My Issues With Intercourse and How I Solve ‘Em

I’ve never had so many impassioned debates about intercourse as I did while I was writing a column on it for This magazine last year. And I’m a sex nerd, so, y’know, my life is almost always brimming with debates about intercourse. But for those few weeks, they were particularly densely packed.

See, the argument of my article was that millennials aren’t that into intercourse anymore. The reasons, I wrote, were manifold: pregnancy and STI concerns, performance anxieties, and less-than-ideal sexual stimulation, to name a few. I’d pitched this angle because it jelled with my own experience: I felt increasingly lukewarm about PIV (penis-in-vagina sex), and my male partners around that time seemed similarly ambivalent. As my fuckbuddy once put it, “PIV is on the menu, sure – but it’s a big menu.”

But lots of people argued with me when I explained what I was writing. Some men insisted they’d rather fuck than get sucked off. Some women explained they don’t feel entirely fulfilled by a sexual encounter if a peen doesn’t broach their vag. For every two friends who agreed with my thesis, there would be one who staunchly did not. That’s fine – humans’ sexual tastes are gloriously varied! – but it did get me thinking about why I’m not that keen on PIV. I had written about why millennials, more broadly, might not be that into it, but I hadn’t spent much time pondering why I, specifically, didn’t enjoy it anymore.

In subsequent contemplation, I’ve come up with five main issues I have with PIV. Here are those issues, along with the various workarounds I implement for them…

My vulva ring by Catstache Accessories!

Issue #1: Clit Stim

If you’re interested in sex and don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard that folks with vulvas typically need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. The stats vary, depending on which study you look at, but it’s generally estimated that somewhere between two-thirds and nine-tenths of us need clit stim if an orgasm is gonna happen. And guess what? PIV’s not great at providing that.

My usual solution here is to use a vibrator on my clit while I get fucked. My faves for this purpose are the We-Vibe Tango, Eroscillator, and Magic Wand Rechargeable. Those first two are slim enough to fit well between bodies, making them ideal for PIV; the Magic Wand, on the other hand, is huge, but can be accommodated in certain positions.

Of course, this workaround requires that I’m fucking someone who I know is vibrator-positive, which, unfortunately, some people are not. My dalliances with those folks never last very long, for obvious reasons. Some partners (*cough* this guy) even seem to find it hot when I use vibes with them, and that makes them even lovelier in my eyes.

Some people prefer “couples’ vibes” – vibrators specifically made for usage during sex – for their hands-free ease. The We-Vibe Sync is the best one in this category, bar none. I like my Sync a lot, but for the most part, I prefer having the freedom to manipulate my vibe as needed with my own hand, because my clit is a picky snob.

There are other, non-vibrator-dependent ways to get clit stim during PIV: you can rub it with your hand, have your partner do so, or choose a position where their body rubs against yours in a way that works for you.

You could also just get your clit stim at other times during the sex session, and relax into PIV knowing it’s not gonna knock your clit’s socks off and that’s okay. That sounds defeatist, maybe, but it doesn’t have to be: I love PIV when I’ve already had an orgasm, for example, because that’s when my G-spot is the most sensitive. I don’t even feel like I need clit stim at that point, because I’ve already gotten off and the G-spot stim feels so amazing.

My friend Bex also taught me that sometimes, having your clit ignored during PIV can be hot as part of a kink dynamic, if, for example, a partner is “using” you for their own pleasure or deviously denying you an orgasm.

Issue #2: Stamina and Time

Getting off takes time. There is some evidence that this is truer for folks with vulvas than for folks with penises, though some people claim this science is sexist claptrap. In any case, I certainly don’t come in thirty seconds. And while a partner might happily stroke my clit or fuck me with a toy for ten or twenty minutes, it’s usually more strenuous for them to fuck me with their dick for that long. Depending on the position, PIV can be a physical exertion, not to mention, sometimes a partner comes before I do, and then we have to stop. Right?

