Monday, February 6, 2012

WebMD - 7 Sex Mistakes Men Make

I was skeptical when I opened this link from Google Reader, but it's actually a very useful article with some good wisdom and advice. This is directed at hetero men who sleep with women - so a whole bunch of people are left out, but there's probably an article for that.

I don't think too many of my visitors are easily offended, but if straight talk about sex bothers you, this is not the article you want to read (and by the way, NOT talking about sex is mistake #2).

If there is something you think they missed, please leave a comment with your suggestion.

7 Sex Mistakes Men Make

Experts' Sex Tips for Men Who Have Sex With Women
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Imagine you're learning to drive a car for the first time. Someone gives you the vehicle owner's manual to read, and then hands you the keys.

If drivers were trained that way, no one would be safe on the road.

But it's a lot like how most guys learn about sex. You're taught the basic facts of life, then turned loose to puzzle out your partners' sexuality, and your own, by trial and error.

Experience is useful, but it isn't everything. Even guys who've had a lot of sexual experience with women still make mistakes that could be avoided with better knowledge.

So you don’t have to learn the hard way, WebMD asked three well-known sex educators to tell us what they think are the most common sex mistakes men make with women.

Tristan Taormino is an author, lecturer, and video producer. Her latest book is The Secrets of Great G-Spot Orgasms and Female Ejaculation.

Patti Britton, PhD, MPH, is a clinical sexologist practicing in Los Angeles, past president of the American Association for Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), and associate professor of sexology with the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

Chris Donaghue is a sex therapist and educator in Los Angeles and host of Bad Sex, a reality TV series on Logo.

Sex Mistake No.1: 'I Know How to Please a Woman'

Men often assume that the way they've learned to please one woman works for all women. Not so.

"With every sexual partner you have, you do gain a growing body of knowledge of female bodies and female pleasure," Taormino tells WebMD. "But women's sexuality is complicated, and it's really individual."

Every woman's body responds in different ways to sensation, and every woman's anatomy is a little different. What feels amazing to one may do nothing -- or even cause discomfort -- for another.

"That is the detective work you need to do each and every time," Britton says. "We really each have a sexual fingerprint."

When it comes to intercourse, one key variable is your thrusting technique: Does she like it fast or slow? Deep or shallow? Or does she like to mix it up -- slow and shallow at first, and then fast and deep?

Also, no one sex position is every woman's favorite. She may prefer a certain sex position for several reasons. Different positions allow various angles of penetration, depending not only on her anatomy, but also the size and shape of your penis.

Differences between partners' body shape and height may make some positions better than others. And for some women, it's important to have face-to-face intimacy during intercourse.

"I talk to tons of women who say, ‘I know missionary gets a bad rap, but I really like it.' Others say, ‘It's got to be from behind,'" Taormino says. "People are really across the board when it comes to positions."

Sex Mistake No. 2: "Let's (Not) Talk About Sex"

Donaghue tells WebMD that most couples he counsels for sexual problems don't talk to each other about sex. Often that's because they don't have the words. He says many of them don't know, or aren't comfortable using correct terms. For example, a guy might say "vagina" when he means the vulva. He may talk about "doing it," though it's not always clear what "it" is: Vaginal intercourse? Cunnilingus? Fellatio?

"A lot of work initially is just getting them comfortable with those words," Donaghue says.

Taormino says if it's hard for your partner to say what she wants sexually, try asking specific, instead of open-ended, questions. "What do you like?" is an open-ended question that often won't elicit a useful answer.

"Do one thing, then do another thing -- and then say, 'Which do you like better?'" Taormino says. "It's like a multiple-choice question. They don't have to write an essay. They just have to pick A or B."

Many men are not only hesitant to talk about sex, but they also think they should keep quiet during sex. Usually that's not a good thing.

"There are far too many people having sex in silence in America," Taormino says.

She says couples should give each other verbal cues during sex. "In my sex-ed videos, I really like them to talk to each other and ask each other what they want."

She suggests using neutral prompts like, "harder," "slower," or "right there." (Same as directions you'd give to someone scratching your back.)

"Give really basic, clear information. You don't have to be a sort of master dirty talker," she says.

Dirty talk can be fun, too, Britton says, "if everyone's on the same page about it." And if you don't like talking dirty, you can still talk sexy without being lewd.

"Telling her you want her can be highly arousing and get great results," Britton says. "But say, ‘I want you,' and not, ‘I want it.' That's the secret."

What's more, Britton says men should not hold back moans, grunts, and sighs. "Sounds of sex are sexy, and a turn-on," she says. Making those noises can help both partners get into the experience more fully.

Sex Mistake No. 3: Taking It Out of Context

Often men forget that sex doesn't happen in a vacuum. A man may wonder why he's unhappy with the sex he's having, and not connect that with how he and his partner are getting along.

"You can't take sex out of the couple, and you can't take the couple out of the sex," Donaghue says. "When you have sex, all of your relationship issues are showing up."

A woman may not open up sexually with a partner if she doesn't feel safe emotionally with him. "For many women it takes a feeling of being vulnerable to let herself be explored," Britton says.

Sex Mistake No. 3: Taking It Out of Context continued...

Your recent behavior follows you into bed with a woman, too. "She's still thinking about how you've been the week before, the day before, the hour before," Donaghue says. "Foreplay begins the week before, when you take the trash out."

Men can also be clueless about timing.

"Very often I hear women complaining that, ‘My partner tries to initiate sex at the absolute wrong times, always,'" Taormino says.

There's an easy fix for that, she says: "People let us know what they want all the time. I think we just have to pay attention."

