Ask me anything: 8 quirky sex questions
Being known as a ‘sexpert’ has its perks (can you think of something more interesting to specialise in?) but it also has its drawbacks...
...like when you're out at a pub or restaurant, half-sloshed, headed for the loo and concentrating fiercely on balancing on your heels...only to be waylaid by someone who's decided now's the perfect time to finally find out the answer to something which has puzzled them for years.
This is a selection of the type of things I'm asked in those circumstances: the quirky, fascinating, sometimes quite funny stuff you don't tend to ask your mates.
Is there any relationship between the size of a man's penis and how quickly he ejaculates?
Not only do below average sized men have to grin and bear all those big-is-better jokes, they ejaculate much faster than their larger friends so have to grit their teeth through jokes about that as well. All penises have roughly the same number of nerve endings in the head. If his penis is small, they're concentrated over a smaller area that makes him more sensitive and prone to premature ejaculation. The opposite is true for men with big penises because the nerves are spread over a larger area. Highly unfair, yes, but there are lots of ways to deal with it. Become brilliant at oral sex, for instance, and the size of your penis becomes irrelevant. (If you're really, really good she may not care if you have one at all.)
How long is a good period of time to have intercourse? I thought the longer the better but my new girlfriend tells me it can get boring.
Premature ejaculation is up there on the Things I Most Fear Will Happen to Me When I Grow Up list for teenage boys. So it's hardly surprising that many men assume the opposite behaviour – thrusting away for hours at a time – is A Good Thing. It's not. While there are some women who enjoy uninterrupted, prolonged intercourse, the majority don't.
Our natural vaginal lubrication tends to dry up over a long period of time and sex becomes painful. Not to mention boring. Keep on banging away, in the same position, for too long and we'll have mentally rehearsed the next day's work presentation five times over, rather than panting ecstatically. An average of the most reputable studies comes out at between five and 13 minutes as the preferred intercourse duration. Most men orgasm after two minutes.
My husband calls his penis Arthur. What is all that about? Women don't name their bits, how come men do?
Frank, George, Wilbur, Arthur – men are fond of naming their 'best friend' (oddly, often by the very names they use for their other best friend, the one with four legs). It all loops back to the male tendency to base their self-esteem on their masculinity and sexual prowess. Women usually base their self-worth on their relationships, men on qualities like strength, status, power and performance. The ultimate symbol of all of these - the penis - can therefore be quite terrifying to the man attached. Naming it makes it seem more friendly, softening the effect the penis has of, quite literally, holding its owner by the balls.
In a bid to spice things up a little, I asked my husband to insert a cucumber inside me. It seemed erotic at the time but now he seems a bit huffy about it. Why?
Men often react the same way to dildos – or anything that's inserted and remotely penis-shaped. Thing is, he's heard all the jokes about women swapping the real flesh-and-blood version for a substitute because they're a lot less trouble (and don't shove crisp packets down the side of the sofa). So you need to reassure him about this. You could also point out that by suggesting something sort-of-kinkyish, you're displaying a healthy sexual curiosity, active imagination and willingness to share – which augers well for a varied, lusty sexual future. Oh, and if you do it again, make sure you wash the cucumber first. All those pesticides....
I've been with my partner for six weeks and we're having great sex. But he's suggesting we do things that are quite adventurous and while I'm happy to try them, I'd rather wait a bit. Am I being silly?
No. While sex at the start of a relationship is typically lust-driven and enthusiastic (if it's not, move on while you have the chance!), you're wise to wait until you know this person better. First up, you need to trust him in order to try 'adventurous' (ie kinky) things and trust takes time to build. Secondly, the 'newness' of the relationship should be enough of an aphrodisiac at this stage. A good time to start upping the ante is when the love hormones start to wear off and that shouldn't happen for at least another few months. When it does, at least you know you're both open to trying new things which means your sex life will stay feisty and fabulous!
I'm struggling to cope with my husband's strange fetishes. Every time I do the washing-up with my rubber gloves on, he wants sex instantly. He also insists on me masturbating him with them on too. I feel uncomfortable doing it. Should I tell him?
I'm of the opinion that there's nothing really wrong with indulging quirky, amusing little turn-ons like these. But only if it doesn't turn into a must-have for all sex sessions and, more importantly, both of you have to be happy with it. You're not. Which means you absolutely must talk to him about it – just make sure it's not in a judgemental way. His erotic attachment to Marigold's can probably be traced back to an event in childhood which caused him to link sexual thoughts with women washing up (though he may be unaware of it). Could be as simple as one of his friends having a sexy Mum, setting off subconscious fantasies while he watched her do the housework. Let him know you're happy to indulge him now and them but not on a frequent basis.
When I orgasm I get quite dizzy, like the room is spinning and I feel nauseous. A friend of mine says she gets headaches. Is this normal?
An orgasm is simply the release of the blood - which has pumped furiously into your genital area during arousal - back into your system. In the same way getting up too quickly can make you feel dizzy, an orgasm can make you feel the same. Wobbly legs and even a slight headache aren't unheard of - but rooms which spin and nausea? Get yourself off to see a doctor. I doubt it's anything serious but you should still check it out. Not only for health reasons but because you don't want to set up a cycle where your brain expects to feel ill after sex. (Brains are sneaky and liable to stop triggering desire to avoid sex it if results in pain.)
As for your friend who gets headaches: research suggests it's more likely to happen after quick sex than a longer session because the blood pressure 'spike' is more pronounced (this is usually what's responsible for the headache). If she lets herself get aroused slowly, it may solve the problem. But if it's happening regularly I'd very much like her to trot along to see a doctor with you.
My previous boyfriend used to constantly make fun of the face I make when I orgasm. It's made me really self-conscious and I'm now dreading having sex with any future boyfriends. What can I do?
He's obviously an ex for a reason: tactlessness. Lots of us make weird 'orgasm faces' – and I have to say, the more passionate the lover, the weirder the face. So he should take it as a compliment! Good sex is sloppy, sweaty and immensely unflattering. We hyperventilate, frown, scream, show our tonsils and do a lot of scrunching up of our faces. You're normal. I suspect the teasing was prompted by jealousy: he wished he could lose himself in the moment so totally.