Category Archives: penetration

everybody poops

For the first time in YEARS someone has asked me about poop, in more than just a curious-about-the-fetish way.

So this person who emailed me has a friend who pooped during penetration – not anal penetration, vaginal penetration – and they’re worried it might happen to them. How common is it? How does it happen? How can it be prevented?

Here is what I said:

There aren’t any actual data (that I know of) about how frequently this happens, but I can tell you that in 15 years as a sex educator, you’re the first person I’ve heard from who actually KNOWS someone whom this happened to. It’s pretty rare.

It’s also simple to prevent. Most of the time you have no feces at all in your rectum – it only moves through when you have a bowel movement. But if your diet isn’t great and you have hard little pieces of poop instead of the big soft ones of a person who eats enough fiber, those little pieces can hang out in the rectum until the next bowel movement. So, prevention? Eat plenty of fiber and yet yourself some big soft poop!

But it’s almost never necessary to prevent it. The sphincter muscle at the mouth of the anus is connected to the sphincter muscles of the vagina and urethra. With high levels of arousal, the muscle that connects (the pelvic diphragm) them LIFTS (this is part of the reason you hold your breath near orgasm); at orgasm, they all pulse together, which, under ordinary circumstances, I would say would make it MORE difficult to poop, because the sphincter muscle is closing off really intensely.

But sometimes, rarely, the flux of the muscles of sphincters and the internal muscles, in combination with the mechanics of penetration, may (again, rarely), result in the expulsion of feces.

To sum up: very rare, mechanically difficult to do, and easy to prevent.

All of this is assuming that what your friend experienced was basically just a little bit of poop, just what was left in the rectum. If you’re talking about a full-blown bowel movement, I can only suggest that there might be something more serious happening and she should talk to a doctor.

Bodies are strange, sticky, things, and all the parts are really astonishingly adjacent to each other. I was pleased to read in the questioner’s email that the partner of the person who pooped was TOTALLY CHILL about it, laughing and saying, “I guess I fucked the shit out of you!” Which is awesome and exactly what I would hope for.

(Secretly hoping this will generate a flurry of comments about times when it happened to readers or friends of readers or friends of friends of readers…)

this isn’t at all what i expected

I’ve been attempting to catalogue the questions I get asked – partly for my own reference and partly because I routinely get asked, “What’s the most common question you get asked?” Indeed I’m asked this question so regularly that I’ve begun wondering if it might not BE the most common question I’m asked.

(Actually the most common question I’m asked is some variation on “Am I normal?“)

As I document the questions I’m asked, I notice that I’m asked a lot of questions about vaginal penetration – orgasms with penetration, the g-spot, the hymen, why you might feel like you have to pee… anything and everything to do with sexual pleasure derived from putting something inside the vagina.

I work primarily with college students. Many of them – the national statistics would indicate that about HALF of them – experience their first penetration during these years. So their vaginas are these new, uncharted territories, and there’s all this cultural HYPE about what it’s like, what it ought to be like. And the thing is, it isn’t at ALL what they’ve been led to believe.

To illustrate, collection of “first intercourse” moments, as described in romance novels:

Beyond Innocence, Emma Holly

It felt like her soul was tearing down the middle, not with pain but with gladness. With this act, her whole being made room for him

Lord Carew’s Bride, Mary Balogh

It was – yes, it was by far the most wonderful experience of the day. Perhaps of her life…. There was no pain except for one brief moment when she thought there would not be enough room and then felt him breaking through and realized it had just been the loss of her virginity. There was no other pain, even though there was an unexpected tightness and stretching. He was far bigger than her imagination had anticipated. When he was finally fully embedded in her, she felt very – married, although she knew that this was not all.

As You Desire, Connie Brockaway:

She lifted her hips and there – oh, there – a pressure, not quite pain, not sharp, but a stretching, a deep final ache and – and the promise of ecstasy.

Perhaps least incorrect, Flowers from the Storm, Laura Kinsale:

He came into her, delicious burn, more hurt; her husband – all heat and dark fire; her wicked husband, who knew corrupt worldly things, who held her tight and kissed her and kissed her again while it hurt, stretched his beautiful body over hers, pushing harder, creating pain and soothing it at once, more pain, until she cried out with anguish at the peak. [...] She gulped for air, her tense muscles slow to realize that the sharp piercing hurt had subsided.