Well, not exactly. If a partner comes but I haven’t yet, we can (and often do) take a quick break and then get back into the sexy stuff. They may not be able to keep fucking me so soon after coming, but they can certainly get me off with toys, their hands, and/or their mouth – or they can just hold me and say filthy things in my ear while I get myself off.

I actually prefer to get off before intercourse, though – both because it makes my internal spots more sensitive, as I mentioned earlier, and because it takes the pressure off me to come while getting fucked. There’s a scene in The L Word where Alice bemoans lesbians’ “You do me, then I do you” sexual style; she says straight people have it easier because you both get off from the same act, at the same time. But that hasn’t been my experience with hetero sex at all. Not only is it tricky to sync up your orgasms, but it’s also hard for your partner to focus on pleasing you properly if they’re coming at the same time, and vice versa. I like to continue getting fucked really hard, and in precise ways, during and after my orgasm, and my beau can’t pull that off if they’re in the throes along with me!

If I’m specifically hankerin’ to come all over a cock, usually I’ll have a partner get me suuuuper riled up before the actual penetration begins. If I’m at an 8 when he starts fucking me, but he’s only at a 3, it’s likelier he’ll last long enough to get me off and keep fucking me for a few minutes afterward. Ahh, bliss!

Diagram via Wikipedia Commons.

Issue #3: Specific Spots

Stimulation of my anterior fornix, or A-spot, is the thing that makes me come (in combination with consistent clit stim). I wish I’d known this from the beginning of my PIV adventures, so I would’ve been able to tell partners how to get me off, or would’ve at least felt less “broken” when PIV didn’t immediately send me into orgasmic ecstasy.

Because the A-spot is situated pretty deep inside the vagina, I’m likeliest to reach orgasm during PIV if the dick involved is in the 6–7″ length range. (Longer than that would just be overkill: doable, but not needed.) It also helps if the dick’s girth is average or slightly slimmer than average, because thick cocks have a hard time gettin’ up in there.

In my experience, when most dudes fuck a vag, by default they fuck it however feels good for them, or they vaguely aim for the G-spot. That’s fine, but I get better results if I specifically tell partners I like to be fucked really deep. Even better if I let them find the spot with their fingers first, so they know exactly what to aim for.

My FWB has gotten me off with fingers and toys countless times, so he knows my A-spot like the back of his hand, so to speak. We don’t partake of PIV all that often, but when we do, I always notice him carefully shifting and angling and pressing and exploring until he finds the right spot with his dick. Honestly, that attention to detail makes me swoon – and makes me come. There is something so hot about knowing that someone not only wants to get you off but is using their brain and body in clever tandem to make it happen.

If PIV has always felt kinda “meh” for you, but you know that you like certain types of penetration, it might be worth figuring out how to replicate your preferred penetration techniques during PIV. Back when I was more into G-spot stimulation, for example, I used to love doggie-style sex for how it directly targeted that spot. I also find that pillows or a Liberator Jaz under my hips help enormously with angling a dick how I want it.

Issue #4: Penetration-centrism

Last summer I dated a boy who was amazing in bed, kinky, adventurous, and could make me come in a variety of ways, without making me feel guilty or weird about any of it. It’s surprising how rare this combination of qualities is.

However, a few weeks into our blowjob-heavy and cunnilingus-soaked tryst, we were sexting, and he remarked, “I still haven’t really been inside you yet…”

His fingers had been inside me. His tongue had been inside me. His dick had been in my mouth. But no, it had not been inside my vagina. I didn’t really care, and until that text, I thought he didn’t much care, either.

While I can’t tell you exactly what he meant or what he was thinking, I have seen a penetration-centric paradigm in many of my male partners. There is a sense that sex isn’t really sex unless a cock enters a vag. A stat in the book Becoming Cliterate exemplifies this perfectly: apparently two-thirds of women consider it sex when someone goes down on them, but only one-third of men consider it sex when they go down on someone. Fuck that noise! Oral sex is sex! And so are a lot of other non-penetrative sex acts.

