Rethinking Intercourse: 8 Ideas to Improve the Old “In-Out”

The definition of sex is not “intercourse”. You won’t find terms like “going all the way” on this site, because intercourse is not the last lap you complete to win a medal — in fact, it’s not even a requirement for “winning” at sex. No, intercourse is one of many ways to engage in sexual pleasure — sometimes it’s on the agenda, and sometimes it’s not.

Intercourse is also more than a series of steps like: Insert tab A into slot B, thrust, repeat as necessary. At least, mutually satisfying intercourse is. Mastering the technical skills of various positions is the easy part. The hard part, as it were, is making style, flow, grace, and equality a sexual priority when it comes to intercourse. It’s what separates us from the animals. 

Which is not to say that sex shouldn’t be animalistic: some of the best sessions are rough-and-tumble romps driven by instinct and punctuated with lots of back-of-the-neck biting. But as anyone who’s ever watched a nature show can tell you, sex in the wild often lacks creativity, stamina, romance, birth control, and, perhaps most importantly, orgasms for the female of the species.

While many a poo-poo-er will claim that sex should come naturally (and not from one of our manuals or this advice site), we would suggest that anything (or anyone) worth doing is worth doing well. The difference between just getting by and excelling — at anything, but especially sex — is a willingness to learn, to open your mind, to try new things. And we would suggest that no other sexual activity is in need of more horizon-expanding than intercourse. 

There are more ways to move than what you’ve seen in Hollywood blockbusters and skin flicks. The fast-paced, bum-clenched, two-dimensional humping of four-legged creatures is not the all-around winner these movies claim it to be. What looks “normal” and what feels good are often two very different things. The following 8 elements of style that reframe intercourse will help you tell the difference.

Women, study closely: It’s time to welcome your clitoris to the intercourse party! And men, study even closer: It’s time to find out just how good intercourse can be when your partner enjoys it as much as you do.

1. Not the Be-All End-All

MYTH: Simultaneous orgasm during intercourse is the highest sexual ideal you can attain. This is an old-fashioned fairy tale, a late 20th-century (sub)urban legend. Sure, it’s nice work if you can get it (and yes, some couples can). But for many women, the intercourse-centric view goes against their very biological nature (have you noticed how far away the clitoral head is from the vaginal opening?). It sets up unreasonable expectations for both men and women (she thinks, “What’s wrong with me that I can’t come from his dick?” and he just thinks, “What’s wrong with my dick?”). And more often than not it leads to serious — but often unspoken — sexual disappointment and frustration for her. How many men do you know who’d put up with an orgasm-free sexual relationship?

For women who don’t get off on intercourse alone, intercourse is a dish best served after they’ve enjoyed at least one orgasm of their own by whatever means necessary: intercourse just feels better on a full vagina. And, let’s be honest here, many men find it, shall we say, challenging to sustain interest once they’ve been satisfied. (Which is not to say that they shouldn’t try, but “ladies first” tends to put everyone in a better mood.)

2. Safety First

If intercourse is on the menu, then barrier protection and birth control should be too. The majority of STDs can be spread with minimal genital-to-genital contact (i.e. no penetration necessary!). And pre-ejaculate can include enough leftover sperm from a previous ejaculation to result in pregnancy. So if you’re planning on bumping beauties with someone with whom you haven’t A) been tested, B) jointly agreed to be monogamous, and C) established a birth-control plan, then at the very least wrap up his cookie with a condom before going anywhere near her cookie jar — because the five-second rule that applies to sweets dropped on the floor does not apply here. 

3. Willing and Able Doesn’t Always Mean Ready

You wouldn’t think of attempting intercourse in the absence of a man’s erection. So don’t try it without a woman’s either. Her genitals should be engorged with blood, aroused, and just as “ready” as his. The best way to achieve this is to give her the kind of genital attention she likes best: manual sex, clittage, g-spotting, and/or oral sex. Or perhaps she prefers more teasing attention, like being being tied up, tickled with feathers, or titillated with naughty words.