A woman may literally tell you what she wants to do at various times of the day, Taormino says. If she doesn't mention sex, that might be a cue to wait.

Men also have to remember that most women need more time than men to become aroused.

"Men can get aroused quickly and get on their way," Taormino says. But for many women, the right time for sex would be when she isn't rushed.

Sex Mistake No. 4: The 'Get It Done' Mind-set

Men tend to think of sex like a mission. They break it down into steps -- erection, foreplay, penetration -- aimed at achieving a main objective: orgasm.

That can be a mistake for a couple of reasons. One is that a whole world of sexual experience exists beyond the genitals.

"Our entire body can be utilized as erotic," Donaghue says. "Look at the whole body as a map, and conquer all the territory."

"I know women who can have an orgasm from having their nipples played with," Taormino says. "There are women who love to kiss and make out. All of that is part of sex."

Another reason why it's a mistake to focus solely on orgasm is sometimes it doesn't happen -- even for men. At those times, people can end up feeling bad about sex that may have been good in other ways.

Taormino says some men get upset if they can't give a woman an orgasm.

"I hear from women a lot that they're already putting pressure on themselves to have an orgasm, and there's an added layer from their partner," Taormino says.

The women may say it's OK -- that they still enjoy sex without orgasm, and don't need to have one every time.

"But these guys don't believe them," Taormino says, because they're locked in a goal-oriented mind-set. Their attitude is, "Get those sales statistics up! Get that orgasm done!"

Donaghue says sex should be thought of as a circular process, like a merry-go-round that you can step on and off whenever you like. "There is no goal," he says. "There's no such thing as ‘not finishing' or failure."

Sex Mistake No. 5: 'I'm All She Needs'

Many women are interested in using, or have used, sex toys. 

"Sex toys [represent] a place where men's egos can really get in the way, and be bruised way too easily," Taormino says.

A man may feel threatened by a woman's use of sex toys if he believes his own body parts should be enough to satisfy her. Taormino says men who reject sex toys "walk away from a really big opportunity to broaden their partner's pleasure."

A vibrator can deliver focused, consistent, intense stimulation that's impossible for a human to provide. Many women need that kind stimulation to have an orgasm.

"That's OK," Taormino says. "It doesn't mean she's broken. It doesn't mean she's strange."

"Bringing toys into sex play, and making toys a couples activity, is really the new paradigm today," Britton says. There are also sex toys that can stimulate both partners at the same time. "Embrace it, get used to it, and go along for the ride, literally."

Sex Mistake No. 6: Ringing the Doorbell

Most guys have a general idea of what the clitoris is and where to find it. But many don't know all there is to it.

"The clitoris is not this tiny button on the outside of the body, which is what most people think it is," Taormino says.

The clitoris is often described as being wishbone shaped, and much of it is internal.

The glans of the clitoris is the little "button" that you can see peeking out from the clitoral hood, at the 12 o'clock position on the vulva. The body of the clitoris extends under the clitoral hood, then bends back and branches into two "legs" behind the labia.

Below the legs are two bulbs of tissue that surround the urethra and vagina. The entire clitoris is tissue that, like a man's penis, swells with blood when a woman becomes aroused.

The whole body of the clitoris, not just the glans, is packed with nerves and highly sensitive. For many women, the glans is actually too sensitive to touch.

"Plenty of women don't want stimulation directly on the glans, like you're ringing a doorbell," Taormino says. Instead, they prefer stimulation on the internal body of the clitoris. Other women prefer indirect pressure or vibration that stimulates the clitoris through other areas of the vulva.

The majority of women need some clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm. And most women are not able to have an orgasm by vaginal sex alone. "Penile-vaginal sex is an inefficient means of producing a female orgasm. That's what an engineer would say," Britton says.

Sex Mistake No. 7: Compare and Despair

Many guys have unrealistic beliefs about how often they should be having sex, based on what they believe other people are doing. That can make them feel bad about themselves and unhappy in a relationship.

Sex Mistake No. 7: Compare and Despair continued...

"They compare themselves to their peers, and they are convinced that everyone around them is having more sex, and better sex, than they are," Taormino says. "It's just not true."

There is no correct amount of sex to have, or even what you might call a norm.

Results from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, published in 2010 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, show that how often men have sex varies greatly by their age and relationship status.

For example, the survey shows that 33% of U.S. men aged 25-29 have vaginal intercourse two times a week or more. But there are big differences between single, married, and partnered (but not married) men in that age group:
  • Single: 4% have vaginal sex at least twice a week
  • Partnered: 33%
  • Married: 43%
Don't jump to the conclusion that married men have the most sex of all, however. Here again are percentages of married men that have vaginal sex at least twice a week, by age group:
  • Age 25-29: 43%
  • Age 30-39: 33%
  • Age 40-49: 24%
  • Age 50-59: 16%
  • Age 60-69: 10%
With each passing decade, starting at age 30, married men tend to have sex less frequently. But does that mean that their sex lives get worse over time?

How often you have sex may have little to do with how satisfied you are sexually, Taormino says.

"People say, 'We have sex a lot,' or, 'We only have a little.' But when I probe further, what constitutes a lot or a little is wildly different," she says.

And what you consider "a lot" or "a little" can change over time. Having sex twice a week might seem like a lot to you when you're single, and not so much when you're a newlywed. Once you have kids and 10 years of marriage under your belt, it might seem like a lot again.

"We need to change our expectations and reframe how we think about this," Taormino says. "You've got to acknowledge that people change, the dynamic will change, and be OK with that."

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