Ten Things All Adults Should Know About Sex

According to a recent study, many adult Canadians could benefit from a sex ed refresher.

Earlier this fall, pharmaceutical company Bayer released The Truth Report, which revealed 84% of women surveyed throughout Europe and in Canada admitted they had shared or would share information about sex they were unsure was actually true.

This may be acceptable for young adults, but adult adults? With this in mind, I spoke to some of the leading sex and relationship experts about this topic. Here are 10 things that they revealed every adult should know before they’re 40.

1. You need to take birth control at the same time every day

Dr. Christine Palmay is a Toronto-based family physician and birth control expert. She says hormones in your birth control pill need to be administered at the same time every day. “Missing one pill in a cycle may mean that you’re no longer protected for the duration of the pill pack; you should use another form of protection, like condoms, during that time. If you find you’re missing pills frequently, it might be time to look into long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) options,” she says.

2. There’s a difference between emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy

“Though it's counterintuitive, most couples become physically intimate before they are comfortable being emotionally vulnerable and talking about their sexual preferences (or things they don't know if they like but want to explore),” says Mariah Byrne, CEO of Fantasy Box - a luxury delivery service designed to help couples explore new dimensions of their relationship in safe and fun ways. The solution? Talk to your partner.

3. What you see in the movies isn’t real life

“One thing that adults should know about sex is that the other person may be just as nervous as you are the first time,” says Joshua Pompey, the founder of Next Level Matchmaking. “Between Hollywood movies and pornography, many men and women feel unwarranted pressure to be a rock star in the bedroom that will have their partners screaming for days. Do not succumb to this myth. Concentrate on enjoying each other and don't over think things,” says Pompey.

4. That it's OK (actually, kind of necessary) to ask for what you want or/and need

How else is your partner going to know how to please you? JoEllen Notte is a sex educator and author of the award-winning blog The Redhead Bedhead. As Notte explains, “For a long time I bought into the idea that sex should "just work" - nope. Speak up, it will be way better.”

5. The pull-out method doesn’t work

As Dr. Christine Palmay explains, “If your goal is to get pregnant, then withdrawal – a.k.a “pull out and pray” – can be a really effective way of adding to your duo in about nine months time. Sperm is released in pre-ejaculate, which means that without proper protection it’s possible to get pregnant, even if you’re careful when it comes to “the big moment”.”

Important final note from Dr. Palmay: “Always remember that STD protection needs to be considered, so use a condom in addition to birth control accordingly.”

6. Sex advice isn’t “one size fits all”

When it comes to sex, not everything is going to work for everyone. As Notte shares, “No matter what anyone says, no matter what you read, no matter what you see in a store, no position, toy, potion, book or anything else that will make everyone have an amazing orgasm every time... and that's awesome.”

7. Sex shouldn’t be about “keeping track”

"Instead of a give or receive exchange in sex, the ultimate ecstasy is when it becomes so much the same that you can’t tell the difference,” says Dr. Anne Ridley, a licensed psychotherapist, clinical sexologist and certified loveologist. As she explains, “Receiving pleasure from the turn-on of our lover allows us to transcend feelings of separateness from focusing on technique to more authentic intimacy and unscripted sexual expression.”

8. Lube is your best friend

Dr. Jess, author of The New Sex Bible, says lube is an important part of a great sex life. “Lube isn’t a substitute for foreplay (Ronda Rousey was way off base on this one), but it’s greatest accoutrement,” she says. As she is keen to point out, “Possibilities for techniques and positions are greater, and research indicates that lube actually leads to higher levels of arousal, pleasure and satisfaction.”

9. It’s OK to watch porn - alone or with a partner

“As long as you don’t use mainstream porn as a model for average sex, indulging in some visual, audial and fantastical stimulus can be good for your sex life and your relationship,” says O’Reilly.

10. It’s not all about the orgasm

Contrary to what you may think, having an orgasm isn't the be-all and end-all of sex, explains sexologist Dr. Carlen Costa. “Sure, having an orgasm in the throes of passion is really really really great, if it happens, but be mindful that intimacy is about sharing pleasure and the experience of it all. Don't beat yourself up (or your partner) if you don't come to orgasm, because that kind of pressure will actually make it harder to get there at all,” she says.




