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23 Sex Habits All Twentysomethings Should Adopt

Essential reading for anyone who ever plans to get naked with another person.

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1. Take proper care of your genitals.

Practicing good hygiene can actually help you avoid infections. Plus, it's just polite. But overwashing or using the wrong products can make things worse. So make sure you're cleaning your vagina and washing your penis the right way.

2. Know when to get tested for what.

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Which sexually transmitted infections (STIs) you should get tested for — and how often — will depend on lots of different factors, like your age, gender, number of sex partners, where you live, and actually what you do when you have sex. Here's everything you need to know about getting tested.

3. Stop worrying about all the orgasms you're not having.

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Who cares if you can only orgasm from masturbation or oral or hand stuff? An orgasm is an orgasm. Even if you haven't experienced one yet, don't assume you're broken. It's super common to not be able to orgasm, but your chances of having one will more than likely go up as you get older, become more comfortable with your body, and have sex with partners who are more experienced/considerate/patient.

4. Do Kegels — even if you have a penis.

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Kegels are an exercise that can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which preps them for better bladder control and stronger orgasms. If you have a vagina, you can do it by squeezing those muscles that can pause your pee midstream (or tighten your...grip).

But anyone with a penis can — and should — do them, too. One study of men who suffered from premature ejaculation found that doing Kegels led to an improvement of symptoms in just a few months. Men can do it by squeezing the perineal muscles (the ones between your genitals and anus).

5. Masturbate a lot.

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How else are you going to figure out what little things (or big things) feel really great? But remember that masturbation doesn't always have to be a means to an end. Whether you orgasm or not, just play around down there and get to know your body.

6. Learn the importance of enthusiastic consent.

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And not just the well-we're-making-out-and-taking-off-each-other's-clothes-and-we're-probably-going-to-have-sex-now kind of consent. Making sure that both people are super excited to be having sex right then is not just polite — it's necessary.

7. Stop faking orgasms.

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Most people have faked it at least once, according to a recent (not very scientific) BuzzFeed Health poll. Stop that. Even if you have good intentions, it's basically lying, and it's just not productive.

8. Learn how to talk to your doctor about your sex life.

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Yes, it sounds truly terrifying to tell your doctor about that time the condom broke last week, or that you've slept with three people since your last STI test, or that you've been getting way less wet lately. Understandable. But if you don't tell them this stuff, you'll be missing out on potentially getting the care or tests you actually need. This is their job, and they're here to help.

10. Really truly believe that size isn't everything.

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Because it's not. Whether you're worried about penis size, boob size, nipple size, body size, vulva size, whatever — size is not everything. The way you feel about your body, the way your partner feels about it, and the way you use it are all way more important.

11. Make sober sex the norm.

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You don't need to completely ban sex after a few glasses of wine, but try not to let drunk/buzzed/high sex be your normal. Not only does being drunk cloud judgment, it can also add confusion to a situation where you really want all parties thinking clearly about consent. Plus, you're more at risk for birth control slip-ups, sexual dysfunctions, and just general sloppiness.

12. In fact, just cut back on booze and smoking in general.

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Alcohol acts as a depressant — for both your mood and your libido. Plus, studies show that even a little nicotine can lead to reduced genital response in men and women. So if you're having performance issues and you're partying a lot, you might want to consider changing that for the sake of your sex life.

13. Take. Your. Time.

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You wouldn't rush through brunch, so why would you want to rush through sex? Both of those are things are infinitely better when you slow down and add some variety. In fact, one study found that combining a variety of sex acts made it easier for both men and women to orgasm. So don't skip foreplay, because science.

14. And maybe squeeze in some exercising — that's good for sex, too.

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Exercise-induced arousal (and even exercise-induced orgasms) is a thing. Also, staying in shape can keep your weight and cardiovascular health in check, which are both good for libido and sexual functioning.

15. Get comfortable actually talking about sex with that naked person next to you.

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Sometimes just about talking about what turns you on and what feels good is even trickier than the actual hookup. It takes a level of confidence and vulnerability that's really hard for a lot of people. So work on getting more comfortable with that — whether it's taking turns talking about a random fantasy or telling them that it feels freaking amazing when they do that weird tongue thing. The more you do it, the more confident you'll become.

16. Come up with a sex bucket list — even if you never actually show it to anyone.

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Consider this your list of dos, don'ts, would dos, would never dos, would maybe do under the right circumstances... You get it. This can just be a mental list that you think about every once in a while, or it can be a physical list you and your partner make just for the hell of it. Either way, it'll get you comfortable thinking about which boundaries you're interested in pushing and which are hard passes.

17. Be attentive, present, and really freaking considerate during sex.

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You can be physically having sex and mentally, like, in a TGI Fridays or something. (Hopefully not, but you get it.) Not only does this make it almost impossible to focus on the ~pleasure~, but it also means you'll be less enthusiastic and tuned into your partner. Make an effort to be really present and mindful when you're having sex. Everyone will have a lot more fun this way.

18. If you need a birth control method, find one that is actually perfect for you.

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Contraception definitely isn't one-size-fits-all, so don't just ask your doctor for birth control and call it a day. Consider all the things — like if you want hormones or not, if you can remember to take pills or replace a ring, if you want something long-term that you can forget about, or if you want something that comes with STI protection (only condoms, FYI). Then talk to your doctor about any health conditions you currently have or have a family history of. Then try it for a month or two and check back with your doctor about how it's going. If you're not psyched, consider other options.

19. And use protection every single time if there's any way you could get an STI.

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If you're doing anything that could potentially transmit an STI (oral sex, anal sex, penetrative sex, even skin-to-skin genital contact) and you aren't 100% sure of your partner's status, you should be using condoms or dental dams. Yes, that means using a barrier method during oral sex. You're probably not going to do that...but just know that that's actually the safest recommendation. Here's how to make sure you're using condoms the right way.

20. Play with sex toys and lube.

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Here's something you can do whether you're solo, dating, or in a relationship. If you have zero idea of where to start, shop around Babeland or browse that one aisle in CVS. There's a whole big world of products out there that can vibrate, suction, tingle, warm, and maybe even make you come.

21. Stop worrying about your ~number~.

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The idea that there's a "right" number of people to have sex with is complete garbage. What you think is too low or too high is totally subjective. Obviously be safe, but also don't concern yourself with what everyone else is doing.

22. Have fun experimenting, but don't feel like you have to experience everything.

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Just because other people are over there finding their G-spots or squirting or being a bottom, that doesn't mean you have to do that too unless you actually want to. Every body is different and if you can't do something or just don't like it — don't stress. It's your sex life, so don't let anybody tell you what you should enjoy or experience in bed.

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