If you’re a woman who wants to have sex with women but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.
Gay Star News spoke to some of the world’s leading sexologists who specialize in LGBTI sex for their top tips.
Our list will help you get started and how to get the most out of every sexual encounter.
Our tips apply if you’re having sex with one person or many at a time.
Meet your sexologists
Australia’s Naomi Hutchings and the UK’s Beck Thom share their advice based on years of professional experience.
Hutchings is a clinical sexologist and has worked in the field of human sexuality for more than 12 years. She is passionate about the rights of all people to experience the joys of positive sexuality, sexual health and well being.
Beck Thom of Body Curious is a somatic sex educator and sexological bodyworker. She works with ‘anybody with a body’, with a focus on LGBT, queer and trans clients.
Not all women who have sex with women are lesbians. They might identify as pan, bi, queer, straight, bi curious or gay. They might be cis gendered, trans or non-binary.
Thanks to mainstream media and porn there is a pre-conception about ‘lesbian’ sex looks like. But that might not be exactly how sex will work for everyone.
‘Mainstream lesbian porn shows a particular kind of image of sex by particular kinds of women with a particular aesthetic, that not everyone can relate to. It might not match up with what we want and desire, so I suggest we ‘pick and mix’ from what feels right to us and our partners,’ Thom said.
‘There are other aspects of your experience and identity that you and your partner might need to consider if you are new to sex with women.
‘Disability or chronic illness, age, being a woman of colour, having sensory issues or being neuro-atypical, being a trauma survivor, having trans experience, all might have an effect on you and your sexual and romantic life.’
You should go and know yourself
Both sexologists agree. You can’t have a fulfilling sexual experience until you know what you like. You have to know what works for you and what your limits are.
They suggest people take plenty of time exploring their own bodies through various kinds of masturbation. That way when they’re about to have sex they can be more confident about expressing what they want in the bedroom and what will help them achieve orgasm.
‘It’s a cliché, but having a good knowledge of what you like first is a great starting point for sex with others,’ Thom said.
‘Self-pleasure /masturbation/solo sex can be a route to greater self-knowledge and taking responsibility for your own experience when with another.’
Consent is so sexy
When you are with a person (or group of people) and it becomes apparent that you are about to take it to the next level, it is very important to make sure they consent to everything that’s about to happen.
Also, make sure they are are over the age of consent based on local laws wherever you are.
‘To me consent is important,’ Hutchings said.
‘Check in with the person, say “do you want to do this?”. I need an enthusiastic yes.’
It’s also very important to take into consideration if you’re sexual partner is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
‘You have to think if that person is even capable to consent. You can say “listen I’m kissing you and I want to do more, are you fit to make that decision”.’
The Curious Creatures Consent Cards are a great resource to keep in your wallet or purse, or keep a photo of on your phone.
‘Let’s talk about sex’
An aspect of sex that goes hand in hand with consent, but will also lead to a more satisfying sexual experience is good communication.
‘I tell people to make up some rules before having sex,’ Hutchings said.
‘It’s just about getting into a habit saying “do you want me to do this?” and other questions.It doesn’t mean you have to check in all time, but it’s helpful.’
Thom suggested ‘warming up’ before doing the deed might be helpful. That might by having a dinner date first or even a play date where you get to know each other’s bodies first.
‘It is pretty important to know how your partner is feeling, emotionally and in her body, and you can get this information from what she says, her body language, facial expression and signs and cues from her body,’ Thom said.
Ok, so you’ve got past the initial conversation and you’ve both consented to having sex.
Thom argues that women identifying people have a fantastic opportunity to throw out the rule book and start from scratch in terms of sex.
‘My view is that queer women and lesbians have the opportunity to start over and approach sex with the attitude of curiosity and adventure,’ she said.
‘If you have never had sex with a woman before, you can get ideas from films, manuals etc., but the best tool you have is your ability to have a conversation about what the person has enjoyed before, and what they are keen and curious to try out.’
Hutchings says it’s important to be ready and to show respect to your partner. One way you can do that is by ensuring you’re on top of your personal hygiene.
Make sure your fingernails are cut short (unless you know your partner is into long nails), shower and avoid eating a big meal before sex.
Stock up on lube whether it’s water based lube or coconut oil.
But not everyone is keen for direct genital stimulation.
‘Everyone likes things differently, not everyone just likes focussing on the clitoris. People like rolling and rubbing, and not just on that front part,’ Hutchings said.
‘There’s even different types of licking, the flat tongue or pointy tongue.
‘You can put your hand in a certain spot, or near the anus. Some people just like a bit of pressure there (the anus), there’s a lot of nerve endings.’
But you can also turn your turn attention to other parts of the body.
‘Focus on other things like the legs, arm and body. You can even keep your underwear on because some people don’t like direct genital stimulation,’ Hutchings said.