I believe fiercely in the “campsite rule,” i.e. the idea that you should leave your romantic and sexual partners better than you found them. One of the ways I try to do this is by teaching straight cis men that intercourse isn’t actually the centre of the goddamn universe. If it’s vitally important to them, then fine, I’m happy to do it, but I need them to know that it’s not vitally important to me. Depending on my mood, I can be perfectly sated by a sex session that consists solely of oral sex, fingerbanging, and/or playing with toys. Hell, sometimes a terrific spanking feels like a complete sexual encounter in and of itself.

Enthusiastic and intentional statements of desire are a great way to establish this attitude. “I can’t wait to suck your cock until you come in my mouth tonight,” I might text, or, “I’m charging my Magic Wand right now and I want two of your thick fingers inside me later,” denoting a sexual encounter that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, none of which necessarily involve PIV.

Issue #5: My Face

I have so much anxiety about how my face looks during sex. I don’t entirely know why. Partners have told me on multiple occasions that I look cute/hot/beautiful while they’re bangin’ me, that I have nothing to worry about, and that they find me sexy as hell. But somehow, it still hasn’t entirely sunk in. Maybe it never will.

Sometimes I deal with this by getting fucked in positions where I’m facing away from my partner – but these aren’t ideal because I have a hard time coming if I’m on my knees or standing up, and it’s tricky to fit a vibe between my clit and the mattress when I’m face-down. To my chagrin for both anxiety reasons and kink reasons, good ol’ missionary is still my most orgasmic PIV position.

I often end up covering my face while getting fucked in missionary; I’ll sling an arm over my eyes, nuzzle sideways into a pillow, or pull my partner down closer to me so they can’t look me right in the fuckin’ face. All of these strategies help somewhat. But what helps a lot is a blindfold. It’s a juvenile solution that evokes toddlers who think you can’t see them if they can’t see you, but hey, it works for me. Something about being blindfolded helps me feel more relaxed about how my face looks, even as it’s twisting into a pre-orgasmic grimace.

I’ll never forget the time my FWB was fucking me in a hotel room and I was suddenly overcome with face-related anxiety. “I need a blindfold,” I said, helplessly. “That’s kind of weird, but okay,” he replied with kindness in his voice – and without missing a beat, he stripped the pillowcase off a nearby pillow, draped it over my eyes, and kept fucking me. And all was well with the world.


What are your best tips ‘n’ tricks for making PIV more enjoyable? Do you agree with me that millennials seem less enthused about it, on average, than previous generations?

Let’s Talk About Terminology: Sex, “Sex,” and Sex

If I said to you, “I had sex last night,” what would you think I meant?

Intercourse? Oral? Fingering and handjobs? All of the above?

As I am a woman partnered with a man, I think most people would assume I meant intercourse. They might suppose other sex acts were involved, but “intercourse” and “sex” are pretty well equated in the heteronormative world.

It’s frustrating, though, because not only does it shut out queer folks for whom penetrative sex might not be a part of their sexual repertoire, but it also verbally limits those of us who have opposite-sex partners. Are we supposed to believe that the centre and end-goal of sexytimes is always penetration? Because let’s face it: it isn’t!

Like Dan Savage says: “sex” is oral sex’s last name. Same deal with other kinds of sex, like manual sex (fingering and handjobs), anal sex, even intercrural sex. These are all sexual acts and can be just as intimate and fulfilling as penetrative sex – so why separate them out?

In reading my blog, you might have noticed that I do my best to always say “intercourse,” “PIV sex”† or “penetrative sex” when that’s what I mean, rather than using the word “sex” to refer to that particular act. I think it’s more precise and also helps abolish the gross heteronormativity that pops up in so much of our sexual language.

Some people think it’s awkward to use terms like that. If you decide to take up the mission of using specific words for different acts instead of just “sex,” be prepared for people to think you’re weird. There will always be pushback when you challenge established limitations, but be brave and persistent and maybe one day we’ll live in a world where our sexual language is wonderfully inclusive and deliciously accurate!

