How to do Kegel Exercises that Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Can You Tighten Your Vagina? And 12 More Awkward Sex Questions, Answered
Your solo sure-thing is all about the clitoris, right? Only about 30% of women orgasm without clitoral stimulation, says licensed psychologist Laurie Mintz, PhD. So if sex for you doesn't directly involve your clit—either with manual stimulation or via sexual positions that hit it (woman-on-top often does)—coming isn't going to be in the cards. Mintz suggests adjusting your expectations—"start thinking about orgasming as a before- or after-intercourse thing," she says. Or slip your guy a little nighttime reading: She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner is excellent, she says.
Kerner's book is designed to boost a guy's "sexual clitoracy." "Most guys are utterly i-clitorate," says Kerner, a New York City-based sex therapist. His best tip? The tongue is more powerful than the sword. "The clitoral glands are located at least 2 centimeters above the vaginal entrance, so when most men and women have sex, the clitoris is rarely touched, which is why many women don't orgasm during intercourse,” he explains. “You want a woman to orgasm? Get to her clit. With your tongue."
Yes! And the method for doing so—"physical therapy for your vagina," says Louann Brizendine, MD—isn't that different from training your abs or biceps. You're working muscles to make them taut, in this case the muscles of your pelvic floor, including your vagina. "There are clinics in France for this express purpose—what they call a reeducation perineale," says Brizendine. "And they work—they tighten vaginal muscles to narrow a vaginal canal that feels wider [and less sensitive] due to age or childbirth." As we get older, vaginal and pelvic-floor muscles slacken, and up to 76% of women experience decreased sensation.
If a trip to Paris for this purpose isn't in the budget, become your own trainer. First, locate the muscles in question by stopping the flow of urine when you pee. Or insert a finger or two into your vagina and squeeze. Got 'em? The muscles being used are the same ones engaged during pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels (Need more clarification? Here's how to do Kegels in 3 simple steps.). Do 5 to 10 Kegels daily, contracting those muscles 2 to 4 seconds at a time before relaxing. As you get stronger (and tighter), do more reps and hold each one longer.
It depends. If you're perimenopausal, blame estrogen. You need an adequate amount of this hormone to maintain vaginal lubrication, and that's when levels naturally decline. If you're not yet in the hot flash phase, look at your meds. Antihistamines can dry up your vag along with your nose. "Hot tub chemicals, caffeine, and even stress can promote vaginal dryness, too," says Mintz. She recommends trying some lube—the slippery feeling alone will make you more turned on, which could boost natural lubrication. She suggests a water-based or glycerin lubricant—and a visit to A Woman's Touch Sexuality Resource Center at SexualityResources.com. Check out the Lubricant Comparison Chart; the sampler package (just for eight-plus lubes) is a steal.
The report was in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, where Adam Ostrzenski, MD, a semi-retired Florida-based gynecologist, claimed to have pinpointed the G-spot's locale by dissecting the body of a deceased 83-year-old. Unfortunately, you won't be able to find yours via Google Maps anytime soon. That's because, according to Brizendine, the G-spot "isn't an organ, it's an anatomical area, and not only does it vary greatly in exact location from woman to woman, it's much more defined in some than in others."
If you want to go in search of yours, keep in mind that self-exploration isn't the surest route. "Just as a flaccid penis is very different than an erect penis, the vaginal canal is a different organ when you're intensely aroused," Brizendine explains. Instead, she suggests experimenting with sexual positions to find one that stimulates the clitoris and the most sensitive area of the vaginal canal. Cowgirl (or, woman-on-top) is the go-to because the clitoris rubs against the male pubic bone and/or penis. But Mintz recommends something a little more...salty: a cock ring with a vibrator attached. Good? "It’s mind-blowing, actually," she says.
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Five to 20% of married couples have sex 10 times a year or less, which psychologists define as a "sexless marriage." And one in three non-married pairs who have been together more than two years have a non-sexual relationship. So it's more common than you think. But is it ideal?
"Sexless marriages divide into two types," says Mintz, author of A Tired Woman's Guide to Passionate Sex. "Those in which both partners are content with near to no sex and, much more common, those in which one partner is very worried about it and the other is not."
If you fall into the concerned camp, she advocates the "Just Do It" approach. "The more sex you have, the more you want," she explains. "For a very large percentage of my clients, it's that simple. When you're younger or your relationship itself is young, you're horny before you have sex. As you get older or progress into a later stage in your relationship, you start the process and then you get horny. The hornier you get, the hornier you become. It's self-sustaining,"—possibly marriage-sustaining, too.
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Very carefully. "Many men feel insecure about their sexual performance, so before you address it, boost his ego by assuring him you enjoy hooking up with him in any capacity, not just via intercourse," says Amber Madison, MA, a therapist in New York City.
After that, your next step depends on the problem. If it's erectile dysfunction, he doesn't need you pointing it out. He's aware. What he needs is your understanding and encouragement in addressing it. "A lot of ED is mental," says Kerner. "A guy has a misfire, and he's scared it’ll happen again."
If the problem is premature ejaculation, Kerner suggests reframing the issue: "Compliment him on his ability to come hard and fast," he says, "then float the idea of male multiple orgasms." These are achieved via the start-stop technique. Ejaculation is halted in the heat of the moment by strengthening pelvic floor muscles that control the "stop." Guys do this the same way women do—with Kegels, or contractions of the pubococcygeus muscle. To find it, men should stop the flow of urine while peeing. Encourage your guy to contract that muscle 10 seconds several times daily then have him flex it in bed. With you.
