How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!
Dear How to Do It,
Are female-led sexual relations real or just internet fantasy? I would love to be in an otherwise normal relationship but be dominated in the bedroom. Pegging, piss play, face-sitting, orgasm denial, and cum clean-up (my own) are all huge turn-ons. I feel like these desires are not socially acceptable for a heterosexual male. These may very well be just a figment of porn that’s not actual reality. Is there somewhere I can look for these types of relationships? I’d love to see the day that these desires could be met with an enthusiastic female partner.
Dear Yes Ma’am,
Female-led is absolutely a term for a consensual type of interaction—almost entirely between heterosexual couples—where the woman is in charge. However, this is usually a lifestyle arrangement, meaning full-time, including outside the bedroom, and fairly all-inclusive, which is the opposite of what you describe. What you’re looking for is either female domination or a female top, with those types of interactions confined to sexual situations, and you are in luck. This is not a figment of porn. This can be your reality.
You sound like you’ve got a great grasp of what you’re into as far as sexual acts. What about power dynamics? Are you interested in temporarily submitting—ceding control—or are you looking for someone to get kinky with as equals? Is there a degradation aspect to your interests? What are you not into, and what are you unwilling to participate in? It’ll also help to have some understanding of what you want the rest of the relationship to look like. What does “otherwise normal” mean to you? Once you’re clear on that, consider where to look for relationships with women who practice BDSM. You might go to munches in your area or classes at a local sex shop. You might spend some time at BDSM clubs. Depending on where you live, these might require a trip to a nearby city. You might set up a profile on one of the dating apps that skews more kink-friendly, such as Feeld or DatingKinky. All three at once is an option. You also might look for partners in spaces that aren’t focused on kinks—plenty of kinky people engage in other activities—with the knowledge that you might experience some strong reactions to what you share about your sexuality.
Whether you’re meeting people face to face or on apps, put some care into how you present yourself. Details matter and dominant women are often subject to an overwhelming amount of interest. Since you’re looking for a relationship, one way to stand out is to engage with women as humans first and potential sexual partners second. Take care of your appearance—meaning, groom yourself and wear clean clothes, but there’s no need to invest in fancy gear—and check for typos in written communications before sending. Expect a negotiation process, where potential partners share their own interests, boundaries, and needs, you share yours, and the two of you look for areas of overlap.
The boundaries of socially acceptable depend on the social environment in question. There are parts of the world where your desires are anathema for heterosexual men and parts where your desires will be celebrated. Look for the latter.
Dear How to Do It,
My girlfriend and I have a high sexual drive, as opposed to past relationships we’ve had, with people who weren’t up for several times everyday sex. And now she’s been frequently having bacterial urinal infection and candidiasis. She has been to doctors and received only advice she already knew: don’t do vaginal penetration after anal, urinate after every intercourse, don’t wear underwear during sleep, etc. Is there any other thing we should be doing that could prevent these conditions from happening? We’ve been wondering about how professional sex workers deal with that.
Dear Low Immunity,
You don’t mention condoms. If you aren’t using them, your semen could be upsetting your girlfriend’s vaginal balance. If you’re performing oral sex on her, your saliva might be transferring bacteria or yeast. So, you can try using barriers for several weeks and see if that helps. You can also make sure that you’re washing your hands before touching her genitals. And, if you haven’t tried this already, you could reduce the amount of sex you’re having entirely to see if that provides some relief. Think of it as an opportunity to nurture other aspects of your relationship.
Urinary infections caused by bacteria are often treated with antibiotics, and those antibiotics can throw off the vaginal balance between yeast and bacteria, causing a yeast infection. I’m assuming that your girlfriend’s yeast infections have been confirmed by testing a sample. If that isn’t the case, she can push for tests. If the yeast has been properly diagnosed, she can ask the doctor about whether antibiotic use might be related and ways to compensate for that.
As for how sex workers deal with genital health, aside from Nevada’s brothel system, a few dedicated clinics such as San Fransisco’s St. James Infirmary and Callen-Lorde’s COIN Clinic in NYC, and the adult film industry’s STI screening system, workers tend to use the same gynecologists, urologists, and other kinds of medical care providers that other members of their local communities do.
Help us keep giving the advice you crave every week. Sign up for Slate Plus now.
Dear How to Do It,
My husband and I have a great sex life that I love. He gets me off consistently with his fingers on my clit, and my orgasms are body-shattering and euphoric. However, ever since I first had sex, I’ve always been a little surprised and disappointed by how little sensation I feel in my vaginal canal. I can feel a penis, fingers, and toys go in, but once they’re in, it’s sort of a vague sensation of fullness, and nice, but not much. I’ve come to understand this is common for women, the clit reigns supreme, and getting off from penetration alone is pretty rare.
