Gone are the days when people thought women were inherently squeamish about sex. And good riddance. It's so obvious, it seems silly to even say it, but women are every bit as interested in having sex as men -- and just as comfortable with the nitty gritty. (Many of them even want it more.)
But sometimes, things happen during sex that can take even the most sexually confident of us aback. There are sounds, and smells and feelings that make us stop and think ... "Uh, what just happened?" "Is that normal?"
So we asked a team of sex-health experts to spill: What are some typical things that happen to women during sex, but that you never really hear people cop to or wonder about? And what, if anything, do they mean? Here's what they said.
Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, an ObGyn with Yale University and spokesperson for FirstResponse said that it's very common for women to become (or stay) dry or irritated during sex. In fact,<a href="http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/sex-lubes" target="_blank"> <em>Women's Health</em> reports</a> that roughly one-third of young women say they experience vaginal dryness. But lubrication is one of the keys to a pleasurable, comfortable sexual encounter. The best way to get there, according to Minkin? Good ol' fashioned foreplay. "Vibrators can help," she added -- and there are plenty of personal lubricants on the market. If dryness is taking a more serious toll on your sex life or making you uncomfortable throughout the day (which can be a particular problem as women age), make an appointment with your health care provider. "Vaginal dryness affects many women, although they frequently don't bring up the topic with their doctors," <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-dryness/DS00550" target="_blank">the Mayo Clinic explains</a>.
You Have 'The Moment'
No, not an orgasm, but that moment -- seconds or minutes after sex begins -- when you just somehow know how the rest of the encounter is going to play out for you, good, bad or otherwise. "When I mention it to women, they say, 'How did you know?'" said Kimberly Resnick Anderson, director of the Summa Center for Sexual Health in Ohio. When it comes to sex, women often start in a state of "sexual neutrality," she explained. "Sometimes, you start engaging in sexual activity and right away, you think, 'This is going to work.'" Other times, you sense that what's coming next will be nice, or fun, but that you won't quite get there. Women are pretty intuitive about whether they're going to be able to achieve orgasm, Resnick Anderson said.
You Feel Like Peeing
"If during certain sexual positions, like doggie-style, you [have] a need-to-pee feeling, it's completely normal," said Amy Levine, a sex coach and founder of <a href="http://www.igniteyourpleasure.com/" target="_blank">Ignite Your Pleasure</a>. "Those sensations are usually from G-spot stimulation, which can lead to female ejaculation. Ejaculate comes out of the urethra and is clear and odorless." That said, it is entirely possible -- and not atypical -- for women to pee and orgasm at the same time. Some women find they pee a little when they laugh, sneeze or orgasm, particularly after giving birth. It's also easy to confuse the feeling of an impending orgasm with the urge to pee. "Women who do not experience urinary incontinence at other times, but feel the urge to pee when approaching orgasm, may be getting confusing messages from very sensitive parts of their bodies," <a href="http://goaskalice.columbia.edu/am-i-coming-or-going-distinguishing-between-orgasm-and-urination" target="_blank">Go Ask Alice explains</a>. If fears about going to the bathroom during sex are going to hold you back in any way, Levine recommends simply going before you get started.
Sure, there's often a performance aspect to screaming during sex. A small 2011 study (that focused solely on heterosexual women) found that 66 percent moan during sex to speed up their partner's climax, while 87 percent did so to boost their partners' self-esteem, <a href="http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/08/why-women-moan-during-sex/" target="_blank">CNN reports</a>. But making noises can be a great way to be clear about what you want in bed, and "there are many women who need to be vocal to help themselves achieve orgasm," sex educator <a href="http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/08/why-women-moan-during-sex/" target="_blank">Patty Brisben told CNN</a>. "There is a difference between faking it like a screamer, and being in the moment and expressing how you're feeling, which can increase sound," agreed Levine. Some women are quiet during sex, others are loud -- it's as simple as that.
Vaginal flatulence is not actually the same thing as passing gas -- it's just air being released through the vagina -- but it does make a very similar sound. Dubbed "queefing," it occurs when air gets trapped in the vagina and while there isn't really any way to prevent it, avoiding certain sex positions may help, whereas switching positions several times may <a href="http://voices.yahoo.com/vaginal-flatulence-why-does-vagina-farting-7811570.html?cat=5" target="_blank">increase the chances of it happening</a>. Better yet, just don't sweat it. "Sex can be awkward -- we queef ... bump body parts and miss the mark," said Levine. "It's completely natural for it not to be seamless, and your best bet is to laugh it off and keep going."
Sometimes when you're having sex, you're totally in the moment --incapable of thinking about <em>anything</em> else. Other times, you're thinking about approximately 12 million other things. "Women report that they're pretty easily distracted by what is happening in their life," said Resnick Anderson. "They wonder if something is wrong with them. 'Why am I thinking about that? Why am I not able to focus?'" Sometimes, it is what it is, she said. In other words, women shouldn't beat themselves up if other elements of their lives creep into their bedroom. But if distraction becomes a frequent issue, there are mindfulness interventions women can try -- most of which they practice on their own -- that can make them feel more connected and focused, Resnick Anderson said.
You Get A Headache
A sex headache is usually a dull ache in your head or neck that builds as sexual excitement mounts, or it can be a more sudden pain, often accompanying orgasm. Most are nothing to worry about, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sex-headaches/DS00645/DSECTION=causes" target="_blank">the Mayo Clinic says</a>, but sudden-onset ones may be a sign of something more serious. Minkin cautioned that "in rare situations, some women have a severe headache at the time of intercourse, which is possibly related to changes in blood pressure. If you do have it, you’re not crazy, but do mention it to your healthcare provider."
This story appears in special Labor Day issue of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, August 30.