Once a month in our ‘Normal’ Person’s Guide to Sex, we take a question from a regular human being who wants to have better sex — nothing fancy like how to suck their own dick, but more everyday problems, like making it to orgasm with a new partner, or telling a partner to lay off the butt stuff. We pair these average folks with sexperts who have the know-how to help them out, from sexologists to psychotherapists to porn stars. Now that the year is drawing to a close, we asked everyone we’ve featured whether they’re coming to climax (see what we did there?) with the advice they got. Here’s what those not too busy having screaming orgasms told us.
Goal: A more active and more joyful sex life with her partner
Sexpert: Nina Hartley, sex educator, author, feminist, legendary porn star
Status: Closer than she was before!
What Worked for Her: “We loved [Nina’s] suggestions, and they gave us a lot to talk about and try. I’ve been getting massages. But things right now are about where they were before seeking this advice, partly because of our overall contentment with our relationship (which is lovely); partly because we got a dog — she’s perfect but tends to ruin the mood when she’s left out of cuddling; and partly because of life and everything else.”
Goal: To get her boyfriend to give her oral sex and more orgasms in general
Her Excuse: “Much of the advice didn’t seem to apply,” says Tracy. “And some I wasn’t able to put into practice.”
Goal: To have and maintain an erection during sex
What Worked for Him: “I took all things that the doctor spoke about into consideration, and I found that stress was a key factor. Once the stress was reduced, things have become a lot better. No one can live in this world without stress of some kind, but [after] reducing it and maintaining a healthy outlook, life feels much better!”
Goal: To get her boyfriend interested in more than just anal sex
Sexpert: Madison Young, retired porn star, sexual revolutionary, author and sex educator
Status: Mostly success!
What Worked for Her: “I loved the advice Madison gave me about actively asking for pleasure rather than just giving it,” says Dolly. “I definitely followed that advice, but then I broke up with that partner a month or so after the column! It just wasn’t working out. But I’m trying to remember to apply the advice to my new boyfriend. He doesn’t want nearly as much anal as the last one, though, so that makes things way easier!”
Goal: To bring sensuality back to her sex life
Sexpert: Rachel Kramer Bussel, erotica author and editor of the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year series
What Worked for Her: “Adding eroticism back into our sex life is a work in progress,” says Veronica. “We’ve had a few really lovely sessions that involved a lot of touching, where I did what Rachel suggested and teased him for a long time before I let him touch me. Those were great! But, all things told, it’s been tough. I loved Rachel’s suggestions, but many of them required a lot of time, and that’s what we really don’t have these days. I’ll keep trying, though!”
Goal: To keep sex alive in a relationship even though her partner is depressed
Sexpert: Naada Bracey, a sex therapist in New Zealand who specializes in low desire
Status: In progress
What Worked for Her: “The past few months have been tough, and not very full of sex,” says Shelby. “But I took Naada’s words about how difficult progress would be without professional help to heart. After several months of suggestions and carefully worded requests, he has agreed to seek a therapist in the new year. We got really lucky, and it looks like he’ll qualify for great health care in 2018, so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to start couples therapy, too! I think communication about this issue and others will help get us on the right track toward a happier future — and hopefully more sex.”
Goal: To keep her body ready for orgasms, with or without a partner
Sexpert: Amy Jo Goddard, a sexual educator and author of Woman on Fire: Nine Elements to Wake up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power and Sexual Intelligence
Status: Not yet begun
Her Excuse: “I’ve been too busy lately to really devote myself to this,” says Madeline. “I’ve been visiting friends and staying on people’s couches or air mattresses doesn’t lend itself to great masturbation. Awkward! But Amy’s advice about trying new things in my own routine is on my to-do list for when things slow down!”