I’m Jayne McCartney and I’m a sexologist, sex educator, and the University of Newcastle’s Respectful Communities Coordinator. In my role at the University I have been responsible for coordinating the creation and implementation of the University’s Action Plan to Prevent Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.
I use a holistic relationships and sex education framework as part of the primary prevention work. I am a big believer in peer-led sex education and am developing opportunities for students to work with me to create a safe, respectful community together. The vision for our university community is one where diversity in gender and sexuality is respected and, if students choose to have sexual experiences, that they have the knowledge to make sure these experiences are consensual, enthusiastic, healthy and rewarding.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about my work.
Do you recommend a sex toy for someone trying a sex toy for the first time?
There are sooo many sex toys on the market it can be really overwhelming for a beginner to know what to choose. My advice is to start simple and when you get the hang of what you like you’ll be ready to expand your ‘toybox’.
A first sex toy will also depend on what type of pleasure you’re after. If you’re looking for a penetrative experience (anal or vaginal for example) a realistic dildo around 5 inches might be ideal to start with. But if you’re after a toy that uses vibrations to stimulate pleasure zones like the clitoris, head of the penis, anus or perineum (the area between the genitalia and the anus) or anywhere that arouses you really, a classic wand vibrator is usually a winner. And for penis owners a ‘stroker’ – also known as a pocket vagina or pocket pussy – can be a lot of fun.
I don’t want to complicate things for beginners, so I’ll keep it to these basic (and iconic!) toys for now. But remember, we’re all unique so if a particular toy doesn’t get you off, even though it has someone else biting down on their pillow and having multiple orgasms, it’s ok. Give something else a go if you’re still curious but don’t put pressure on yourself. An open mind and some sexual self-compassion will ensure that your toy journey is fun and fulfilling.
And finally, some general sex toy advice:
– When you’re buying a sex toy don’t forget to grab some water-based lube to go with it. Lubed up sexy bits can fast-track arousal and help us to really feel into the moment. Lube also helps prevent chafing or irritation from potential friction. But check the ingredients and steer clear of lubes with parabens, harmful chemicals, preservatives, and glycerine to further avoid irritation.
– I know it’s hard on a student budget, but if possible, try to invest in the best quality toys and lube you can. Rechargeable options for powered toys are a bigger up-front investment but are often much better (read: more powerful) than cheap battery-operated toys and are more sustainable in the long run.
– Sex is gloriously messy but clean toys are sexy so they should be washed after every use. If you know you always crash out straight after cumming, keep a packet of biodegradable baby wipes in your toy drawer to give the toys a bit of a once over when you’re done and then a thorough clean when you wake up.
– Buying toys online is fabulous if you’re feeling a little shy. I 100% recommend it. But if you’re feeling brave enough to head into a sex toy store, the staff are usually fantastic. They’ve usually seen it all – from nervous young couples to swinging groups and happy polycules – and are trained to help you feel at ease in the environment. Take a friend or partner (or a few!) for moral support or a shared adventure!
How do I get to the Big O?
How to get to the Big O is a BIG question and depends on a number of things. From this question it’s hard to know if this is someone who has experienced orgasm in the past and is now experiencing (possibly distressing) orgasm challenges (anorgasmia), or if it’s someone who is ‘pre-orgasmic’ (hasn’t yet experienced orgasm has no idea where to start). Are they hoping for a solo orgasm or with a partner?
In either case, taking time to get to know or reconnect with your own body is a great starting point. Put some dedicated time aside when you know you won’t be interrupted, set the scene with some low lighting and maybe some music, get naked and explore your body with your hands or sex toys. Touching your genitals and other pleasurable areas of your body such as your nipples, underarms, booty, anus and anywhere else that you’re drawn to will help you get to know what feels good for you. Clitoral or penis stimulation are two common (but not only) ways to achieve orgasm, but the methods used are again unique to the person and it can often be a trial-and-error situation. Practise as often as you feel like and you will start to learn about your body and your unique turn-ons. Be kind to yourself like you would expect a lover to. Use positive, loving self-talk while you explore. I always recommend learning how to orgasm with yourself as a great foundation for partnered sex and orgasms. Partnered sex can inhibit orgasm for a variety of reasons but knowing yourself and your body is a massive step in the right direction!
