LIFESTYLE

'How Do I Have An Orgasm During Intercourse?' And Nine Other Common Questions About Sex Answered

09/04/2015 09:01 BST | Updated 09/04/2015 09:59 BST

Even if you've got an amazing sex life, you're probably interested to know what everyone else is up to in the bedroom and how you can make your own experience even better.

Despite this, most of us can be a little coy when discussing sex with other people.

That's where sex educators like Emily Nagoski come in.

In her new book Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, Nagoski says most questions she receives around sex stem from three main concerns: Am I normal, am I okay, and will I be okay?

Thankfully the resounding answer she gives to all three is YES.

Of course, she says, people hardly ever just ask these questions outright.

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Here, Nagoski tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle the answers to the 10 most common questions people ask about sex:

The Questions About Sexual Response:

1. How do I have an orgasm during intercourse?

Less than a third of women are reliably orgasming from penetration alone. The remaining 70% are sometimes, rarely, or never orgasmic from intercourse alone.

The reason for this is pretty simple: intercourse is not an effective way to stimulate the clitoris, and clitoral stimulation is the most common way that women orgasm.

That means the simplest way to orgasm during intercourse is to add clitoral stimulation.

Your hand, your partner’s hand, a vibrator, rubbing your pubic bones together, whatever.

2. How often am I supposed to want sex?

As often as the context of your life supports – so your desire will change as your context changes.

And that’s a good thing. Think how inconvenient that would be, if you wanted to same amount of sex when you’re single as when you’re partnered, when you’re staying with your maiden aunt as when you’re cozily at home?

Desire is – and needs to be – dependent on context. It’s not always convenient, showing up at times that you don’t want it, and it’s not always obedient, failing to show up at times you do want it.

But a great place to start is to take an inventory of which contexts create desire in you and which squelch it. It will naturally fluctuate over the course of your day, your week, your life.

There is no “supposed” to, there just… is what it is.

3. Is my penis doing it right? Subquestions: does size matter? (Nah.) Why can’t I get an erection and/or how do I delay ejaculation?

The sexual response mechanism in the brain consists of two parts: the Sexual Excitation System (SES), which responds to sexual stimuli and sends the “turn on” signal, and the Sexual Inhibition System (SIS), which responds to potential threats and sends the “turn off” signal – you can think of them as the sexual accelerator and the sexual brakes.

This means that the process of becoming aroused is both the process of turning on the ons and the process of turning off the offs.

Erection and ejaculation difficulties are caused by an imbalance of these two processes.

Erection difficulties are about too much brake, usually, so figure out what’s hitting the brake (it’s often performance anxiety – ironically the more you want and try to have an erection, the less likely it is).

Premature ejaculation is effectively treated by the stop-start method – get aroused, back off, get aroused, back off, over and over, to get to know the landscape of your arousal, so that you can recognise when you’re close to orgasm and take pressure off the accelerator and/or tap the brakes, to stop from going past the “point of no return.”

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4. I liked it when my partner touched me a certain way yesterday, but I didn’t like it today. What the hell?

Pleasure, like desire, depends on context.

Like tickling - if you’re feeling flirty and sexy and your partner tickles you, that would, at least in theory, feel fun and sexy.

But if you’re feeling annoyed and pissy with your partner and they try to tickle you, how does that feel? Stabby, right? Like you want to punch them in the face.

Pleasure depends at least as much on the context in which you receive a sensation, as it does on the nature of the sensation itself. So if something felt good (or not) yesterday, that doesn’t mean it will feel good (or not) today. That’s normal.

The Questions About Sexual Interests:

5. Why does pain sometimes feel sexy and good?

See question 4.

6. Why did 50 Shades of Grey sell so well?

Because of the arbitrariness of market dynamics and its ability to deliver the most basic fantasy anyone has: feeling wanted and cared for.

I mean, who wouldn’t want an attractive billionaire to sweep them off their feet, buy them cool stuff, protect them from danger, and want them so much they can’t think straight?

All the other stuff was just window dressing for feeling wanted and cared for.

Some people liked that window dressing, others did not. People vary. But we all like to feel wanted and cared for.

7. Why do I fantasise about things I don’t want to do in real life?

Because the context of fantasising about something – lying safety in your bed, alone, with the door closed and your hand down your pants as you imagine being cornered, held down, and licked by five unknown but beautiful men, say – is an entirely different context from being actually cornered, held down, and licked by five unknown men, no matter how beautiful they may be.

And The Questions That Science Can Never Fully Answer...

8. Why does the world insist that my body has to a particular size or shape before I’m allowed to experience sexual pleasure, before I’m allowed to be loved, before I’m allowed to be included fully as part of the human race?

9. Why did my family turn away from me, why do strangers shame me and beat me, just because I fall in love with a different kind of person than they expected me to love?

10. Why did my partner use sex against me as a weapon?

Why didn’t he stop when I said no? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

There’s science about these questions, theories, evidence… but in my heart, I don’t know why we, as a species, are so quick to shame and humiliate and hate others because of their bodies and what they do with them.

I don't know why we are still using sex as a weapon against each other or why we do not reach first for compassion when we encounter differences.

But, under even these impossible-to-answer questions lies the same deeper questions as all the others:

Am I normal? Am I okay? Will I be okay?

And the answer is: Yes.

You are normal - it’s normal to struggle when you’ve been confronted by shame, rejection, and violence.

You are okay - if you’re well enough to ask the question, you’re well enough to listen for the quiet voice inside you that’s telling you that the core of you is intact, whole, and healthy.

You will be okay - every day I meet people who are healing, who have healed, from the kind of violence, shame, and trauma that the world inflicts on us.

Every day I am inspired by the resilience, the strength, the raw capacity for survivorship that lives in human bodies, side by side with our capacity for love, for pleasure, for joy, and side by side with our capacity to judge and humiliate.

Come As You Are is published on 9 April by Scribe. Order your copy now.

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