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March 28, 2024

Your sex questions answered

Our resident sexologist Jamie Bucirde answers all your burning questions about STIs, dating and getting what you want in the bedroom.

  • Answers by Jamie Bucirde
  • Graphic: Jayde Vandborg

Q: How often should I be getting STI checks?

A: We’ve had rapid rises in STIs (such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis) in South Australia over the past decade. You should be getting tested at least once a year, as well as yearly blood tests for HIV and AIDS. My rule of thumb is to get tested every three months if I’m being sexually active. If you’re showing symptoms, get tested straight away. Check out the Adelaide Sexual Health Centre – it’s free!


This article first appeared in our 2024 Festival edition, which is on streets now.

Q: How do I find a qualified sex therapist in my area?

A: There are great registered organisations that can help connect you to qualified sex therapists and counsellors in Adelaide. Check out SHINE SA, The Hart Centre or The Society of Australian Sexologists websites to find someone close to you (always ask for their qualifications).

Q: How can I shamelessly bring up my herpes status with a new partner?

A: If you are comfortable with yourself, others’ reactions shouldn’t diminish your self-worth. Be open, honest and confident before engaging in sex, and remember that a lot of the shame and stigma of herpes comes from a lack of sex education and ignorance. Know your facts and answer any questions they have about it.  Approximately one in eight Australians have it, with around 85% of people carrying HSV type 1 and 20% carrying HSV type 2. They may need time to process it – if they don’t want to continue a sexual relationship, respect their decision and know that you are enough and there are people out there who would kill to sleep with you.

Q: My partner watches a lot of porn. We have sex frequently, but it’s pretty vanilla. I’m worried that compared to what he’s watching, our sex is too boring. What do I do?

A: Porn is not a real-life depiction of what sex is. Are you satisfied with your sex life? If you want to spice things up, open up a conversation with your partner on what their hottest fantasies and desires are. Even talking about it can be hot, so start a conversation that will lead to trying new things that will excite you both. Your pleasure is just as important as theirs.

Q: I’m in my first WLW relationship…but I’m scared of going down on her. What if I’m bad at it? Or worse, what if I don’t like it? does that mean I’m not a ‘real’ lesbian?

A: If you’re nervous, I would recommend telling your new partner that. By telling her you’re nervous about being bad at it and that you want to please her, it can open up a conversation where she can help guide you through. Every vulva owner likes different things, so ask her what she likes. You also have an advantage because (I assume) you have a vulva too, which means you understand the anatomy and what feels good for you. Start there. There is no such thing as a ‘real’ lesbian. Take the pressure off yourself and celebrate this new chapter of your sex life.

Q: I want to introduce sex toys into sex, but don’t want to make my partner feel inferior. How do I go about it?

A: Bringing sex toys into the bedroom should never make your partner feel inferior. If they want to prioritise your pleasure, they should be open to it (especially with the orgasm gap). Open up a conversation with them saying you want to try new things in the bedroom and explore together. Suggest going to a sex shop and picking things out together, so it feels more collaborative for them. There are so many sex toys out there – not only ones that penetrate vaginas (nipple clamps, clitoral vibrators, cock rings, butt plugs, whips etc). Pick out ones that are gender neutral that you can both enjoy. If anything, they should love trying something new and hopefully it makes your sex life even steamier.

Q: My boyfriend never goes down on me, and it has made me self-conscious about my vulva. How can I ask him to give me oral more? 

A: Feeling self-conscious about your vulva is totally normal. Communication is key, so start a conversation with your boyfriend saying that you’d love him to go down on you more. Chances are, he will love the fact that you’re asking. If he doesn’t, that’s a bigger issue and you should consider if you want a partner who enjoys giving you pleasure if they are expecting you to give them oral too. Sex equality and pleasure for everyone is vital.

Q: I’m in my 60s. If dating is difficult for younger folk, try being my age!  Do you have any suggestions on dating for the older set?

A: Dating apps are a fantastic place to start for older dating. It can give you access to other people your age who are interested in sex, love and dating again. I would also recommend trying new hobbies to meet new people. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends to set you up with anyone they think you’d like, and if you ever meet someone you’re attracted to, ask them out!

Q: I want to be more dominant in the bedroom, but I don’t feel confident enough. How can I get more comfortable with taking charge?

A: Start small and work your way up. Don’t push yourself to do something you’re not fully comfortable with yet. Start with some dominant commands (I want you to do this, get in this position, good boy/girl etc). Once you start to feel more confident with commands, you can start to introduce new toys or games that bring out your dominant side. If you’re not feeling confident, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to tell you what they like. Hearing words of praise from them may give you the confidence boost you need to take more control.

Q: My girlfriend has vaginismus and I don’t totally get it. How can I support her and (selfishly) make sure this doesn’t interfere with our sex life?

A: Vaginismus (known as genito-pelvic pain penetration disorder) can cause a lot of pain. While it may be hard for you because you want a great sex life with your partner, you should be patient, understanding and never pressure her to have sex if it causes her pain. Educate yourself on it so you understand it more. If she hasn’t, she should go see a sexologist to get some tips on how to work through it together. There are also other ways to engage in sexual activity that doesn’t involve penetration. Try foreplay (oral for both), games, kissing and other forms of intimacy so you can both feel satisfied without fear of pain.

Jamie has a postgraduate degree in sexology from Curtin University. Read the back catalogue of her column, On the Cusp.

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