What do we learn? That it hurts so good. (I’ll do another post on pain with penetration.) That it, like, kills you softly. That it’s an intense and moving experience.

Well. Sometimes.

I’ve talked a lot on the blog about the importance of context in sexual experience – a sensation in a non-erotic context may hurt while a sensation in an erotic context will feel good. I often use the example of tickling: sometimes tickling can be fun and playful and sometimes it’s annoying and irritating, depending on the context.

Well, with first penetration, you’ve got all these sensations that you’ve never experienced before, so you and your brain and your body are searching for context – past experience, cultural expectations, current circumstances (like your partner and the relationship) – trying to figure out whether this is the fun and playful kind of tickling, if you will, or the annoying and irritating kind. Because really it’s just sensation, and with sensation, “there’s nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”

Penetration takes practice, and it’s often an acquired taste, like coffee or whiskey or asparagus. Maybe it demands a more sophisticated palate than, say clitoral stimulation.

I don’t want to underplay the importance of a moment when you let someone put part of their body INSIDE your body. It’s a BIG DEAL; it takes trust and communication and affection and a willingness to open yourself. It doesn’t matter who’s being penetrated, where or with what: it’s a BIG DEAL to let someone put something inside your body. Yeah.

But it’s not NECESSARILY a very sexy sensation, the first time you decide to do it. Indeed, the first FEW times will not necessarily feel that way.

Unsolicited advice: Come to your first penetration with curiosity and openness to new experience. Don’t expect to feel your soul open or to experience the greatest thing of your life. Expect novelty, expect intensity. Let it be interesting without forcing it to be earth-shattering.

how to break a hymen without a penis

[EDIT: If you're looking for ACTUAL advice about how to break your hymen, read this post instead. The one on this page is more fanciful than helpful.]

EDIT 2: MYTHS! about the hymen – totally crucial to understanding your hymen.

So there was some confusion during my class tonight; we were talking about hymens and a couple students asked about, like, how big something needed to be to break a hymen, and I was all like, “Well, that depends how sharp it is.”

Because I have a habit of answering precisely the question that is asked, I had no clue (until a student generously came up to me after class and explained) that what they were actually asking was, “Suppose a woman has pain with penetration, due to her hymen, but there’s no one with a penis she’s interested in having break it. What’s a girl to do?”

OHH! Well heck, next time just say so! Didn’t I spend 10 minutes at the start of class explaining that this is a sex-positive safe space where no yucks are allowed and everything is okay? Look, all I want in life is to give people the sexual health information they want, so just ask!

Anyway, the answers to that question are:

(1) Very carefully
(2) With a little help from your friend(s) and
(3) Make a night of it.

There’ll be some pain – heck, the pain is the reason you’re doing this, right? And the key to managing that pain is to close the gate by overriding the pain signals with OTHER sensations. You know how when you stub your toe, you rub it? That’s closing the gate – overriding the throbbing sensation with the rubbing sensation.

With loads of sensation elsewhere – and I’m thinking a vibrator on the clit, another on the anus, breast stimulation, inner thigh stimulation, feet stimulation, lots of OTHER sensations – you can reduce the pain sensations.

So. Have a partner… or two… or three… or more, to help you out. Get warmed up, very aroused in whatever way works for you.

Because there’s no certain answer to the question, “How big and forceful must a penetrating object be to break the hymen?” I suggest fisting as the foolproof strategy. Fisting is a whole post in itself, but in brief, you begin with just one finger and gradually increase penetration until your whole hand is in the vagina.

Once you’re well-aroused, your partner (using plenty of lube) begins penetration with just one finger. Keeping a palm or a vibrator over the clit, maybe with pressure on the pubic bone, they maintain sensation elsewhere during the penetration. Go slow. Keep that degree of penetration until it’s comfortable.

Add a finger. Increase stimulation elsewhere – like add inner thigh stimulation to the clit stimulation. Keep that degree of penetration until it’s comfortable. Remember lube!

Add a finger and increase stimulation elsewhere. This will be your three longest fingers, which you should sandwich together, with your middle finger on top and your ring and index fingers touching at the tip. Penetration will thus be narrower at the top than at the base of your fingers.

Breasts and feet and lips are excellent targets of stimulation at this stage. (You begin to see why having multiple friends involved can be handy!) Keep that degree of penetration (plus additional stimulation) until it’s comfortable.

