Recently, we had writers here at HC Hofstra anonymously submit all of their most pressing, candid questions about sex. Our answers came from Amy Baldwin, certified sex educator and one of the co-hosts of the podcast “Shameless Sex,” because sometimes a Google search just doesn’t cut it. This was her advice to us.
Q1: I’ve never orgasmed from sex or masturbation, and I feel like I just don’t know my body but I’m not sure how I can get to that point. I guess my question is what can I try in order to orgasm, and what if I can’t?
Amy: So, there’s a couple things you can do. First of all, we’re not really well educated on pleasure. It's 100% normal for someone to have no clue how to touch their body and it can be daunting. And, porn is not really always the best teacher on that either, but it’s a great first step for someone to learn what pleasure should sort of look like. It’s a good opportunity to start discovering yourself, and let your hands just kind of explore around your body without a goal in mind. You just want to see where you have sensations, or what feels good for you. And you have to also see what feels painful, what feels numb… and you can play around with different motions. You can also go to a website called omgyes.com that has instructional and tasteful videos on how to pleasure yourself externally, and they have many different proven techniques and methods you can try if you don’t know where to start. Another way is to purchase a sex toy, like a vibrator with multiple speeds. Start with the lowest speed and just go in without any expectations or goals and see what your body likes. It’s all about getting curious.
Q2: Is there such a thing as “too old” to be a virgin?
Amy: I don’t think so. I think society has an idea of what we should be at certain ages, and I don’t believe in all the shoulds and should nots unless we’re talking about consent. Sometimes still being a virgin isn’t out of choice, or some people choose to wait. I’ve met women who are in their thirties and have chosen to not have sex yet and they feel good about that, but some people just don’t have the opportunities that they maybe would’ve liked to have had. I think we live in a confusing society: we have a slut-shaming society and a virgin-shaming society, so it can be hard to figure out if you can place yourself in the middle. Don’t buy into the idea of what other people think you should be, there is really no norm for when people should or shouldn’t have had sex by.
Q3: My boyfriend wants to try anal but I’m high-key freaked out, any tips for first timers?
Amy: This is my favorite topic ever… I could talk about this for hours! First of all, don’t learn from porn, unless it’s educational porn, which does exist. Anything that is used anally needs to either be connected to a body or some sort of toy that has a base, so it has some sort of stopper. The key here is to go slow and listen to your body. You also have to know that, initially, it’s almost always uncomfortable, which is normal, but it should never be painful. Pain feels like a sharp or burning sensation, discomfort feels like pressure. Pressure is okay, and with time it should go away, but if you pain — stop, slow down, add more lube. With that, always use lube. Just make sure you start off really slow.
Q4: What do you do if you’re nervous to ask your partner for what you want in bed?
Amy: First of all, I’d say most people are nervous from time to time to ask for what they want, and I’d say there’s two different ways you can ask for what you want. One can be in the moment: say someone is doing something you don’t like. I want to give them feedback in a way that can guide them to touch me the way I would like. Sometimes you’ll just need to say “no” if you don’t like something… but most times you’ll want to say it in a gentle way. I like to start with some positive reinforcement, something that’s authentically good. Don’t BS them — don’t say “I love it!” if you don’t love it. When giving a critique, use the word “and” instead of “but.” For example, “I love it when you touch my (blank), and I would love it if you could do it this way,” and show them what you want. And second, if it’s going to be a more challenging conversation, maybe have it at a time when you’re not naked, when people are in good spirits and not in a rush.
Q5: ****TW: Sexual assault**** How do you have healthy communication surrounding trauma? I have tried in the past, and guys have been dismissive ("that sucks that happened, but now you just have to move on"), inconsiderate ("so how long will it be until you can have sex") or just couldn't deal and dipped. I feel like I'm never going to find a partner because I have way too much baggage.
Amy: This is tricky sometimes, because unfortunately, not everyone has both the skill and the comfort level to handle hearing about trauma. I think what it comes down to is, when we share something we’re going through, we’re often not looking to be “fixed,” we more so want to be seen and heard in a way that we can feel safe. The next time you share this with someone, let them know that sharing this information is challenging for you and let them know what you’re looking for. You can tell them you’re not looking for them to fix you, or for advice, you’re looking to share this information so that you can feel safe, because otherwise you feel like you’re holding on to a big part of yourself that you’re hiding. If someone won’t hear you out, that’s something to consider, because it’s probably important for you to be seen and heard in that. If they accept what you’re saying and are still trying to say fix-y things, like “Oh that’s too bad, time to move on,” then share with them that hearing that doesn’t feel good for you. If you don’t tell someone that doesn’t feel good, how are they going to learn not to do that if someone else shares trauma with them the next time? A lot of people aren’t educated on how to receive that information, and you could take this opportunity to do that.
Q6: How do I get over the fear and insecurity that I’m not good enough for my partner in bed?
Amy: That’s a big one! So, it’s valid to not feel good enough for your partner regardless of anything your partner said or did. We all have some sort of “too much-ness” or “not enough-ness” and that’s about worthiness. That comes from our past experiences, our childhood traumas, our parents, etc. That is a big piece of work that is your own work, it’s not someone else’s work to fix for you. Part of that work is starting to learn to take care of yourself. Figuring out what your old wounds are, what your old stories are that told you that you weren’t good enough… ask yourself where they came from, and are they even true? What did I need at that moment when I was told that and what did I really want to hear? You have to ask if you can give that to yourself now, and part of that might be with therapists, or other people who specialize in that kind of work because it can be hard to do on our own and it’s a deep piece of work. Worthiness is so big.
If a partner told you something that said, “Hey, you’re not good enough,” that’s a conversation to have with your partner. You have to share what that feels like for you when you hear that they want you to be more of this or less of that, and how that may even contribute to you holding back and hurts your connection and openness with them. Then, in return, tell them what you need from the conversation. You have to know that if someone says, “You’re not good enough,” that’s theirs. They have their own stuff that they have not worked on and they’re putting it on you, and that’s not yours to take on.