9 Ways You Can Sexually Experiment

Photographed by Lula Hyers.

You might have heard someone say that college is a time when everyone is sexually experimenting. But what does sexual experimentation mean, anyway? Is it about realizing what your sexual orientation is, or is it about having new kinds of sexual experiences for the first time?

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Experts say it's both. “In keeping with the definition of ‘sexual’ as a broad understanding of our physical, emotional, psychological, and social feelings, behaviors, and attitudes, ‘sexual experimentation' can mean so many things,” Dr. Jill McDevitt, CalExotics Resident Sexologist, tells Refinery29. Sexual experimentation might look like you realizing you're bisexual, or it might look like you figuring out you love oral sex and dislike anal sex, or it might mean both. It's all pretty individual.

To put it another way, “sexual experimentation is allowing yourself to expand sexually by trying new, creative, and diverse things,” says We-Vibe’s sex expert, Dr. Chris Donaghue.

Basically, are you trying something sexually — whether on your own or with a partner — that’s new to you? There you have it, you’re sexually experimenting. Here are some ways to get started.

Masturbate

If you haven't masturbated often, now's the time to start. If you're a pro, change up your routine: try lying on your stomach instead of your back, add lube, or treat yourself to a new sex toy. Sexual experimentation often means “touching your own body to satisfy a curiosity,” says Dr. McDevitt.

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Fantasize

If you’re not sure what you’re into or who you're into, try playing with different kinds of fantasies in your imagination, by reading erotica, or even by watching porn. Take note of what turns you on, what turns you off, and what you're not sure about.

Think about who you’re into

Sexual experimentation “can be looking at different types of porn to see if men, or women, or both, or neither, excite you the most,” Dr. McDevitt says. Paying attention to who catches your eye on campus can help, too. 

Get a partner involved

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If you have a sex partner, try out different kinds of touch, positions, and kinks to see what you enjoy. For example, "try a bunch of different oral sex techniques with a partner to see what feels good,” suggests Dr. McDevitt.

Educate yourself

Seek out information on sex and sexuality — for example, visit your college’s LGBTQ+ center, read a memoir about coming out, or immerse yourself in information about sexual health.

Embrace uncertainty

If you discover something about yourself that surprises you and you're unsure about what it all means, that’s totally fine. “Sex is fluid and it allows for a multitude of sexual experiences, ones that may push you outside the boundaries of who you thought you were — some that are confusing, others that are highly arousing, and many that are without a label or a name,” says Dr. Donoghue. 

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Take some time to reflect

Think about who you’ve been attracted to and what sexual experiences you’ve enjoyed, plus your current crushes and what you’re interested in trying. You might want to write in a journal or talk it over with a trusted friend.

Try something new

Curious about anal sex? Read up on how to do it safely, and then and try it. Never used a vibrator, but want to? Start shopping. Curious about a new sex position? Give it a try.

And try it again

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Dr. Donaghue points out that if you try something new and you’re meh on it, you might enjoy it more the second time. “Be open to new things, and more importantly, to trying them more than once,” he says. “New partners, or new experiences with current partners, are the opportunities to expand our sexualities. If you feel safe and trust your partner, try new sexual experiences, and try them at least a few times to fully explore.”

Whatever sexual experimentation means to you, it's always a good idea to spend some time getting to know yourself better.

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