Add a finger, a pinky tucked up against the other fingers, and further increase stimulation elsewhere. Well-lubricated external anal stimulation in addition to clitoral, inner thigh, breast, feet, and lips, for example. Also fantasy and talk. Keep that degree of penetration until it’s comfortable, from the narrow tip of the middle finger down to the broad base of the fingers.

Now your partner tucks their thumb against their palm and penetrates past the last knuckle. Lots of other stimulation, closing the gate. Vibrators on clit, anus, and breasts, a mouth kissing your mouth, another mouth on your earlobe, another mouth sucking your toes (which will be curling by now).

And that, my friends, is how you break a hymen without a penis. Carefully, with a little help from your friends, and making a night of it.

Take lots of time and use lots of lube and make sure you maintain a high level of arousal with clitoral, breast, thigh, and other stimulation.

Let it be ritualistic and important, like a birthday. After all, for all that the hymen/virginity thing is bullshit, if you’re breaking your hymen in order to expand your sexual horizons, heck this is a moment!! Make it a night to remember.

make a penis happy

Enough with the political blah blah blah, eh? How about some straight up Sex Advice for Having Better Sex? Here’s one for the folks who have sex with people who have penises.

It’s one that I always think everyone knows and then I’m surprised when it turns out people don’t. Quite simple, but it can make all the difference:

When you’re dealing with a penis, squeeze up, relax down.

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

Whether using a hand or a vagina or a mouth or a mechanical device…

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

(Not so much with anal sex, you mostly just want to let the anal sphincter relax during penetration.)

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

With manual sex, a wrist-twist is a very fine thing to add, especially swirling over the head, where the bulk of the nerve endings are clustered.

With the vaginal muscles, you relax as he (or you) thrusts in, and squeeze as he (or you) pulls out.

With oral sex, you suck on the up, and relax a bit on down. This is particularly useful because it can save wear and tear on your jaw, so you last longer. (Really you should save the sucking for the very very end, and use your hand on the shaft throughout the blowjob.)

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

It can make all the difference.

The reason it works is straightforward mechanics. The shaft doesn’t end at the pubic bone; it extends deep into his abdomen, like this:

penis anatomy

Squeezing up tugs the whole shaft, which feels nice. Squeezing down would sorta jam all that extra, interior shaft down into his body, which, ya know, doesn’t feel as nice.

Squeeze up.
Relax down.

Makes a penis happy. And when the penis in your life is happy, doesn’t the sun shine just a little brighter?

what women want (9)

This week on What Women Want:

… to get LAID.

I’ve never been male-bodied so I can’t say this for sure, but I’m fairly convinced that the female experience of just wanting some damn sex is not very different from the male’s. A little different. Not very.

There are times when everyone really wants to be held, right? and made to feel supported and safe. And maybe it’s easy to assume that that’s what women want, because it’s a comfortable, gendered thought.

But dude, there are times when a woman (or anyone) really just wants wants the weight of another body in the bed and hands on her skin and someone else’s sweat commingling with her own and teeth abrading her lips and someone else’s genitals pressed hard against hers.

There are times, in short, when she’s thinking, “Just FUCK ME already!” When a fuck’s aerobic effortfulness is a better assessment of its quality than the luuuuurve she feels.

Dudes who are reading this: you can’t just think, “Yey! That’s an experience I can completely and immediately relate to!” I think the experience of just wanting to get laid is similar to men’s, but not identical.

Globally speaking, the who and the how of fucking are more crucial for women than for men. (Nothing is ever that simple in real life – context matters for men too, and not all women rely on context. We’re generalizing for simplicity.)

Want to create the right context? Then make it easy for her. She doesn’t want to worry about her body or your body or the relationship or all the other things she ought to be doing or what anyone else might think about the fact that she’s nekkid and bucking. Be trustworthy… but intense. Split a bottle of wine if you like, turn down the volume on your prefrontal cortexes.

It doesn’t always have to be flowers and chocolates. Sometimes we’d rather it were astroglide and buttplugs. Can ya deal with that?

Orgasm 10: simultaneous

(Apologies in advance for the heteronormativity of this post. Simultaneous orgasms are easier for same-sex couple because they aren’t necessarily facing the same biological differences that curse the straighties. Not to say they’re EASY for same-sex couples. Just a bit less difficult.)