Can taking a break from sex save your relationship?

Could you go for 90 days without having sex with your partner?

Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and Old Spice man, Terry Crews, raised our collective eyebrows when he revealed that he and his wife of 25 years, Rebecca King-Crews, recently underwent a three month “sex fast” to strengthen their marriage.

The words “cleanse” and “fast” have become incredibly trendy in recent years, bringing about images of long days spent depriving ourselves in search of elusive, (potentially dubious) benefits. Spend five days only drinking green juice? I think I’ll pass. But, when Crews describes his sexual “diet,” it actually sounds, well, quite romantic.

"90 days, no sex — all relationship, all talk, all cuddle," Crews told HuffPostLive. He says the “sex fast” helped him feel even more emotionally connected to his wife and did wonders for their romance.

“I found that at the end of the 90 days I was more in love, more turned on. I knew who she was!"

If the Old Spice Man says a sex fast is the way to go, we can’t help but listen. However, is this technique really something you should try at home?

Dr. Anne Ridley is a clinical sexologist, psychotherapist and intimacy expert, known for her witty and practical relationship advice that she shares regularly on Twitter says, “I have prescribed a “penetration vacation” to couples who are experiencing specific issues in their intimate connection, whether emotional, sexual or both.” However, she’s careful not to label this exercise as “no sex” or a “fast” because it implies you are taking something away from the relationship. Ridley prefers the term “vacation.” As she explains, “vacation” from only part of the sexual act seems to imply that there will be a rest, relaxation, relief of expectation and something added to nurture the relationship.”

Still skeptical?

Dr. Jess (O’Reilly), a Toronto-based sexologist and author of the recently released book The New Sex Bible, says that the concept of taking a vacation from sex is actually rooted in psychology. “When the brain lacks stimuli (as in the case of sensory deprivation, for example), it looks for new stimuli; though a sex hiatus isn’t sensory deprivation per se, it is common for couples to discover new methods of connection and traits of attraction when they take sex off the table,” she explains. As Dr. Jess points out, “deprivation can help to build desire and increase the intensity of physical and psychological response once you delve back into sexual activity at the end of the sex fast.”

Ridley agrees that a sex vacation or “hiatus” provides a space for couples to slow things down and discover new ways to connect. “Remember being young and enthusiastic about having that first kiss, seeing each other’s nakedness for the first time and getting to each “base”? asks Ridley. “There are a thousand delicious sexual things a couple explore and discover outside of penetration with sexual organs.” Ridley says a sex vacation or hiatus helps bring newness and excitement to the relationship.

“Often couples report that their attraction for each other increases as they have to become creative and intentional with their sex life,” she says.

Intention. That’s what it all comes down to. As Dr. Jess is careful to highlight, “There is a remarkable difference between a sex fast that is purposeful and one that is accidental/incidental (e.g. a sexless relationship); the former is intentional and the latter is likely undesired.”

Both Ridley and Dr. Jess agree that one of the key (and often surprising) benefits of an intentional sex hiatus is that it forces couples to open the lines of communication. When you take a break from sex, Dr. Jess says, “partners are forced/encouraged to find new ways to express affection, desire and appreciation.”

Tips to increase intimacy in a long-term relationship

1. Schedule relationship check-ins (not evaluations) every month

Dr. Jess suggests couples, “take 10 minutes to talk about what/how you’re feeling and how you think the relationship is going. Three questions to get you started: What do you appreciate about your partner? Are you spending enough time together? Are you having enough sex?”

2. Take 60 seconds per day to perform a small favour for your partner

“If you run out of time before the end of the day, a one-minute hand massage will offer them a reminder that they’re important to you despite your busy schedules,” says Dr. Jess.

3. Say “thank you” for all the little things

Dr. Jess says it’s all about showing gratitude. “If your partner makes/orders dinner, picks up coffee, makes the bed, decants the wine, calls/texts to say “hello”, kisses you good morning - show gratitude. Research shows that gratitude is key to a lasting relationship and to enduring the more challenging times,” she says.

4. Talk about sex

Lastly, Dr. Jess urges couples to have the talk. “The more uncomfortable the conversation, the more intimacy it breeds. Pushing beyond your comfort zone ignites chemical reactions that promote attraction and excitement,” she says.