Digging into the juicier basics of enjoyable, healthy sex

My aunt once said to me, “Vianca, you know that the sex was good if the cheeks on your back blush as much as the cheeks on your face.” That definitely scarred me for about 8.79 years. It wasn’t until I got a little older (and a lot more experienced) that I realized what that weird-ass comment was about. What my dear aunt was hinting at was the fact that good sex excites a reaction from your entire body. (Either that or she was talking about spanking — in which case, you’re going to have to wait a couple weeks for that column.)

My aunt was using ‘sex’ to refer to penetration, the true great American pastime. Penetration, like any other form of sex, requires ample attention to detail and good, careful preparation. When embarking on a journey to the land of make-me-come, there are many subtleties that can be easily missed. Most of these things, contrary to popular belief, have nothing to do with style. Yeah, having some kind of crazy Beyoncé grind is great, but, in the end, everyone does ‘it’ differently and likes different things.

Penetrative sex can only be really good if you and your partner take the time to communicate and allow your bodies to be responsive to one another. This isn’t the invasion of Normandy. Don’t feel any pressure, whether you are the giving partner or the receiving partner, to rush into anything (especially not your partner’s pleasure pit). I know that sex fascist porn gives the impression that pubic hair grows in Picasso prints and vaginas and anuses are these magical orifices that beg for the opportunity to be pounded like mashed potatoes. But, in the real world, things are not so seamless. It may seem impossible to think about anything else when your junk is swollen and pounding away like a high school marching band, but there are some basics that are always important to keep in mind:

Feeling up the situation:
After a good amount of foreplay (see last week’s column on non-penetrative sex), communicate with one another about whether you both want to escalate to penetration. I know that it can be awkward, but c’est la sex. For lap-flounder fishing, discuss the wetness of the vagina and/or the erectness of the penis (if applicable). A blooming flower (outer labia lips thin, the inner labia lips swell, and the clitoris hardens) that is slick to the touch is a sign that the musky meadow is ready to be plowed. If you are unsure about it, whether you are the giving or receiving partner, test the waters. Start with one finger and see how moist the vagina is. Communicate and if everything is good, continue to add fingers until you’ve added about three or four comfortably. Once this milestone has been achieved, proceed to penetrate with bigger objects, if desired. To avoid this guessing game, I suggest that you, as a couple (or group), discover your genital trends by means of some frequent mutual masturbation. It’s a study break that you can feel good about (in so many ways). Communication should always be a part of sex, but, once you know someone’s body, it becomes less verbal and more implicit.

Anal sex works a bit differently. The anus sometimes contracts when an individual is excited and, unlike a vagina, it is not self-lubricating. Combine this with the fact that the lining of the anal canal is prone to tearing and you’ve got tons of reasons to proceed with caution. As always, start with some foreplay and some communication. It’s a good idea to begin with an anal massage, just to warm up the area. Follow the gradual fingering technique, but always lube up first (either with synthetic lube or spit) and continue to add lube throughout the session. In just barreling into your partner, you’re putting them at risk for injury and infection. If you are used to fingering vaginas, keep in mind that anuses work differently. They are not as elastic as vaginas and are a bit shyer about opening up; so go slow. Once you’ve passed the three-to-four finger check-up, feel free to move on to bigger objects. Just make sure that, no matter what you use, it has a flared end or is very well secured. Anuses will gladly gobble up unsecured objects and make it impossible to retrieve them. Avoid having to call your mom from the hospital with a ‘funny story’ about your boy/girlfriend and a jar of pickles, yeah?

Note: Communication doesn’t have to be part of the awkward Swattie continuum. Make it sexy, casual, kinky and/or fun. You’re not asking a question in a lecture hall of 90 people (thank god); you’re asking your partner if they want to fork. Be creative.

