Do socks play a role in sex? Is pegging all about the receiver? How can we invite more pleasure? Hear some of the worst and best sex advice several experts have ever heard, plus a few of my favorite tips from past guests and episodes in this week’s Girl Boner Radio episode!
Stream it on Apple Podcasts/iTunes, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music, Spotify or below. Or read on for a lightly edited transcript.
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“The Best and Worst Sex Advice, According to Experts”
a lightly edited Girl Boner Radio transcript
Lana Kerr grew up in Jamaica, where she learned that sex is sacred.
It should be, you know, enjoyed between two committed individuals that are married. That’s really how I was raised.
At the same time, she picked up what so many of us who were reared as girls do — the idea that our sexuality is something we give to others, namely straight men, something that has power over others. But of course that same dynamic can make us feel powerless, as though our sexuality isn’t our own.
I feel like I understood the power that it had for myself, the benefit that it had for myself, when I was in my 40s. Before that, I’ve always seen it as something for someone else.
One of the messages that my mom had relayed to me, I remember getting married, I got married when I was 26. She said to me, one of the best ways to keep your marriage and to keep your husband happy is to feed him every day, and to give him sex every day.
So in that message, it was as if I’m doing something for him, you know?
Over a decade after Lana’s mother gave her that advice, when Lana was in her 40s, they had a second conversation that helped turn those ideas around.
So when I was in my 40s I had a conversation with my mom. I said to her, you know, “How do I know that I’m having good sex?” And she said to me that “good sex is like playing tennis. It’s just a different set of balls.”
“You just need to focus on hitting the ball.”
And that is what really changed my life because I understood it more as a connection. You know, I mean, when you think of, you know, Serena Williams hitting a tennis ball, she’s not thinking about how she’s looking hitting the ball. Her focus is on connecting to that ball.
And that’s what translated for me, when it comes to sex. It’s really about connecting with my partner, you know, with my husband, and really just being in the moment and being present and not as what I thought it was, or it was more of a performance, I think that’s what it was most of my life, it was just, it’s a performance that you’re doing for someone else. Whereas no, that shift actually really changed things in my relationship with myself, as well as my relationship with my husband.
Beautiful. And how did that impact your own pleasure, recognizing that?
Well then I started getting really deeper pleasure because I could be still, I could be present in the moment and really feel as opposed to being out of my body. So I think by doing that, changing that perspective, first, it allowed me to initiate it without intention behind it.
I’m relaxing into this. I’m doing this for my relaxation, for my pleasure, for my way to unplug, for my way to connect with him. And you know, I think for women, so much of sexual enjoyment is in our heads. So when we have that right perspective, it allows us to open up and to really let go and to enjoy and to connect. So that’s what that did for me.
In other words, Lana’s mother gave some of the worst and best sex advice she’s received—which is the theme of today’s episode.
And that second conversation they had, with the good advice, led to a whole series of discussions.
Which to be honest, I kind of almost regretted for a little while, like mommy’s being too honest here. [laughs] And my mind was visualizing things just she was saying. But because I was more attuned with my body, when I got into my late 40s, I started feeling a different sensation—I wasn’t feeling, enjoying it as much. And I knew that my perspective hadn’t changed. I was connecting with my husband. I was feeling good about it, but my pleasure decreased.
And all of that led Lana to further tend to her own pleasure by going in to see her gynecologist, who talked to her about the ways tissue in the vulva and vagina change over time, especially around middle age and menopause.
The gynecologist recommended an energy-based device that could help. That’s when Lana realized that a product at her company, Lumisque, already accomplished similar things, but on the face.
So after doing some tweaks, doing clinical studies for safety and effectiveness, it was conclusive that what we had was able to regenerate that area. So after doing that for myself, then sex got even more pleasurable, because it just really was able to bring back that tissue so it was functioning as if I was in my 20s again. But now, I had a different mindset to go with it. So just made it that much more enjoyable.
Lana’s company now offers that product, CO2Lift Carboxy Gel, for people with a vagina seeking similar benefits. In other words, the best sex advice she received ended up impacting her life and the many people the company reaches.
[encouraging, acoustic music]
Indeed, sex advice can be impactful, in good and not-so-great ways. Where do you go for yours? Your friends, a sex coach, books, the internet, podcasts?
There is defiitely no shortage of sex advice at our finger tips these days. I just googled the term and in less than a second, it drew up 6,880,000,000 results. I’m sure many are wonderful or practical, while others are misleading or even toxic.
I searched Instagram for sex advice, too, and I was actually pretty pleased with most of the top results.
One is a quote from therapist Esther Perel: “Erotic couples understand that foreplay is not something that you do 5 minutes before sex begins – foreplay pretty much starts at the end of the previous orgasm.”
Another good one features a quote from sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly: “When vulnerability is met with love and support, it’s a formula for intimacy.”