By the way, willing, able, and ready won’t necessarily mean wet — arousal is no guarantee of lubrication. In this case, a liberal dose of a store-bought lubricant isn’t a replacement for her arousal but rather a happy accompaniment to it. Even if she is slick herself, adding a dab of the purpose-made stuff can extend her staying power. Oh, and it feels pretty excellent for him, too.

4. Must-Have Accessories

Did we mention the importance of lube? After condoms, lubricant is the next most important bedside accessory for intercourse. But don’t close your nightstand drawer just yet! There are now wonderful, high-quality, beautifully designed, ergonomic vibrators and love rings and vibrating love-ring combos made specifically for heterosexual intercourse that can enhance sensation for both partners and help keep the clitoral head from feeling left out. Wearing cute little butt plugs can spice intercourse up for both of you, too. And don’t forget strategically placed pillows or even made-for-sex bed wedges that can help support your neck, back, bum, and legs to make trickier positions more comfortable for you two. None of the above is cheating; it’s evolving.

5. Going Deep?

Don’t always have tunnel vision, so to speak. Penetration can be more than a means to an end — it can be its own independent sexual activity. Build up to it. Draw it out. The majority of nerve endings in the vaginal canal are concentrated in the outer third, so don’t go racing to the cervix: hang out in the shallow end, too. In fact, shallow penetration is great for targeting her g-spot with the penis and positions like the coital alignment technique. Which is not to say that deep penetration doesn’t have its own rewards: he’ll most likely enjoy the lengthening of the in-out motion and she may like having her cul-de-sac, enlarged from arousal, filled up. 

6. The Motion of the Ocean

Continuing with this theme of “out with the old, in with the new”, we’d like you to throw out the “old in-out” move as the intercourse standard. Jack-hammering, piston-thrusting, oil-pumping, old-fashioned screwing, whatever you want to call it — let’s try something different for a change, shall we? Swivel your hips, rock side to side, slide up along each other’s bodies and back down, squeeze and pulse your pelvic floor muscles, use your pubic bone to create more overall genital pressure… (And, ladies, don’t make him do all the movement work.) Basically, find a cadence and a motion that might not look like stereotypical intercourse, but that feels right to both of you. And if one of you likes leisurely pelvic squeezing while the other prefers it fast and furious? Take turns, people: some of what she likes, some of what he likes, and everyone goes home happy.

7. Intercourse Is Not a Hands-Free Zone

The majority of women enjoy — and often require — clitoral stimulation to gain and maintain arousal. Unfortunately, too many of them don’t ask for it during intercourse (or at all). Ladies, speak up! Guys, step up! Don’t hesitate to keep attention on the clitoris with a finger, hand, or sex toy should the clitoris in question want it and the position engaged in logistically allow for it. (For example, clittage ain’t gonna happen with “The Wheelbarrow“, which is just another reason why that position is kind of useless for most hetero couples.) 

And don’t forget about all the other fun outlying areas that can be manually handled during intercourse: probe the mouth, tweak the nipples, tickle the testicles, massage the perineum, circle the anus, rub the tummy, scratch the back, squeeze the bum, lick the earlobes, nibble the neck, and, of course, kiss.

8. The Tortoise or the Hare?

Sadly, there’s a lot of pressure on men to break stamina records during intercourse. But we’re here to relieve that pressure, because an extra fifteen minutes of fast, deep pumping rarely translates into orgasmic bliss for her. So don’t worry about that sort of perseverance — you’re off the hook, gentlemen. Instead, earn your stamina points early in the game, with what’s traditionally considered foreplay but which you should now consider “sex.”

When you get to the actual intercourse, take your time during slower, subtler, more rocking and repetitive moves. Conveniently, you should find that this approach naturally extends your endurance anyway. Or try pulling out and offering some oral or manual sex before going back in. Ultimately, when it comes to timing, you just want to make sure you’re dedicating equal time to the techniques that work for each of you, whether they fall under the category of “intercourse” or “other.”

This post has been updated.

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