If there's one thing humans are confused about, it's sex. While we could discuss the topic with doctors, friends, teachers and — most importantly — our partners, the truth is most of us don't. Instead, we leave our most intimate late-night musings to that colorful, omnipotent oracle: Google.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 35% of Americans have gone online to figure out a medical condition. And a 2011 survey found that 89% of young people turn to the Internet for most of their sexual health information.
The issue is those search results aren't always most accurate. (See: any Yahoo! Answers forum.) But the questions, no matter how elementary or specific, are worth asking. So Mic tapped Debby Herbenick, an associate professor at Indiana University and author of The Coregasm Workout, and sex educators Kait Scalisi and Kate McCombs to help answer some of the common questions we might be too embarrassed (but shouldn't be!) to ask anyone except Google.
Finally, no need to keep clearing your browser history. You're welcome.
There's been appropriately vigorous debate over the existence and exact location of the famous G-spot ever since gynecologist Ernst Grafenberg "discovered" it in 1950, a debate that hinges on whether women can orgasm from penetration alone, aside from clitoral stimulation. But no matter how it's qualified, the "spot" comes down to stimulation of the anterior vaginal wall, something that's been proven pleasurable.
"The G-spot is a nexus of tissues deep inside the front wall of the vagina, about two to three inches from the entrance," McCombs told Mic. "The classic G-spot-finding move is to curve your index and middle finger into the 'come hither' motion and use it to stimulate the front wall with that motion. Most G-spots require a deeper, massage-like pressure to feel good. Think the kind of pressure that would feel good for a shoulder massage."
"Not everyone feels lubricated when they feel aroused or turned on!" Herbenick told Mic. "For some people with vaginas, it takes time (at least 10-15 minutes) for vaginal lubrication to kick into gear. The vagina might feel more dry if you've just taken a warm shower or bath, or if you're taking antihistamines for allergies or other reasons, or if you're on hormonal birth control (most are low-dose estrogen versions, which is thought to contribute to lower vaginal lubrication)."
If you're feeling turned on but just need some more wetness, then "try adding water-based lubricant to sex," Herbenick said.
Because the anus lacks the lubrication of the vagina and has skin more susceptible to infection, not being prepared for anal penetration can increase your risk of tearing, bleeding or STI transmission. But, McCombs said, "when done properly, anal sex should not hurt. Best-practice anal sex should involve lots of communication and consent, plenty of lube and generous amounts of warm up."
"If anal sex hurts, stop, tell your partner what you're feeling, and reevaluate the current strategy," she said.
"Remember that you can withdraw your consent at any time. Just because you agreed to do something sexually at one point, does not mean you have to continue doing it."
Why so fast? Some of the possible reasons are psychological. "The most common causes of early ejaculation are related to stress or anxiety. Sometimes it's caused by feelings of sexual guilt that make someone rush through the sex they're having," McCombs said. Sometimes, people develop the habit because "when they're young, they don't have the privacy necessary for long, luxurious masturbation sessions; a parent, sibling, or roommate could interrupt at any time."
Premature ejaculation may also be caused by erectile dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, thyroid problems or other medical issues, according to the Mayo Clinic. Only a doctor can clarify that for you, not a search engine. But don't freak out before the appointment; there are definitely ways to address the issue.
This question is a frequent one, Herbenick said, and there isn't one easy solution.
"One of the most common strategies is called the 'stop-start technique' and is something men can practice during masturbation," she advised. "You start by stimulating your penis and building arousal. Just before the point of no return — when you will come no matter what — stop stimulating your penis and allow the arousal to subside a little. Then start stimulation again and repeat the cycle."
Importantly, Herbenick noted, "It won't be perfect all the time. Sometimes you'll come more quickly than you'd like, but if you and your partner are good at communicating and treating each other like normal human beings whose bodies sometimes do quirky things, then you won't get too frustrated or blame each other for coming too quickly or not at all."
"Alcohol changes the way your brain and nervous system process information," Herbenick said. Too many beers slowing down your speech? The same thing can happen to a penis.
"Having too much alcohol can impair the sensations your penis receives and how these sensations are processed in the brain. Being drunk can also distract you in other ways, like making you feel like you have to throw up or making you feel worried about maintaining your erection, and those distractions can also add to the difficulty in ejaculating," Herbenick said.
Studies have shown that excessive alcohol use can contribute to sexual dysfunction in men. "One or two drinks isn't an issue for most people, but a lifetime of drinking lots of alcohol is linked with erectile and some ejaculatory difficulties, so it's wise to go easy on the alcohol and find a middle ground," Herbenick said. A few beers every so often shouldn't be cause for concern.
"The general consensus (mostly based on anecdotal reports and common sense about the vagina and sex) is that the vaginal fart, queefing, sound comes from air being pushed out of the vagina," Herbenick said. "Often, this seems to happen during heavy thrusting."
Queefs are also likely to happen because the vagina expands when a woman is turned on, making it easier for air to get inside her, as Planned Parenthood notes on Tumblr.
"However, some women can queef during certain exercises," Herbenick said. "We don't know whether it's more or less common with age or vaginal tone, but one thing is clear: It's common, normal, nothing to be embarrassed out, and just one of the many very human things that happens during sex."
This is a perfectly normal sensation for women that may indicate your partner's penis, finger or a toy is putting pressure on the bladder. Otherwise...
"Congratulations: You've found your G-spot!" Scalisi told Mic. That spot on the vaginal wall that some women find pleasurable? "This location is also right next to your bladder. When stimulated, the tissue that makes up the G-spot actually expands and presses against the bladder, giving you the sensation that you have to pee," Scalisi said.
"Every vagina has its own unique scent, which can range from sweeter to tangier to muskier. The scent may change throughout your menstrual cycle and even depending on what you eat," Scalisi said.
If you're uncomfortable with the smell or you've noticed a sudden change, check in with your doctor. A variety of vaginal infections, including bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections, could be the problem, but many are easily treated.
Don't worry about using special scented products — especially because they can actually cause irritation themselves. "When it comes to cleaning your vagina, the best way is to simply use warm water," Scalisi said. "If you have a removable shower head, this is a great and maybe even pleasurable way to clean down below."
"During intercourse, the bacteria that's present in the gastrointestinal tract ([like] E. coli) can find its way into your urethra, even if you use a condom," McCombs explained. "Peeing after intercourse helps flush the bacteria out of the urethra."
If you don't pee right after sex, you can risk getting a urinary tract infection, which about 1 in 5 women experience some time in their lives, according to Planned Parenthood. "Urinary tract infections are especially common for people with vaginas because of the relatively short distance between the urethral opening and the anus," McCombs said. "The shorter the urethra, the higher the UTI risk." Basically, it's never a bad idea to pee.
In case you didn't catch this season of Girls, Scalisi spelled it out: "Rim jobs, or rimming, is when someone licks in or around the anal opening. Many people have hygiene concerns about this sex act, but it is generally safe." Things that making rimming not so safe? If your partner has any diseases or has recently had a stomach bug.
"That being said, you can get an STI from rimming, so using a barrier method such as a dental dam or plastic wrap (yes, plastic wrap!) is recommended. Lastly, if you're worried about cleanliness, have the person receiving the rim job shower before sexy time and avoid going from licking the booty to licking the vagina," Scalisi said.
Some things just make sense.