Sex, Love, and Life Advice for Women

In my role as a sex educator, I am often asked – especially by young women – to give one single “must-know” piece of advice about sex. Something that if they knew, their sex life would be better for it. While I can never boil my advice down to just one thing, here are 7 pieces of advice that I wish more women would take to heart:

1. Your vagina smells just fine. You don’t need to douche, spray, or wipe it with anything scented. Shower/bathe regularly and you should be fine. If anything feels, smells, or looks strange or funny to you down there, let your healthcare provider know. He or she can examine your vagina (the inside part) and vulva (the outside part).

2. When it comes to your hair, do what you like. This goes for the hair on your head, the hair on your legs, the hair on your vulva, and everywhere else. It’s your body.

3. Get to know what your breasts – your real breasts – look like. If you like to wear push up bras, fine. But spend some time without a bra, even if it’s just at home. Wear non-padded, non-pushup bras at least some of the time so you can remember what your real breasts look like and give the world a taste of what real breasts look like.

4. If the person you like can’t make the time to hang out with you, move on. Some people just won’t be into you. Other people surround themselves with so many appointments and meetings and hobbies and forget to make time for the people and things in life that matter. That’s their (very real, and often very sad) loss; they may figure it out one day, but it may not be under your watch. Find someone who wants to spend time with you so much that, even if they only have 15 free minutes, they say “hey, I want to spend my 15 free minutes with you.” I promise you that these people exist.

5. De-clutter your life. Those dried flowers from your college boyfriend/girlfriend? They’re not good potpourri; they’re dead flowers from another lifetime. Throw them out. That stack of newspapers or magazines? You’ll never read them. And if you do, they will be old news. Clothes you haven’t worn in the past year? Someone else could desperately use them. Your old jeans or sweaters might make someone feel like a million bucks. Sell or donate them. The more clutter you get rid of, the more time and space you will have for sex, love and life so that you don’t become the person in #4 (above) who’s missing out.

6. Relax about sex. Have sex with the lights on. Try masturbating. Try not masturbating for a while. Say no if you don’t feel like having sex tonight. Say yes if you’re on the fence and your partner wants to. Do it in the back seat of a car at least once. Have sex in front of a mirror at least some of the time. Admire your body. Tell your partner that his or her body is attractive or hot or sexy or whatever word you use. Experiment with a new sex position. Experiment with sharing your feelings during sex. Get the sheets dirty. Sleep on the wet spot. It’s just sex! And yet, it’s SEX – and it can be wonderful. Make the most of it.

7. Speak from your heart. When you mean it, say “I like you” or “I love you” or “I want to see you.” It doesn’t always work out. You can spill your heart out and the person may not like you back. Or they may have nothing to say, even if they like or love you (some people are emotionally stunted – that’s another story for another day). But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

This advice comes with no guarantees. You will likely still have challenges in sex, love, and life. But at least you may be able to relax a little more often and let go. As the saying goes, no one ever said – when they got to the end of their life – that they wish they’d spent more time at the office. So, spend more time in each other’s arms, in bed, and cuddling on the sofa with your loved one, your pet, or a good book that takes you to fantastic places in your imagination.

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About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.