Ask A Sexpert (with Anna Keogh)
Answers by Anna Keogh, @bananas_sex_ed on Instagram.
What’s the best way to overcome feelings of shame or insecurity about your sexual history?
Your sexual history is just that – history! It’s in the past and shouldn’t be anything to feel ashamed of or be insecure about*. Someone who has had sex with 100’s of people isn’t necessarily a better lover and someone who has only been with a few people may have a better knowledge of different sexual acts as they may have spent years exploring with just one partner. Sex is about compatibility and each new partner is a fresh start. To learn about and learn from.
*sexual abuse or trauma may affect a person’s ability to be intimate and should be respected.
Is being friends-with-benefits always destined to end badly or can it be successful?
This one really depends on what you mean by “successful”. As long as all people involved are aware of the arrangement and are genuinely not looking for anything else but a bit of fun then a friends-with-benefits situation can be great. However, if one person is looking for something more and is not being honest then they could get hurt. It can also be hard to not get feelings for someone if you are spending time with them AND being intimate so if anything changes along the way then that needs to be spoken about as soon as possible. Basically, don’t pretend you are ok with this type of arrangement if you are not.
Is there such a thing as being ‘too horny’?
My initial answer to this is no, there is nothing wrong with a high sex drive. However, if you feel it is affecting your work or social life or you are unable to leave the house as you are in your room wanking non-stop then maybe that would be classed as “too horny”. And obviously if you are inflicting this horniness on unwilling others then that is also totally not acceptable. But if you are just thinking about sex a lot or are guilty of a bit of “procrasturbation” then you don’t need to worry. Embrace it!
What can you do when your partners libido is higher/lower than your own?
Talk to them. Communication is essential for a good sexual relationship and there are loads of factors that can affect a person’s sex drive including hormones, stress, medication, a bad burrito or a change in the weather. These things are not always consistent so there may be times when one person wants it all the time and the other isn’t fussed, and then that could change the week after. Have a chat and learn the signals. For example, if you know that your partner is off limits when they are hungover then leave them suffer in peace. It’s not that they don’t fancy you, they just don’t want to have sex.
What resources are out there for getting more educated when it comes to sex and relationships?
The HSE has just launched a new website called sexualwellbeing.ie that has brought together all of the Irish based info on sexual health, contraception, relationships and other factual bits and bobs. But if you want to get a bit deeper (I swore I wouldn’t use any innuendos) then I would recommend websites like scarleteen.com (US) and biskuk.com (UK). They provide a bit more food for thought on things like intimacy, lube, porn, consent and a hole (last one) load (dammit) of other content that is sometimes overlooked. But please don’t take any articles you read online about “sex tips” etc. seriously. The only way to figure out if someone likes something or if a certain technique is good is to ASK THEM! Not all people with penises want to be subjected to each of the 5 steps from “blo-jobs 101”.
Tips on overcoming performance anxiety:
- Think about why this is happening – are you ready?
- Does it happen when you are alone? If not, then maybe wait for another time.
- If you are drunk or on drugs, then that’s probably what it is.
- Don’t worry. It happens to everyone. The other person/people should understand.
- If it is reoccurring regularly, speak to a health professional to suss out your options.
How can I begin to explore my sexuality?
Sexuality is a very broad term and can mean different things to different people. Start with yourself. Find out what you like. That way when you feel ready to explore with others, you know what you want. This could be through masturbation, figuring out what turns you on or attending social events that are diverse and inclusive.
I feel really pressured in college to hook up with people and, ‘sleep around’, but it’s just not my thing, how do I overcome this and not give into peer pressure?
This can be tough, especially if you have come from a school with no sex ed and then all of a sudden there is condoms being thrown at you for Freshers week. Try to be true to yourself. Start off by explaining to your close friends that it’s just not your style. That way if anyone is giving you a hard time in a group they can back you up. Also, you may find that there are others who feel the same as you also. Whatever way and however much you decide to engage in sexual activity is perfectly fine and no one else’s business. Be confident that you can do/be whoever you want.
Are blue balls as big a deal as they’re made out to be?
Blue balls are not a thing. Have a wank.
Does size actually matter?
Every body is so so different and this includes the size, shape, width and girth of the genitals. Some people like big, others like small. It doesn’t matter. The right sexual partner for you will feel just right regardless of their measurements.
I don’t orgasm from penetrative sex, but I want to! How can I do this?
(I am going to assume this question is from a person with a vagina as it usually is.)
Having an orgasm from penetration is a lot less common than movies will lead you to believe. It takes time to learn what positions are good for you and even then, there are loads of factors that can affect your chances. For example, you could have a big exam coming up and your head is just not in the moment. Playing around with sex toys on your own can give you a good idea without the pressure of performing for a partner. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself because the more you think about it, the more you take away from concentrating on the good feelings that will get you there. When you are ready to try with another person, take your time and be vocal about what’s working and what’s not. If its just not possible for you at that time, get creative with all of the other wonderful sexual acts out there.
Where can you get dental dams!?!
Unfortunately, dentals dams seem to be only available online at present. Your student union may have some or there are some online tutorials on how to make a dental dam from a condom which could be a cheaper alternative.
What’s the deal with peeing after sex? What does it do?
For people with vagina’s, peeing after sex helps to flush out all of the stuff from outside the vagina that may have gotten inside through any kind of penetration, including fingers or sex toys. It prevents bacterial infections such as BV or Urinary tract infections (UTI’s).
I think I’m bisexual/pansexual, what should I do?
Enjoy! Bisexuality and Pansexuality are just like any other identity and should be respected and celebrated. However, they can be misunderstood by many which can create shame or confusion for the person experiencing such attraction. Organisations such as BelongTo have great resources, meet-ups and workshops to help with this and Bi+ Ireland is an inclusive group that exchanges info on Facebook and arranges activities and support networks.