Lubrication and penetration tools:
Lube is the best way to show that you care. During vaginal intercourse, natural lubrication is a clear indication of how desperate your little furry friend is for some wood (or wood alternative). Vaginas undergo physical change to prepare for penetration; lubrication is just one of these changes. For this reason, my suggestion for vaginal intercourse is to always allow a woman to become naturally lubricated before you board her boat. Synthetic lube can be useful too if an individual’s vagina consistently makes an insufficient amount of natural lube or if you just want to have an impromptu and high stakes quickie. I suggest a cozy cove in McCabe for some rushed love; it definitely wouldn’t be the first time someone got screwed there.

For synthetic lubes, water-based lubes are the way to go. It is the most body-friendly choice as they do not introduce any foreign chemical to your body. They do tend to dry a bit quicker than some alternatives, but can be reactivated with a little spit, natural lube, or more water. Beware of water-based lubes made with glycerin — they create a bacterial candy store in the vagina that can cause yeast infections. Silicone-based lubes are also a good choice, especially for anal sex, for which a thicker lube is usually preferred. The one drawback of silicone-based lubes is that they can deteriorate your silicone toys. However, they do dry slower than water-based lubes, which makes them ideal for extended play sessions.

Steer clear of oil-based lubes (even makeshift ones, like petroleum jelly). Oil based lubes, as deliciously slippery as they are, weaken latex which can cause condoms to tear and ruin your latex toys. If you’re broke, like many of us college students are, spit is always a cheap and convenient option. The health center also carries complementary one-use packets of water-based lube. (That’s our $50,000 tuition hard at work.)

Penetration tools (I know, that term sounds like something out of Saw, but I like it better than ‘penis alternative’) are another practical element not to be ignored. When looking for a penetration tool, find one that is well suited to you and your partner’s interests. This can range from a trouser-trout to a [sex] toy to a plastic pipet (for the bio (over) enthusiast ). Pretty much any smooth object with a flared end should do. Just make sure, whatever the tool, that you disinfect it before use, between person to person use, and if switching from anal penetration to vaginal penetration.

Things to avoid: glass, rusty objects (I don’t think that tetanus was what he had in mind when he said he wanted to be stiff forever), foods without peels and Anne Rice novels. If fingers are your penetration tool of choice, remember to maintain their upkeep. Every weekend I hear horror stories from girls about some Wolverine character that clawed away at their cervix. Don’t be that person. Keep your fingernails cut and clean and always wash your hands before you stick them into your partner’s Arabian night.

The Big Finish:
It’s not over until the fat labia sings. Orgasm is one main appeal of sex. Everyone reaches the big O at their own pace, in their own way. The receiving partner can be stimulated either through penetration (by means of the G-spot, the prostate, or the clitoral ‘legs’ that extend along the vaginal lips to the back of the anus) or by direct stimulation of their clitoris or penis. Reaching orgasm through penetration only is possible, but, I always advocate the double stimulation. (And why not?) Ideally, both partners should reach climax. (This, of course, is my ideal. You and your partner might be into something different.) Be conscious of how close your partner is to Nirvana and invest as much energy in your partner’s pleasure as you are investing in your own. If you finish first, be prepared to accommodate your partner until they finish. If fingers, toys, or some other inanimate object is your penetration tool, be ready for a sequel in which the giving partner becomes the star.

Knowing what exactly gets your partner off is a matter of just paying attention to their body. Luckily, our bodies are dumb. They don’t over think things; they just do. During sex, your partner’s body will move to a rhythm that makes it feel good. Your body will do the same. The key is to allow your bodies to respond to one another and adjust until you both find a grind that does it for you. The same rule applies when penetration is done with an inanimate penetration tool (with less emphasis on the giving partner’s groove.) Where body language fails, use the gift of words (or non-words, like moaning or grunting).

I didn’t get any questions this week, which is fine. I know that us Swatties know everything about everything — it’s one of the stipulations for admission here. But, if you do ever find yourself with a question, really, do feel free to write in. As the Chinese proverb says, “He [or she or ze] who asks is only the fool for five minutes; but he who does not remains the fool forever.” Just write to me. I promise that I’ll make it as good for you as it will be for me.

Vianca is a junior. You can reach her at vmasucc1@swarthmore.edu.

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