29 Things Every 20-Something Should Know About Sex

When it comes to sex, our 20s can be a formative decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age Americans lose their virginity (at least for penetrative sex) is about 17— which means there are a lot of twentysomethings out there finding their sexual grooves. In fact, research suggests that most women don't reach their hormonal "sexual peak" until their 30s, after estrogen levels skyrocket during women's mid-to-late 20s.

Beyond hormones, our 20s can be a time when we learn about ourselves, our desires, what we like, and what we don't. Many of us are having sex for the first time in our 20s or trying out casual sex — and many of us are having good sex for the first time. Each year, the learning curve can be huge.

To kick off our 29 Days Of Great Sex, we've gathered 29 pieces of sex advice from people in their 20s or just beyond them. Whether it's the life-altering benefits of foreplay or the importance of communication, these are the valuable lessons they learned (or are still learning) about sex during this impressionable decade.

Of course, while these tips worked for them, they won't all necessarily work for you. And that's okay. Talking about sex openly and sharing our experiences will only help us get a better understanding of the sexual landscape — not to mention what we might be into ourselves.
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Here, 29 valuable lessons people learned about sex in their 20s.

This month, we're sharing steamy personal stories, exploring ways to have even better sex, and wading through the complicated dynamics that follow us into the bedroom. Here's to a very happy February. Check out more right here.

1 of 29
"I learned that having sex doesn't mean everything else stops. You're still moving, breathing, audible people. You can laugh, sigh, joke, and totally pause to reconnect. It's a living, breathing thing that can follow any possible path. And when you feel okay deciding to hit ‘stop,’ recalibrate, or perhaps, make a comment, you know you're with someone you're supremely comfortable with."
— Ellie, 27
2 of 29
"A little hair never hurt anyone! Shaving all the time is boring and uncomfortable, and pubic hair is super cute."
— Lilly, 25
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3 of 29
"Don't be afraid to get in there and self-stimulate if that's what's going to give you the most enjoyment. It makes sex better for everyone. And if a partner is too intimidated by that and it makes them feel inadequate, that's not the kind of person you should be with, anyway."
— Alida, 31
4 of 29
"You need to ask for what you want. No one is a mind reader."
— Michelle, 25
5 of 29
"If you take a subway together and he man-spreads, pole hogs, or doesn't offer his seat to the elderly or pregnant riders, don't fuck him. Manners make a man — and a good lay."
— Irina, 25
6 of 29
"The more you work to please your partner, the more he or she will want to please you."
— Dylan, 26
7 of 29
"One thing I've learned is to stop viewing sex as an affirmation of my partner’s attraction and desire for me. I used to feel rejected if my boyfriend fell asleep without trying to have sex, but now I realize that sex doesn’t have to be about validation — I find validation through my own personal triumphs and get to enjoy sex for what it is. Plus, I’m often just as tired as he is and could use the extra rest myself!"
— Melissa, 26
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8 of 29
"Sex definitely isn't everything, but how your physical chemistry evolves with someone over time can be telling. If you're in a relationship for a while, you're going to have sex with just the goal of wanting to get off and pass out. But when that becomes the only utility for sex and you're not really attaching much passion to it ever, there's probably something else going on."
— Fred, 26
9 of 29
"I am responsible for my own orgasm."
— Amber, 26
10 of 29
"Regardless of one's — or one's partner's — sexual prowess, smoking a J of high-quality indica about 45 minutes to an hour before playtime will make everything 10 times more enjoyable. But go easy on the J, or you'll end up sleeping through all of it — again, regardless of sexual prowess."
— Alexandra, 28
11 of 29
"The most valuable lesson I learned about sex in my 20s is that I shouldn't worry about performing like a porn star, because you're constantly learning. Instead, I should enjoy connecting with my S.O. on a level that complements mental stimulation."
— Dana, 30
12 of 29
"You don't have to apologize for not having an orgasm within three minutes of sex or at the same time as your partner."
— Julia, 23
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13 of 29
"I learned, unfortunately, that the bunny-like libido I took for granted in my late teens and early 20s wouldn't last forever. I wish I'd had more sex back then, before things slowed down!"
— Abby, 29
14 of 29
"If you have roommates, you should lock your door while having sex."
— Ron, 35
15 of 29
"Good sex is important in order to have a good relationship. In my experience, you can't have a good relationship and bad sex — it isn't healthy for me and it isn't something I can keep up forever. Eventually, someone will get sick and tired of it."
—Johnny, 22
16 of 29
"Give compliments when clothes come off. Be vocal. Make noises. Even a weird noise is better than silence."
— Dylan, 26
17 of 29
"Don't be so concerned with whether or not you're bloated that day, whether you shaved or not, if you're wearing your sexiest panties, etc. Chances are, your partner is going to be so distracted by their excitement and the sexy thoughts — like, Holy shit, this girl is into me and she's taking her clothes off! I am so lucky! — that he/she isn't going to even notice that you accidentally wore your underwear inside out that day. Trust me, I've done it. No one was any the wiser, and I still had great sex."
— Alida, 31
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18 of 29
"There might be things you think you don't like — hey there, oral sex — but you and your partner were just inexperienced and had to learn how to do it right together. Practice really does make perfect."
— Julia, 23
19 of 29
"You really don't have to do it on the first 'date!'"
— Lauren, 24
20 of 29
"I've learned to stop fucking losers with no ambitions and no books in their apartment."
— Irina, 25
21 of 29
"Having sex with someone won't make them stay. I'd rush the physical part of a relationship with a person I liked, because I thought that would jump-start some type of intimacy. And while it would happen on my end, it rarely happened on theirs. But this also opened my eyes to the fact that sometimes, you just want to have sex to have sex! I've had some of the best sexual experiences with men I have no interest in dating long-term. As long as all parties are open, honest, and practicing safely, there's no reason to not partake in casual sex. That shit is fun as hell."
— Maria, 25
22 of 29
"Just because you love someone, it doesn't mean sex will be good. In fact, sex with the love of your life can be very lousy."
— Ariane, 25
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23 of 29
"Sometimes, people will really pretend not to hear that their friend sexually assaulted someone, because it's easier to blame the victim."
— Julia, 23
24 of 29
"The best sex I've had has been in the honeymoon stage of a relationship. The worst sex I've had has been in the 'I'm not sure how I feel about you yet' stage of the relationship."
— Adam, 26
25 of 29
"A lot of what I learned is that what I expected to not be into wasn't true. I've been pleasantly surprised with how much my body actually responds positively to new things."
— Jess, 23
26 of 29
"Foreplay, foreplay, foreplay, and lube...and vibrators."
— Dylan, 26
27 of 29
"Like Samantha from Sex and the City once wisely posited: 'A guy could just as easily dump you if you fuck him on the first date as he can if you wait until the 10th.'"
— Sophie, 23
28 of 29
"A lot of people from around the world are uncircumcised, and I’m okay with that — 'uncut' ones are way less scary than people make them out to be."
— Sophie, 23
29 of 29
"Tuck a pillow under her lower back and always keep a clean towel handy."
— Dylan, 26
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