual activities besides vaginal sex. Sexual abstinence and outercourse can mean different things to different people.

How does Abstinence work?

People are abstinent for lots of different reasons. Sometimes people use abstinence as birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Abstinence can mean different things depending on who you ask. Many people say abstinence is not doing ANY kind of sexual stuff with another person, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex — that’s what we’re calling abstinence here.

Abstinence prevents pregnancy by keeping semen away from the vagina, so the sperm cells in semen can’t get to an egg and cause pregnancy. If you’re abstinent 100% of the time, pregnancy can’t happen.

People sometimes only use abstinence to prevent pregnancy on days they’re fertile (most likely to get pregnant), but they may have vaginal sex at other times. This is called fertility-awareness.

Anybody can be abstinent, no matter your age, gender, sexuality, or the sexual experiences you’ve had before. People are abstinent off and on for reasons that may change over time, and a few are abstinent their whole lives. You can choose to be abstinent whenever you want, even if you’ve had sex before.

For some people, abstinence means not having any kind of sex. For other people, abstinence only means not having vaginal sex, but other sexual activities are allowed.

When it comes to preventing pregnancy, all the sexy stuff besides vaginal sex is called “outercourse.”

How does Outercourse work?

Many couples want to be sexual with each other without having vaginal sex and/or risking pregnancy. Outercourse can prevent pregnancy the same way abstinence does: by keeping sperm away from an egg.

Using outercourse as birth control means you do some sexual activities, but you don’t have vaginal sex (penis-in-vagina) or get any semen (cum) in the vagina. This way, the sperm cells in semen can’t get to an egg and cause pregnancy.

Some outercourse examples include kissing, massage, masturbating, dry humping (grinding), and talking about your fantasies.

People may also choose to have oral sex and/or anal sex. Oral sex won’t lead to pregnancy, and anal sex doesn’t cause pregnancy either (unless semen spills out into the vagina). But both anal and oral sex can spread STDs, so use a condom during oral sex and anal sex.

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Ladies, we all know that MOST of the time sex is completely unexpected. In a way, we all crave the confusion and chaos unplanned sex entails. Imagine that you’re with your boyfriend or girlfriend and everything is getting hot and heavy. You’re about to have sex and then… BAM! A flood of thoughts rushes through your head about what you forgot to do before getting intimate with your partner. Well, here are 6 foolproof tips on how to prepare yourself before you have sex.
1. Predict- The first most important rule before sex is to try to predict what will go on before, during and after your date. If you are anticipating sex you need to make sure what you need to wear, what you will be doing during the date and if you will even have sex afterwards. This key tip determines the whole outlook of your night.
2. Dress Accordingly- If you are going to have sex, you need to dress accordingly. You don’t want to wear an outfit that has tons of buttons and zippers. Easy access is truly the key. Depending on the location of your date, you want to dress for comfort and ease. Ladies, if you could barely put the outfit on how do you expect your lover to take it off? For example, if your partner were to come over to your place, or vice versa, a dressy top that shows cleavage and skinny jeans would be perfect. The dressy top will add that hint of formality to your date with a bit of sex appeal while skinny jeans will showcase your curves. This outfit leaves your partner imagining what they will be seeing later.
3. Be Natural- When you are having sex, men do not want to see their woman with pounds of makeup on. They want to see who YOU are, not a Maybelline advertisement. The perfect tip is to be as natural as possible. A light foundation set with powder, a little bronzer and light pink blush will leave you glowing while mascara, subtle eye liner and champagne eye shadow will add the perfect amount of sexy. And don’t forget about your hair. In general, guys like sex hair. They crave hair that they can slip their fingers through. The perfect tip is to create pre-sex hair. If you have long hair try creating long, billowy waves with a 3-inch barrel curling iron. Then flip your hair over, use your fingers to comb through it and spray with a light coating of hairspray infused with bamboo.
4. Be flirtatious- Let your partner know that you want to have sex tonight! Give them subtle hints that you are into them more than usual. Rub their hand sensually and slowly to keep prime physical contact. Let your eyes do the talking by simply smiling with them. If you are thinking dirty thoughts while looking at your partner they will pick up on your sexy vibe in an instant. Let your partner know that you want them by kissing them throughout the night.

5. Practice basic hygiene- Sex is all about physical contact. Therefore, you do not want your partner about to go down on you and begin to sniff with disgust because you “forgot to take a shower that day” or “you ate the fish at Applebee’s”. Ladies, your tool is your vagina and you need to keep it clean and smelling fresh! When you’re in the shower try using a Vagisil wash to cleanse your vagina. Then throughout the day or evening, bring a little baggie filled with cleansing wipes to leave you feeling clean and confident. A clean vagina makes everyone happy! Also, try putting on an extra amount of deodorant to prevent you from smelling, shaving your legs, and moisturize.
6. Have your bedside prepared- Last but not least preparing your nightstand drawer is an essential tip. Try stocking your drawer with condoms, spermicidal lubricant and edible sensual items. Try the Edible Body Icing in Midnight Chocolate and Kissable Whipped Body Cream by Victoria’s secret. These items would spice up any night.
I hope that these 6 tips will help you prepare to enjoy a passionate night with your special someone!

Sources:
*http://www.victoriassecret.com/ss/Satellite?ProductID=1265748026333&c=Pa…
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A Guy’s Guide to Preparing for Sex

When heading out on a date, whether it’s your first with a certain lady or the 100th with your longtime girlfriend, you have to take some time to prepare. This goes beyond combing your hair and coming up with talking points, though those are good ideas as well. If you are hoping that the date ends in a little bit of fun between the sheets, then you’ll need to take certain steps to prep for sex. Here’s a mini checklist to go over before you head out the door.

Don’t be nasty

There are few things that will turn off a lady friend more than poor hygiene. When heading out to meet up with your gal, splashing some water on your armpits and mashing down your cowlick with your hand won’t cut it. Take a full-fledged shower – with soap, guys – and do any manscaping you think is necessary. Give yourself plenty of time so that you don’t stand up your date if you find that your hair down there needs some care. And remember, most sex starts with kissing, so toothpaste, floss and mouthwash should be part of your routine.