Romance novels and movies are awash in simultaneous orgasms. Hero and Heroeen (read that like you’re Dudley Do-right) cross that exquisite threshold, launch themselves willingly over a trembling edge, and tumble downward in a spiraling, panting tangle of sheets and sweat and oxytocin.

Boy howdy, right? It’s terribly compelling, terribly romantic, this notion of fusing so utterly with your partner every barrier is shed, every defense is dropped, and your bodies lock into each other’s arousal. The boundaries of your very skin becomes permeable and you – almost literally – merge into each other, like the entrainment and synchronization of two rhythms or the joining of the Blue Nile with the White Nile or the microscopic union of egg and sperm giving rise to one new life or… whatever metaphor gets you.

But in real life, simultaneous orgasms are, like, hard. Both for emotional reasons and for straightforward mechanical reasons.

As we know from this weekend, there are some differences between men’s and women’s orgasms. Specifically, women take longer to orgasm and are less likely to orgasm from penile-vaginal penetration.

And if the goal is for two people to have an orgasm at the same time, then how long it takes you to come and what kind of stimulation gets you there, well those are things you need to be able to match up.

You need three things: You need a high degree of control over your own sexual response. You need a modality that provides enough of the right kind of stimulation to get you both to orgasm. You need a minute awareness of your partner’s level of arousal. Control, modality, attention.

This is the easiest of the three. If you read this section and go, “DUDE that sounds HARD!” perhaps the time is not yet ripe for you to pursue simultaneous orgasm.

Gentlemen: please teach yourself to maintain a high level of arousal without ejaculating. If you can stay pretty darn aroused for half an hour, that’s a good start. An hour is better.

Ladies: please teach yourself to masturbate with your hands efficiently and reliably. If you can come reliably in 20 minutes, that’s great.


I’m gonna say there are two primary modalities for simultaneous orgasm. There are more, of course, but let’s simplify a bit.

PENETRATION. If you’re one of the 25-30% of women who are reliably orgasmic from penetration, this will be a little simpler for you. If you are instead in the majority of women, we need to find a way to add clitoral stimulation to your intercourse. Lots and lotsa ways to do that:

  • Your hand on your clit
  • Your partner’s hand on your clit
  • You holding a vibrator on your clit
  • Your partner holding a vibrator on your clit
  • Sandwiching a vibrator between your two pubic bones
  • Angling penetration so that your partner’s pubic bone rocks against your clit (them on top)
  • Angling penetration so that your clit rocks against your partner’s pubic bone (you on top)
  • Your partner straddling your thighs so you can cross your ankles and grip your thighs together during penetration

You may also find that adding anal stimulation gives that extra oomph you need to have an orgasm during penetration. Try a buttplug (just plant ‘er gently in there and leave it be during intercourse) or have your partner use a finger on or in your ass during intercourse (may require long-armed or flexible partner).

All kinds of other stimulation can be useful too. Breast stimulation. Kissing. Hair touching/pulling/gripping/etc. Face and/or throat touching. And any number of psychological dynamics that might intensify the experience for you – pinning your partner down or allowing your partner to pin you down, fantasy and role play, a sexy venue… careful, though, that these add to your arousal without distracting you so much that you lose track of your partner’s arousal.

69. Mutual, simultaneous oral sex can potentially generate simultaneous orgasm. In some ways it might be easier – women may be more orgasmic from oral sex, and fellatio in particular gives you bunches of information about your partner’s arousal level and lots of control over how aroused you let him get, so you can make sure he stays on pace with you.

The trick with 69 is that it’s difficult to split your attention between what you’re doing and what’s being done to you. This diminishes as a problem if what you’re doing is just about as arousing as what’s being done to you. In other words, it’s easier to have an orgasm during 69 if you’re as aroused by the sensations of your mouth on your partner’s genitals as you are by the sensation of your partner’s mouth on your genitals.

I’ll get into more detail about attention soon. For now, begin practicing experiencing your partner’s genitals in your mouth, and their body’s responses to that, as part of your own arousal.

I’ve left this for last because it’s potentially the most difficult.

A common barrier in all orgasm challenges is mindfulness, paying attention to what’s happening in your body to the exclusion of anything else (e.g., not thinking about your fat, your kids, your to do list, your boss [except under sexy circumstances], or your car, instead of thinking about sex whilst having sex).

Attention is an order of magnitude more difficult during simultaneous orgasms because you have to pay attention to both your own and your partner’s arousal. I mean you have to pay all the necessary attention to yourself to get yourself to orgasm, AND you have to monitor your partner’s arousal, to get the timing right.