† “PIV” = “penis-in-vagina.”

Sharing the Sexy #11

• An anonymous Frisky contributor wrote about 5 sexual acts she was surprised she enjoyed. I don’t have enough sexual experience to make a list of my own, but I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed the one and only rimjob I’ve ever received. How about you?

• Artist and entrepreneur Molly Crabapple wrote a piece for Vice about being “a professional naked girl”. (On a related note, I recently had some very nice nudes taken of myself and it is taking all of my willpower to keep myself from posting them everywhere.)

• Melissa McEwan wrote eloquently and emotively about how anti-choice legislature is pretty similar to rape, in the sense that both involve superseding a woman’s consent (or lack thereof) to what’s done to her own body.

• This Japanese sex guide is too weird.

Progress Report: G-Spot Orgasms (Take Three)

When I first wrote about my G-spot here, I had figured out how to make it feel good and swell up, but that was about as far as I’d gone. When I wrote an update a couple weeks later, I had given myself a seemingly “blended” orgasm by using a very intense G-spotting dildo in conjunction with a reliably excellent clit toy.

This time, I’m checking in to let you know that, for the first time I can remember, I managed to achieve a seriously intense, blended orgasm during intercourse with my boyfriend.

It started out innocently enough. At around 4AM, we dragged ourselves to bed, wanting sleep but also wanting to fit in a little “intimate time” before nodding off. We agreed that it would have to be slow and lazy sex, because neither of us had the energy for the hard ramming that is usually my preference.

Earlier that day, I’d been reading Deborah Sundahl’s book (yes, still – I’m a slow reader, okay?!) and she mentioned that it’s sometimes helpful for a man to concentrate on rubbing his coronal ridge over the G-spot with every thrust. I told this to my boyfriend and he accepted the challenge.

I was on my period, and feeling slightly self-conscious about my ladybits, so we skipped our usual foreplay and cut right to the chase. My man condom’ed and lubed his cock, I grabbed my Eroscillator (my clit’s best friend, and a perfect choice for those times when I’m too exhausted to rub myself during sex or just can’t be bothered), and we got down to business.

Normally my G-spot needs a good amount of prep and warm-up before it becomes sensitive enough to register pleasure, but as Ms. Sundahl predicted, my spot seems to gain sensitivity the more I use it and the more I focus on its sensations. So when my man slid into me, there was vaginal pleasure almost immediately.

Using a vibrating (or oscillating) toy during sex presents an advantage over using my hand, which is this: I don’t have to think when I’m Eroscillating my clit. I just have to turn it on and hold it there, and maybe increase the speed after a while. This makes it ideal for trying to induce internal orgasms because it allows me to focus all my attention on my G-spot.

And focus, I did. As the Eroscillator trembled faithfully against my clit, I directed all my awareness onto the feeling of my man’s cock sliding over my G-spot again and again (he is very, very good at locating my spot, and seems to only get better as time goes on). I was in another world; normally I’m mentally present enough to be aware of how I’m moving, the sounds I’m making, the way my boyfriend might be experiencing the interaction, but this time, the pleasure was so great and so deep that I didn’t notice any of that stuff. I probably looked like a total lunatic, but who cares?

After less than five minutes (very uncharacteristic for me when there’s no foreplay involved, and especially when I’m tired), I was suddenly hit with a super-strong, profound, internal, indescribable tidal wave of an orgasm. I let out a cry which my boyfriend later told me was loud enough to make him worry it’d wake the neighbors.

It was a different quality of orgasm than I’ve ever experienced before. Not only was it deeper and stronger, but it left me with a feeling of utter exhaustion and satisfaction that I only very rarely get from clitoral-only orgasms (after an hour-long cunnilingus session, for example). It was so all-consuming that I felt like I could barely move afterward. It was difficult to even sit up in bed for long enough to put my menstrual cup back in. And I fell asleep seemingly within seconds after lying back down.

