Sex Qs and As

These are the questions submitted to Ask Rachael About Sex with the Answers.  Don't forget to check out the links at the bottom of the page to see great answers to how soon you should be tested if you had unprotected sex or were not sure if the condom was used correctly.

Submit your questions to Rachael anonymously and the answers will be posted on this page in 5 days.

Interested Reader Asks:

How does Health Services treat someone with a urinary tract infection (UTI)?

Rachael Answers:

One of the most important steps in the evaluation of a possible UTI is being able to provide a urine sample during the visit. This is critical so we can check it for signs of infection. Please drink plenty of liquids prior to your appointment.  If you feel you cannot wait to urinate while waiting for your appointment, please let the front office staff  know so we can collect a urine sample from you.

During your visit you will be asked about your symptoms. Typical UTI symptoms include:

    • Burning with urination
    • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen
    • Discolored urine
    • Urinating frequently and in small amounts
    • Sudden urges to urinate

If a UTI is left untreated, it can develop into a kidney infection. Symptoms include:

    • Back pain
    • Fever/ chills
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

Most UTIs can be treated with one of several commonly used inexpensive antibiotics. A prescription will be written for you and you will take it to a local pharmacy to get it filled. Medications to help with burning may also be recommended.

The provider may want to send a urine culture to the lab for further testing. A culture is helpful to identify the strain of bacteria causing your UTI and whether the antibiotics you are prescribed will treat the UTI appropriately. Please note that the culture takes about 48 hours for results.

Unfortunately, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can mimic the symptoms of a UTI in both females and males.  In addition, UTIs are less common in men than in women.  Your provider may suggest testing for STDs, especially if you are having unusual discharge.

It is recommended that women urinate before and after sex and drink plenty of fluids to decrease the risk of UTIs. If you experience frequent UTIs, it may be helpful to see a specialist (urologist). Health Services can help with a referral and scheduling an appointment.

Interested Reader Asks:

If I get tested for an STD/STI at Student Health Services, can I pay in cash/check day of or have the bill sent directly to me, so as to avoid my parents' concern?

Rachael Answers:

Great question.  In this age the desire for privacy and confidentiality is strong.  Most people would prefer to keep their health history and sexual history as a need to know basis.  For this reason, I was really interested in the answer as well.  I checked in with Student Health Services and they said they can't take payments directly via cash or check the day of the appointment, but they can have the bill sent directly to the student.

Interested Reader Asks:

What is the average penis size and does size matter?

Rachael Answers:

I love when people are willing to ask questions beyond infections and protection.  Questions like these are the reason I wanted to start this page.  Many people are prevented from asking questions about anatomy and the act of sexual intercourse.  Perhaps asking these types of questions requires us to be vulnerable to others and show that we aren't all the Don Juans and Mae Wests we might pretend to be.  I hope that this website will help people to ask and learn more.  From time to time, I will also reach out to others on campus to help answer some of these questions.  I'm not one to look the other way when someone has more knowledge!  Thanks Dr. Drummond for helping with this question and others. 

Men tend to worry about penis size much more than their partners do. There is also much less variability in erect penis length than commonly thought.  Erect penis measurements from the Ansell Study done at Spring Break in Cancun in 2001 found:  Average erect penis length was 5.877 inches with most between 5.5 and 6.3 inches.  Average erect penis girth (circumference) was 4.97 inches with most between 4.7 and 5.1 inches. Other earlier studies (Gebhard and Johnson 1979) had similar findings with average penis length of 5.5 to 6.2 inches and the same circumference results.

There is considerably more variability in flaccid (soft) penis size with most ranging from 1 to 4 inches in length. The shorter flaccid penises tend to grow more in size with erection whereas the longer flaccid penises tend to grow less in size with erection. As a result flaccid penis size is poorly correlated with erect penis size as indicated by the terminology “grow-ers versus show-ers.”

Studies have also been conducted to examine whether there is any relationship between the size of other parts of a man’s body and the size of his penis and no significant relationship has been found.  In 2002, urologists in England studied shoe size and penis size and found no statistically significant relationship.

In another 2002 study published in European Urology, researchers asked women the importance that they attributed to penile size length and girth (totally unimportant, unimportant, important, and very important). Most women indicated penile size was unimportant to them. Only 20% of the women thought that penile length was important and only 1% thought it was very important. The percentages for penile thickness were 31% (important) and 2% (very important).

Furthermore for men in heterosexual relationships, clitoral stimulation is generally much more correlated with female orgasm and sexual satisfaction than penis size.

Interested Reader Asks:

Dear Rachael

What's the best way to achieve an orgasm as a female? Sex always feels good, but I have only had an orgasm a few times. Is there a certain position that's best?

Rachael answers:

First be aware the alcohol or drug use will make it harder for a woman to have an orgasm.  You are also more likely to experience orgasm with a partner in a long term relationship since you learn together what works best. One night stand sex tends to be much less satisfying for women.

Another factor in female orgasm is that most women require clitoral stimulation- either direct or indirect. The clitoris is formed from the same structures that from the penis during fetal development. The images below show the anatomy of the clitoris.  The image on the right also shows the internal portions of the clitoris which are not visible.

Picture of Clitoris and Labeled Parts             Drawing of Clitoris Structure with Labeled Parts

Oral sex, vibrators, and rubbing with finger(s) are usually the most effective ways to stimulate the clitoris. (remember to use protection with oral sex also- see the other Q and A’s for more information on condoms and dental dams)

Regarding male female intercourse, certain positions tend to allow more clitoral stimulation:

The “woman on top” position allows for indirect stimulation of the clitoris with pressure and friction against the man’s pubic area.  

The coital alignment technique works in a similar fashion. See:

Several positions allow for direct stimulation of the clitoris with either a finger or a vibrator.  These include the man entering from behind (“doggie style”) and the modified missionary position (where the woman lies on her back at the edge of the bed with her feet up in the air and the man is standing).

For the majority of women proper technique and open, comfortable relationships where partners are able to experiment and talk about different techniques will result in a fuller sexual experience including orgasm there are some people were there are underlying causes for anorgasmia.    Some known psychological correlates of orgasms are having a history of sexual abuse (Rellini & Meston, 2007) strongly religious/ feeling guilty about sex (Meston et al., 2004), having a passive role and having strong anxiety during sexual intercourse related to the act itself, appearance, or value to the sexual partner (Meston et al., 2004).  For women who want more help and direction on an enjoyable sexual experience that are not helped by self study there are sex therapists available which base their practice on research and empirically valid techniques. 

Human Papilloma Virus Sexually Transmitted Infections

Can you get Herpes from Oral Sex?

How soon can you get tested after unprotected sex?

Can condoms protect against Herpes?

How big is my risk?

Medical bag and stethoscope  Medical Issues and Medications

Can my boyfriends blood pressure medication be affecting his ability to have an orgasm?