If you’re still not quite getting there, look for some resources. The book Come As You Are by Dr Emily Nagoski is an amazing resource. It’s filled with amazing sex science but written with genuine affection, humour and care. It’s really easy to read and will give you many ‘wow’ moments. While it is primarily targeted towards female sexuality, this book has a lot to offer about human sexuality overall. But if you identify as a woman or have sex with women this book might change your (sex) life. Otherwise look for cool qualified sex educators online. Chantelle Otten (Australia’s favourite sexologist) and Cam Fraser (a sexologist and men’s sex coach) are two great educators who provide lots of excellent content online that can be super informative in your journey to the big O.
If your attempts to reach orgasm become frustrating and start to impact on your wellbeing find a professional to chat with. A counsellor or psychologist with a sexology or sexual health specialisation can be a great help, as can any other mental health professional that you feel comfortable with.
And finally, remember that sometimes a really goal-oriented approach to sex can get in the way of having a good time. Orgasms are great but are not the only way to experience sexual pleasure. Take the Big O off the table for a while and get in touch with other parts of your sexuality.
Sex toy recommendations to use with your partner?
In theory all sex toys are great to use with your partner. Shared pleasure can sometimes be double (or triple!) the fun. But if you’re looking for something novel and a little quirky maybe try sex toys that have a sex-tech component. There are toys out there that use app/Bluetooth technology so that you can stimulate one another when you’re not in the same place, or play together online in real time – perfect for that long distance relationship or just to add a little ‘buzz’ to your everyday life. Google ‘sex toys for couples’ and you’ll find a wonderland of toys and technology that might just blow your mind (and a few other things!).
What are the internal things happening when having an orgasm?
The human orgasm is a truly fascinating physiological process that would take many thousands of words to describe, so if you’re interested in looking a little deeper explore ‘Human sexual response cycle’ online and in academic literature. There is some disagreement among scientists about this cycle, but many believe it has four stages: desire, arousal, orgasm and resolution. At each of these stages both the physiology, nervous system and psychology of a person plays a role.
During the orgasm stage the body can undergo a wide variety of physical experiences including elevated blood pressure and heart rate, muscle contraction and ejaculation. Interestingly some of these changes also mean the part of your brain responsible for reasoning takes a back seat. Hormones play a big part in sex and when you orgasm the brain sends a rush of dopamine into your system. This is one of the reasons an orgasm feels so good. Orgasm can also release oxytocin – this one helps us feel close and affectionate towards others.
After orgasm the brain starts to tell the body to down regulate – activating the parasympathetic nervous system and also sending out serotonin – a really great explanation as to why many people are super sleepy after cumming.
But honestly this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on when someone experiences orgasm. If you’re interested in some super cool sex science, search the work of neuroscientist Dr Barry Komisaruk who has been doing clinical research into orgasm for many years. Dr Komisaruk has found that during orgasm over 30 major brain systems are activated! If you want to see orgasm explained a little more simply check out The Science of Orgasms video by AsapSCIENCE.
How important is it to wear protection?
Protection by barrier methods such as condoms or dams is an incredibly important way to stay safe from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to protect from unwanted pregnancy.
Condoms may be male/external and are usually worn over the penis for any form of penetrative sex (oral, vaginal, anal), or internal/female and worn inside the vagina for protection during penetrative sex of a vagina. A dental/rubber dam is a sheet of latex that is held over the vulva or anus during oral sex. It is not able to be worn over a penis as a barrier method and does not prevent pregnancy.
While no barrier method is 100% effective at preventing STIs or unwanted pregnancy, when used correctly, condoms and dams are very effective. If you’re sexually active and not in a monogamous relationship in which you have both received a clear STI screen, you will be risking STIs and potentially unwanted pregnancy when you don’t use protection. While we are fortunate enough to live in a country in which pregnancy termination and access to medication to treat most STIs are available, these things are still a lot more challenging to access than simply grabbing some condoms, and they can have significant physical and emotional impacts on the people involved.
