Sex Terminology Everyone Should Know

A lot of terminology gets thrown around when talking about sex and it is awful being the person stuck in the dark wondering what the heck your friends are talking about. I’ve compiled an extensive list of sexual acts, body parts, sexual identities, etc. so you will never be confused again! Don’t forget, sex is a very personal topic so it is important to trust yourself and your partner. Remember, you never have to justify why you do or don’t want to do something. It’s your life. Learning these terms will help you be safe and smart about your decisions, and will definitely help you have a better sex life.

Clitoris — A bundle of nerve endings located on the vulva that has the sole function of giving sexual pleasure and orgasm to the woman.

Vulva — The female external genitals.

Erogenous zones — Areas of the body that respond to sexual stimulation. In episode 4.11 (“The One with Phoebe’s Uterus”) of Friends, Monica’s explains there are “SEVEN! SEVEN! SEVEN!” main erogenous zones. They are actually all over the body; some are just more sensitive than others.

G-spot — An area located on the front of the inner upper wall of the vagina that may (or may not) be highly erogenous.          

Hymen — A membrane at the entrance to a woman's vagina. This membrane can break or tear during first intercourse, using a tampon, while riding a bike or you can just be born without one. Often referred to as the “cherry."

Perineum — The area of skin between the genitals and the anus in both men and women.

Cunnilingus — Oral sex performed on a female.

Felatio — Oral sex performed on a male.

Annilingus — Oral stimulation of the anus.

Tribadism — A sexual practice where two females rub their genitals together for pleasure.

Sodomy — Oral sex or anal intercourse.

Foreplay — Sexual activities for arousal prior intercourse.

Orgasm — Sexual climax; characterized by strong feelings of pleasure and normally by ejaculation of semen by the male and by involuntary vaginal contractions in the female.

Swinging — A lifestyle of non-monogamy where sexual relations occur outside the established couple that are typically only for the purpose of sex and not for a romantic relation.

Impotence — A man's inability to achieve or maintain an erection.

Libido — The human sex drive.

Aphrodisiac — Certain foods, scents, music, drinks, and behaviors, which can increase or promote the desire to be sexual and/or sensual. Common items: chocolate, oysters, Channing Tatum.

Fetish — Attribution of sexual significance to a nonsexual material, object, action, or a part of the body, such as a foot.

Orgy — Sex involving many partners.

Sadomasochism (S/M or S&M) — Using pain (consensually) as a sexual stimulant.

BDSM — An umbrella term for Bondage and Discipline (BD), Dominance and Submission (DS), Sadism and Masochism (SM).

Dominance and Submission — A set of sexual behaviors, customs, and rituals where one person has control over the other. Fifty Shades of whips, clamps and anal beads.

Bondage — Physical restraint for sexual stimulation (consensually). Participants may use rope, chain, scarves, ties, pantyhose, leather straps, or other restraining devices.

Tantra — A broad range of principles and practices of sexual union between a man and a woman based on Eastern philosophies of spirituality. Sanskrit for "woven together."

Sexual identity — How a person thinks of himself or herself in terms of who he or she finds sexually and romantically attractive.

Asexual — A person who generally does not experience sexual attraction (or very little) to any group of people.

Bisexual — Sexual, romantic and/or physical attraction to both male and women

Pansexual — Sexual, romantic and/or physical attraction to people regardless of gender or sexual orientation. 

Cisgender — Denoting or relating to a person whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex.

Queer — Historically a derogatory term to identify LGBTQ people, but now used to represent people who identify with a sexual minority.

Questioning — The process of questioning one’s sexual identity.

Transgender — Someone who identifies as a gender other than what they were assigned at birth.

Transsexual — Person who transitions from one sex to another.

Transvestite — Person who dresses as the binary opposite gender expression (cross-dressing).

Go to Planned Parenthood or a health care professional to learn about all the types of birth control.

Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4