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Sexual acts

An African couple

Throughout history people have explored different ways to have sexual pleasure.

Throughout history people have explored different ways to achieve sexual pleasure. There are far too many sexual activities for us to list them all here.

Nonetheless most sexual acts fall into a few broad categories and it's worth talking through them.

You'll often find that people use lots of slang words to talk about sex and it might seem that everyone knows what they mean but you. Don't worry, in most cases these words will probably turn out to mean one of the activities listed below.

Whatever your sexuality, you can pick and choose sexual acts to suit your taste and your partner's as well.

Sexual orientation and sexual acts

The rumours that people of certain sexualities have only certain kinds of sex are often only rumours.

People often assume that gay men always have anal sex, heterosexuals always have vaginal sex and lesbians never have 'proper' penetrative sex.

It might be the case that a gay couple doesn't have anal sex, a heterosexual couple does and a lesbian couple has penetrative sex using a sex toy.

Having sex can involve lots of different things and is not just about penetration. There are many other things to do, including kissing and touching, stroking, oral sex and mutual masturbation.

The key to enjoying sex is making sure that you feel comfortable and confident about what you are doing, and don’t feel rushed or pressured into doing things you aren’t sure about.

No matter what kind of sex you are having, it is important to be aware of how sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, are transmitted so that you can protect yourself and your partner. You should also be aware of how to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

Remember, you can be infected with an STI, including HIV, at any age and you can’t tell by looking at somebody whether they have an infection or not. This is why it is important to take responsibility for your own sexual health and learn how to talk about using condoms or other forms of contraception when you are going to have sex.

French kissing and snogging

When people talk about kissing they don’t generally mean a peck on the cheek.

Instead they mean kissing using tongues, where your mouth is open and your tongue meets the other person’s.

Kissing can feel really good and, as with most things, practice makes perfect - so don’t worry if you don’t get it exactly right first time.

Mutual masturbation

Also known as tossing off and fingering.

A big part of having sex is exploring each other’s bodies, and in particular each other’s genitals.

Mutual masturbation is where your partner stimulates your genitals with their hands, sometimes to the point of orgasm.

For a man this would involve his partner touching his testicles (balls) and stroking his penis.

For a woman this could involve her partner touching the vulva, clitoris or inserting fingers inside the vagina.

Lots of people (men and women) also enjoy their partner touching or inserting fingers inside their anus (bum).

Fellatio (Oral sex)

This is where you lick or suck your partner’s genitals or anus.

Giving a man oral sex is called ‘fellatio’ and is also known as a blow job, or giving head.

‘Going down’ on a man involves licking and sucking his penis and testicles, usually with the man’s penis penetrating his partner’s mouth.

Giving a woman oral sex is called ‘cunnilingus’ and involves licking and sucking the vulva, clitoris and vagina.

Anilingus ('rimming')

Rimming is kissing, licking and exploring your partner’s anus with your mouth and tongue.

Vaginal sex

Also known as fucking or shagging.

When we talk about vaginal sex, we usually mean sex where a man puts his erect penis inside a woman’s vagina, but it can also refer to a woman being penetrated with a dildo (sex toy).

If contraception or a condom is not used during vaginal sex, a woman can become pregnant.

Anal sex

Also known as fucking, buggery and sodomy.

When we talk about anal sex, we usually mean sex where a man puts his erect penis inside a woman or a man’s anus, but it can also refer to a person being penetrated anally with a dildo.


Sexual problems ››

‹‹ Ready for sex?

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 1/12/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 1/12/2018

Content Author: Kerri Virani

Current Owner: Health Promotion

More information:

Sexual activities and risk. NHS. 2011

Open your eyes to STIs. NHS. 2015

Does anal sex have any health risks? NHS. 2015

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