Having conversations with your partners and potential partners about condom use before you have sex is a great practice to have in your sex repertoire. A couple of things to think about with external condom use is that it can be hard for the receiving partner to take control in this situation as the penis in question is not their own. While great communication helps it can be a hard conversation to have. Penis owners who take responsibility for covering their penis not only respect their own health but show respect to their partner by not putting them in the awkward position of having to ask or ask repeatedly for someone to use a condom. This kind of respect and maturity can be a huge turn on.
I can only ‘finish’ from watching porn and not from sex. How can I change that?
It might be time to change or reset your relationship with porn. Try some of the tips below:
– Start with self-pleasure. Take a break from watching porn for a couple of weeks and listen to your body. See if you can feel a natural sexual desire rather than a need to ‘cum’ from porn. Masturbate without the use of porn to get back in touch with yourself. Don’t give up if you can’t get into it to start with. You’re making new habits.
– Use the power of edging for a week or two. Take the pressure of ‘finishing’ away from your self-pleasure or partnered sex experiences. Bring back hot and heavy make-out sessions that don’t end in sex.
– Touch your body in ways that feel good but listen to your self-talk, try to change it from the goal of finishing to a goal of pleasure.
– Your brain is also a huge sexual organ. Try to find things that turn you on in your memory – a hot hookup you once had, a fantasy about something you’ve always wanted to try. Make your imagination your own porn channel. It might take some exercising – like a muscle you haven’t used for a while, but practice for a while and see if you can see progress.
– Talk to your partner(s) about what’s happening for you. Try not to put pressure on them to help you ‘cum’ as this can be counterproductive.
– Find alternatives like erotic fiction or erotic audio like Dipsea Stories. Share these with a partner and see what happens.
– Try to stay disciplined with resisting porn until you start to feel a little more in tune with your personal sexual desires. You can add porn back in as a ‘sometimes food’ at a later date if you still want to, but like most things it’s probably better for a healthy and balanced life to use it in moderation.
– Also remember to be kind to yourself. You’ve grown up in a porn-soaked culture so you’re definitely not the only one wanting to change their relationship to porn and their own sexual experiences.
– If you still feel challenged by your relationship to porn and its impact on your sex life after trying some of the tips above, reach out for some support from a counsellor or sex therapist.
What position is the best to raise the chances of having an orgasm?
The theme of the day is that we are all unique sexual beings, so for this question I can only say there isn’t one position that’s best, just the position that’s best for you in the moment. Everyone’s anatomy is different so while reverse cowgirl might get you off in seconds it can be painful for someone else. Your best bet is to experiment with as many positions as you can, which has an added bonus of being super fun. And if your knowledge of sex positions is limited to missionary, doggie, the iconic 69-er and ‘up against a wall after a fantastic Tinder date’, you simply can’t go past the iconic Kama Sutra. With over 60 positions you’re sure to find one or two new ones you want to try.
How long should you wait in a relationship to have sex?
You should wait exactly as long as it takes for all parties to be enthusiastically, freely and excitedly consenting – whether that’s three hours after meeting or three years. Societal rules about how long to wait are usually based on other social constructs which may be shame based – which means it’s considered shameful to have sex under certain conditions. Of course, if you have cultural beliefs that you wholeheartedly agree to, and are an important part of your identity, and that make you feel good, then abiding by a certain condition will align with that and inform you when you might have sex. That can be a helpful guideline. By extension, nobody should be shamed for choosing to have wholehearted and consensual sex at any point in a relationship – whether on the first day or after ten years. Research on when you have sex and how ‘successful’ a relationship is can be mixed. It depends on what you want the relationship to look like and what sex means to you and your partner as individuals and together. As always, the foundation is respect, communication, and consent.
My bf doesn’t like going down on me. How do I cope or accept that?