And the account @shrimpteeth shared a post on Queer Sex Myths that includes this smart advice: “Some folks have strong preferences for giving or receiving. Others like it trade roles. Do whatever pleases you, regardless of how you present.”
A few doozies popped up, too: this really cringe-y joke about a married couple and a list of foods that will supposedly “instantly boost your libido” (there aren’t any, actually). But overall, some sound advice on the ‘gram.
And that is a very good thing, considering how little most of us learn about sex and pleasure early on. I would venture to guess that most of us have also received some of that downright awful sex advice.
Today, I’m going to share some of both—WTF and wonderful sex advice—from experts who’ve appeared here before, in not-yet-released clips. Then I’ll share a few throwback sex tips—the awesome kind—from past episodes.
Okay, let’s dive in.
[acoustic chord riff]
The worst sex advice Babe West, a fat-bodied entertainer and sex worker, recalls hearing involves…socks.
Worst sex advice, going way way way back where socks you won’t get pregnant. I don’t even know how they got it. It had to have been a movie. Like who the hell says that kind of thing that people?
I’m not sure where that came from either, but there is some research that shows that wearing socks during sex might make orgasms stronger. Cozy feet, hotter climaxes.
I really appreciated the positive sex advice Babe shared—involving sex expectations.
Best sex advice I’ve ever heard is go into sex like you’re going into a comedy club. Be prepared to laugh but also feel ludicrous uncomfortable. And depending on the person you’re going in with maybe even a little called out or embarrassed.
When I asked Frank Wiegers, co-author of The Magical Sex Book, about the worst sex advice he’d ever heard, it took him a minute.
Um… I tried to block that out. I’m racking my brain.
What comes up to me is something my father told me just before I got married, he said, “Don’t ever get urine inside her?” Oh, thanks, Dad. What does that mean? [laughs]
That was the totality of the sex education I got in my household. That was it!
Even thinking about sex was considered a mortal sin, he said. And he’s still not sure what his dad was even talking about.
The best sex advice Frank has heard stems from two books: Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski, and Women’s Anatomy of Arousal by Sherry Winston.
The advice was to learn about women’s bodies and how they respond sexually so that by heightening their arousal, I get their sexual energy and it heightens my arousal.
I love that and I think it applies to any partner or partners we might have sex with, regardless of their sex or gender. Learning some of the basics, from a trusted source, like Frank did, and learning about a particular partner’s desires can go so far.
No two clitorises or penises, for example, will enjoy the exact same thing every time. But we can still learn some basics, such as: “Relax. The clitoris is not a DJ booth.” (Yes, I saw that on Instagram, too.)
Dr. Heather Bartos, gynecologist and host of The Me Spot podcast, told me that the worst sex advice she hears about in her work with vulva owners is also, sadly, common.
She primarily works with cisgender women, and when someone comes into her office with a sex challenge – they aren’t enjoying sex, for example – they’ve often heard something from another doctor that has done more harm than good.
Kind of the most popular one that I hear a lot is, because a lot of doctors don’t know what to say is, “Well, you just need to use you to do it. You just need to fake it.”
It’s not really addressing her as a woman with her own individual sexuality. It’s saying, ‘well just lay there and take it and it’ll get better.’ It’s misogynistic. It’s dated. It’s actually possibly more sexually damaging than what she’s already going through. Because no one unpacks what all is going on there.
And so you don’t know that she wasn’t abused or raped or sexually assaulted… You don’t know what’s going on. You don’t know that her husband or partner is not a total a-hole. It’s almost like a flick out the door: ‘I don’t even have time to address that. It’s not important to address.’
And I think that sexual health really is a vital sign. Just like when we take your blood pressure and your temperature and your respiratory rate.
“How’s your sex life?,” she said, should be as common as questions like, “Are you eating and sleeping well?”
That should be automatically in every medical assessment. Because it does give you a sense of, of idea about their general health. “How’s the sex life?” I’ll always ask when I’m doing a pap smear.
And they’ll say, “Weeell, it is what it is.” And I say, “By whose decision?” And then she says, “Well, you know, my partner is undergoing care for prostate cancer. And so you know, we’re going through a lot.” Then I know what’s happening and I can help to address cancer, grief and that kind of thing.
And if it’s, “Well, I don’t know. I just don’t really care about it,” then I know to check certain things, too.
So don’t ever feel like you need to “grin and bear it.” If you’re struggling in the sex department, find helpful resources. Seek support.
We can see our own sexuality—how we feel about it—as a vital sign, too.
Heather’s favorite advice to give patients—definitely in the “best” category—is to understand that change in our sex lives takes time. And our sexuality is not static; it’s more like a river.
We flow. We change as the landscape changes—the whole life. And so not to expect the sex you had in your 20s or your 40s or your 60s, it can actually get much better.