Put some thought into it

Once you’re all fresh and clean, you should take some time to make sure you look extra special. You might only be focused on what your girl is wearing underneath her dress, but you can bet that she’ll take note of what outfit you chose for the big night. So your ragged jeans and stained t-shirt definitely aren’t going to cut it. “Iron” may seem like a curse word to you, but showing up with wrinkled, unclean clothes will say to a girl, “You’re not worth a nice outfit.” If you don’t have the best fashion sense, ask a roommate for advice or snap a pic of yourself and see what a trendy friend has to say.

Review your notes

If you have only been going out with this girl for a few dates, then you should take some time while getting ready to run over the conversations you’ve had so far. Try to remember
what she’s told you about her life, since it can be insulting if you don’t remember how many siblings she had or what part of town she lives in. On the plus side, if you manage to remember an obscure fact, she’ll definitely know you’re interested in who she is.

Gather your tools

Of course, there are certain things you’ll need to make sure you have if and when things get hot and heavy. Pleasure condoms are a must. If you plan on bringing her back to your place, then all you need to do is make sure you are well stocked and have a few near the bed, next to your personal lubricant. But if you don’t know where you’ll end up when the
date’s over, then bring some with you. Just remember to put them in a safe container, since your wallet or pocket could cause some friction that will make the condom ineffective.

5-Minute Sex Prep Guide

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She’s ready, but are you? When you are getting romantic, your main objective is to leave an impression and to get her to come back for more. A sure way to achieve the opposite, and send her running for the door, is to make the embarrassing mistake of introducing her to your bad odor and poor grooming habits. You can avoid this perilous error by utilizing five precious minutes to freshen up before getting close to her. Those 300 seconds might not be enough time for a shower, but it is certainly enough time to make you presentable. The overall result will leave a positive impression on her and open the door for future encounters. Here’s your game plan:

from head to toe

I will be covering the areas that she’ll likely visit while she’s exploring. Where will she go? She’ll go low, she’ll go high and she’ll go behind, but what will she likely find? After you read this article, it is hoped that she’ll find nothing too offensive and will enjoy an evening between your sheets.

Your mouth

The mouth is an integral instrument for those luxurious make-out sessions that leave her hungry for more. It will be extremely difficult for you to draw her in for a passionate embrace if your mouth smells like a dump. You will need to follow proper oral hygiene if you don’t want her to turn from your lips or refuse your attempts to kiss her. Good oral hygiene assumes that you brush and floss your teeth and employ a tongue scraper at least twice daily. In the five minutes before your appointment, make sure to give your chops a quick brush and don’t forget to rinse your mouth with water — you don’t want her to grimace at the harsh, minty overtones.

If you want her to go south for a while you better make sure you’re clean…

First Time Sex – Making Sure You’re Ready

First time sex – making sure you’re ready …

Whatever anyone says, having sex for the first time can feel like a big deal. But it doesn’t have to be an awkward fumble. It can be a really fun and pleasurable experience that you remember for all the right reasons.

However, if all your friends have already done it (or at least say they have), you may feel under pressure to just to get it out of the way. No matter what, there’s no rush and you should do it when you feel ready to.

Read our list of ten first-time sex tips to make sure your first time goes without a hitch.

1. Ask yourself “Am I ready?”

Do you feel you’re ready? Who would you be doing it for, yourself or your partner? Or are you just thinking of doing it because all your mates have?

It’s important you make the decision to have sex for the first time for yourself and no one else. If you’re not 100% sure, a good way to judge is whether the idea of having sex makes you feel excited or worried? That should tell you all you need to know.

2. Talk about it with your partner

Letting each other know what you’re thinking is important, but not always easy. If you have fears or worries about your first time together, try to talk about them as openly as you can.

You might be feeling awkward, but the chances are your partner will be feeling the same. It’s just as important for you to listen to them too. Look for signs that they are into it just as much as you are. If not, it’s better to back off for a while. Don’t assume your partner is ready to go all the way. You must ask them directly. That doesn’t have to mean ruining the mood. It can be as simple as whispering “Is this OK?” in their ear before you take things further.

3. Educate yourselves

Make sure you’re clued up on everything to do with safe sex, including how to avoid STIs and how to use a condom. If you need to know anything else about contraception, or other types of birth control, it’s best to pop in and have a chat with your doctor or sexual health clinic: – https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/sexual-health-information-and-support/locationsearch/734

4. Get to know your own body

The key to enjoying sex is knowing what you like, what being turned on feels like, how to get turned on and where and how you like to be touched.

The best way to find all this out is on your own. Although it isn’t for everyone, most of us masturbate and it can be lots of fun to do it with someone else as well as on your own.

5. Pick the right place and the right time

For your first time with your partner, choose a safe, stress-free place where you know you’re not going to be disturbed. To feel totally relaxed, you’ll need some time and space to get comfortable with each other. Don’t worry about the ‘perfect’ or a ‘romantic’ setting; the one that feels best for both yourself and your partner will help you both enjoy.

6. Sex shouldn’t hurt

From some of the things you may have heard, you might be asking yourself “does sex hurt the first time?” If you’re turned on and relaxed then having sex for the first time should feel really good, even if you’re understandably a little nervous.

Spending a long time on foreplay will help get you both ready. And using lube for your first few times will help to make everything go a lot smoother and more comfortably than without.

Above all, listen to your body. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, sore or painful, then stop. It could easily be a sign that you aren’t quite ready yet or pushing yourself too much too soon. Don’t worry or put pressure on yourself to cum; just enjoy the sensations and the other person. There will be plenty of future opportunities, so feel free to enjoy this one in the moment.

7. It’s fine to be embarrassed

However well you think and plan it to go beforehand, the chances are in real life it won’t be as perfect as in your mind – it is your first time after all.

