Learn! About sex!
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed
Your sexual education shouldn’t be limited to a few middle school health classes.
Paramount Pictures / Via sharegif.com
Especially since the extent of your school’s sex ed can vary widely depending on where you grew up and when. Maybe your school district covered abstinence-only education, or maybe it was more progressive but still pretty basic. (You can check out what each state allows here.) Regardless, sex is a whole lot more than penises in vaginas, so chances are those textbooks and lectures didn’t quite cut it.
That’s why we put together this list of great books, podcasts, video series, and websites that can help you learn how to think about, talk about, and (most importantly) enjoy sex. The main takeaway: However you identify and whatever your experience level, there are sex-positive resources out there for you. Now, this is definitely not a comprehensive list of everything you’ll ever need (and there’s a good chance not all of these will be right for you), but it’s hopefully enough to get you started.
If you haven’t had sex before — or even if you have! — and you want a few primers, you might also want to check out and this basic .
Now, let’s learn more about sex!
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed
Click around and do some deep reading!
Who it’s right for: Anyone, regardless of gender or orientation, who has questions about their body, sex, gender, orientation, or sexual health.
Why it’s great: Although it’s made especially for people ages 16–22, the information on Scarleteen is accessible and informative and will shoot down misconceptions your nonhelpful school sex ed classes may have gifted you.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who wants to understand the basics of sex and sexuality, however you identify, and whatever your gender.
Who it’s right for: Cisgender and transgender men and women who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, androgynous; cisgender and transgender men who have sex with men; cisgender and transgender women who have sex with women.
Why it’s great: Their manifesto says it all: “Queer sex ed is a guide to both a healthy sexual life and to a healthy emotional one. It’s tips to a healthy relationship with significant others and with yourself. It’s providing queer youth with a roadmap — not prescribing one for them, but providing the tools to use and guides to live and to have wholeness as awesome, sexually healthy people within the vast array of contexts that they navigate daily.”
Who it’s right for: Anyone with a body.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who identifies as bisexual, thinks they might be bisexual, is partners or friends with someone who identifies as bisexual, or is curious about sexuality — regardless of gender or orientation.
Who it’s right for: Anybody having sex who is concerned about not getting pregnant (whether it’s you or your partner); anyone with a vagina who has sex or is thinking about having sex; anyone who wants to learn more about women’s sexual health.
Why it’s great: You can learn anything you want to about birth control and contraception. Check out their Features page for gems like “The girls’ guide to getting some privacy on your parents’ health insurance” and “How to avoid 6 common condom problems.”
Who it’s right for: Cisgender women who identify as lesbian, cisgender men who identify as gay, transgender women and men of any sexual orientation, cisgender and transgender women who have sex with women, cisgender and transgender men who have sex with men.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who identifies as asexual, thinks they may be asexual, or wants to learn more about asexuality.
Why it’s great: The in-depth FAQs (including a specific section for family and friends of people who are asexual) are accepting and positive. They also host forums and have a developed list of other resources on asexuality.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who has sex or is curious about sexuality, regardless of whether they’re sexually active or not.
Why it’s great: This site has well-researched answers to a variety of sex-related questions on topics like “sexual secretions,” “tools & toys,” and “fetishes & philias,” as well as sexual health. Plus, if you can’t find an answer to a question you have about sex or sexuality, you can always submit your own.
Who it’s right for: Although it’s written primarily for cisgender men and women who identify as straight (with the exception of a few pieces like these on lesbian sex and bi-curiosity), this column covers many sex- and relationship-related topics that could be interesting to people of all orientations and genders.
Who it’s right for: Anybody who has questions about sex and sexuality, whether they’re sexually active or not.
Why it’s great: The How to Have Sex section of this blog speaks to a range of sexual topics, including sex toy reviews, strap-on sex techniques, letting a dog watch you while you have sex, and so on. Plus, it was founded by sex researcher Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate professor at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University.
Who it’s right for: This varies depending on the blog. There’s a little bit of something for people of all genders and orientations.
Why it’s great: Each blog, written by a different sex expert, focuses on a different topic. Especially notable (and not covered in depth in many other places) is the Sex After Cancer blog.