It’s a myth that our sex lives are over at 50 or 60 – total myth. And so really focusing on us aging—and again, that’s that river as we kind of moved from like the rapids to kind of a slow flow area—is teaching women at every point of life is, what do you expect in the next decade? What’s coming up? What problems do we foresee just might be part of the body’s aging experience and what can we navigate around?
[encouraging, acoustic music + river sounds]
Sara Jay, porn star and CEO of Wyde Syde Productions, who you’ll hear more from here soon, told me that her least favorite sex advice is anything that involves sex with a partner being all about oneself.
The biggest thing that I guess like is most annoying to me is when people are just in it for themselves. You know, like, they’re just trying to get off… No girl likes to feel, or no person that is a vessel for your meat—no person likes to feel used, you know? So it’s super important to make sure that the other person is enjoying themselves too. Don’t just try to get yourself off.
As for the best sex advice she’s heard, it is all about communication.
Kind of a no brainer, but you have to be communicative. You have to communicate with your partner, like you have to.
And a lot of people think when you hear the word communicate that you need to sit down and have a discussion before you have sex. And no, that’s not it. It’s like, “Ooh, baby, do you like this? Do you like it when I do that? What if I lick here? I bet you’d love it if I put my mouse on that.” You know, that kind of thing. Talk back and forth.
And also look at people’s reactions and responses to things that you’re doing. Even nonverbal communication is super important. Like, if you’re doing something to a girl, and she’s like [doubtful “um…”], that’s probably because she doesn’t like it.
It probably doesn’t feel good. And you should probably check in with her, “like, does that feel good to you, or no?”
When I was younger, communication was one of those things where I was like, I don’t want to talk about it. But the thing is, you can talk sexy about it and being sexy about it adds to the whole experience anyway.
Amen. More communication please.
Now for a few of my favorite sex tips from past episodes—starting with advice from sex educator Luna Matatas, who joined me to explore pegging.
I love that it applies not only to pegging–slang for a person with a vulva entering a guy’s rear with a strapped-on dildo—but it applies to sex in general. When we’re trying something new, whether that’s a toy or fisting or anal play, size often does matter. So does easing your way into new terrain.
Do you recommend easing your way in literally—and well, literally—with your finger, with smaller toys, before you go to the triple X?
Totally. The triple X is like next level and everyone—whether they’re taking from a finger to a penis to a dildo to a fist—requires anal training. Our anus is built up of several types of muscle and so we don’t necessarily have that constriction and expansion in the same way that we talk about vaginal muscles. We don’t necessarily need vaginal training but we need anal training because the anus just functions differently.
So, when thinking about ‘how do I build up to this,’ one of the great ways, if you’re the peg-gee or the receiver, is to start touching your own butthole. Put your finger up there in the shower and get used to the sensations. Start masturbating with your butthole, start using really small butt plugs and allow your ass to get kind of comfortable with being penetrated and being a receiver.
And from there, it’s actually a physiological experience for people where we toughen parts of the tissue around the anus so it’s more likely to be resilient and won’t necessarily tear or injure as easily. We’re training the muscle to expand and get stronger. And so that helps with penetration, whether you’re taking bigger things or smaller things. It just helps ease any discomfort or pain if we slowly build up versus, “I’ve never put anything in my butt, babe. Can you just peg me?”
[female-presenting voice: “huh?!”]
Advice Luna shared around “giving” pleasure seems applicable to so many types of sex, too.
Here’s another very common myth about pegging. That it’s really all about the receiver’s pleasure when in fact there’s potential for pleasure, not only for the peggee but for the pegger.
Ooh, yes. Strap-on play for some people looks like it’s a one-way thing… So if you’re strapping it on and you’ve got this silicone dildo, you think, well, I’m putting something in someone. This is really our society’s problem with phallic centered pleasure and that everything is going to be in the penetration tool and that’s where all the pleasure comes from. And that’s not true. So we’ve got an erotic experience that is a combination of our physical selves as well as our erotic selves.
Maybe this is the first time that you’ve penetrated your partner or maybe this is a fantasy you both have been really wanting to do. So, there’s all this mental excitement and mental stimulation. There’s visual stimulation as well. And there’s physical stimulation.
So, the clitoris actually has stimulation potential from the mound of the vulva—that area kind of pounding against something—or there are vibrators you can slip into your strap on or things like that. But even just the simple kind of pounding that you would get also during vaginal penetration is stimulating. It’s almost like a really big vibrator that you’re creating against your body.
[buzzing + soft moan]
And who doesn’t want that?
While we’re at all of this, seeking out and embracing pleasure on all sides of sex, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Challenging other societal messages that’ve been tinkering with our sex lives might just unlock whole worlds of pleasure. One way to do so? Queering things up.