It may feel a little awkward to begin with – you are trying something totally new – as your bodies will react differently and maybe you’ll feel a bit embarrassed at different moments. This is okay so long as it feels good too and you can have a bit of a laugh about it with your partner.

8. Take your time

There’s no need to rush things, and there’s no right or wrong way how to have sex for the first time or any time. Go as slow as you like and don’t be afraid to experiment – after all, you won’t know if you like something until you’ve tried it.

Unlike in porn movies, sexual experiences don’t have to happen in the same order and not everyone likes the same things. Focus on exploring and having the sex you both want. This can take time to discover, but can be so much more enjoyable, intense, even silly at times!

9. Sex talk

The only way to learn what you and your partner like sexually is to let each other know.

During sex, keep it simple and guide your partner to keep doing the things you’re most enjoying with your words: “Oh yes.” “Wait.” “Keep going.” “Softer.” ”Harder.” “Faster.”

Listen for the sounds and body language from your partner too, but don’t feel like you should be performing like people in porn may. Watch and feel how your bodies naturally respond to each other to show how much you’re both enjoying it.

10. What comes after

Sex may change your relationship, or it may not – talking about it can help you decide what it means for you and your partner.

First-time sex can be awesome, but make sure you’re having it for the right reasons; whether that’s first-time lesbian sex, first-time anal sex or the first time with your boyfriend or girlfriend.

When you’re comfortable and in the right mood, sex can make you feel the best you’ve ever felt. But if something’s not quite right, then there’s no harm waiting till you absolutely know you’re ready.

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How Should I Prepare For Sex?

“Sex is like a yoga class” is one of the the most basic b*tch quotes in all of the land, but it’s true.

It can be super hot. It has lots of positions. It can be hard to relax while you’re doing it. It’s easy to forget to breathe. You might see a reflection of yourself and get insecure about your body.

I sometimes sign up for yoga class within the “no cancellation” period just so I actually drag myself there. Similarly, I have definitely had to psych myself up for a session in the sheets (consider that analogy exhausted).

A lot goes through your head before having sex, whether with a long term partner, or an entirely new person.

My mindset correlates directly with my ability to enjoy sleeping with someone. If I’m feeling insecure about our relationship status, or if I’ve simply had a bad day, it’s hard to be fully present in bed.

Since I want to enjoy sex as much as humanly possible, Elite Daily spoke with experts to see if there are actual ways to get yourself ready for sex.

And good news, there are…

1. Take Care Of The Little Things

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I love the ritual of getting ready to go out on a weeknight. Blasting music while picking out a cute outfit instantly makes me feel better about myself.

Self-care is important because it means you like yourself. It’s no different when it comes to sex.

“Sexual satisfaction requires, among other things, confidence and comfort with your sexuality, even if you have been with your partner for a while,” says LoveVictory.com founder, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish.

Dr. Wish suggests brushing your teeth, wearing something that makes you feel good, cleaning your sheets, and taking a shower as options for little things that’ll make you feel good.

You don’t need to conform to the male gaze and shave your legs or wear extravagant lingerie, but do something that makes you feel sexy in your bod.

2. Keep It Private

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Here’s something super simple and actionable: Turn your phone off. It also doesn’t hurt if you lock the bedroom door for a little extra privacy.

The best sex is the most uninhibited sex. The goal here is to make sure all parties are comfortable, and willing to explore each others bodies.

Am I the only one paranoid about being spied on through the selfie camera on my phone? Just me?

If it’s your first time with a new partner, it’d probably feel pretty nice if you saw them shut their phone down completely. Very chivalrous for 2017, I’d say.

He’s focused on you, not anticipating a postcoital scroll through Twitter.

3. Talk About It

SaltNPepaVEVO on YouTube

This is especially important for new lovers, but talking about sex is as important as the Salt-N-Pepa lyrics say, no matter how long you’ve been together.

We’re all taught to communicate what we want during sex, but why don’t we talk about it beforehand?

Whether you are married and you know every inch of your partner’s body, or this is a new partner who you haven’t seen naked yet, talking builds anticipation.

“A day before you have sex for the first time, go to a public place such as a restaurant or park and talk about what you like sexually,” says Dr. Wish. “Talk about your preferences, positions, touch. The couples in my research said that this suggestion increased both their comfort and arousal! Women also reported that it took away their fears that this new partner liked to do things that they found objectionable.”

I’m not babbling away about my favorite sex position on a first date, but hormones in the moment usually render me less articulate than normal when it comes to what I want.

It’s easier for me to be upfront and honest about what I like in bed before actually getting into bed.

4. Remind Yourself It’s Just Sex

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As a society, we put a lot of pressure on sex – especially when it’s with a new partner. Should I do it yet? Will he hit it and quit it? What if he’s not good in bed?

It’s exhausting, and we shouldn’t overthink it.

I’ve been there. I have caught the feels from what was realistically great sexual chemistry more than once. I’ve also had not-so-great sex that got better with time.

So what if we could reframe sex? As in, realizing sex does not define a relationship, but enhances it.

Of course, doubts and insecurities are inevitable. But when I worry about something constantly, and then finally say it out loud to a friend, the worry usually gets smaller. Case in point: Talk about sex and what’s stressing you out about doing it!

Remember, sex takes two people, and you have just as much of a right to feel comfortable as your partner does.

If you’re looking to get out of your own way and start enjoying the physical pleasure of just doing it, then brush those teeth, leave your phone in the living room, have “the talk,” and remind yourself that your sex life does not define you.

Now you’re a woman with a plan.. and that’s hot.

The secret thing you don’t realize about the first time you have sex until wayyyy after it’s happened is that there’s no wrong way to do it. As long as it’s totally consensual and safe, you’re doing everything right.

But that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel nervous (or even a little anxious) about doing the deed for the very first time. Everyone has pre-sex jitters—no matter how cool they pretend to play it. And you should embrace the awkwardness! Because, I hate to break it to you, but sex can be just as awkward the 500th time you do it as the first. Smushing two clumsy bodies together is a perfect recipe for weird sounds and fumbling around, and that never really changes.

