We’re Rigo and Sara, two of SHAPE’s most enthusiastic members, here to answer your questions about sex. We aim to create a space for students to learn and become more comfortable talking about sex by allowing you to submit questions without your names or email addresses attached. We believe there’s no wrong way to have sex; nobody should be judged on their sexual lifestyle, but everyone should consider being safe towards one’s self and one’s partner. So ask us anything!
I’m a guy; is it okay if my boyfriend and I have sex without a condom? We were both virgins and know the other is clean, so is there any reason to wear it?
Rigo: I suggest that before the two of you have unprotected sex with each other you both go and get yourselves tested for gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. If you and your partner are both virgins and can trust each other, then getting tested together should not be too much to ask for. If for some reason it is a problem, it may be because your partner isn’t being completely honest with you. As Gregory House will tell you, “everybody lies.”
Sara: No one ever wants to believe someone important has lied to them, but like Rigo said, why take the chance? Even if your partner has been truthful, it’s important to remember that STIs can be spread through oral sex or even sex toys.
And even if your tests come back clean, you still have to take into account incubation periods. For example, an HIV test will only confirm that you were HIV-free six months ago. And, as one final note, the only thing worse than hearing that your partner’s cheated on you is hearing that you might also have herpes. Putting on a condom doesn’t say, “I don’t trust you,” it says “I want to protect us.” Relationships can be hard enough — you’re already putting your heart on the line, so why put your body on the line as well?
Rigo: There’s also the issue with Phthalates, which are esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity), in sex toys. Possible health concerns that come up with exposure to Phthalates include trouble breathing, asthma and a decrease in anogenital distance (the distance between the anus and the base of the genitals) in males. Obviously these are pretty serious concerns which is why the U.S. has made it illegal to have certain Phthalates in children’s toys and is currently aiming to phase them out in other products with plastic in them. If you are using sex toys, you might also consider either strapping a rubber on your toy or buying toys without Phthalates in them, for example, those that are 100% Silicone.
How can a man understand the feeling of a woman’s orgasm?
Sara: Obviously, there’s no scientific way to compare the feeling of men’s and women’s orgasms, other than having people write down what it feels like. We do know, however, that there’s a surprising number of similarities between the orgasms men have and the orgasms women have. For example, both men and women can experience ejaculation. In women, this fluid most comes through the urethra and probably isn’t urine (though scientists can’t figure out what it actually is). Many women who experience ejaculation find it to be more satisfying than other orgasms, most men would agree.
Similarly, men and women agree that there’s a difference between having an orgasm when they masturbate and having an orgasm with a partner. Many women also report differences when they orgasm from intercourse as opposed to oral sex or mutual masturbation. Men and women also have a number of small areas around their genitals that are extra sensitive to touch.
Rigo: As Sara mentioned above, there are some similarities between a man’s and woman’s orgasm. On the other hand, both genders can also experience obstacles to reaching their “O.” Something that comes to mind is the difficulty women have in orgasming.
These problems are caused by:
- Emotional trauma or sexual or physical abuse: There is no doubt that women with a history of abuse are at greater risk for all sorts of emotional and physical problems — especially depression and anxiety — that can ruin their sex lives. For some, the feelings manifest in an inability to be present or connected while making love. Other women report being on the verge of orgasm and then hitting a wall.
- Medications and surgery: Excessive amounts of alcohol, drugs that reduce blood pressure and anti-anxiety drugs can delay or impede orgasm. Severed pelvic nerves as a result of surgery can inhibit the engorgement of the genitals — a precondition for building to a climax.
- Inadequate Sex: You simply can’t talk about orgasm without mentioning sexual techniques. Making love is not something we are born knowing; we have to learn how to give and receive sexual stimulation and satisfaction. Due to cultural, religious and personal reasons some women are uncomfortable discussing and exploring the sexual techniques that might bring on or intensify an orgasm.
- Pelvic floor prolapse: This condition occurs with the loosening of the muscles that support internal pelvic organs. Prolapse can result from childbirth, aging, surgery and spinal cord injury. Women suffering from prolapse often experience an urge to urinate and complain of pressure in the vagina or rectum.
What a lot of people do not know is that for many men out there having an orgasm (or enjoying one) is difficult.
This usually occurs because of three reasons:
- Early ejaculation occurs when a man ejaculates before any sexual stimulation is applied to the penis.
- Delayed ejaculation affects a much smaller number of men. This is when men cannot ejaculate for long periods of time or, in some cases, at all.
- Retrograde ejaculation is the least common of the ejaculation problems. Semen backs into the bladder during orgasms instead of exiting by way of the penis. The semen is later flushed out when the man urinates.
These problems are often caused by emotional or physical discomfort, but very little is actually understood about them.
As for understanding the orgasm of another gender, I can’t say that there’s ever going to be a time when men and women can understand the feeling of each other’s orgasms because it’s difficult to comprehend without the actual experience. But what I can do is ask everyone out there to just ask their partner. Not too long ago Sara and I asked you to explain what an orgasm felt like to you. How about asking your partner to do the same? Having a conversation with your partner about what his/her orgasm is like seems to be the best way to comprehend what it’s like for your partner when the two of you are knocking boots.
Editor’s note: The link in the story has been fixed. Thanks to commenter Wow… for catching the glitch. Though, for your enjoyment, here’s what it directed to originally. It may take a few imaginative leaps to get from orgasms to King Tut. Or maybe fewer than you’d think.