I want to try anal, but I don’t know where to start?
Anal can be a tad tricky the first few times and needs to be talked about and prepared for with your partner(s) where possible. If you are going for full penetration, then lube will be your best friend. The person who is being penetrated needs to be relaxed but drink or drugs are not recommended for this as they can make us less aware of pain and this activity should not hurt. Build up to it. Take it slow and communicate what feels good and what doesn’t.
Why does queefing happen?
Its just air being pushed into the vagina and coming back out again. Nothing to be ashamed of whatsoever.
How can drinking/drug use affect sexual performance?
Short term effects of drink/drugs can be the penis cannot get hard, or of it can, orgasm is much more difficult to achieve. The vagina may not get as wet which can cause painful friction (and could cause a condom to break) and orgasm may be harder.
Although having a drink or smoking a joint may make you feel more relaxed, they can affect your decision-making skills and a person cannot consent when they are under the influence so be careful.
Drinking is a big part of college for a lot of people and it can help many of us to talk to strangers or be a bit more open to new experiences but its best to keep sexual activity for the nights when you are broke and have to stay in.
I feel a lot of pressure to climax every time I have sex with my partner, sometimes I just don’t and fake it, I’m happy not cumming every time, but I don’t want to hurt my partner?
Faking it is such a complicated issue because once you start it with a partner it can be hard to go back. But don’t worry – the right partner will understand. Try start by talking about it. The next time it is just not happening for you don’t fake it and explain afterwards that it just didn’t work for you that time. This will hopefully open up a conversation around what does work and what your partner can do. There will hopefully be no need to explain that you faked it all the other times unless you want to. Our likes and dislikes, and our bodies, change over the years so it wouldn’t be unusual for your go-to guaranteed orgasm move to no longer feel as good, so this could be an explanation if you want to give one. If your partner has a slightly bruised ego after this but is willing to try new things, then that’s all good but if they try to put the blame on you or make you feel bad in any way then maybe have a think about whether this partner has your best interests at heart. You obviously care about them and their feelings so they should give you the same respect.
What sexual acts can you do while you’re down with the flu? (asking for a friend ;))
Unless you are planning on using snot as lube, I would keep a safe distance! However, this could be a good time for phone sex if you like a bit of dirty talk. If you need to be in close proximity with the person to get off, maybe try mutual masturbation, where you both play with yourselves while the other looks on.
I’m very inexperienced but want to get better at eating out my girlfriend, tips?
Ask her what she likes. Try new things together. Be open and honest. An eagerness to explore and improve is usually very well received.
Period sex? What are the benefits?
Period sex is just like sex at any other time of the month. If everyone involved is happy to do it, then go for it! There is less risk of pregnancy (but not zero risk so you still need to use contraception) and some think it can help with cramps. There is a risk that HIV can be passed through menstrual blood so if you are unaware of your HIV status, get tested.
Put a towel down and have fun.
What’s the best position for both partners to climax during sex?
There is no one magical position that can always lead to climax (unfortunately). Talk to each other. Try new things. Speak up if something feels really good. And equally if somethings feels bad.
How can I get creative with ‘me time’ (I’m living at home, so vibrators aren’t really an option)
Ah the curse of living at home definitely hampers our sex lives. But all is not lost. Not all sex toys make noise so if you are open to using them then have a look online but make sure they are made of non-toxic materials that will not mess with your bits.
Otherwise, you could try watching something erotic online (doesn’t have to be hardcore porn, there are loads of options) with your earphones in or even reading some erotic fiction.
As a side note, despite what we see in films, masturbation is not always something you do in your bed on your back. Change position or location. Get on all fours. Try it in the shower. Let your mind wander and do what feels good. It’s all about you and no one is watching. Me time is the time to really explore.
How common are pregnancy scares and how do you handle them?
If you think you might be pregnant, it is best to do a test as soon as possible. Burying your head in the sand only limits your options. Plenty of things can delay your period including stress. Which means the stress of thinking you are pregnant can delay it even more, causing more stress! You can get cheap tests in almost any supermarket so just get it done and then you can go from there. Having someone with you might help as they can be the voice of reason regardless of the outcome.
I’ve been diagnosed with an STI, do I really have to contact all of my previous partners? How do you go about it?
As we can’t tell when you contracted the STI, it is best practice to contact all of your previous partners. Some clinics offer a service where they will send an anonymous text on your behalf, but this means you would have to have all of their numbers, which may not be realistic. Do your best. Send the awkward Facebook message. Write the cringey email. Make the phone call. Getting an STI is nothing to be ashamed of. You did the right thing by getting tested and now you are just advising that they do the same. It’s not your fault or theirs so don’t place any blame on anyone. Just one person looking out for another. If you get any negative reactions, then its probably best that that person is in your past.
Recently joined Grinder, how can I be safe when it comes to hook ups?
With Grindr and other online dating/hook up acts, you have a lot of access to a lot of people very quickly, so we can sometimes get carried away and forget even our basic safety rules.
Make sure someone knows where you are. Screenshot the person’s profile or the message they sent you with where you are meeting and send it on to a friend.
Always have a way home. That could be bus fare or if its late, taxi money.
Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel quite right, then it probably isn’t. Don’t be pressurized into anything because you don’t want to appear like you aren’t up for it. These people are strangers. Who cares what they think.
Try to have the first meeting in a public place and not in your house or theirs. This is safer but also means if you aren’t feeling it, then you can get out of there without awkwardly trying to ask someone to leave your apartment.
And of course, use protection!