Here, sex therapist Vanessa Marin and psychotherapist Nicole Tammelleo, LCSW-R, share their tips for making your first time as pleasurable as possible.

1. Don’t fake an orgasm.

I know pop culture has ingrained in us all the need to moan and writhe with pleasure at every single touch, but do yourself a favor down the line and don’t set the bar for an orgasm via kiss immediately. Tammelleo says this is especially important the first time you have sex with a new partner. You don’t want to create any unrealistic standards, especially since many women don’t have orgasms the first time they have sex with a new partner.

“If you fake an orgasm, it’s harder to communicate your needs in the future.”

“If you fake an orgasm or tell your partner you had one when you didn’t, it’s harder to communicate your needs in the future,” Tammelleo says. Plus, once you get into the habit of faking, it makes it that much harder to stop, take a step back, and be like, “Actually, what you’re doing doesn’t rock my world as much as you think, sorry.”

2. Be comfortable asking questions.

Whether it’s your first or fiftieth time having sex, the worst thing you can do is go into it with the assumption that you know everything about what your partner wants. No amount of slumber party gossip about blow jobs and giving massive hickeys can prepare you for what your partner is actually gonna be into. The only way to find out is to ask them: Do they like oral sex, or would they rather leave that off the menu? Would they rather have the music on or off? Not only does asking questions show your partner that you care, but it may also encourage them to do the same—making the whole experience better for everyone.

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3. Know that sex should never hurt.

“Many women believe that the first time they have sex it will be painful,” says Tammelleo. “While it might be a little uncomfortable and awkward, it really should not be painful.”

Tammelleo adds that “hundreds of women” have told her that, when they had penetrative sex for the first time, it felt like their partner was “hitting a brick wall.” Which is absolutely not what this should feel like. Lube is an absolute must-have (more on that later), but if that doesn’t help get things running smoothly, you should consult your doctor or a gynecologist to see if you may have a condition called vaginismus, which makes it really hard for anything to enter the vagina.

If your vagina is burning or itching or feels any sort of bad thing during or after sex, talk to your doctor, especially if the sensation quickly doesn’t go away on its own or gets worse over time.

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4. And also that you might (or might not!) bleed.

The (incorrect, pretty problematic) myth that everyone with a vagina bleeds the first time they have penetrative sex is, as is turns out, very much not true!

More than 50 percent of people don’t bleed their first time.

Yes, some people do bleed the first time, and that bleeding is usually caused by the stretching of your hymen—a thin, delicate piece of tissue located just a couple inches inside the vagina. But more than 50 percent of people don’t bleed their first time, because the hymen can be stretched during regular, non-sex activities like jumping on a trampoline, riding a bike, or running around.

Also, bleeding after sex can happen any time in your life—not just the first time. Once again: lube is your new BFF.

5. Remember not to compare your experience with anyone else’s.

Not only should you temper your expectations going into it, but also keep in mind that when you’re looking back on the experience later, not to beat yourself up about it. If you waited to have sex for the first time with a long term partner only to break up in the future, don’t feel bad for sharing that experience with that person as long as you had consensual, enthusiastic fun in the moment. It’s normal to cringe thinking about past sexual experiences, but that’s part of the fun.

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6. You don’t have to tell someone it’s your first time, but you might want to.

No new partner deserves a full report of your sexual history. Whether you’ve slept with 50 people or zero, that’s your business. I repeat: no one is entitled to your “number.” However, getting intimate for the first time can be… well, intimate. It you feel like you’re withholding something important to you, it could negatively affect your overall comfort level and ~vibe~.

No one is entitled to your “number.”

If you tell someone you’ve never had sex before and they freak, then they’re probably not someone you wanted to be with anyway. They should take that as their cue to be even more communicative with you.

7. Being safe can actually relax you.

Nothing is more distracting than worrying about STIs and pregnancy during sex. Even if it feels awkward, it is so, so, so important to chat with your partner beforehand about what you’ll do to protect yourselves. Use a condom even if you’re on another form of birth control to protect you both from STIs unless you are both monogamous with each other and STI-free (check out local clinics like Planned Parenthood for free/affordable testing).

8. Enthusiastic consent is a prerequisite for everything you do.

“Make sure you enthusiastically consent to each and every thing the two of you do together,” Marin says. “‘Enthusiastic’ is a key part of that sentence. Don’t just go along with something—make sure you’re excited about it.”

“Don’t just go along with something—make sure you’re excited about it.”

Remember that just because you start an activity—for example, sex—you don’t have to finish or continue it: You have the right to pause or stop whatever it is. No. Matter. What. Same goes for your partner, of course: Check in with each other as things progress to make sure you’re both enthusiastic about what you’re doing.

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9. Remember to breathe.

A big part of enjoying sex is focusing on the sensations you’re feeling instead of, for example, your nervousness (which is totally common to feel your first time, even if you know you’re ready to have sex). “Deep breathing is a fantastic way to let go of distracting thoughts,” Marin points out. As you’re taking those deep breaths, focus on how different parts of your body are feeling and how your partner’s body feels against yours—not just the obvious part, but their fingers in your hair, hands on your hips, whatever it is.

10. Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay. Did I mention foreplay?

The more aroused you are, the better sex is likely to feel, so don’t neglect foreplay — including oral sex, manual sex, and, yes, good, old-fashioned kissing. “You’re more likely to orgasm from oral sex or fingering,” Marin says. “Resist the temptation to think of these activities as the things you do before moving on to the ‘main event.'” Whether or not you do orgasm the first time you have sex, clitoral stimulation is the key to most women’s pleasure, and vaginal intercourse doesn’t usually provide very much of it.

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11. Caring about your partner’s pleasure matters more than your technique.

It’s natural to worry that you won’t be “good” in bed your first time, but trust: what matters most is that you are invested in how your partner feels and vice versa, and that you two are communicating about it.

“A lot of people get anxious about sexual performance, but perhaps the best quality in a lover is enthusiasm,” Marin says. If you’re genuinely enjoying giving your partner pleasure, they’ll notice it, and have more fun, she says. Need some guidance to get you started? Simple questions like, “How does that feel?” and, “Do you like when I ?” give your partner a chance to express appreciation for what you’re doing or (gently) ask for something a little different.

