Our girlfriends are a haven whenever it comes to dissecting new hookups and guy dramas – but rarely do we discuss serious sex stuff: things like orgasms, STIs and lagging libidos. Here, we’ve consulted the experts on the biggest sex dramas finding their way into our bedrooms.
“I had a one-night stand – and now I’m convinced I’ve caught an STI”
You’re definitely not alone here: a study by the University of Western Sydney found that 64 per cent of young Aussies surveyed have engaged in casual sex.
Beyond the walk of shame, you do have cause for concern: STIs are on the rise. In 2010 there were 74,305 new cases of chlamydia, while gonorrhoea was up 25 percent the same year.
Book an appointment with a GP, family planning clinic or gynaecologist as soon as possible. “There are urine, blood or vaginal swab tests available, so choose what you’re most comfortable with,” says gynaecologist and fertility specialist Dr Marcela Martin. “Don’t wait until you have symptoms because often there won’t be any. You don’t want to affect your fertility – infections can travel up the uterus and block the fallopian tubes.”
Trichomonas, herpes, HIV and hepatitis B should be on the list of what you’re tested for.
And don’t forget to stop by your pharmacy to pick up the morning-after pill. Available without a script, it should prevent any unwanted pregnancy that might result from your dalliance. It’s most effective if taken within 24 hours.
I’m not down with having guys go down”
“A lot of women don’t like receiving oral sex,” says tantra teacher, sex therapist and relationship coach Jacqueline Hellyer. “Most are self-conscious – but men think vaginas are beautiful.” She suggests overcoming fears by getting to know your genitals: “How can your partner pleasure you if you don’t know what’s down there yourself?”
It’s also common for women to not like giving oral. “In this age of porn, there’s a pressure to have amazing techniques down-pat,” Hellyer says. “The secret is feeling so connected and in-the-moment that you want to do this for him.” Communication is key. Talk about it beforehand, then give and take direction once you’re down there. My vagina hurts when I have sex”
According to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, up to 60 percent of women have experienced pain during intercourse. Most often, lack of lubrication is the cause. Counter this with lots of foreplay and a water-based lubricant. Be mindful that some medications (such as cold and flu pills, antihistamines and antidepressants) can also affect lubrication.
Otherwise, pain can be caused by a pelvic, bladder or urinary tract infection, vaginitis or thrush. “These infections [coupled with sex] can cause little tears in the vagina, which is where the pain comes from,” says Dr Martin, so book in to see your GP. Worst-case scenario, pain during sex may be due to issues in your uterus, in which case medical help is essential.
“I’m 30 years old and still a virgin”
“It’s not unusual for a woman to be in her thirties and have limited or no sexual experience,” says Serena Cauchi, a clinical psychologist who specialises in sexual issues. “Unfortunately, some of these women feel stigmatised due to peer pressure, messages about sex from the media, and social expectations.”
If you’re waiting because of moral, religious or cultural reasons, all power to you. For women who simply haven’t found the right partner, Cauchi says it’s normal to be anxious: “Some women feel panicked about their chances of meeting a partner, having a sexual relationship or having time to start a family.” She advises talking to someone – possibly a close friend or relative.
If your intimacy issues stem from something more serious (like a history of trauma, negative body image, or a past frightening sexual encounter), it’s best to seek help from a psychologist. “My libido has gone AWOL”
According to the Australian Study of Health and Relationships, 55 percent of women have experienced a lack of interest in sex.
“A woman’s sexual desire is completely different to a man’s,” says Hellyer. “Male desire is like fire – it comes on quickly and burns brightly – whereas a woman’s sexual energy is more like water, in that it slowly heats up,” she continues. “Because women are having sex too often when they’re not properly warmed, they conclude they’re not into it.”
Hellyer suggests creating erotic tension between you and your partner. “Be sexy with each other, spend time together, feel connected,” she says. You can also increase your sex drive with a better diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep and some vitamin supplements. “Help! I’ve never had an orgasm”
Between 10 and 15 percent of women never climax. A further 75 percent of women never climax through intercourse alone. “This is the result of women not giving themselves enough time for foreplay,” says Hellyer. “To maximise your chance of an O, abstain from him entering you until you really want it. Spend time kissing and touching each other until you can’t take it any more. Otherwise, it can take forever – or it just doesn’t happen.” Experimenting in your own time (ie masturbating) can also help, because once you’ve orgasmed on your own it will be easier to guide him. And relax! “Allow yourself to let go and make sure you persevere,” continues Hellyer. “It is harder for women to reach orgasm, but we can have a much stronger and more intense orgasm than men.”