Sex For Dummies®, 3rd Edition





About the Author

Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist who helped pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually Speaking, which first aired in New York in 1981. Within a few years, she had built a communications network to distribute her expertise that included television, books, newspapers, games, calendars, home videos, and computer software.

Dr. Westheimer studied psychology at the Sorbonne in Paris, received her Master’s Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School of Social Research and her Doctorate of Education (EdD) in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher’s College. Working at Planned Parenthood prompted her to further her education in human sexuality by studying under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital–Cornell University Medical Center. She later participated in the program for five years as an adjunct associate professor. She has also taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi University, Columbia University, and West Point. She is currently an associate fellow at Calhoun College at Yale University, where she teaches a class on the family, a fellow at Butler College at Princeton University, where she teaches a class on the Jewish family in the Department of Judaic Studies, and an adjunct professor at New York University.

Dr. Westheimer is a fellow of New York Academy of Medicine and has her own private practice in New York. She frequently lectures around the world, including at universities, and has twice been named “College Lecturer of the Year.” She has received honorary doctorates from Hebrew Union College—Institute of Religion, Trinity College, and Lehman College, as well as a Medal of Excellence from Columbia Teacher’s College.

Dr. Westheimer has written 31 books. Some of the others include Dr. Ruth’s Encyclopedia of Sex, Dr. Ruth’s Sex After 50, The Art of Arousal, The Olive and the Tree: The Secret Strengths of the Druze, and Rekindling Romance For Dummies. And Dr. Ruth can be found on the Web at

Pierre A. Lehu has been Dr. Ruth’s “Minister of Communications” for more than 25 years. He has co-authored 13 books with her.



“The reticent do not learn; the hot-tempered do not teach.”

Chapters of the Fathers 2.6

To the memory of my entire family who perished during the Holocaust — I am thankful that they had the opportunity to instill in me the much cherished values of the Jewish Tradition before they were lost to me. And to the memory of my beloved late husband, Manfred Westheimer.

To my wonderful family of now: my daughter, Miriam Westheimer, EdD; my son-in-law, Joel Einleger; my grandson, Ari Einleger; my granddaughter, Leora Einleger; my son, Joel Westheimer, PhD.; my daughter-in-law, Barbara Leckie, PhD.; my granddaughter, Michal Leckie; and my grandson, Benjamin Westheimer!


Author’s Acknowledgments

I am grateful and appreciate the tremendous contribution in writing this book made by Pierre Lehu. Pierre and I are now entering our 26th year of working together! He is the best “Minister of Communications” anybody could wish for. A special toast to Pierre and to many more years of cooperation.

I have so many people to thank it would require an additional chapter, so let me just mention a few: David Best, MD; Gwynne Bloomfield-Pike; Marcie Citron; Martin Englisher; Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, PhD, and Howard Epstein; Gabe Erem; David Goslin, PhD; David Hager; Mark Hager; Alfred Kaplan; Steve Kaplan, PhD; Robert Krasner, MD; Ronnie and Michael Kassan; John Kilcullen; Marga and Bill Kunreuther; Stephen Lassonde, PhD; Gabrielle Lehu; Peter Lehu; Lou Lieberman, PhD, and Mary Cuadrado, PhD; John and Ginger Lollos; Sanford Lopater, PhD; Jonathan Mark; Mary Jane Minkin, MD; Dale Ordes; Fred and Ann Rosenberg; Cliff and Eleanor Rubin; Peter Schaefer; Joanne Seminara; Rose and Simeon Schreiber; Daniel Schwartz; Amir Shaviv; Jerry Singerman, PhD; Richard Stein; Hannah Strauss; Betsy and William Sledge, MD; Kathy Welton; Greg Willenborg; Ben Yagoda; and Froma Zeitlin, PhD.

To the Wiley staff: What a terrific, hard working, competent, and expert group you are to work with! Thanks especially to Stephen Kippur, Wiley’s president, for his overall supervision, and to Alissa Schwipps and Vicki Adang for their hard work. I also want to thank Kathy Nebenhaus, Kathy Cox, Lindsay McGregor, and our new technical editors, Christopher F. Fariello, PhD, MA, LMFT, and LeeAnne M. Nazer, MD.


Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Senior Project Editor: Alissa Schwipps (Previous Edition: Allyson Grove, Joan Friedman)

Acquisitions Editors: Kathleen M. Cox, Lindsay Lefevere

Assistant Editor: Courtney Allen

Copy Editor: Vicki Adang (Previous Edition: Corey Dalton)

Editorial Program Coordinator: Hanna K. Scott

Technical Editors: Christopher F. Fariello, PhD, MA, LMFT, and LeeAnne M. Nazer, MD

Senior Editorial Manager: Jennifer Ehrlich

Editorial Assistants: Erin Calligan, David Lutton

Cartoons: Rich Tennant

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Kristie Rees

Layout and Graphics: Lavonne Cook, Stephanie D. Jumper, Jessica Kramer, Barbara Moore, Barry Offringa, Lynsey Osborn, Alicia B. South, Erin Zeltner

Special Art: Kathryn Born, Medical Illustrator

Proofreaders: Linda Quigley, Brian H. Walls

Indexer: Anne Leach

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director, Consumer Dummies

Kristin A. Cocks, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

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Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

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Composition Services

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Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services




About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go From Here

Part I : Getting Ready for Sex

Chapter 1: So You Want to Know More about Sex

What Is Sex, Anyway?

So Why Do We Have It?

Understanding the Ins and Outs of the Sexual Response Cycle

Partnering Up

Playing It Safe

Adjusting Over Time

Are You Ready to Get Busy?

Chapter 2: Tuning the Male Organ

The Penis: Inside and Out

Grasping the Basics of Your Testicles

The Prostate Gland

Chapter 3: Demystifying the Female Parts

Making Time for a Grand Tour

Translating All Those Latin Terms

The “Men” Words: Menstruation and Menopause

Breasts: Hanging in There

Chapter 4: Courtship, Marriage, and Commitment: Getting to Yes

Starting Off with Courtship

Moving On to Commitment

Sealing the Deal: Making Marriage Work

Chapter 5: It’s All about Control: Contraception and Sex

Why Use Contraceptives?

Considering Your Birth Control Options

Facing Facts about Birth Control Myths

If Your Method Fails

Chapter 6: Growing Up Fast: The Challenges of the Teen Years

Being a Teenager in the Twenty-First Century

Evolving into Adulthood

Dealing with Common Concerns

Protecting Your Privacy

Don’t Stop Here

Part II : Doing It

Chapter 7: Foreplay: Revving Up Your Engines

Foreplay for Life

Linking the Emotional to the Physical

Setting the Stage

Getting Physical

Switching Gears: Engaging the Genitals

Moving on to the Main Event

Variety Is the Spice of Foreplay

Chapter 8: Intercourse: Coming Together for the First Time

What’s the Rush?

Making Your First Time Special

The First Time for Women

The First Time for Men

The First Time All Over Again

Chapter 9: Changing Positions: Variations on a Theme

The Good Old Missionary Position

The Female-Superior Position

Taking Her from Behind

East Side, West Side, Side by Side

Lap Dancing

The Oceanic Position

Standing Up

Oral Sex: Using Your Mouth

Anal Sex: Handle with Care

Safe Sex: Playing Alone Together

Sex During and After Pregnancy: Orgasms Are Okay, with Changes

Chapter 10: Going for the Big O

What Is an Orgasm, Anyway?

Experiencing Orgasms: Differences for Men and Women

Achieving Orgasm: Let Me Count the Ways

Don’t Try — Let It Come. You’ll Be Glad You Did

Putting on Your O-Face: Responding to the Orgasmic Experience

The Best Reason to Have an Orgasm

Chapter 11: Afterplay: Embracing the Moment

Understanding the Importance of Afterplay

Sharing the Moment

The Simplest of Techniques

Chapter 12: Spicing Up Your Sex Life

Using Variety to Add Some Va Va Va Voom to Your Sex Life

Expanding Your Toy Chest

Part III : Different Strokes

Chapter 13: Enjoying Oral Sex

Overcoming Your Inhibitions

Leaving Him Breathless: What Men Like

Making Her Toes Curl: What Women Like

Dealing with Some Delicate Details

Assuming the Position

Addressing the Safety Issue

Chapter 14: Savoring Solo Play and Fantasy

Exploring the Mythology of Masturbation

Avoiding Too Much of a Good Thing

Masturbation: Good for All Ages

Masturbation Education

Fantasy: It’s All in Your Head

Chapter 15: Keeping Up with Cybersex and Other Hot Stuff

Eyes Wide Open: A Word of Caution

Cybersex: Sights for Mature Minds

Sex and the Telephone: Aural Sex

Sex and the Radio: It’s All Talk

Sex and Television: A Different Meaning of Boob Tube

Pulp Nonfiction

Sex with Multiple Partners: Where Do All of These Body Parts Go?