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12. Feedback is not the same as criticism, so don’t hesitate to give it.

If you don’t have an orgasm, don’t feel pressure to pretend to have one.

A common concern is that if you tell your partner something doesn’t feel good — or something else would feel better—they’ll feel attacked. But if they care about your pleasure, they’ll be happy to hear how to help you feel it. In the moment, it can be hard to figure out what exactly you want, so it can be helpful to talk after the fact about what you enjoyed, what you could do without, and what you’d like to try next time. And if you don’t have an orgasm, don’t feel pressure to pretend to have one. Think of orgasming not as your responsibility but as a fun goal to work toward with your partner(s), together.

13. Lube is your friend.

Using lube sometimes gets a bad rap as a sign that you’re not turned on enough, but even if you and your body are saying “OK, let’s do this!” a little lube can make sex so much more pleasurable. Another benefit of using a water- or silicone-based lube with a condom (avoid oil-based lube, which can degrade latex) is that less friction means the condom is less likely to tear.

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14. Your partner’s penis might not do everything the two of you want.

Whether premature ejaculation, a limp penis, or inability to orgasm strike, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with your partner or you failed them somehow. Comfort with a new partner often takes time and communication, and that goes for both men and women.

Also, maybe this is a little much for your first time (but really it isn’t), there’s nothing wrong with bringing in a sex toy. Actually, it’s a great idea for all sex-having people.

15. Temper your expectations.

Teen movies and TV shows sold us a pretty unrealistic vision of what having sex for the first time looks like. It’s always perfectly choreographed and mood-lit and romantic, and ends in an implied simultaneous orgasm. As if.

Sex is messy and human and flawed and often awkward, no matter how many times you’ve done it.

Don’t expect fireworks the first time you have sex—sex is messy and human and flawed and often awkward, no matter how many times you’ve done it. It’s the practice and the exploration that make sex fun.

Follow Hannah on Twitter.

Related Story Hannah Smothers Hannah writes about health, sex, and relationships for Cosmopolitan, and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Deciding if you’re ready to have sex is a big decision that’s very personal. It’s important to think it through and wait until you’re sure you’re ready.

How do I know when I’m ready to have sex?

Deciding when to have sex is a big deal. It’s an important decision that only you can make. But it can be really helpful to talk it out with someone you trust — like a parent, a friend, or someone else who cares about you.

Sex can be really great, but it also has risks — STDs and unintended pregnancy are no joke. But sex can also have emotional risks. Sex before you’re ready, sex with someone you don’t trust or respect (or who doesn’t trust or respect you), or sex that doesn’t feel good can lead to some really stressful feelings. And sex shouldn’t be stressful.

A healthy sex life fits in with everything you’re about, including:

  • Your personal values

  • Your school and career goals

  • The emotional and physical risks you’re willing to take

Think about:

  • If having sex is something you really want to do, or something you’re being pressured to do

  • Whether family and friends will support your decision (and how important that is to you)

  • Your feelings about who you are and what you’re comfortable doing

  • Whether you want to be in a committed relationship before you have sex (and if that’s true for your partner too)

  • What the pros and cons are – and especially thinking through any cons before deciding

Is everyone else already having sex?

Even if it seems like everyone your age is having sex, they’re probably not. Only about half of high school students have ever had vaginal sex, and the average age when people start having sex is 18. But even once they have had sex, most teens don’t have it very often. And lots of teens who’ve had sex say they wish they’d waited.

You’re not ready to have sex if the reason you want to sounds anything like:

  • I’m the only virgin in my group of friends.

  • I want to “get it over with.”

  • My boyfriend or girlfriend will break up with me if I don’t have sex.

  • Having sex will make me popular.

  • I’ll feel older if I have sex.

What if I don’t want to have sex at all?

Some people are never interested in having sex. This is called asexuality.

How important sex is in your life can change over time — so don’t worry if it’s not something you’re interested in right now. That’s totally normal and ok. Just because you don’t want to have sex now doesn’t mean you’ll never want to.
People have different sex drives — an urge or interest in having sex. Lots of things affect sex drives, like stress, hormones, life experiences, illness, medicines, how comfortable you are in a relationship, how safe you feel, and how attracted you are to someone.

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Get Ready for Sex Again

Great tips for getting back in the game when you haven’t been in a sexual relationship for a while.

After a hiatus from partner sex, you’ll want to prepare your body and mind to return to the activity. iStock

Let’s say you’ve been out of the sexual arena for a while, for whatever reason — divorced, widowed, just haven’t found that right connection — but you are ready to start playing again. Congratulations for jumping back into life! Rest assured, the parts still perform the same way they always have, albeit maybe a little bit slower and less acrobatically. What goes up still must come down; if it went in, it’s got to come out. This should bring you up to date on the rest. Have fun!

RELATED: Healthy Sex: The Ultimate Guide

Allow Yourself to Have Whatever Rules and Limitations You Want

Think about what you want to accomplish: Just a casual encounter to get yourself moving again? Friends with benefits? Or a serious relationship? And it’s important to know that you might not want to have sex with somebody until you know them well, which is just fine. “There is nothing wrong with taking it slow. You are absolutely allowed to do it whatever way you feel like,” says Joanna Whitcup, PhD, a clinical fellow of American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists in private practice in Capitola, Californa.

RELATED: 9 Natural Ways To Boost Your Sex Life

If You Are Insecure About Your Body, Do What You Can and Forget the Rest

Insecure about someone new seeing you naked? “I don’t suggest major diets or unrealistic workout regimens, but being active does make you feel more vital,” says Dr. Whitcup. You don’t need a glam body but it couldn’t hurt to up your exercise and maintain good nutrition. It can make you feel more energetic, help calm anxiety and boost self-confidence. If you still have that self-critical piece that whispers, “I’m not good enough,” consider therapy to reset the old tapes that go on in your head. (And if you do end up with someone who body-shames you, run, don’t walk. This is not the one for you.)