For me, I don’t think this is a size factor, as my previous partners who were men were of average size. My husband’s dick is particularly delightful and above average. I love the feeling of thrusting, I just wish I could physically feel more.
Until two recent times… My husband and I sometimes have sex when he wakes up and initiates. Twice, he’s woken me, and I’ve slowly come to awareness as he touches me, and something about being asleep and slowly waking makes my vaginal canal feel electrified. It’s like I have nerve endings and sensations I didn’t know even existed. Every thrust of his fingers or dick is nearly magical. I feel like I could finish from penetration alone (I haven’t because he’s naturally switched to my clit, as he knows that’s the typical ticket, and I’ve been too half asleep to direct otherwise).
I want sex like this all the time! Is there any way I can train my vagina to have this sensitivity when I’m fully conscious? When I thought “pleasant but unremarkable” was all my vagina was capable of feeling, I was satisfied with it and the delights of my clit. But now that I know I’m physically capable of a vagina that really feels, I want it. How can I crack this code? Or is this just some fluke of REM cycles and brain chemistry?
—Sleepy Sensational Sex
Professor Guy Leschziner, neurologist, in his 2019 book The Nocturnal Brain: Nightmares, Neuroscience, and the Secret World of Sleep, uses a metaphor of attempting to map the ocean floor using a combination of snorkel and visual observation to describe the level of insight we have into human brains. I’d argue that we have the same amount of understanding of human sexual response, and that part of this lack of knowledge is due to the constraints of current neurology. In an email, Leschziner indicated that while we do know genital engorgement—an increase in blood flow to, in your case, your vulva and vagina—happens during REM sleep, we don’t know what that means for sensitivity.
Have a talk with your husband when you’re both awake and share your experiences of these two nights with him. Find out if he’s comfortable focusing on your vaginal canal the next time that the conditions are similar, and, if so, see what happens. You also might think about whether his approach is different when you’re asleep from when you’re awake and see if there’s something you can replicate at other times of the day. Is he moving more slowly or delicately? Is he touching different areas of your body? Lastly, depending on the legality in your area and your feelings on psychoactive substances, smoking, eating, or applying THC in lube might be worth a try—each method will have different effects, so if one doesn’t work for you do consider another
Dear How to Do It,
I feel like my partner and I have become sexually incompatible. Many years ago, we used to enjoy sex with each other. We would have fun and try new things. Some time back, he started introducing things that got more and more out of my comfort zone. At first, I went along even if it was not my thing, so I could make him happy. Now, even those “new things” that I got into just for him are not enough, and he needs it to be next level. Every time we have sex, I am stressed, thinking the night is going to end in a fight if I don’t “try hard enough” and most of the time it does. Because of this, all sex seems forced because I’m under extreme anxiety that the night is going to end in a fight, and then even the nights that go “well” are not pleasurable. He says I don’t care and it’s because I’d rather be with someone else, but that’s not the case at all. How can I go back to the days when we enjoyed being with each other?
—Trying My Best
Dear Trying My Best,
The sex that you describe as seeming forced is forced. You’re engaging in acts that you don’t enjoy, and you’ve been out of your comfort zone for a while. You’re stressed out and anxious about sex because it frequently ends in a fight. You don’t mention any attempts on his part to engage in sex that is pleasurable for you. How’s the rest of the relationship? Is there space for your needs and boundaries outside of the subject of sex? Do you feel safe expressing your emotions and setting limits? If so, it’s worth a wake-up call conversation. If not, it’s time to seriously consider leaving. From fights over you not “try[ing] hard enough” to his accusation that you’d prefer to be with someone else, there are several details throughout your letter that I find concerning.
When your partner first started introducing particulars that were outside of your comfort zone, did you communicate this to them? If you did, you might start by reminding them of that conversation and telling them that you’re now past your boundaries. If you didn’t, mark the fact that this may come as a surprise to them, and then communicate that you’re now past your boundaries. If your partner responds with empathy and understanding, spend some time thinking about where your interests overlap and looking for novelty in those areas. Talk about what you need to feel able to enjoy sex again and how you both can achieve that. Get back on the same page.
If your partner says anything else implying that your limits are evidence of a lack of care, or otherwise redirects the conversation away from the issue you’re expressing, you might ask for couples counseling to work on this communication issue. If he’s unwilling to get outside help and unable to engage with you, ask yourself why you stay in this relationship. Keep in touch with loved ones throughout this process, for emotional support, and as a sounding board. Good luck.
More Advice From Slate
I’m a fiftysomething straight woman. Throughout my dating life, I’ve had men comment on the “tightness” of my vagina over and over. I know that women will tell men that they’re big or well-endowed as a compliment, but do men do the same with women? Tell them that the fit is tight or snug, even if it’s not?