4 Things You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask

Despite the fact that Americans consider themselves forward thinking, mentions of sex and physical love in public are enough to turn our cheeks red. Let's not be ashamed any longer — inspired by HBO's upcoming documentary Americans In Bedlet's start asking the questions that we've been afraid to ask all this time. Let's also keep in mind the diversity of our sexual experiences, realizing that everyone, from the innocent virgin to the experienced adventurer, has his or her own set of questions. Our sex lives are essential to understanding our own happiness. These are a few questions that I've been afraid of asking about sex — but no longer!

1. How beneficial are sex toys to our sex lives?

Answer: Very! Sex toys are not only vital to increasing sexual pleasure, they are good for reproductive health as well. Vibrators and other toys help men with erectile dysfunction or reduced penis sensation. They help stimulate blood flow to women's reproductive organs and strengthen vaginal muscles. Those with decreased sexual desire have also found improvement in their sex lives through the use of such toys.

A few popular types of toys include:

-Rude Boy: Dual action male vibrator

-Rocker Chick: Female vibrator

-Fleshlights: Male sex toy to help control ejaculation

-Fun Factory Smart Balls: Strengthen vaginal muscles

2. What is BDSM and is there a difference between the letters?

Answer: To be clear, BDSM stands for four separate things — bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism. They suggest a different kind of sexual activity, one where there is an explicitly dominant and explicitly submissive partner. Their activities may include other props, such as whips, chains, and handcuffs, as well as role-playing.

Specifically, there are paired behaviors that all fall under the umbrella of BDSM: bondage & discipline, dominance & submission, and sadism & masochism. Bondage involves physical restraint and discipline involves psychological restraint. Meanwhile, dominance and submission are more self-explanatory, being considered the more mental part of BDSM.

What is important to note is that those engaged in BDSM often switch between being top (dominant) and bottom (submissive). 

3. Is Masturbation Normal?

Answer: Yes, yes, and yes! Masturbation is completely normal. In fact, more people do it than you think. It is even prescribed by sex therapists to help women experience an orgasm and help men experience a delay in its arrival.  

There are, in fact, benefits to masturbating. It helps relieve sexual frustration and tension and it is a safe alternative to those who are afraid of pregnancy or STDs. As long as masturbation does not inhibit sex life, is not done in a public place, or cause distress, it is a safe and healthy way to express sexual feelings.

The reason it has been frowned upon for so long is because in certain religions, it can be considered unacceptable or sinful. This can lead to guilty feelings about masturbation.

4. Why is it so hard for females to orgasm?

Answer: The orgasm in the female body occurs after nerve and muscle tension builds up in the reproductive areas of the body. While it sounds and feels delightful, only 25% of women always climax during intercourse with their partners. Why is that number so shockingly low?  Evolutionary biologists at first thought it had something to do with reproduction, but because women can get pregnant with or without climaxing, but no one is quite sure. 

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Anjana Sreedhar

Anjana is a passionate NYU student studying International Relations and Gender and Sexuality. She is also a PolicyMic writing intern who enjoys following the news and hopes to work in international development, particularly improving reproductive health of women and girls. When not studying, working, or researching, you'll find her editing for the NYU Journal of Politics and International Affairs, writing for NYU Generasian and Washington Square News, or watching Downton Abbey with a cup of masala chai.

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