Relearn What Your Body Needs and How It Responds

Explore and get back in touch with your body so you are not totally unfamiliar with the plumbing. Increase your masturbation practices, if you haven’t done so. Whitcup urges, “Learn what you enjoy and respond to. Pay attention to fantasies. Basic, nonsexual massages are a great place to start if you haven’t been touched in a while.”

RELATED: The Truth About 8 Masturbation and Self-Stimulation Myths

Women: Prepare Your Body for Sexual Activity

“Especially in menopause, the vagina absolutely has a ‘use it lose it’ phenomenon. Maintaining is always easier than regaining. Once the vagina becomes more dry, narrow, and shortened, the process of restoring health can take a lot more effort,” says Barb DePree, MD, director of women’s midlife services at Holland Hospital in Michigan and founder of MiddlesexMD.com. She advises the following:

  • Using a vibrator that can be inserted into the vagina encourages blood supply to the genitals, which promotes health in those tissues.
  • Vaginal dilators can restore elasticity.
  • Approximately 17 percent of women ages 18 to 50 experience vaginal dryness, even before menopause takes place; around 58 percent of post-menopausal women report dryness. (1) Maintaining some moisture can be accomplished with the consistent use of a vaginal moisturizer. Once the vagina is desert level dry, moisturizers may not be able to restore things to where they once were. This is where using a prescription of localized estrogen, Osphena or Intrarosa, or laser therapy may be helpful, says Dr. Depree.

RELATED: 8 Basic Rules for Maintaining a Healthy Vagina

Discuss With Your Doctor About Getting an HPV Vaccine

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that can cause various cancers in both men and women. There are currently three types of HPV vaccines, usually given in a series of shots starting when an individual is in their teens or preteens and finishing when they’re in their twenties. Check with your healthcare professional whether the vaccine is appropriate for you.

RELATED: HPV Vaccine Offers Cancer and Genital Wart Prevention

Choose Your Birth Control Method Ahead of Time

If there is a chance you might be sexually active, get ready with birth control. You don’t want to be in the heat of the moment and realize, “oh, wait.” There are a lot to choose from: Condoms, pills, IUDs, and diaphragms. Talk with your doctor about your choices and what would make the most sense for you.

RELATED: What Are the Best and Worst Birth Control Options?

Know That Condoms and Dental Dams Are Necessary

Everyone tends to think that their chosen partner couldn’t possibly have an STD — until they do. No matter what kind of birth control you choose, you need to practice safer sex to minimize the chances of contracting an STD or HIV, so come prepared, says Jennifer Berman, MD, a urologist and sexual health expert based in Los Angeles.

Condoms do a great job of protection, if you use them correctly from start to finish every time — just don’t use them with anything but water-based lubricants. Oil-based lubes can degrade the condom, leading to breakage. If you plan on performing oral sex on a woman, use a dental dam. Also, if you find you are allergic to latex, there are nonlatex condoms and dams available.

RELATED: Condoms Keep You Safe in More Ways Than One

Side note: A study published in January 2016 in the journal AIDS and Behavior found that both alcohol intoxication and a history of sexual aggression may increase the risk of condom use resistance from young men with female partners. Word to the wise. (2)

RELATED: Taking Care Of Your Sexual Health

Both of You Need to Get Tested to Be 100 Percent Protected

Condoms don’t offer total disease protection. Viral STDs that shed on the skin, such as HPV and hepatitis C, aren’t totally blocked. “There can be lesions on the scrotum, perineum, groin, and the upper part of the penile shaft that may not be totally covered by the condom,” Dr. Berman cautions.

As embarrassing as it might seem, talk to your potential lover about his or her health history. If you want to have sex without a condom or dental dam, both parties need to be tested. And once you get tested, you need to get tested again six weeks later. “If he or she had sex a week prior, it may not convert to HIV positive for another six weeks,” Berman points out.

A shortcut taken in the physical preparedness area can result in discouraging outcome.

A prescription of Estrace or Premarin cream can work wonders to treat vaginal atrophy. In all cases, it starts with a visit to your doctor to see what will aid the mission safely. Do this about a month out to allow for optimum results. A shortcut taken in the physical preparedness area can result in discouraging outcome.

Oh, and an active sex life may not come cheap. Traditional Medicare (Parts A and B) won’t pay for the meds you might need. Medicare Part D, the program that covers prescription drugs, may — but that varies from plan to plan. Your best bet may be to look into prescription discount cards affiliated with pharmacies. And always ask your doctor for free samples.

2. Bring on the toys

Sex toys have grown up since you last checked them out, which if you are of a certain age, may have been never. Much to what I suspect is the delight of my UPS delivery guy, they don’t even all come in discreet brown boxes any more.

Start by visiting various sex toy websites as a couple, which is a way better use of your cell phone in bed than playing Solitaire. And yes, by all means, order whatever appeals.

3. Do what you do to relax, but do more to rev up your engine

Relaxation aids can be found in many forms. Hot baths, wine, weed where it’s legal. Personally speaking, all that does is put me to sleep, which isn’t exactly the goal here. When restarting a sex life, err on the wild(er) side.

Can we all just agree that when it comes to great sex, naughty generally trumps nice? Aim to spice things up. Leave the panties home when you go out to a romantic restaurant for dinner and trust me, nobody will want to order dessert. Or drive separately and “meet” for drinks. Book a hotel room at the last minute and check in sans luggage.

4. Make each other the main course

In all our rushing around and living life at break-neck speeds, we lose sight of our priorities. And for the purpose of reconnecting with our absent sex lives, those priorities are one another.

Pay attention to the details of what matters to you and your partner. I know a woman who can’t enjoy sex if the sheets aren’t freshly washed — and always puts a towel down to ensure they stay that way. She raised four sons and did what she calls “a lifetime of man-laundry” and isn’t eager to do more.

