I remember when I was 14 and reading Seventeen Magazine (yes, I was quite the rebel back then), and a bunch of people, mostly mothers, had gotten their panties in a twist over one issue’s colorful cartoon depiction of a vagina. They said it was vulgar and tasteless, as well as inappropriate for young girls. It wasn’t like Seventeen was trying to get a bunch of tween girls excited by this picture. They were simply trying to inform girls of their nether regions; you know, like being able to tell the difference between their urethra, vagina, and vulva and all of that good stuff. But people flew into such a ridiculous outrage over this, and for what? We can have sexy McNuggets and Girls Gone Wild who flash the world every night on infomercials, but we should leave people clueless when it comes to their own bodies? It’s undeniable that sex is everywhere, it’s true, but I’m concerned about the lack of real and honest discourse about sex. To that end, I’ve compiled a list of things that I wish I had known about sex when I was younger, as a starting point for discussion.
1. Queefing is OK.
Queefing, also known as vaginal flatulence, is defined as the emission or expulsion of air from the vagina that may occur during sex, stretching, or any form of exercise. It sounds like the passing of gas, but unlike anal flatulence, no waste gases are involved with queefing, and as result, no specific odors are associated with it. It’s really nothing to be embarrassed or freaked out about—it’s just farting, but without the smell. The one concern with queefing is if air is forced into the vaginal cavity orally or being penetrated from awkward angles, which can cause air bubbles to get trapped in your bloodstream.
2. Don’t forget about foreplay.
Sometimes people want to jump right into sex without warming up, but you should never underestimate the benefits of foreplay. Aside from feeling good and being fun, foreplay prepares your bodies for the main event to come, can lead to better orgasms for both partners, and can prolong the entire session.
3. Don’t underestimate pre-cum.
Pre-ejaculate, also known as pre-cum, is the colorless fluid that comes out of a penis when a guy is sexually aroused, but before he climaxes; it acts as both a neutralizing agent and a lubricant. Although its main purpose is preparatory, pre-cum may contain sperm which can cause pregnancy, as well as HIV.
4. Your period won’t protect you from pregnancy.
Although it is safe to have sex while a partner is menstruating, pregnancy isn’t magically protected against—and the same goes for STDs. Anytime you engage in sexual activity, be sure to practice safe sex despite what myths you may hear: there’s no special time when you’re totally protected from either pregnancy or STDs.
5. Orgasms can be messy.
When most people picture a woman having an orgasm, they envision someone like Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally, moaning and gasping all over the place while she demonstrates how well women can fake one. There is little discussion of how women actually orgasm—a lot of women can’t even tell if they’ve ever experienced one—and what a female orgasm may entail. But here’s the thing: women can ejaculate too. In some cases, a female may ejaculate more than a male. Squirting is nothing to be worried about; it’s not urine and it’s a harmless fluid.
6. Sex smells.
Logically, it makes sense that sex would smell. You’ve got sweat, other bodily fluids, and latex (from the condom) coming together to create all kinds of funk. It’s not a reflection of your hygiene—at least it shouldn’t be—and the easiest way to disperse the smell is to open the window when you’re done. (Not during, we don’t want to hear you)
7. Make sure you know your anatomy.
This might sound like common sense, but knowing your partner’s anatomy well can go a long way toward ensuring a pleasant experience for you both. Things like knowing where the clitoris is and knowing which hole you’re aiming for are helpful points to learn beforehand.
8. Not all STDs or STIs show symptoms.
Just because your partner may not show any outward signs of being infected does not mean that they aren’t carriers of any viruses like HPV or diseases like Chlamydia. These are the most common sexually transmitted infections, and are asymptomatic in most cases. They’re both treatable, so testing is crucial to make sure that you’re sexually healthy.
9. Patience is a virtue.
It’s widely assumed that men don’t need much to get it up, but not every guy is automatically rock hard and ready to go. Sometimes nerves, stress, alcohol, and fatigue can all play a role in preventing an erection, so a little coaxing may be in order. It’s not that he finds you unattractive, he may simply need a little time.
10. There’s always room to grow.
Regardless of whether your sexual experiences have been awesome or leave something to be desired, it’s good to keep in mind that sex is an exploratory practice—it has the capacity to improve over time. If your first time was less than stellar, don’t worry about it. Learn from the experience and focus on making it better.