The people who find simultaneous orgasm easiest are probably people who find their partner’s arousal level to be highly, highly stimulating.

Fortunately, this is learnable. Begin practicing paying attention to your partner’s arousal level, and to experience it as a part of your own arousal. Imagine what it might feel like to be in their skin, what they must be feeling. Allow their arousal to feed and merge with your own arousal.

At this point, we get into the psychological part of it. At this point, you begin to shed the “my body/their body” dichotomy. At this point, you begin experiencing her skin as your skin – you feel both the firm softness of her abdomen under your hand and the warm pressure of your hand as she is experiencing it.

You live in two bodies at once. You feel with two bodies at once.

This is majorly advanced empathy. Most of us have experienced at some point – some of us experience it regularly, but most people have to work at it.

It’s good for you, this body empathy, like vegetables and jogging and 8 glasses of water a day – but more, it’s enriching, like a Jackson Pollack viewed with your nose 4 inches from the canvas, like Mozart, like a brand new idea. It’s good for you. Do it. Try it.

To conclude, allow me to say that this is all Extra Bonus Sexy Fun. Having or not having simultaneous orgasms is no reflection on your sexual health and wellness.

I think it’s worth trying though. What makes simultaneous orgasm so compelling, I believe, is the abandonment of the barriers we so often use to defend ourselves, to maintain our sense of identity, of separateness from others. It’s our task as adults to stay over our own emotional center of gravity, and simultaneous orgasm is about falling into each other at the bifurcation point between order and chaos, at the pivot between control and abandonment. It requires skilled neglect of your own personhood and precise, focused joy in your partner’s. In other words it takes practice.

Happily, every occasion that you practice can potentially improve your life and relationship – not just your sex life and sexual relationship, but your whole life, your whole relationship. It’s good. I think you should try it.

why it feels like you have to pee during intercourse

Of course I can’t just drop a big question and not answer it.

So here goes, as best I can answer without using hand gestures.

Imagine you’re looking at the vulva of a woman lying on her back. The vulva is laid out from north to south thusly: clitoris, urethra, vagina, perineum, anus.

Under the surface of the vulva, the urethra is surrounded by the urethral sponge. It’s like… urethral insulation. Its job is to swell up around the urethra as a woman becomes sexually aroused, in order to stop her from being able to urinate while she’s turned on.

(You may have noticed this phenomenon if you’ve tried to pee shortly after having an orgasm. You know how to have to kind of take some deep, cleansing breaths and think about baseball or icebergs? Yeah, that’s what’s that is.)

When the urethral sponge swells, you can actually feel it through the anterior (upper) wall of the vagina. Insert a finger just a knuckle or two deep and press up. There will be a swollen patch – it might feel smooth or rough or like a little nubbin or… it will be somehow distinct.

(This is actually the g-spot. I’ll go into that sometime later, I promise I will. I know I’ve been saying that for a month, but I mean it. It’s on my list of things to do.)

Pressure on this patch – on the urethral sponge through the vaginal wall – during penetration is most often what causes a woman to feel like she needs to pee during intercourse.

(Something to rule out is pressure on the bladder from your partner pressing against you. If you feel like you need to pee without intercourse, this might be the cause instead. If you have pain with intercourse, infection is a possibility.)

The reason it feels like you need to pee has nothing to do with urine or pressure on the bladder; it has to do with learning. When you were little and being potty trained, you learned to recognize the sensation of needing to pee. You had to recognize it in order to get to a potty before it was too late. It was an important and useful lesson.

Now your body is experiencing a new and different sensation; it’s geographically and neurologically adjacent to the need-to-pee sensation, so your brain is misinterpreting it as pressure to pee because that’s the only existing category that this new sensation seems to fit. But it is not the same sensation.

Okay, so what do you do about it?


That’s it, one step. Simple! (Though not necessarily easy…. it will take practice.)

If you feel like you need to pee even when your bladder is empty, it’s most likely because your urethral sponge is swollen and therefore you can’t pee, even if you want to. So. Take a deep breath and relax into the sensation. Let it be sensual, let it grow. You won’t pee. Relax. Experience the sensation without judgment.

Given time and practice, your body will create a new category for this sensation, it will learn that this sensation is erotic, and eventually you will be able to recognize the ways in which this sensation is very, very distinct from the need to pee.

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