Who it’s right for: Again, like many of these websites, there’s a little bit of something for everyone of every orientation and gender.
Why it’s great: Run by The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, this comprehensive site is always backed by research. You can find informative Q&As, a podcast, and a comprehensive resource guide.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who is sexually active or considering having sex of any kind.
Why it’s great: This is the STI education you wish you had — reasonable, informative, and without photographs meant to frighten you away from having sex. Plus, it has great basic guides on how to have sex as well as safer sex guides for women who have sex with women and men who have sex with men.
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed
Listen to real people talk about real sex! These are usually free, which is a bonus.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who is curious about sex or sexuality and wants to learn more about almost anything sex-related in a sex-positive, inclusive way.
Why it’s great: There’s a deep archive of episodes on topics like flirting, gender, toys, sex parties, identity, sex basics, fetishes, religion, porn, polyamory, monogamy, and much, much more. Each episode is around an hour long, so whatever Sandra’s talking about that day gets thoughtful coverage. It’s a good place to learn more about the variety that’s out there, even if you don’t want to bring it into your own bedroom.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who wants to learn more about different aspects of human sexuality in a sex-positive, inclusive way.
Why it’s great: Although they aren’t producing new episodes anymore, there are 383 of them that you can still download from iTunes — and they cover a huge variety of topics that I could list here, or you could browse their website.
Savage Lovecast, $19.99 for a six-month subscription to “magnum episodes,” or free access to “micro episodes” with ads
Who it’s right for: Anyone who has ever had questions about sex. This is another all-encompassing, sex-positive, expert-based podcast.
Why it’s great: Dan Savage answers listener-submitted questions on a variety of sex topics for a variety of genders and orientations in a funny, thoughtful way. And when he can’t authoritatively answer a question himself, he brings in an expert.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who wants to learn more about specific kinks, one kink at a time, regardless of gender or identity.
Why it’s great: Tina Horn brings in educators, writers, porn stars, and social workers to talk about specific kinks — like spanking, high heels, age play, exhibitionism, bootblacking, and lots of others — in a nonjudgmental way.
Who it’s right for: Anyone of any gender or orientation who wants to learn more about many aspects of sexuality.
Why it’s great: Tristan Taormino brings on a variety of guests (like filmmakers, sex experts, authors, and others) to discuss all sorts of topics, like kink, nontraditional relationships, pornography, gender, and much, much more.
TWiB! Afterdark, most recent episodes are free, $14.99/month for all-access
Who it’s right for: Anyone who wants to learn more about sex and sexuality, with a particular focus on the politics (both in the government and in our culture) of sex and sexuality.
Why it’s great: If there’s something topical in the world of sex, N’jalia Rhee is going to discuss it in a sex-positive, thoughtful way. She brings in other experts, bloggers, and educators to talk about hard topics like rape and racialized sexism, the treatment of sex workers, and race issues in sex research.
Who it’s right for: Anyone of any gender or orientation who is in a nonmonogamous relationship, is considering nonmonogamous relationships, or wants to learn more about polyamory and nonmonogamy.
Why it’s great: It covers the how-tos of healthy nonmonogamous living in a thorough manner, and dives into deeper discussions on the issues that arise when you’re nonmonogamous.
Who it’s right for: Anyone of any gender or orientation who wants to hear thoughtful conversations about a wide variety of sexual issues and topics.
Why it’s great: Timaree Schmit brings on different guests to talk about their experiences with sex and sexuality. Many episodes deal with the current cultural conversations around sex and sexuality, but others are deep dives on topics like losing your virginity, the “right” amount of sex to have, and anorgasmia.
Who it’s right for: Anybody of any gender or orientation who wants to learn more about sex and sexuality.
Why it’s great: Emily gives practical advice on a variety of difficult things that come up when you have sex or want to have sex. Like, how to have sex with your boyfriend’s friends. Or how to tell your partner you’re a virgin. Or how to deal with breakups.
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed
We’ve linked to the Amazon pages for each of these, so if you want to really learn more about a book, you can read the reviews.
The Guide To Getting It On, $28.95
Goofy Foot Press / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anyone who is curious about sex or sexuality — whether they’re currently sexually active or not.
