Pleasure and Sex Positivity

Sexual health isn’t just about infection and pregnancy prevention—it’s also about pleasure! Everyone has the right to have pleasurable and enjoyable sexual experiences, whatever that looks like to you. Pleasure can be experienced alone or with a partner.

What Do You Like?

In order to help your partner understand what you like, you must first know what you like. The best way to do that is through self-exploration, including masturbation. Masturbation is healthy and natural. In a recent survey, 91.8% of men and 78.2% of women reported masturbating in their lifetime, with 64% of men and almost 41% of women reporting that they masturbated in the last month. You can explore your body with your hands, fingers, or even a sex toy to find out what feels good to you. In the same survey, 24% of women age 18-24 reported using a vibrator or dildo in the last year; 11.3% of men in the same age group reported using a vibrator or dildo. Using sex toys is more common than you might think and is totally healthy!

Pleasure and Safer Sex—You Can Have Both!

Pleasure and safer sex are not mutually exclusive—you can have both! Communication and consent are two important aspects of pleasurable sexual activity. Consent ensures that everyone involved knows what they’ll be doing and that both people are on the same page. Make sure you get consent before any type of sexual activity, especially if it’s something that you and your partner haven’t done before.

Here are some tips to making safer sex more pleasurable:

Using lubricant not only makes sexual activity more pleasurable, it also reduces the risk of condom breakage. Try adding a little bit of water-based lubricant, even if you don’t think you need it. You might find that the activity is more enjoyable. Lubricant is a must for any anal activities, as the body doesn’t naturally produce lubricant in the rectum.

A note about using lubricant for people with a vagina: adding lubricant doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your body, or that your partner isn’t doing a good job. There are things that could impact the vagina’s ability to produce lubrication, including stress and certain medications. Plus, engaging in sexual activity for a long period of time could cause dryness or tenderness. Adding water-based lubricant makes things feel better for both partners.

 

Put 1-2 small drops of lubricant inside an external condom before putting it on the penis. This could make things feel more pleasurable and might feel like the condom isn’t even on.

 

If your partner has a penis and uses external condoms, you could try putting the condom on the penis to increase pleasure. Check out this resource for steps for putting on a condom.

 

Internal condoms may be more pleasurable than external condoms since they are worn inside the body and are not as tight on the penis. Adding a little more lubricant to the inside and outside of an internal condom could increase pleasure even more. Plus, the outer ring might stimulate the clitoris and the inner ring could provide vaginal stimulation.

 

Try using a sex toy—either alone or with a partner. Maybe you don’t want to engage in sexual activity that could put you at risk for STIs or pregnancy; using a sex toy is a way to be sexual with a partner and practice safer sex. You could use a sex toy and your partner watches, or maybe your partner uses the toy with/on you. If you share sex toys with your partner, make sure you use a condom to reduce the risk for STI transmission.

 

Try mutual masturbation. Similar to using sex toys, this activity means that bodily fluids aren’t being swapped and there’s no skin-to-skin contact, meaning the risk of STI transmission is lower. With mutual masturbation, partners masturbate in front of each other or at the same time laying close to each other. Mutual masturbation could also allow you to see how your partner likes to touch themself so you’ll know what turns them on.

It’s important to note that while having an orgasm might feel really good, it is possible to have pleasurable sex without having an orgasm. Making orgasm the goal might actually make it more difficult to have one! Focus more on the journey than the destination to fully enjoy sexual activity.

Sex Toys

There are many types sex toys available for many different activities. They don’t all vibrate or require batteries, they can be used alone or with a partner, they can be used during foreplay or during other types of sexual activity, they range in price, and they are part of harm reduction. Using a sex toy with a partner is another way to make sexual activity more pleasurable–—it doesn’t mean that your partner isn’t skilled or isn’t good at pleasing you. It’s just another tool to mix things up and increase enjoyment. Here are a few main categories of sex toys for beginners:

  • Foreplay toys. These can be used during foreplay or even on their own as part of sexual activity. These could include things like handcuffs, massage oils, blindfolds, or feathers.
  • Clitoral vibrators. Clitoral vibrators are used to stimulate the clitoris, which is jam-packed with nerve endings. In fact, most people with a vagina are only able to orgasm through clitoral stimulation. These vibrators can be used alone or with a partner.
  • Vaginal vibrators. These are used in the vagina and vibrate. Sometimes, a vaginal vibrator and a clitoral vibrator are combined into a “dual-action” toy.
  • Dildos. These do not vibrate and are usually waterproof. They could be glass, plastic, or a jelly material. Dildos can be inserted into the vagina or anus.
  • Penis rings. These are worn on the penis during sexual activity. Some may have a small vibrator or other piece that provides clitoral stimulation. They are designed to fit snugly on the penis, so make sure you find one that isn’t too tight. Penis rings should be used with lubricant for maximum pleasure.
  • Penis sleeves. You might consider these to be a masturbation sleeve for people with a penis. They are often a flexible jelly or rubber material and should be used with lubricant.
  • Anal toys. These come in many shapes, sizes, and styles. Some may vibrate, some may not. Make sure the toy has a wide base so it does not get pulled into the rectum—that could require medical attention to remove. It is recommended to use a lubricant with any anal toys.

Regardless of the type of toy you use, make sure you talk to your partner first to make sure they’re interested. To really ramp up the pleasure factor, you could go shopping with your partner to find something you want to use together. Experiment with yourself and with your partner to see what you might like. The key is consent and communication—if you’re going to try something new with your partner, make sure you communicate your ideas and get consent.