When it comes to sex, many of us would like to believe we already know everything there is about getting down and dirty. But sex can be just as mysterious as it is satisfying, and odds are there are a few facts about the pleasure-inducing act you may have missed on your journey to becoming a certified sexpert. Well, have no fear; we’re happy to fill in the gaps. Here are 10 surprising facts about sex you probably didn’t know!
Women get erections too
Yes, you read that correctly. We are just as capable of rising to the occasion as our male counterparts – thanks feminism! But seriously, women have always been able to get erections; ours just occur on a smaller scale. Like the penis, the clitoris is made up of spongy erectile tissue that expands and engorges with blood when aroused. The clitoris typically ranges from seven to 12 centimeters, and when it’s erect, it can grow anywhere between 50% and 300% in size.
The clitoris is like an iceberg
Speaking of the clitoris, we might as well tell you that it’s actually larger than you think. The seven to 12 centimeters you see outside of your body is only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the clitoris (referred to as the clitoral urethral vaginal complex) also extends internally, wrapping around the vaginal tunnel and expanding out towards the thighs. At rest, the “arms,” or corpora cavernosa, of the clitoris’ body remain extended outwardly. But when aroused, they curl around towards your vaginal opening. Confused on what this may look like? Try googling “internal clitoris.” You’ll be completely surprised (and only slightly terrified).
A headache may actually make you more in the mood
Low-libidoed lovers everywhere may hate me for this, but it seems like the phrase, “Not tonight, honey, I have a headache,” may no longer be a valid excuse for avoiding a romp in the sheets. According to a study by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, migraine sufferers actually reported higher levels of sexual desire. Researchers believe that sexual desire and migraine headaches may be influenced by the same brain chemical, which means your partner could be faking the headache to avoid sex.
We’re talking about it more, but having it less
With how sexually liberated we have become as a society, you’d think we’d be doing the deed more often. But unfortunately, it seems we’re more likely to talk the talk than walk the walk. Research published by a psychology professor at San Diego State University shows people in their early 20s are two and a half times as likely to be abstinent as Gen Xers were at that age. Even Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are having less sex, with the average adult going from having sex 62 times a year to 54 times.
Fancy condoms are practically useless
You may have seen condoms that are ribbed, studded, or even hexagonal (yes, it’s a thing) for her pleasure. But these are better for marketing than for actual use. The vagina is relatively insensitive to pain and stimulation, which is why some vaginal surgeries can be done without anesthetics. So feel free to skip the bells and whistles and get back to the basics.
Men can orgasm without ejaculating
True feminism aims to shed preconceived notions on each side of the spectrum, and we are true feminists here at WomenWorking. So yes, women can have erections and men can orgasm without ejaculating. This is often referred to as a dry orgasm, and men can actually learn to have them, since orgasming and ejaculating are actually two separate physiological responses in men that just so happen to occur within milliseconds of each other.
You can lose your ability to have an orgasm
I know, this one is scary. While it’s rare, it’s possible to lose your sexual sensation during long periods without sex. The condition is referred to as clitoral atrophy and it occurs when the clitoris doesn’t receive enough blood flow, causing it to retract into the body. Penile atrophy is also possible, though it’s more likely to be from aging or injury than lack of sex.
Vibrators were invented as a medical device
The first vibrator was invented in 1869 as a treatment for “hysteria” or other mysterious “female disorders.” Whenever a woman was mentally or emotionally upset, doctors considered it an illness. Thus came the creation of a large, steam-powered massager, or our world’s first vibrator, which was used to massage the genitals and induce “hysterical paroxysm,” or the Victorian term for an orgasm. Hey, sure beats a lobotomy.
The egg chooses the “winning” sperm
You might believe that it’s the sperm that wins a daring race to fertilize a patiently waiting egg, but that’s not the case. Eggs actually have sophisticated biological mechanisms in place that actively choose which sperm they allow in, and it’s not always the first one to get there.
One in six women has never had an orgasm
This is probably the least surprising fact on the list, since most people are already aware of the orgasm gap, or the disparity of orgasms within heterosexual relationships. But some women don’t just struggle to have an orgasm – they’ve never had one at all. About 15 percent of women report never experiencing an orgasm.
If you fall into that category, don’t worry, you’re not “broken.” It’s all about being comfortable and learning what your body will and won’t respond to. It’s also important to note that you don’t have to have orgasms to have a good sex life. Putting an end goal on sex is not only stressful; it can detract actual pleasure from the act.