We’re going to experiment more with this combination of techniques to see if it’s a reliable way to give me these splendiferous blended orgasms. I’m going to attempt to lower the amount of clitoral stimulation (for example, by keeping the Eroscillator on its lowest setting) so I’ll be forced to rely more and more on the G-spot stim to get off. I think this could be a very important step toward my eventual ability to get off with my G-spot alone. (And honestly, if that never fully happens, I won’t even care. Just let me have more of those glorious orgasms!)

Readers: If you can have G-spot orgasms, how did you first learn to do so? Any tips for a n00b like me? If you haven’t yet mastered your G-spot, what methods have you tried? What methods have you yet to try?

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Rub My Own Clit, Dammit!

I’ve understood, for as long as I can remember, that the clitoris is the main source of female sexual pleasure. There’s never been any doubt of this in my mind. I’ve been having clitoral orgasms since I was nine years old, and it’s only in the past few years that penetration has even been included in my masturbation at all. I completely understand, and have for a long time, that penetration, by itself, typically doesn’t do a whole lot for me.

However, despite all this, I still felt shitty and inadequate when I had heterosexual intercourse for the first time and got nothing out of it.

I think a lot of women probably react this way. Whether you’ve mastered your clit or never even heard of it, it can be a massive letdown to realize that this one sexual act, which our culture has placed on a giant pedestal, isn’t the ultimate bringer of pleasure. It sucks to think something’s going to blow your mind and then find it disappointing – not only because of that disappointment, but also because it makes you feel like there’s something wrong with you.

(Yes, I know there’s nothing wrong with me; I’m perfectly normal. I’m one of the 75% of women who can’t, as yet, orgasm from penetration alone. Didn’t stop me from feeling like a failure when I lost my hetero virginity.)

A few weeks after we first fucked, my boyfriend and I had a chat about our sexual goals. I had a bunch of random ones, comprising all kinds of stuff from butt plugs to back alleys, but my man had only one item on his sexual to-do list: he wanted me to reach orgasm while he was inside me. Not necessarily from his penis alone (he’s very clued-in and knows how unlikely that would be), but an orgasm nonetheless. And because he asked so sweetly, and wanted it so sincerely, I knew I had to figure out a way.

I did a bunch of research, came up with ideas, and made notes. I read about the Coital Alignment Technique and the anterior fornix. But eventually, I came to the conclusion that these fancy methods and positions were too complicated for us to tackle as beginners, and I would have to keep it simple. I would have to rub my own clit during sex.

The idea of that was intimidating. I didn’t want him to see my weird orgasmic faces up close, or to get annoyed at me for taking too long to come. But he seemed enthused about my suggestion, so we gave it a shot.

We determined that, because he takes far less time to reach orgasm than I do, we’d have to commit to lots of foreplay to get me super turned on, to help bridge that gap. He went down on me (my boyfriend is a self-professed “cunnilingus king”) until I could feel the stirrings of an orgasm building in my pelvis, and then, already hard and condom’ed, he slid into me.

I touched myself. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see him looking. I turned my head to the side so he couldn’t see my expressions. I focused really hard on the sensations in my clit, trying to ignore the distraction of his penis. And after several difficult but pleasurable minutes, I came. Hard.

Immediately, I burst out laughing and shouted, “We did it!” He laughed too, and held me for a few moments, both of us revelling, before continuing to fuck me.

Over the next few weeks, we practiced a lot more. It got to the point where his cock was no longer a distraction, but instead, an addition, an asset, a huge help.

To this day, this is still the method we use to ensure intercourse is satisfying for both of us, because we both find it fun and easy. It may not be as interesting as the C.A.T., but it works for us, and I don’t feel ashamed of it anymore.

I guess I wrote this for all those women who worry that it’s “weird” to touch themselves during sex – that it’s insulting to their partner, that it’ll look strange, that they shouldn’t have to add anything “extra” to sex. Because the thing is, our anatomy is built oddly, and many of us need that additional stimulation. If it feels tacked-on initially, give it time; it won’t be long before it starts to seem just as natural as a penis in a vagina.