Chapter 16: Celebrating Same-Sex Relationships

Considering Sexual Orientation

Determining Your Orientation: What Turns You On

Revealing Your Sexual Identity

Sexual Practices among Gay Men

Sexual Expression between Lesbians

Marriage between Same-Sex Partners

Chapter 17: Conquering the Challenges of Mature Sex

Female Changes: Tackling Menopause

Male Changes: Not All the Same

The Psychological Bonuses

Chapter 18: Thriving Sexually with Illness or Disability

We Are All Sexual Beings

Sex When You’re Physically Disabled

Sex After You’ve Had a Heart Attack

Sex When You Have Diabetes

Sex and People Who Are Mentally Disabled or Ill

Sex and People Who Are Living in a Long-Term Care Facility

Uncompromising Compromised Sex

Part IV : Having a Healthy Sex Life

Chapter 19: What You Can Catch and How to Prevent It

STDs: Battle Scars No One Wants after a Night of Sex

Let’s Get Serious

Chapter 20: Erectile Dysfunction and Other Male Sexual Problems

Premature Ejaculation

Erectile Dysfunction

Retarded Ejaculation

Priapism — The Case of the Permanent Erection

The Bent Penis

Lack of Desire

Chapter 21: Low Libido and Other Female Sexual Problems

That Elusive Orgasm

Ouch! It’s Too Tight in There

When Cleaning the House Sounds Better Than Having Sex

Every Body Is Attractive

Sex After a Mastectomy

Chapter 22: Avoiding Sexual Relationship Pitfalls

Making Time for Alone Time

Making the Most of a Long-Distance Relationship

Dealing with Addictive Behavior: Hooked on Porn

Staying Close to Avoid the Empty-Nest Syndrome

Chapter 23: Sex and the Law

Sex, Children, and the Law

Rape: A Growing Concern

The Law and Contraception

The Law against Spreading Diseases

Abortion: A Legal Safeguard

The Law and Homosexuality

Prostitution: The Case for Legalization

Pornography: Erotic or Obscene

Adultery: Cheating the Law

Chapter 24: Teaching Your Children about Sex and Keeping Them Safe

Not Everything Is Dangerous: Teaching Proper Functioning and Etiquette

Answering Children’s Questions

Warning Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse

The Accidental Voyeur

Protecting Your Children from the Media

Protecting Your Children from Cyberporn: Good News and Bad News

Giving the Speech about Strangers

That Other Discussion — Sex Ed and the Older Child

Other Messages You Don’t Want to Send

Part V : The Part of Tens

Chapter 25: Ten Dumb Things People Believe about Sex

If I Haven’t Had Sex by the Time I’m 18, I’m a Loser

The More I Score, the More Pleasure I’ll Have

Being a Heterosexual Makes Me Immune to AIDS

The Grass Is Always Greener in the Neighbors’ Bedroom

Having Sex Will Make Everything All Right

A Good Lover Must Be an Open Book

I Should Always Compare Sexual Partners

I Can’t Become a Better Lover

Lovers Want and Need the Same Things

I’m Too Old to Have Sex

Chapter 26: Ten Tips for Safer Sex

Learn to Say No

Limit Your Number of Partners

Don’t Rely Solely on Your Instincts

Never Dull Your Senses When You’re with Strangers

Discuss Safer Sex in Advance

Use Condoms

Develop a Relationship Before You Have Sex

Don’t Engage in Risky Behavior

Don’t Forget about the Other STDs

Don’t Sell Your Other Options Short

Chapter 27: Ten Things Women Wish Men Knew about Sex

Chivalry Isn’t Dead Yet

Appearances Count

You Can’t Hurry Love

A Clitoris Is Not Just a Small Penis

Women Need to Bask in the Afterglow

Kinky Sex Isn’t Sexy Sex

Wandering Eyes Mean Less Sex

Slam-Bam-Thank-You-Ma’am Doesn’t Cut the Mustard

Changing Diapers Is Sexy

Just Because You Can’t Doesn’t Mean You Won’t

Chapter 28: Ten Things Men Wish Women Knew about Sex

Try Not to Give Mixed Signals

Lack of Sex Really Can Hurt

Sometimes Wasting Electricity Is Okay

Teamwork Is Important

The Playboy Playmate Is Not a Threat

The Day I Stop Looking Is the Day I’m Dead

If You Really Loved Me, You’d . . .

The Way to a Man’s Heart Is Not through His Stomach

To a Man, Sex Is Different than Love

The Older a Man Gets, the More Help He Needs

Chapter 29: Ten Tips for Truly Great Lovers

Don’t Make Love on Your First Date

Set the Mood as Far in Advance as Possible

Find Out What Your Partner Needs

Protect Yourself and Your Partner

Don’t Fall into a Rut

Fix the Potholes of Love

Use Your Sense of Touch

Become a Great Kisser

Satisfy Your Partner Even If You Don’t Feel Like Sex

Adjust to Changes Caused by Aging

Appendix A: Step into My Office

Baring All for the Sexual Status Exam

Sex Therapists Give the Best Homework

Finding a Sex Therapist

Choosing a Sex Therapist

Appendix B: Terrific Resources


Sex Therapy

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexual Orientation

Sexuality and Family Planning

Sexual Toys

Protecting Children

Support Groups