What Does Vaginal Sex Feel Like?

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Girls often wonder what sex feels like. It’s hard to describe sex, and everyone experiences it differently.

For example, oral and anal sex may feel painful if your genitals aren’t well-lubricated. So use lube and make sure you’re aroused before penetration! If it still hurts, talk to your doctor.

The Penis

Honored everywhere from ancient statues to Renaissance paintings to modern-day graffiti, the penis is responsible for reproduction as it conveys sperm and seminal fluid. Penise come in many shapes and lengths — the banana shape, for example, is great at nabbing and sliding into the vagina (though it can be difficult to enter with straight ones). Penise that are long and skinny with a larger head work well for rocking and anal sex.

The vagina walls also love pressure — that’s why they feel so good when you make circles with your pelvis while penetrating your partner. Try a few different pelvic movements, like swinging, circling, and making a figure eight, to see what feels best for you.

As you get more arousal during sex, the clitoris and surrounding tissue engorge, just like the penis. This signals the internal muscles to pull up and back, creating a space that is ready to receive — whether it’s a finger, a fist, a penis, or a sex toy. This is tenting, and without it, sex wouldn’t feel the same.

However, a woman’s sexual pleasure can also be hindered by pain during penetration. This may occur due to a lack of lubrication, a medical condition, or an old injury. It can also happen if the woman is too tense or distracted, and it’s important to take time for foreplay to increase arousal before penetration. Deep pain during sex is called dyspareunia, and it can be very painful for both partners.

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The Arousal

For a woman to be sexually aroused, her body has to prepare itself. That starts with a sexy place to enter – the introitus (vaginal vocab quiz later). This is where your vaginal opening, or vulva, lives along with a ring of tissue around your urethra called a sponge that can be stimulated for pleasure.

A sexy woman knows it’s time for sex when her clitoris swells and her underwear gets wet. Her skin might feel flushed and her mouth may start to salivate, too. It’s also possible she might get a headache, a pounding heart, and sweaty palms.

But she can still have a great experience even without an orgasm. If she’s turned on, she might simply enjoy a handjob or fingering session, or lick her partner. This is why it’s important for women to find pleasure enhancing techniques that work for them, rather than falling back on what the media and literature tell them sex should feel like.

For example, if you’re experiencing vaginal numbness, you might try mapping out the different points of sensation within your vulva. That’ll help you build up a more realistic understanding of how your sensations should feel, while stimulating the nerves to reduce your numbness. This kind of self-care can be especially helpful for those who have experienced historic sexual trauma, which can lead to a numbness that doesn’t respond to normal sexual stimulation.

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The Tenting

When a woman is aroused, the cervix — which can feel like a tiny donut and is located in the back of her vagina — moves up, up, and away in a process called tenting. That’s what makes penetration possible (and oh-so-fun).

The cervix isn’t always visible, but you can feel it if you put one or two clean or gloved fingers deep into your vagina (use some lube to make it easier). It kind of feels like a really soft and juicy ball. The clitoris is on the outside of the cervix, and its long beautiful legs (which can be painful to touch when you have a medical condition or surgery) engorge during arousal. The clitoris and cervix then create a space for the penis or finger or toy — whatever is being penetrated — to enter and be stimulated internally.

But not everyone has a cervix that tents. If you don’t, you may have a vaginal muscle problem called vaginismus that makes penetrative sex hurt, even after lots of foreplay. If that’s the case, you’ll need to talk to a health professional or sexual educator for help. This video from our “Why Does It Hurt” series can give you some tips. It can be embarrassing to discuss, but it’s important to talk about it! The sooner you get to a solution, the better it will be for both you and your partner.

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The Orgasm

When a woman is feeling turned on, her heart rate might speed up, she might start breathing fast and deep, and her clitoris and labia might become more sensitive to touch. She might also feel her g-spot (also known as the Grafenberg spot) swell. This is the spot inside her vagina, usually on the upper wall, that swells when she’s in foreplay or during an orgasm. The g-spot is what makes sex so incredibly pleasurable.

She might then start thinking about her partner, what they could do together, and how she wants to be touched. If she and her partner are doing foreplay, then they might be able to touch each other in ways that arouse them both. The climax of this arousal, which is sometimes called sexual tension or the Big O, happens when her uterus and anus muscles contract and she has an orgasm. This release of built-up tension is a very pleasurable feeling and it can be long, explosive or short.

If you’re in sex ed class right now, you’ve probably heard teachers talk about pregnancy, STIs and safe sex practices. But you might not have learned about what sex actually feels like. Orgasms are an important part of sexual pleasure and they’re normal, healthy, and a part of our human experience. Orgasms can occur during oral sex, hand sex, masturbation, anal sex, solo sex and even kissing.

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