Another friend is a lights-out-or-forget-about-it diehard. She says a lit room messes with her ability to imagine sex as she knew it decades ago. Morning sex? Another friend questions whether it is even physically possible to have spontaneous sex in the morning without first having a chance to pee.

5. Just do it

The bottom line: If you’ve read this far, it means you’re thinking about it. That’s a good first step.

Now take the second one.

17 Tips For Having Sex With Someone New

Years ago, when I broke up with my first serious boyfriend — who I’d been in a relationship with for nearly four years — he wasn’t just a guy I dated for a long time; he was the first guy I ever had sex with as well. He also became sexually abusive over time, and sexually assaulted me on more than one occasion, so having sex with someone new after all of that was both freeing and frightening.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.

During the months following our breakup, I mostly had a lot of fun sleeping with new people; but I also found that, as fun and exciting as having sex with a new partner can be, it can also be kind of stressful. I mean, you’re naked, something hilariously awkward is bound to happen before the sex is over, and even if you’re just trying to have a casual, one-time hookup, sex with someone new still requires a certain level of trust that’s not always easy to give — especially if your sexual history hasn’t been the happiest.

Fortunately, though, there are ways to make sex with someone new awesome. To learn more, Bustle asked Angela Skurtu, M.Ed, LMFT, a St. Louis-based sex therapist and podcaster, her tips for making first-time sex with a new partner a fun and healthy experience. I’ve also added a few of my tried-and-true (and medically-backed) tips for easing those first-time nerves.

Here are 17 tips for having sex with someone new:

1. Talk About Any Anxiety You’re Feeling

Moyo Studio/E+/Getty Images

“To be honest, I think you have to learn to be vulnerable more often,” Skurtu says. She suggests practicing your pre-sex conversation beforehand, or even having the conversation via text first if that helps. “Many times people can feel scared or awkward in person. You can use text to discuss some of these things without as much worry,” Skurtu says. “The truth i you just have to learn to have the conversation. I might consider picking partners who are good at the conversation but leaving partners who make you feel bad or ashamed when you bring these things up,” Skurtu says.

2. Take A Walk Or Do Some Yoga

I get that this item doesn’t apply if the sex you’re having is totally spontaneous. However, if you’re going on a date and you’re feeling anxious about it, I highly recommend you go for a walk beforehand. In fact, I highly recommend walking to cope with any type of anxiety you may be dealing with, sex-related or not. So do the mental health experts over at CalmClinic.com. In a medically-reviewed post, they said: “Walking works, and it works well. It may not control all your anxiety producing thoughts or prevent all of your anxiety symptoms, but walking is a type of remedy that can actually make a very real difference on your ability to cope with anxiety.”

For me personally, walking helps calm any nervousness I might have, without wearing me out like a trip to the gym would. And the yoga? Well, you just never know how creative you and your partner might want to get with positions. In my experience, limbering up pre-sex just makes the whole night far more comfortable.

3. Wear Lingerie That You Feel Comfortable In

Honestly, this tip isn’t exclusive to having sex with someone new. This is basically just a good way to live your life, because if you feel good in what you’re wearing, it stands to reason that you’re going to feel more confident and relaxed overall.

Stick to lingerie that you feel both sexy and comfortable in. Personally, I like to pair a lightly-lined, underwire-free bra (or no bra at all) with some soft panties.

4. Toss Some Mouthwash And A ToothBrush In Your Purse Before You Head Out

Again, this applies to everyday life, too. But I find that this tip is particularly applicable to having sex with someone new. Making out is just a lot more fun for everyone involved if your breath isn’t rancid. On top of that, if you’re sexy time turns into an adulthood sleepover, you’ll have a great way to deal with your morning breath. Additionally, a recent study published by the National Institutes of Health suggests there could be a link between good oral hygiene and reduced risk of contracting an oral HPV infection.

5. …And A Fresh Pair Of Undies

Dirty underwear is bad for your vagina — it can make you itchy, or give you a rash or infection — and sometimes going commando just isn’t a feasible option. Plus, it’s generally a good idea to change your undies at least once a day, if not more. (And keep in mind that natural fabrics, like cotton or bamboo, tend to be the best options for sensitive skin.) So pack a spare pair. You may not end up needing a fresh pair of undies, but you definitely won’t regret being prepared.

6. Make Out First

I know, I know, this one should be a given; but I also know that when you’re having sex with someone new, it can be hard not to rush through the pre-sex make out session, due to either anxiety or major horniness.

But I’d urge you to slow down, and make out for as long as you can stand it. It’s relaxing, it should help you get wet, and unless your partner is a horrible kisser, it will only make things hotter. Plus, kissing — even when it’s not sexual — is a bonding behavior for human and nonhuman animals alike. Kissing is also considered “a sensual meditation,” since it can reduce anxiety and help you be in the present moment.

7. Bring Protection

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

I know you don’t need me to stress the importance of using protection, but I am going to stress the importance of packing protection. You should not rely on your partner to be the prepared one. If they don’t have protection on them, you’re either going to have to halt sexing to go get some, or you’re going to end up having unprotected sex. Neither of these scenarios are ideal (and one is extremely bad). So just be prepared.

Skurtu suggests taking this a step further and discussing with your new partner when each of you were last tested for STIs. “Talk about safety, birth control, and condom usage and the last time you both were checked for STIs,” Skurtu says.

8. Lube Up

Everything from excessive stress to depression to rigorous exercise can cause vaginal dryness, but whatever you’re dealing with, lube can make sex so much more comfortable. If you’re using condoms, lube will prevent your vagina from being rubbed raw. If you’re turned on but having trouble getting wet, lube can help with that, too. And if you’re having sex with someone who has a penis, and they’re well-endowed (or you’re using a large toy), lube is your savior.

So even if you don’t think you’ll need it, toss a small bottle of lube in your purse before you embark on your next sex adventure.

9. Do Whatever You Think Will Help You Relax

Hopefully, deploying the above tips already has you feeling super relaxed. In case they’re not enough to chill you out, though, listen to your body. Whether that means focusing on your breathing or asking to stop for a rest. You can also check out this article to learn more about how to relax during sex. Whatever you need to do to relax, your partner should understand. If they don’t, then get out of there!

