You’ve probably heard about the importance of Kegels more times than you can count. (But just in case, it’s an exercise where women squeeze their pelvic floor muscles — the ones that can pause your pee mid-stream or help your, uh, grip strength — which tones them for better bladder control and stronger orgasms.)
HOWEVER, let it be known that men should be doing them too. A recent study looked at men who suffered from premature ejaculation. All but five of the guys who did pelvic floor exercises improved within a few months. In the male version, guys squeeze their perineal muscles (between their genitals and their anus).
2. Smokers have weaker boners.
Lighting up can be a boner killer. Studies show that even occasional smoking in nonsmoking men and women led to reduced genital response.
Another interesting study found that male smokers who quit the habit had bigger, firmer erections. Really.
3. Your doctor probably isn’t testing you for ALL the STDs.
Just because you regularly visit your doctor each year, that doesn’t mean they’re automatically screening you for every STD you might be exposed to — even if you say, “Test me for everything.” Screening guidelines can vary from practice to practice, so you may not have been tested for herpes, HPV, or syphilis at your last visit unless you presented with symptoms or specifically asked for it.
The guidelines also vary based on your age and risk factors, but generally you should get tested any time you’ve had unprotected sex, if you have a new sexual partner, if you have multiple partners, or if you think you may have been exposed to an STD, according to the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA). When you go in, ask to be tested for the big ones: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, herpes, and trichomoniasis (yeah, that’s an STD —if you’ve never heard of it, find out more here).
Your doctor will probably ask about any symptoms and your sexual history. Be honest. It’s important to tell them if the condom broke last month or if you have any partners that don’t necessarily involve penetrative intercourse. Once they’re up to speed, they may tell you that you don’t need one of the above tests. That’s great! But you won’t know unless you ask, and unfortunately, most people aren’t asking. For more info, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide to STD screenings.
4. Sex just doesn’t feel as good when you’re schwasted.
Five rounds of gin and tonics won’t do your genitals any favors, either. Tons of research shows that alcohol can reduce sexual functioning and responsiveness. And anyone who’s experienced whiskey dick can attest to the boner-killing effect it often has in large doses. The fact is, alcohol is a depressant, and you don’t want anything dulling your senses when you’re having sex.
5. Sex is amazing for your health.
Consider it a naked cure-all…kind of. Research shows it can lower blood pressure and stress, lessen the intensity of migraine headaches, and give your immune system a boost. All good things.
6. Sex burns about three to four calories per MINUTE.
Men and women burn an average of 4.2 and 3.1 calories per minute (respectively) during sex, according to a recent study in the journal PLOS One. They also measured this calorie expenditure against actual exercise and found that having sex was about two-thirds of the level of intensity of exercise. And that, kids, is what we call multitasking.
7. Orgasms do funny things to your brain.
In those brief seconds of awesomeness, there’s a lot going on in your head. “Parts of the brain associated with reward and pleasure light up,” Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate professor at Indiana University and author of The Coregasm Workout (Seal Press, 2015), tells BuzzFeed Life. “And there’s the part associated with fear that tends to shut down.” Recent research also looked at which areas of the brain are involved in which type of stimulation (like clitoral, genital, nipple, etc.). They found that the same areas of the brain light up in response to both nipple and genital stimulation — for both men and women, says Herbenick. So don’t skip the nips.
EVERYONE fakes orgasms.
If you thought women had complete domain over this sexual trickery, you would be wrong. A recent survey by Time Out New York found that 30% of men in the city had faked an orgasm. And apparently, this is a real thing. It’s even the basis for a recent book, Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex by Abraham Morgentaler, M.D.
Herbenick adds that previous research confirms both genders are guilty: “Our data suggests that, in any given sex act when people don’t have an orgasm, 6% of the men who didn’t have an orgasm and 19% of the women who didn’t have one fake orgasm.”
9. Some people fake orgasms for actually kind of sweet reasons.
Researchers recently surveyed 481 heterosexual self-identified women about whether or not they fake orgasms and why. Some common themes were faking it to protect their partner’s feelings or attempting to increase their own arousal (like an orgasm self-fulfilling prophecy).
10. But a lot of people fake orgasms because of insecurities…or to get the sex over with already, TBH.
Two other main reasons women faked it were that they felt insecure or abnormal, or they just wanted the sex to be over. Womp.
11. It’s totally normal not to have an orgasm every time, and we need to accept that as a fact of life.
There’s actual research on this: Not everybody comes every single time. “Generally, somewhere around two-thirds of women had an orgasm the most recent time they had sex,” says Herbenick, while that number is around 91% for men. So realistically, it’s just not going to be a home run every time you rub your genitals together. Make peace with that.