Why it’s great: This is a book you can read cover to cover and then keep next to your bed as a handy reference guide. It covers anatomy, technique, virginity, sexual orientation, sex etiquette, porn, kink, sexual health, birth control, pregnancy, teaching kids about sex, sex throughout history and in our culture today, sex and religion, and lots, lots more.
Come As You Are, $16
Simon & Schuster / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Cisgender women of any sexual orientation, and anyone who has sex with cisgender women. (However, the author notes in her introduction that she suspects much of the book will be applicable to transgender women and their partners, as well.)
Why it’s great: It cuts through all the cultural crap that women are taught — or not taught, but that it’s assumed they will figure out somehow — about their own sexuality and sexual functioning (that “one great trick?” Not gonna cut it). It reminds its readers that they are in no way “broken” because they’re having trouble being sexually aroused, explains what it means that sex happens in a context, and backs it all up with research.
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, $39.95
Oxford University Press / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anybody who is transgender or gender nonconforming (regardless of orientation), has a loved one or partner who is transgender or gender nonconforming, or wants to learn more about the transgender community.
Why it’s great: “…each chapter in TBTS is brimming with straightforward information about living a life as a gender-nonconforming person in the United States, along with short personal essays from trans people about their lived experiences. There are sections about parenting, mental health concerns, surgical and medical transitions, sexuality, arts and culture, and political activism.” —The New Republic
Becoming Orgasmic, $16.99
Fireside / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Cisgender women who struggle to have orgasms (regardless of orientation), and their partners who want to help them.
Why it’s great: Although it’s an older book than some on this list, Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate professor at Indiana University says, “It’s a really quality book and it was tested and found to be just as effective as sex therapy for having your first orgasm.” Boom. (Also check out for more female orgasm basics.)
Cleis Press / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anyone who has a male prostate (or has a partner with a male prostate) and is interested in anal play or anal intercourse.
Why it’s great: This detailed book covers almost all the bases of prostate play in a sex-positive way, from the basic tutorials and FAQs to informative discussions about hygiene and health. It also has instructions directed toward partners who want to be on the giving side of prostate play, and strategies to talk about the social/cultural blocks that men (particularly but not exclusively straight men) may have against anal play.
The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, $24.95
Cleis Press / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Cisgender and transgender women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, butch, femme, or androgynous; cisgender and transgender women who have sex with other women or want to learn about having sex with other women; cisgender or transgender women who want to learn more about their own sexuality.
Why it’s great: “Newman, who, as the publisher at Cleis Press since 1980 has edited many other sex books, covers oral, manual, anal, and insertive-vaginal techniques with loving care. She includes a whole chapter on breast play, addresses safety repeatedly and thoroughly, and discusses transgender and bisexual orientations, SM, group sex, masturbation, and sex toys — all while acknowledging that some women prefer monogamy, some polygamy. Her bibliography and resource list are simply outstanding.” —Library Journal
Woodpecker Media / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Cisgender and transgender men who have sex with men, particularly those who would like to have receptive anal intercourse (or help their partners to have receptive anal intercourse); cisgender and transgender women who would like to have anal sex.
Why it’s great: While the book is centered around a technique the author developed along with a colorectal specialist, a respiratory psychophysiologist, and a yogi, it covers more than just this one technique. Learn about anal anatomy, the healthy ways to clean your butt, and the answers to a lengthy list of questions you should be asking (even if you’re not asking them yet).
Sex Made Easy, $16
Running Press / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Though it’s primarily written for cisgender heterosexual women and their partners, the content may also be applicable to other genders and sexual orientations.
Why it’s great: “It is immediately clear that the purpose of this book is to stress that education is the key to better sex. … My favorite thing about this book is the way each chapter is constructed: a basic rundown of the topic — areas covered include anatomy, sexual health, orgasms, ejaculation, partner sex, sex toys, fantasies, and how to balance sex and life — followed by sexual situations and real-world advice on how to handle them.” —The Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health
The S&M Feminist, $14.99
Clarisse Thorn / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anyone who is curious about BDSM, whether they want to bring it into their sex lives or not; anyone who wants to understand how BDSM works in conjunction with sex-positive feminism; anyone who is curious about polyamory, whether they want to bring it into their lives or not.
