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Thinking about sleeping with another person with a vagina? Here are seven tips to guide you.
What “counts” as sex with another woman? This is the most common question I get when people find out I sleep with other people with vaginas. A bit invasive and rude, sure — but I get it. We live in a society that generalizes sex as a “P-in-V” situation.
Not only is it 100-percent possible to have satisfying sex with another woman or vulva owner, but there’s also way more than one way to have sex with another woman. “It’s up to the individuals who are participating in the sexual act to determine whether it’s sex or not. For some, it might be oral sex, for others it might be mutual masturbation,” explains clinical sexologist Megan Stubbs, Ed.D. “There aren’t any boxes that need to be checked for something to be sex. But there are so many boxes to choose from!”
And let it be known that, while “lesbian sex” clearly connotates sex between two women or people with vaginas, you don’t have to identify as a lesbian to enjoy female-on-female sex. Maybe you’re bisexual, maybe you’re pansexual, or maybe you’re just following a vibe that feels right. (FYI: A 2016 study showed that more women were having sex with women than ever before.)
With that in mind, this guide touches on some of the most common sex acts between two people with vaginas. Scroll down to learn what you need to know about having first-time lesbian sex and how to do it safely.
Fi(n)ger It Out
Just like all things in sex, everyone is different. Some people will want hard and fast flicks directly on the clitoris, while others prefer slowly having their outer lips or G-spot rubbed. That’s why, whether this your very first encounter with another vulva and vagina or your 2000th, you should go into it with a beginner’s mentality. Ask questions! Check in! Pay attention to how your partner responds to your touch and adjust your pressure and technique accordingly.
If (and only if) your partner indicates that they want to be penetrated, don’t be afraid to get your hands in there. And by hands, I mean one finger. Start slow. Slide one (maybe two) fingers along her slit until they’re lubricated, then slide them inside slowly, then faster. Switch between the two rhythms and ask her which she prefers. “Don’t let your ego get bruised if your partner says they don’t like your rhythm,” says Stubbs. “Just try something else.” If you’re a visual learner, you might ask them to show you how they like to masturbate.
Maybe you’ve heard—or know from experience — that the G-spot can be incredibly pleasurable for some women. Resident sexpert Logan Levkoff Ph.D. previously told Shape that the G-Spot is about two inches in on the front wall of the vagina; you’ll feel an area where the skin transitions from smooth to bumpy or spongy. If you feel this in your partner, go ahead and make a “come-hither” gesture. See how your partner responds.
PSA: Trim your nails. Everyone’s preferences for their nails are different, but if you’re going to be digitally penetrating a person with a vagina, then smooth, non-craggy, and short nails are preferred. The vulva and vagina are sensitive and nothing ruins the mood quite like a scratch. Ouch.
Take It South
For many women, the most daunting part of sleeping with another woman is oral sex. Good news: “It’s really not that complicated,” says Jess Melendez, a sex educator for O.school. “It’s more intuitive than you might think, and communicating helps.”
Your best bet is to start slow. Kiss your way down south. Kiss and lick your partner’s thighs, hips, everywhere. When your partner is ready (which you might find out by asking, “Can I taste you now?” or “What do you want?”), using either your tongue or fingers you can part the outer labia. Depending on your partner’s anatomy, this may help you find their clit.
Ready? Lick your way up and the down the labia. “At first, avoid direct contact with the clit because it may be too sensitive, and instead lick around it,” suggests Stubbs.
Now, have fun. Vary the pressure. Spell your name in cursive with your tongue (seriously, it works). Move your tongue in circles. Then move it side to side or up and down. As you experiment, pay attention to how your partner is reacting. And ask them what they like. “Do you prefer this or this?” or “Fast or slow?” When it starts to feel good, you’ll know.
Strap On, Strap Off
Not all sex is penetrative sex, and introducing a strap-on into your play is absolutely not a must. In fact, “not all vulva owners enjoy penetrative sex or will feel comfortable experimenting with a strap-on,” says Melendez. “And that’s okay! That’s why you need to have an open dialogue with your partner.”
If you both want to try strap-on sex, it’s going to take a little foresight because you’ll need a harness and dildo (and lube!) on hand. In case you haven’t yet gone dildo shopping: Like vibrators, they come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are super phallic and have veins and are skin-toned while others are sparkly or rainbow and less reminiscent of a penis. (More here: The Best Sex Toys for Women On Amazon)
“Start with a silicone dildo (as opposed to glass) because it will move with your body,” recommends Melendez. “If you can, go to a sex shop because most stores will let you touch and feel them before you buy them.” And start small. Don’t let your eyes be bigger than, well, your vagina. “Focus on the girth and think about whether or not you like feeling full, or tend to be tight,” she suggests.
There are all sorts of harnesses too. “For your first harness, I recommend one that’s adjustable and that a lot of different body types can use,” says Melendez. (For example, you can get more coverage with a boxer-style harness, but may find you have more control when you use a strap-style harness.)
You’ve got your equipment. Now what? If you’re the person wearing the harness or the penetrator, Stubbs offers the following advice: “Practice doing some thrusts ahead of time. It doesn’t have to be silly. Just get used to the feeling, the weight. Maybe try masturbating with it.”
