How to have sex 101

Sex is a massive topic, so this article covers the most basic level of sex, what it is and how to learn the arts of the sought-after lover. This is for male-female sex that includes one penis and one vagina.

Consent: without being weird about it, you must make sure that the person you are having sex with has said an enthusiastic “Yes!” to sex, otherwise don’t do it.

Learn about how to tell if someone wants to have sex with you here. 

First things first. Do you want to be a good lover?

  1. Communication is the key to being a good lover. Talk about what feels good and what feels weird. You’ll both get more good stuff then!
  2. Say nice sexy things, often. It’s important.
  3. Try to make each other come, but don’t feel bad if you don’t. Take it as a natural part of learning.

Actually doing it

1. Fooling around, getting horny

  • Fooling around is kissing, touching, dry humping, using toys, tongues or fingers to make each other feel good.
  • It doesn’t have to end up with penis-in-vagina sex, but it can if the fooling around leads that way.
  • It can also lead to orgasm in its own right, or no orgasm at all.
  • The point of fooling around is to make each other feel good.
  • If one of you isn’t horny, stop. Talk.

1.1. How to tell when a woman is horny

  • She will tell you.
  • She will make it obvious by asking you touch her (verbally or non-verbally).
  • If you are engaging in fooling around, she will push her pelvis against you and maybe rub up against you.
  • There may be wetness in her panties.
  • Her nipples may be erect, but not always – this can be temperature dependent
  • Her breathing may get heavier, she may pant.
  • She moans

1.2. How to tell when a man is horny

  • He will tell you.
  • He will make it obvious by inviting you to touch him (verbally or non-verbally).
  • If you are fooling around, you may feel his erection rubbing on you.
  • His breathing may get heavier, and he may pant.
  • He moans.

3. Penis-in-vagina sex

  • You can only have sex once both of you are really turned on and the vagina is wet and the penis is fully erect.
  • The vagina can be wet using good-quality lube, a lot of saliva, or natural vaginal juices. If you are using condoms, you will need lube.
  • When having any sex with a woman, you must make sure her clitoris – the equivalent to the head of the man’s penis is stimulated at all times, even if you are doing it from behind.

Important: Keep it wet at all times

Penis-in-vagina sex positions

Missionary –

This is where the woman is lying on her back on a bed or other comfortable surface, and the man lies between her legs, face to face, and slides his penis into her vagina.

He may need to rest on his elbows so his full weight isn’t on the woman, since he could be quite heavy. They both move their hips back and forwards and the penis slides – a lot or a little – in and out of the vagina.

This position requires that the woman’s clitoris is stimulated, usually with the man’s pubic mound and hair, or stomach – ladies, it’s your job to figure out how this is going to work.

Keep in mind that many women actually can’t orgasm through penetrative sex alone, so although it might be nice, it may not be the position she loves the most. Make sure your pubes and pubic mound are stimulating her clitoris.

Woman on top

The man lies down on his back, and the woman straddles him, with his hard penis inside her wet vagina.

This way she gets to grind her clitoris on his body with every movement, or she can stimulate it with her hand, and she can control how deep the penis goes.

Make sure that there is lubrication – natural or from a bottle – on the clitoris and inside the vagina. The penis can go in quite deep, or shallow – figure out what feels best as a couple.

Doggy style (from behind)

This involves the woman on her hands and knees, with the man penetrating her vagina with his penis from a kneeling or standing position behind her.

He or she needs to stimulate her clitoris with one of his hands, even though it may be distracting because if this doesn’t happen, she has very little chance of orgasming.

Many women say this is their favourite position, because of where the penis stimulates the inside of her vagina and the depth the penis can reach, but this will depend entirely on the anatomical sizes and shapes of both partners’ bodies.

Men often ejaculate quite quickly from this position – you have been warned!

Birth control

If you are having sex, you need to be concerned about birth control, and have it arranged before having any penis-in-vagina sex.

You aren’t just worried about sexually transmitted diseases, but also unwanted pregnancy, and the resultant baby or abortions and stress. Read about the things that can go wrong during sex here

4. Sex tips and tricks

  1. Always always always make sure the vagina and clitoris is sufficiently lubricated. Dryness is a rookie mistake. Never ever touch a woman’s vagina with a dry finger or penis – use saliva or lube.
  2. Don’t head straight for her vagina. Guys can be really dick-focused, but women are whole-body focused. Guys can make the mistake of touching a woman like they would touch themselves, which is hard and fast. Don’t do this to your lady friend. Be slow and gentle unless she demands otherwise.
  3. Try different angles, getting feedback all the time. The shape and size of your penis, and the shape and size of her vagina, are going to be a unique pairing. The internal organs of women are all in slightly different places too, so in some women the cervix might be slightly tilted backwards, or sideways, making the positions she prefers different.
  4. Swap it up – go from penetration to oral sex, and back again. You don’t have to keep doing the same thing.
  5. If you feel confused about whether something feels good for your lover, ask.
  6. If something hurts, stop and try something else. Take a break if you need to.
  7. See if you can both identify where the g-spot is supposed to be.
  8. Be passionate – perfunctory sex is not very fun, so get creative, moan, touch, kiss, lick. Get amongst it. The more you enjoy yourself, the more your lover will enjoy themselves, and the more they get out of it, the more you get out of it… and so it goes. If you are having soundless stiff sex, it’s time to let loose. Try something different. Laugh a bit more.
  9. Everyone does it a bit differently, and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
  10. Always leave a lover better off than you found them by teaching them something about sex. If you have a new lover who isn’t very experienced, or who is doing something funny, teach them. Don’t just leave them and let them continue to the next person without saying something. We all need help to improve – be kind and teach every lover something new they can take with them to their next relationship.
  11. Relax. Sex is supposed to be fun! Laugh with each other, and when things go wrong, acknowledge it and move on.

5. First-time sex

If you are having sex for the first time, it can be difficult to know what to expect. Learn how to test the waters and actually insert the penis into the vagina without hurting your partner.

If you have any questions, ask Aunt Vadge – she knows everything.

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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)