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Physiologically, a woman is at her sexual peak at age 19, says Brizendine, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco. That's when estrogen, which sustains vaginal lubrication, and testosterone, which stokes sex drive, max out. But really now, 19? That's not the age most women would say they're having or have had the sex of their lives. And that's precisely the point. The best sex isn't about physiology, it’s about psychology.
"It's different for every woman," says Mintz, "but what I've noticed in my practice, is that sex gets better with age. Women who become comfortable with their own bodies and know what they need and what they like, they have the best sex." (That's just one of 40 things you should know about sex by age 40.)
"It often takes time to develop sexual awareness and a real comfort level with it," adds Kerner. "So I think the best sex comes when you can share an extremely hot sexual fantasy or desire with your partner. That's when you're truly ready to get what you want—and often, that's when you do."
Browse the Sex Position Coloring Book—a just-what-it-sounds-like collection of 101 ready-to-color sexual positions. ("The most informative sex book a man and a woman and a box of crayons have ever shared," promises the cheeky back cover copy.) It's silly, yes—but that's kinda the point. "It's a fantastic way to open lines of communication with your partner because it makes light of the sometimes awkward discussion of what to do in the bedroom," says Monica Sweeney, a writer and editor (and, evidently, ardent colorer) who helped develop the book.
Two suggestions: if you like eye contact, Opening the Lotus is a very intimate position. Sit cross-legged facing one another then drape your legs around your partner's waist or even over his shoulders. If you enjoy being on top but feel self-conscious about being seen that way, try Reverse Cowgirl. You're still in the saddle but you're facing the other direction.
MORE: 11 Sex Positions To Try In Your Lifetime
To borrow a phrase from Sex Talk 101, don't stop! "If you like it and he likes it, there's no reason to stop," says Madison. "Technically, you don't need both people to participate." If, however, emotionally you do, try coaching your hubs a bit. "He probably doesn't know where to start and doesn't want to look dumb," she adds. "Encourage him to talk about what's happening in the moment—what he likes, what he likes even more."
And the best way to do that: make sure your talk, at least initially, consists of gentle questions. "Unless you husband's into it, I'd steer clear of aggressive comments like, 'F— me, bitch!' " she says. "Anything that's too aggressive or even demeaning can reflect a power dynamic that can be off-putting. I'd ask, instead, 'Do you like this? Does this feel good? How do you want me?' This kind of dirty talk is purposeful. It's designed to draw him in." In more ways than one.
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So you want to tap into your inner Anastasia Steele? Give your partner a copy of the book and have him dog-ear five things that pique his interest. Do the same for what you'd like to try. Then talk about why you chose them, and explore those you settle on together.
To spice up your bedroom tonight, start with some sexy props that won't scare your guy away, says Marisa Bennett, author of Fifty Shades of Pleasure (not a book in the E.L. James trilogy, just a sexy BDSM beginners' guide). "Use a silk scarf or an eye mask as a blindfold," she says. "Or have him tie your wrists to your bed frame with the scarf. It will be much less intimidating than a set of specialty handcuffs or chains, and it will make you feel like you're acting out a scene from Fifty Shades. Start with simple touches—you don't even have to have sex the first time you try it. If you're timidly entering the BDSM world, it's important to feel safe—safe is sexy in this context."
According to a survey of 568 American women, a third reported having sex on the first date with someone they met online, while 27% had oral sex.
"The reality is, if you have a good connection with someone, the rules mostly go out the window," says relationship guru Andrea Syrtash, co-author of It's Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date—and Every Other Rule of Dating, Debunked. "That doesn't mean you don't have some strategies or follow social cues, but it means you follow your gut and your heart more than arbitrary rules."
And don't be so worried about what your date may think. Syrtash says of her co-author, Jeff Wilser: "Never in the history of man has he heard a guy say that he's met a wonderful, attractive, sweet, smart, funny woman, but he can't call her again because she got naked too soon."
"Men don't think like this," she says. "Either they're into a woman or they aren't. The reality is, if a woman sleeps with a man and he doesn’t call her again, he never saw long-term potential with her."
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Make it something so benign you could buy it at Target. "You don't need to run to your local Kink Mart for angled foam platforms or suspension bondage gear," says Bennett, whose new book is 101 Things to Do with a Vibrator. "Everything you need to get your groove on is right at home."
Bennett suggests starting with an exercise ball. "It's probably sitting in a corner, right?" she says. "Here's one way to get your money's worth out of it." Place the ball against a wall for stability (at least until you get the hang of it), have your partner sit on it with his feet flat on the floor, and you climb on top facing him—a position called the Hot Seat. Then use the ball to increase the heat. "The physics of the ball can work to your advantage," explains Bennett. "Your partner can use the bounce to add more force to his thrust, and you can use it to have him hit juuust the right spot."
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Used to be, pubic topiary was the norm, but au natural is, well, au courant. Just last year, Hollywood style setter (and repeat TMI offender) Gwyneth Paltrow famously revealed to Ellen Degeneres—and the world on live TV—that she rocks "a 70s vibe" down there, while Cameron Diaz, in promoting her Body Book, has waxed more poetic than pubic, extolling the virtues of a "lovely curtain."
All talk of drapes (not our favorite euphemism) aside, if the results of a recent British survey are any indication, pubic hair is back and considered beautiful. Of the 1,870 women polled by the pharmacy UK Medix, 51% said they don't "style or groom their pubic hair;" 45% admitted they simply could "no longer be bothered to keep up the grooming;" and, perhaps most notably, 62% revealed that their partners "prefer the natural look."
"If you ask guys on the street what they think about pubic hair, a lot may say they want grooming," says Madison. "It's a preference—no more, no less. But when it comes down to actual behavior, it's a little different.
Video: She Tightens Her Vagina Using only This Solution
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