Why it’s great: “Clarisse isn’t afraid to talk about her own experiences with BDSM, relationships, and sexual politics. But she’s also not afraid to explore some of the issues around consent, violence, and safety that a lot of the kink cheerleaders would like to sweep under the rug. She brings a refreshing honesty to her writing that is often lacking. Add to that a deep commitment to feminism and sex-positivity, and you have an amazing combination.” —Charlie Glickman
The Ultimate Guide to Kink, $19.95
Cleis Press / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anyone who is curious about kink (which includes but is not limited to BDSM), regardless of orientation and regardless of whether they want to bring it into their own sex lives.
Why it’s great: This book is a collection of essays written by a diverse group of sex/kink educators, divided into two sections: “Skills and Techniques” (the vocabulary of kink, bondage tutorials, and many others) and “Fantasies and Philosophies” (role play, age play, what it means to be submissive, in addition to much else).
She Comes First, $15.99
William Morrow Paperbacks / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Although it’s written specifically as a technique book for cisgender men giving cisgender women cunnilingus, this book can be right for anyone who gives cunnilingus or wants to learn more about how to give cunnilingus or how the female orgasm works (regardless of orientation or gender).
Why it’s great: It is pro-clitoris all the way forever, and encourages couples to “turn foreplay into coreplay” — as in make cunnilingus and everything you do as traditional pre-sex activity the main event. It also focuses on cunnilingus technique, accurate female anatomy, hygiene, and almost anything else you can think of asking about cunnilingus.
The Truth About Men and Sex, $16.99
St. Martin’s Griffin / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anyone who is a man or knows any men, cisgender or transgender.
Why it’s great: “Employing anecdotes about patients he has treated who suffer from sexual troubles, urologist Morgentaler examines male sexuality and intimacy. Much of the material concerning erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation is familiar. Some of the subject matter, including penile implants and how erections work, is technical. Trendy topics include andropause and testosterone supplementation. The sexual sites in the human brain are evolutionarily ancient and deep.” —Booklist
Girl Sex 101 , $24.99
Lunatic Ink / Via amazon.com
Who it’s right for: Anyone who identifies as female or has a female body (regardless of orientation), and their partners.
Why it’s great: “Many books about sex attempt to be discrete: they’re slim volumes with demure cover text that could easily be overlooked on your bookshelf. Or they’re sketchy how-to dating books that promise to tell you how to unlock the sexual secrets of people you date. Neither is the case with Girl Sex 101, a giant-sized, consent-focused sex-ed manual covered in bright colors and bold drawings. Sex educator Allison Moon and artist KD Diamond funded the creation of the book geared toward “ladies and lady-lovers of all genders and identities” with a Kickstarter back in 2013. ” —Bitch
Alice Mongkongllite / BuzzFeed
Like podcasts, but shorter, and with visuals.
Who it’s right for: Anyone (regardless of orientation or gender) who wants to learn more about sex and sexuality.
Why it’s great: Moushumi Ghose, a sex therapist, and Jenoa Harlow, a lesbian actress and activist, cover an eclectic array of sex-related topics. You’ll find how-tos for kissing and cunnilingus, anal sex, threesome negotiation, and lots of other things, plus informative, interesting discussions with sex workers and porn stars.
Who it’s right for: Cisgender and transgender people of any orientation who are sexually active, are considering having sex, or want to learn about sex and sexuality.
Why it’s great: Laci Green keeps things informative and to the point, so if you want some quick and dirty (but accurate!) information, go here!
Who it’s right for: Cisgender and transgender men who identify as gay; cisgender and transgender men who have sex with men; anyone with a penis; anyone who wants to learn more about men’s sexuality.
Why it’s great: Callum addresses lots of concerns that men have about their sexuality and bodies, especially gay men, in a fun, smart way.
Who it’s right for: Anyone who wants to learn more about specific aspects of sex, sexuality, and gender.
Why it’s great: BuzzFeed’s Hillary Levine speaks with sex experts (and podcaster Sex Nerd Sandra!) about different sex-related topics — sometimes complete with anatomical models. It will give you more information about yourself, your partners, and human sexuality and gender in general.