I wonder if you have had a conversation with your boyfriend about why he doesn’t like going down on you? We all have the right in our sexual experiences to not consent to anything that we do not want to do, and if oral sex isn’t something he finds pleasurable it’s important not to shame or guilt him. But if you feel brave enough to chat to him and he is open to perhaps finding a way to give this pleasure to you it could be a project you do together. If ultimately, he still is not able to be enthusiastic about oral sex you might need to reframe it in your mind so that you value the fact that you are honouring his autonomy and are grateful for all the other things he offers to you – sexually and non-sexually. Not one person can give anyone everything. It might be tricky if you are sexually monogamous as it will mean you can’t pursue oral sex with someone else. Is this a deal breaker or something you can live with? Only you will know that. Please reach out for professional support if you struggle talking to your boyfriend or can’t reconcile to his ultimate decision about oral sex.
How do I find the g-spot?
The female g spot can be elusive. Some guides suggest placing two fingers into the vagina and using them in a kind of gentle digging motion at the ‘front’ wall. Some sex toys are also designed to specifically target the ‘g-spot’. For men the g-spot (the prostrate) is also known as the p-spot and is located just inside the rectum. You can access it by stimulating the perineum or inserting a finger or toy (or even a very dexterous tongue!) into the anus. But, as Dr Emily Nagoski says, we are all made of the same parts arranged differently, so one person’s screaming g-spot orgasm is another’s dull discomfort. I recommend two things:
- Approach exploration with a sense of fun and curiosity and,
- Take goal-oriented pressure off yourself and your partners. Sex should never be an achievement-based activity – it should always be about pleasure, mutual pleasure, consent, and fun.
Do all females have the ability to squirt?
Female ejaculation – often known as squirting – is a contentious issue in some areas, and with not a lot of research in the area it’s challenging to find good evidence. What we do know is that there are two types of female ejaculation – one being the ‘gushing’ fluid that most people think of when they think of squirting. The other is a fluid which is much less in volume, slightly different in consistency and comes from the Skene glands (which only some people with vaginas actually have).
But if we consider the type of ejaculation known as ‘squirting’ then some people would argue that yes, in theory, this is something all females can learn to do. From the research the estimates are that anywhere from 10-54% of women have experienced female ejaculation of some form. But I think the real key here is to think about why you want to experience squirting either in yourself or in your partner. While it can be a really wonderful, exciting and fun experience, it’s only one thing in a whole fabulous spectrum of possibilities. What’s more concerning is when certain things are held up as a goal or ideal. This can then create pressure and insecurity in people having sex – particularly for people with vaginas who might not feel good enough if they are not able to squirt, or for their partners who may somehow let this affect their ability to enjoy their experiences. What we do know is that a focus on outcomes rather than the experience can have a really negative effect on those involved, so I encourage you to approach squirting with curiosity, compassion and humour and remember that sex is not a performance.
How to deal with a porn addiction?
I want to clarify porn addiction is not a recognised addiction according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders -Fifth Edition (DSM-5) which is the publication primarily used as the standard for diagnosing and treating mental disorders. So, while this continues to be an area of research, we absolutely know that there can be negative and harmful effects caused by porn use or overuse, and it is generally considered to fall under the DSM-5 category of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.
With this in mind, if you are finding that your use of porn is having negative impacts on you either emotionally, financially, socially, within your interpersonal relationships, or in work and study, then it sounds like you need some support.
Mindfulness as well as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) have been shown to be effective in managing compulsive behaviours. Just like when you try to give up other things that you believe don’t align with your health goals, you could start at home by making an effort to replace your porn use (just one viewing session at a time) with another activity such as yoga, meditation, walking or reading, or reducing the number of times you watch porn each day.
However, the support of a professional is also highly recommended. Look for someone you feel comfortable with. The University has free counselling for students and are really experienced in the typical problems faced by our community. Finally, be kind to yourself. Problematic porn use often comes with a side of self-shaming and frustration. This can make you feel alone and unable to share your challenges in order to get the support you need. But rest assured, this is a challenge that many people encounter, but with some strategies and guidance you can reset your relationship with porn to a healthier one and feel positive about your own sexuality.
Disclaimer: All content in this article is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice from a medical, sexual health or mental health practitioner and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Please reach out to the University Counselling Service for mental health support.
For sexual health support ACON, Play Safe NSW, Family Planning NSW and the Pacific Clinic are great resources.
For info on sex, dating and relationships visit The Line.
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