So, there’s a bunch of things you can do to your partner during sex. But as Thom says you’re not obliged to do ‘typical lesbian sex acts’. Nor should you shy away from anything that is taboo.
Take for example anal sex/play, while it’s not seen as an obvious sex act between women, it can be very pleasurable.
‘Your anus has masses of nerve endings, is connected to the rest of your body and nervous system and belongs to you,’ Thom said.
‘Anal touch, massage and penetration can be immensely pleasurable using tongues, fingers and toys.’
If you want to try anal play make sure to read up on safety and hygiene. Have some gloves and lube ready and make sure you’ve chatted with your partner about what everyone is comfortable with.
On the flipside a sex act that’s seen as very quintessentially ‘lesbian’ is cunnilingus/oral sex. There is a perception that because some women who have sex with women have the same genitals that they’ll automatically know how to get their partners off. But that’s not always the case.
While no sex act is compulsory, knowing what you like so that you can direct your partner will make your experience all the better.
‘The ‘69’ can work as a mutual pleasuring, but there is also a place for one-way touch, where one partner ‘gives’ to the other, and has a chance to really focus on the pleasure and the build-up,’ Thom said.
Scissoring or tribadism is the act where two people rub genitals. It is also one of those sex acts that is believed to be a myth and invention of heteropatriachal porn.
But the idea that women who have sex with women don’t actually scissor was busted open (pun intended) by an Autrostraddle survey. The website surveyed more than 8,000 women and found that 40% regularly scissor during sex.
Some women don’t enjoy using penis or phallic shaped dildos, and that’s OK. Now there are many dildos available that are cute without anatomical details. Some can even be vagina shaped if that’s what you’re into.
Dildos can be a lot of fun but remember to put condoms on them if you’re using them with multiple sexual partners. Also, remember to use plenty of lube on the dildos to make it as pleasurable as possible.
Hutchings recommends coconut oil which many clients have told her is ‘game changer’ because it doesn’t ‘dry up’. Coconut can not only help prepare genitalia for intercourse, but it can really help with massage as well.
Fingering and fisting
Your hands and fingers are excellent tools during sex.
They can be used to explore your partner’s body, to massage, to arouse and of course, to insert.
Make sure your hands are clean and if you choose to, you can wear gloves. It’s considered courtesy to keep your nails short to avoid internal damage. But some people like their partners to have longer nails, which is something you’ll have to discuss before getting down.
Vaginal fisting is generally associated with queer women and is seen as a subversive sex according to Thom.
‘But under the right conditions and the right anatomical matching between partners, a very intense and deeply pleasurable experience,’ she said.
Author Deborah Addington tells women to think of a hand being gradually ‘invited in’ by a very excited vagina owner until it is fully inserted.
Her book, ‘One hand in the Bush; the Fine Art of Vaginal Fisting’ is a great guide on how to fist safely. Addington says fisting is ‘the intimate, potent sexual act of gradually inserting the entire hand into the vagina’.
There is huge pressure on people to climax and make sure their partners also orgasm.
But trying to achieve orgasm might be a distraction from a pleasurable experience. So don’t stress out too much if you can’t get there every time.
‘Orgasms are seen as the peak of sexual encounters and as the reason we are doing it, and it can all get quite goal orientated, which can be counter-erotic and contribute to various sexual worries and distress,’ Thom said.
Be mindful and try to be in the moment.
‘Like orgasms, arousal ebbs and flows too, try to go with the flow,’ Thom said.
For Hutchings, our brains are our biggest sex organs and have a very big role to play.
‘Think about the connection you have with them and enjoying your bodies,’ she said.
‘You’re not a spectator in this, be mindful… and it’s ok to admit you’re shy if you are.’
You’re more likely to achieve orgasm if you are breathing freely and comfortable.
But Hutchings warns to limit your intake of drugs and alcohol which might hinder your ability to orgasm.
Preventing STIs and pregnancy (yes, pregnancy!)
There are incorrect misconceptions that women who have sex with women are highly unlikely to transmit STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
But it is possible for women to contract STIs from sex and this is how you stop them.
‘The general advice is that oral, anal and genital sex between two people with vulvas is generally lower risk for most STI’s but that it is NOT No risk,’ Thom said.
‘It’s easy to make assumptions about what someone’s sexual behaviours might be based on stereotypes, but the only way to know if to get to know someone, and to ask.’
Dental dams are a square latex sheet which act as a barrier between the mouth and a vulva or anus.
But much like condoms, many women find them uncomfortable and that they can reduce pleasure and spontaneity.
Thom argued that ‘everyone needs to read up, listen to the research and evidence and then make their own decision about the risk they are prepared to take’.
When swapping bodily fluids with another person, it is essential to get regular sexual health tests.
Unwanted pregnancy is also a risk ‘if there are the anatomical parts that might make this possible’. People should consider using condoms or other contraceptives if pregnancy is something they want to prevent.