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Become a sex expert in 2006

January 2nd, 2006

Dr Petra

One of the questions I’m most often asked by journalists is ‘how do you become a sex expert?’ To be honest it isn’t that difficult – we can all develop a bit of sexpertise, so here’s a few pointers on how you can enjoy a great sex life in 2006.

Think of them as sexy New Year resolutions if you like….

Before we start, some of these tips are for over 18s, so if you’re under 18 and want to become a sex expert I suggest you check out
Like it is
Scarleteen

Manage your sexual health

All too often I’m asked to comment on sex features where journalists ask me to say that having lots of sex will make you healthier/fitter.
It won’t.
But if you eat healthily (cut back on the junk food and increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables you eat), and exercise regularly (a brisk 30 minute walk or swim three times per week is a good start) that will improve your sex life. Consult with your doctor before you start exercising – they may also have a nutritionist at their surgery who’ll be able to advise you about diet. Or check out the tips at foodfitness.

You can also sort out your contraception to ensure it suits you and will help you control your fertility until you’re ready to have a baby. There are over 14 methods and there’ll be one to suit you. Visit the family planning association’s website for some ideas.

And make sure you practice safer sex (more on this in a moment). If you’ve had unprotected sex and believe you have a sexually transmitted infection then visit your GP or genito urinary clinic for tests and/or treatment. Remember not all infections have symptoms, but if you do notice anything – discharge, or unusual lumps, bumps or changes get them investigated right away. Playingsafely contains information about STIs and for UK residents the site helps you find your nearest clinic.

Condoms rule!
So use them. Get others to use them, and let them become your sexy vetting device. Someone who refuses to use a condom clearly doesn’t value their health or yours – and if they can’t or won’t use a condom you can be pretty sure they’ll be lots of other sexy things they can’t or won’t do either.

Condoms can make you last longer, can add flavour and texture to oral, anal or vaginal sex, and they’re the only method of contraception to protect against pregnancy AND sexually transmitted infections. And with over 50 size/width combinations now available you can’t even use the ‘they don’t fit’ excuse. Pop into Condomania for every kind of condom under the sun.

Go to sex school

You can learn about sex whenever you want. It might be reading up on sex books, watching erotic films or DVDs, or just taking a critical look at the sex stories in your newspapers or magazines. To help you get that sex degree you may want to visit the following publishers of sex books that all the sex experts use:
Cleis Press
Greenery Press

Or visit The Kinsey Institute, Planned Parenthood or Goaskalice to get all your sex and relationships questions answered.

Learn what you like

It might sound silly, but one of the main barriers of sexual enjoyment is knowing what turns you on. Most people assume that as adults we should know – and if we don’t get turned on there’s something wrong with us. But in many cases people haven’t taken the time to explore their desires. We may know what our partner likes, or what we think we ought to do to be sexy – but we don’t always give ourselves the time to work out what lights our fire.

You can start this erotic journey by reading sexy books (both the book stockists listed above do a line in erotica). Or you can write your own fantasies, or think about what might turn you on – imagine what could happen – what’s going on? What are you doing/having done to you and who’s doing it? How does it feel?
To help, you might enjoy reading
Dr Sprinkle’s Spectacular Sex
by Annie Sprinkle (includes a guide to feeling sexy and identifying what turns us on and off).
Fantasy made flesh: the essential guide to erotic role-play by Deborah Addington (you don’t have to do the role-play, but the book will give you some ideas about fantasy scenarios).
Comstock Films
feature erotic scenes between consenting adults and Candida Royalle also makes great sex films.

Once you’ve started to identify what you like you can search further to decide what turns you on – is it literature, fantasies in your head, things you write down or perhaps play out with a partner? Or maybe it’s something you like to watch?

Which leads us nicely on to the next thing sex experts like to partake in….

Masturbate!

The more you masturbate the more you’ll learn to enjoy your body. It might be that you feel you shouldn’t masturbate because you’re not a teenager, in a relationship, or any other excuse not to enjoy yourself. Perhaps you don’t have much time or feel guilty for masturbating. Maybe you just don’t feel turned on so you can’t even think about getting off with yourself.

Exploring what turns you on is one way forward, as is setting aside some private time to identify what you like. Lubricant is a must (whether you’re a girl or a guy) – it makes sex on your own (or with someone else) so much better.