12. Switching things up and communicating openly with your partner can up your chances of having an orgasm.
Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to orgasms, but scientists have damn well tried to identify the things that will help you come. For instance, combining a variety of sex acts (like oral, anal, sex play with toys, etc.) along with penetration can make it easier for both men and women to orgasm, according to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Other research found that being in love or emotionally intimate with your partner can increase the probability of orgasm, says Herbenick, probably because it helps you relax and let go of your inhibitions.
“There’s research on heterosexual couples who were able to talk really specifically about sex,” says Herbenick. For them, getting super detailed — particularly about clitoral-focused stimulation (if they liked it, how they liked it, the speed/intensity that worked for them, etc.) — was associated with more pleasure.
Basically, science says that doing what you can to slow things down, eliminate distractions, and talk openly about what gets you off might make orgasms easier to come by.
13. Using lube will help you have orgasms.
This is true for pretty much everyone, no matter what gender you are or what gender your partner is. Research from Indiana University’s Center for Sexual Health Promotion shows that more than two-thirds of American men and nearly as many women have used lube, and that almost half of the people who reported using lube said that it helps them orgasm. Hey, it’s worth a shot!
14. Exercising can get you in the mood.
Research shows that moderate exercise boosts sexual arousal in women, and it can even boost libido in women taking antidepressants. Not to mention, exercise increases your endurance, alertness, strength, and confidence. It gets your blood flowing and boosts testosterone in both men and women. So if you were considering skipping a workout today…maybe don’t?
15. Some people can actually have orgasms from exercise alone.
“Coregasms” are real, and they’re climaxes that can be brought on by ab exercises. According to Herbenick, who has been studying non-genital orgasms like this for years, about 10% of men and women have reported arousal all the way up to the point of orgasm while exercising. For men, it typically happens during climbing exercises or pull-ups, while women report experiencing it from sit-ups and yoga. “It’s something about the demand you’re placing on your core abdominal muscles,” says Herbenick.
16. Oral sex can make a penis get BIGGER.
A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine aimed to find out the average penis size by asking men to self-report their erections — and how they got those erections. It turns out the men who received oral before measuring actually reported bigger penises. Of course, these results are only correlational (maybe well-endowed guys were just more likely to ask for an oral favor for the experiment), but it’s certainly good to know.
17. If you have a vagina, and your eventual goal is penetration…you should do lots of other sex stuff first to prep for it.
Remember that study that said including a variety of sexual acts (manual stimulation, oral, anal play, etc.) makes it easier to orgasm? Part of the reason for that is because it can make things more comfortable for you if your eventual goal is penetrative sex (whether that’s with a penis, finger, toy, whatever). “When you do something exciting, you get more blood flow to the genitals,” Herbenick says. “For women, this means more vaginal lubrication and vaginal tenting,” which is when the vagina actually gets bigger to make sex more comfortable.
18. On that note, pretty much everyone in heterosexual couples secretly wants foreplay to last longer than it does.
In a study of 152 heterosexual couples, both men and women said foreplay (meaning any kind of sex act that happens before P-in-V sex) would ideally last around 18–19 minutes (though women say it realistically lasts about 11 minutes and men say it lasts 13).
19. Lots of people screw up their birth control, even if they’re trying so hard to do it right.
If you’re using condoms plus another highly effective birth control method (like the Pill, the IUD, the ring, etc.), good for you! That means you’re protecting yourself against unplanned pregnancy and STDs. A recent study found that about 12% of people did this the last time they had sex…but unfortunately only 59% of them did it correctly. The rest either took the condom off early or put it on after they started having sex. And since many STDs are transmitted via any skin-to-skin contact, that mistake is basically the same as not using a condom at all. So if you’re going to double up, do it the right way and keep the rubber on the whole time you’re having sex.
20. Most people stop using condoms without talking about STDs and stuff first. Stop that.
This is according to a survey by Trojan, which found that the majority of people between 18 and 34 ditched rubbers after having sex with the same person for two months. But unfortunately, only half of those people actually talked about ditching protection, and less than a quarter of them discussed STD testing first. But remember, a lot of STDs are completely symptomless, so just because you love and trust this person doesn’t change the fact that they could be harboring something from a previous partner. Do your body a favor and always wear a condom until you’re mutually monogamous and have both recently been tested.
21. Talking after sex is a great idea and you should try it!
You know how you sometimes open up like a drunk oversharer after you have sex? That’s actually perfectly healthy, especially if you had an orgasm. Recent research shows that people who engaged in pillow talk post-orgasm viewed the talk as more open and intimate, plus they saw greater benefits to opening up to their partners than people who didn’t have an orgasm. Blame it on the release of oxytocin, the warm and fuzzy bonding hormone that’s released when you climax.
22. Lotsa orgasms a month can lower the risk of prostate cancer.
This obviously applies to people who, you know, have prostates to being with. Research shows that men who ejaculated 21 or more times per month had a lower risk of prostate cancer than men who only came four to seven times a month.