Take it from non-binary gender and sex therapist-turned-coach, Rae McDaniel:
We get stuck in this idea of “masculine and feminine energy” in the bedroom or certain sex acts are for people with certain body parts. And I talk about queering that up. And what I mean by queering that up is simply to question what are the boxes that we have created for ourselves? And are they actually helpful to us or are they limiting to us?
If we’re trying to get to know ourselves intimately, Rae said, we have to unlearn or at least question the ways we may be engaging in sex and relationships based on societal messages about what it means to be a man or woman, or masculine or feminine. Instead, we can ask ourselves: What actually feels good for me?
And within that, knowing that there is no such thing as “feminine or masculine energy.” So we can get a lot more specific.
Instead of using placeholders of feminine and masculine, let’s just say what we mean. Are we talking about dominant and submissive energy? Are we talking about soft and slow energy, versus hard and fast? And those are not gendered concepts.
For example, I’ve worked with a number of transfeminine clients who have an assumption that because they are transfeminine they need to be submissive, they need to be a bottom, they need to engage in certain sex acts. And that’s not true, right?
You can be an amazing badass, high powered femme person who is a super top. You can use body parts that you have or use toys and dildos to be a penetrating partner. And that says nothing about your gender identity or your role in the bedroom.
Another way to feel freer in your sexuality involves chipping away at shame. I loved what therapist and sex worker Jet Setting Jasmine shared about doing so.
Identify what makes you feel shameful and think about where those messages came from. Think about who, specifically, when you hear that voice, who do you picture? Is it your pastor? Is it your mother? Is it, you know, the bully down the block? Who is it? And then give that back to them. Just give it back to them: That’s your shame. That’s actually not mine. I really don’t feel that way now. Thirty years later. I actually realize that has nothing to do with me.
So just think about where you can give these messages back to. Also take a look and see where those people are with respect to their life. What I have found is looking at some of the people who gave me some really, really shitty advice…. And I look and I go, oh my goodness, you took your own advice and you’re so unhappy… Just literally give them their message back because it no longer serves you. We can give shame back because, nine times out of 10, it’s not ours to begin with.
I love that so much: “We can give shame back because 9 times out of 10, it’s not ours to begin with.”
And as we chip away at shame, it’s also important to explore our bodies, if we’re interested in sex of any kind. If you’d like to explore masturbation for the first time, consider this advice, from psychologist and sex therapist Dr. Shannon Chavez:
I think the first tip is to explore your anatomy first. And that may start with getting naked, looking at your nude body, being open to exploring. And by exploring I mean really touch things. Move things around. See how things work, how they look, become embodied and connected to your anatomy, so that masturbation doesn’t seem like an obscure thing, but then you can say ‘alright, now I want to explore where to touch and how to touch.’ And use your hands. You don’t need a fancy vibrator to masturbate. It can start with sensual touch, massage, just really exploring different types of sensations.
And then, of course, feel free to add toys or other accessories to the mix. Some people, especially folks with a vulva, only experience orgasm with a toy—and that is completely okay.
The Pleasure Chest carries my favorite toys, including basic, non-vibrating dildos, the wands and clit stimulators by Womanizer I recommend so often, masturbation sleeves, cock rings and more. They also carry my favorite lube of late, by Wicked. Check out their latest specials and get free, always discreet shipping over $75 at thepleasurechest.com. Again that’s The Pleasure Chest at thepleasurechest.com.
I also loved these tips from Elle Chase, sex educator and author of Curvy Girl Sex, and Cyndi Darnell, sexologist and author of the forthcoming book, Sex When You Don’t Feel Like It: The Truth about Mismatched Libido and Rediscovering Desire.
Breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe, breathe. It’s surprising how many people don’t breathe when they’re about to come, when they’re getting aroused. Pay attention to your breath. Get Barbara Carrellas’s book, Urban Tantra. She has amazing breath exercises there.
And I think I would say your body knows what to do. Trust your body. It knows what to do. If it is having a good time, it’s having a good time. If it needs a break, it needs a break. Your body knows what it to do when it comes to sex.
Here is to listening to and trusting your own body.
I think the same applies when we hear sex advice. Helpful, positive sex advice prioritizes pleasure (and not just one person’s pleasure, unless it’s solo play). It’s based on science, not fiction or societal myths. And it’s chock full of safety and respect for everyone involved. When you hear it, you’ll feel respectful and respected.
Find links to the experts and episodes mentioned in this episode at augustmclaughlin.com/sexadvice. And if you’d like to share your own best and worst sex advice you’ve ever heard, drop me a note while you’re there.
To save 15% on CO2Lift Carboxy Gel, the product Lana Kerr came up with, use the code Girlboner at co2lift.com. Lumisque Skincare isn’t a sponsor of this show — that’s not an ad. Lana just wanted to generously offer that to you all.
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Thanks so much for listening.
[outro music that makes you wanna dance!]