10. Start Off Slowly

Carlos Ciudad Photos/Moment/Getty Images

I understand how satisfying a quickie can be, but when you’re having sex with someone new, starting off slowly is usually the best bet. I mean, you and your new partner need time to get used to each other’s bodies, styles, and preferences. So going hard and fast from the beginning will probably not be the ideal move for the both of you. Plus, foreplay can increase arousal for all genders; and it can even replace penetrative sex altogether, if you want it to. Additionally, Skurtu suggests talking and cuddling both before and after sex.

11. Don’t Be Afraid To Speak Up

Skurtu tells Bustle she encourages both verbal and nonverbal communication during sex. “Verbally ask, ‘Do you like this?’ or ‘How do you enjoy being touched’ or ‘Show me on my nipple how you would want me to suck on your clitoris.'” Skurtu says she suggests the nipple because it’s similar in size to the clit and it’s close enough to the face to visually see what’s going on. “It’s also kind of a flirtation,” she says. She also says you shouldn’t assume you know how to give oral sex for every new partner. “The reality is that everyone likes something different. Try a few strokes and see how a partner responds, ask if they enjoy this, if it’s too rough, soft enough, etc.” Skurtu says.

So if your partner is doing something you don’t like, tell them. If they’re doing something you really like, tell them. If you’re worried they don’t like what you’re doing to them, ask them! Also, pay attention to body language and nonverbal cues.

12. Don’t Be Afraid To Laugh, Either

Sometimes, sex is funny. When this is the case, Skurtu says it’s OK to laugh. “Don’t laugh at each other, but make a silly statement like, ‘Don’t you love sex noises?’ and say it with a big smile so you also nonverbally communicate to your partner you are being genuine and playful,” Skurtu says. She says she even gets in the habit of pointing out the awkward moments and either joking about them or saying it’s normal. “Like after a queef I might say, ‘She said hello, and I’m enjoying your company!’ I say it with a big smile and maybe a quick kiss,” Skurtu says. She says awkward moments can become flirtatious moments when we let go of the expectation that sex has to be perfect. “It’s silly, messy, and wild,” Skurtu says.

Personally, I’ve actually found that laughing with a partner during sex can make me feel closer to them. Plus, it sure beats awkward silence.

13. Avoid Talking About Past Lovers, Unless You And Your Partner Are Comfortable With That

MEDITERRANEAN/E+/Getty Images

While this isn’t always the case, most people don’t like being compared to past sexual partners, or hearing about how many sexual partners you’ve had before them. You’re also under no obligation to share these details unless you want to, because your past is, well, yours. So make sure you’re being sensitive about your partner’s feelings, and don’t feel obligated to share these details from your sexual history unless you and your new partner are comfortable discussing them.

14. Do Talk About What’s Worked For You Sexually In The Past, Though

“Talk before you have sex about what you want to do with each other. Share your yeses, nos, and maybes,” Skurtu says. She also recommends talking bout what’s worked for you sexually in the past. “Talk about what you have enjoyed from previous partners and ways you can learn and grow together,” Skurtu says.

You can certainly talk about what you like in bed without talking about who you’ve liked in bed — and you should. Your new partner will appreciate it, and there are ways to do so while remaining sensitive to your new partner’s feelings.

15. Try To Forget About Your Appearance

I know it’s hard, but try not to focus on what you look like too much. This person is having sex with you, so you already know they’re attracted to you. Focusing too much on your looks will probably take away from your enjoyment, and there’s just no reason. Additionally, according to the findings of a recent scientific research review that was published on ScienceDirect.com, there appears to be a positive link between body image and sexual well-being. According to this review, people — and women in particular — who feel good about their bodies typically report having more positive sexual experiences.

16. Don’t Put Too Much Pressure On Your Orgasm, Or Your Partner’s

Image Source/Image Source/Getty Images

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t try to orgasm, and I’m certainly not suggesting your partner shouldn’t try to help get you there. You should both be trying to get each other off, of course. But it’s OK if neither of you can orgasm during sex. Even if you can orgasm during sex, don’t let orgasm be your main goal. Because if your focus is on the big finish, you probably won’t enjoy yourself during the act nearly as much as you could; and people with vaginas, in particular, don’t necessarily orgasm as easily as people with penises. In fact, some people with vaginas suffer from anorgasmia — a condition that makes it difficult to orgasm, even after lots of foreplay.

Further, A US study that was published in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 2017 — in which 1,055 American women from the ages of 18 to 94 took a confidential survey via the internet — found that only 18.4% of women are able to orgasm through vaginal penetration alone, while approximately 36.6% require clitoral stimulation. And for people with penises, everything from performance anxiety to daily worries can release stress hormones that narrow blood vessels, which makes it more difficult to become erect, much less ejaculate. And some people with penises suffer from delayed ejaculation — a condition that causes some to require a much longer time than average to reach orgasm and ejaculate, while others with the condition can’t ejaculate at all.

Of course you want you and your partner to orgasm, and that’s a good thing. But don’t feel bad if one or both of you just can’t get there. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at sex. It doesn’t mean they aren’t crazy into your body. It might mean they’re nervous, or they drank too much, or they have a medical condition, but whatever the problem is, it’s probably got nothing to do with you.

17. Don’t Forget About After Care

“We all need a little aftercare once we finish sex,” Skurtu says. “I would touch each other gently, leave a hand rested on a penis (if one is involved) and just caress each other.” Skurtu also suggests talking about things you appreciated about the night or the experience. “Share something you did that was new. ‘I’ve never had someone pull my hair like that or kiss me like that. That was really sexy, different, fun, etc.'” she says. Above all, Skurtu tells Bustle to be real and honest. “You don’t have to say the perfect thing or be the perfect lover. You just need to be coachable and willing to share what you like as you go along,” Skurtu says.

And since sex is kind of exhausting sometimes, I’ve found it’s always a good idea to keep a glass of water for you and your partner nearby.

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