Also: Go slow, use lube, and give your partner time to get used to you. “Be willing to stop and adjust if your partner indicates that they’re uncomfortable or communicates different needs,” says Stubbs. (Here: Everything You Need To Know About Lube).
If you’re the partner being penetrated, give feedback. “Don’t be afraid to say words during sex. Communicate with your partner. Does it feel good? Do you like the depth? The angle?” says Stubbs.
Your first time having lesbian sex with a strap-on might be the best thing in the world. But it also might feel a little clumsy and awkward (just like almost all first-time sex, lesbian or not). That’s normal; there’s a learning curve.
Add the Butt (If You Want!)
Yep, the butt is up for (ahem) grabs too. Anal play isn’t something that everyone’s had experience with or wants to indulge in, so it’s important to make sure your partner is on board with it before diving in, says Alicia Sinclair Sex Educator & CEO of b-Vibe.
“Try teasing your partner’s cheeks and crack first — gently running your hands over them and let them lean into the new pleasure and erogenous zones and mode of stimulation,” says Sinclair. “Just like the vulva, there’s tons of sensitive nerve endings on the outside of the body.” (Read this if you’re still wondering if anal sex hurts.)
If your partner likes the sensation of your fingers, you might ask them if they’d like to feel your tongue, or use a butt plug. “Rimming, kissing, or tonguing the anus, can feel really good,” says Sinclair. Try moving your finger or tongue in different directions and rhythms (pulsing, circular, etc) and check in with your partner about what feels good.
Eventually, you and partner might graduate to using a butt-plug (Sinclair’s favorite is the Novice Plug) but it’s okay if you don’t get there your first time sleeping together (or ever).
The above aren’t the only things you and your partner can do. You might try scissoring, dry humping, nipple play, spanking and BDSM, erotic massage, fisting, or masturbating next to each other. “There are so many different types of play,” says Melendez.
“Do what feels right, don’t do what does not feel right,” recommends LGBTQ+ expert and social worker Kryss Shane, L.M.S.W. It can be easy to question whether or not you “should” be doing something the first time you have sex with another woman, or whether or not something “counts” as sex, but this can take you out of the moment and into your mind, which can take away from your (and your partner’s!) sexual enjoyment.
“Do your best to be present and be open about what’s happening so you can truly explore the new sensations and this person,” says Shane.
Play It Safe
There’s a misconception that sex with another woman is safe sex. “You totally can get an STI from sleeping with another woman. You can get an STI from sleeping with anyone,” says Stubbs. “Anytime there’s an exchange of body fluid or skin-to-skin genital contact, there’s a risk for infection.” (Boom: Here’s What Safe Sex Really Means)
That’s why—just like when you sleep with folks without vulvas — practicing safe sex is important. “Talking about STI status and testing will influence your decision to use a dental dam or condom, so I recommend having that conversation ahead of time,” says Melendez. Phrases like “Have you been tested recently?” or “Were you tested after your last partner?” are a great entry point into that conversation, she says.
Many STIs like herpes, HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis can be transmitted through oral sex, so if you’re going down on your partner, use a dental dam (a thin piece of latex used to create a safe-sex barrier during oral), suggests Stubbs. They’re easy enough to use: You just hold them over the to-be-licked area. There are also dental dam harnesses—which are designed to hold dental dams in place in the front or back for oral or butt play — if you’d prefer to have both hands free. Pro tip: “Lubricate one side of the dental dam, by putting lube on the vulva then putting the dam over the vulva to keep it from feeling dry and plasticky on your body,” says Melendez. (Related: Everything You Should Know About Oral Sex and STI’s But Probably Don’t)
If you’re using and sharing toys—like a vibrator or dildo—Melendez recommends thoroughly washing the sex toy between uses or using a new condom for each partner. “If the dildo was inside you and you have an infection, and then I put the dildo inside me, I can get your infection,” she explains.
Don’t Overthink It
If you’ve only ever had P-in-V sex or haven’t had sex before, you might feel confused about what first-time lesbian sex means for your sexual orientation. “It doesn’t have to mean anything about your identity!,” says Stubbs. “If you do it once, twice, five times, or every single day you can still identify however you want.”
Melendez agrees: “Your sexual orientation is around the individuals you want to engage with not the type of sex you’re having. Only you can determine your identity.”
On the flip side, just as Erica Hahn from Grey’s Anatomy had an a-ha! moment after the first time she slept with Callie, it’s possible you will feel something ~click~. And that’s also OK. (If it does, here’s my recommendation: Go binge watch The L Word. You’re welcome).
Remember: This first-time lesbian sex tips guide is a good starting point, but no one can tell you about your partner’s body and what they enjoy better than your partner can. And, on the flip side, you know your own pleasure best. So your best bet is to communicate. (This all goes for sex with a person of any sex, gender, or orientation.)
And if you can help it, don’t sweat it. The less you stress, the more likely be able to enjoy yourself. Cheers to hot, happy, and healthy sex.