You can experiment in your own time, and on your own exactly how sex looks and feels when you masturbate. Lights on or off. In bed, on the sofa or in the shower or bath. Watching or reading erotic, or looking at yourself in a mirror. Listening to how your breathing sounds, slowing down or breathing faster. Using your fingers, hand or sex toys. Don’t just touch your genitals, try stroking other areas as well to see what excites you.

This can be particularly beneficial for women since if we’ve never really learned what turns us on and how to make ourselves orgasm it’s going to be very difficult to orgasm with a partner. And once you know how to orgasm on your own you can show your partner. Remember masturbation isn’t just something to do on your own, you can do it with a partner – sex is about sharing and showing, not them struggling to give you an orgasm.

You don’t have to use sex toys, but if you’re interested you can find out more at
Sh!
Good Vibrations

And for more advice on masturbation visit Betty Dodson’s site and visit Jackinworld (for men) or Jillingworld (for women).

Get political

Although it’s great to put yourself first when it comes to discovering desires and masturbating, sometimes it’s also good to think about other people.

We’re currently facing a sexual health crisis with rising rates of sexual infections (including HIV), lack of sexual knowledge, restricted or incorrect sex education, and problems around sexual abuse and exploitation.

We can all campaign for better global sex education and provision of sexual health care. We can challenge inequalities around sexuality, gender and sexual health care provision. And we can lend our support to those who’re teaching sex ed, providing sexual health care and researching sex, relationships and reproductive health.

You can educate yourself and share your knowledge with others, and you can make a difference through fundraising, letter writing, petitioning and general campaigning.

Find out more on how you can help at SEICUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States).

Improve your confidence

So far you may be thinking “well that’s okay for you to say, you’re already a sex expert, what about the rest of us who’re not so confident?”. Here’s a little secret, everyone, even sex experts, lack confidence in their bodies or sex lives at some point. A lack of confidence can really get in the way of good sex. It can make us feel like we don’t deserve pleasure or are dirty for seeking it out. It can make us feel there’s no point in trying to be sexy or get aroused because nobody else will want us. And it can make us feel that we’re silly or unattractive if we do try out new things. In short, if we lack confidence our sex lives aren’t going anywhere.

But how to fix it? Well this is one area you don’t fix in the bedroom. Instead you can identify if there are any confidence or assertiveness courses being run at your local community centre, adult education centre or library. Alternative confidence builders include dance classes, drama, or sport. If your confidence is really getting in the way your doctor may be able to help with referring you to a counsellor who can get to the root of your concerns.

Work on your communication

Can you say what you want and get it? What words can/can’t you say? What were you taught about sex (see above) that might get in way of saying what you want? Do you feel you always have to make first move or that nice boys or girls shouldn’t ask? Sex articles in magazines and many sex books assume we’re all super confident when it comes to communication, but often we’re not. Identifying the messages we’ve learned about sex and how they can get in the way of our desires is one part of the puzzle, and learning what excites us is another part. Add to this knowing how to turn yourself on and then the final part – sharing that passion with someone else can mean we don’t just know what we want. We now have the ability to share it.

But we all need help, and so as you’re learning to be a sex expert your next bit of homework is to read Carol Queen’s Exhibitionism for the shy: show off, dress up and talk hot and Peta Heskell’s Flirt Coach also contains tips and exercises in boosting your confidence skills and helping you own what you like.

How to tell your partner what turns you on

So you’re nearly ready to graduate as a sexpert, but your second to last lesson is to apply all you’ve learned by sharing the knowledge with your partner (if you have one). Frequently you’ll read in magazines or poor self-help books how you should hint at what you like or moan appreciatively if your partner manages to hit the spot. Unfortunately this is no help if they don’t get it right, and reduces the pleasure a partner gets from hearing what you want and how you want them to do it. So don’t be afraid to use what you learned from Carol and Peta’s books to say what you want and the masturbation and fantasy ideas you also picked up to have a show and tell session with your partner.

Get help

Nobody can do this on their own. Qualified sex experts have other experts they turn to for advice, they’re always learning new things, and they have other colleagues they share ideas with. So you can set up a similar support system by getting help around the home, or offering to help your partner if you’re a little on the lazy side. Sort out a babysitter if you have children to give yourself some quality time together (that may or may not end in sex). And grant yourself some privacy and space for reflection on what you’re learning.

And now you’re ready to continue on your sex adventure

What do you already like, what might you like more of? Is sex something spiritual, passionate, naughty, imaginative or something else? Use the resources you’ve acquired in your sexpert studies to keep building your knowledge, pleasure and confidence and continue to treat yourself to sexual enjoyment.

Wishing you a very wonderful 2006.

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