Written by Bree Turner
I want to talk about arousal for all body types.
I want to talk about bodies as they are, unique, like fingerprints.
I want to talk about sex as inclusive of everything that happens after two or more people consent to engaging in sexual activity. And steer away from the heteronormative concept that sex is specifically intercourse involving a penis penetrating a vagina.
I also want to talk logistics.
‘Getting wet’ in an arousal context most likely has you thinking about people with vulvas, i.e. vaginal lubrication. And if movies, TV and porn are anything to go by it happens for cis-women quite quickly, and is very desirable for men – “[excited moan] oh my god you’re so wet!” This has become an expected norm for cis-women’s arousal, one that is largely inaccurate and can leave people who don’t fit that very specific state of arousal feeling inadequate or not normal. The other side to not being wet enough/quick enough to arousal is being too wet/female ejaculation. Like women only exist to accommodate men and must be tidy in doing so [eye roll]. Let me just say now before anything else, how ever your body responds to arousal/pleasure/orgasm is normal*. Every body is unique.
You might be wondering if people with penises can get wet too. Umm yas! Pre-ejaculate aka pre-cum is completely normal, very common and sometimes fertile! It is produced by the Cowper’s glands, which are located at the base of the penis. The fluid lubricates the urethra and facilitates semen flow during ejaculation. Sexual activity doesn’t have to occur for there to be pre-ejaculatory fluid, it can just be there, similar to vaginal mucus. During sexual activity the penis can continue to produce pre-ejaculate, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, either is very normal.
Natural lubrication for people with vulvas is commonly perceived as an indicator of how aroused they are e.g. if there is a lot of lubrication the person must be very aroused, if there is no lubrication the person isn’t aroused at all. This misconception limits our understanding of how people receive and respond to pleasure. You can in fact be very aroused and produce no lubrication at all, or not aroused in the slightest and in desperate need of a dry pair of undies. Vaginal moisture can change day-to-day, week-to-week, during the monthly hormone cycle; it exists to keep the mucosal tissues of the vagina healthy. Lubrication that occurs during sexual arousal appears clear and is much slipperier, it happens due to an increased blood pressure around the tissues inside the vagina.
Now, that was a very basic overview of anatomy speaking mainly to why we get wet, and not always in a sexual context. There are many studies that have looked into human sexual response; most famously the Masters and Johnson study which documents four stages of sexual response, a more complex exploration of how we get wet. They report it as such:
1. Excitement - genitals swelling with blood, sensitive nerves, lubrication.
2. Plateau - responses may continue to intensify, more lubrication.
3. Orgasm - the release of tension in a series of involuntary and pleasurable muscular contractions, ejaculation.
4. Resolution - In the half an hour or so after orgasm the muscles relax.
Their study looked at men and women having sex with one another and masturbation. What we’ve come to learn since is that sex is so much more than penis-in-vagina penetration till orgasm. So although they were great for their time and the history of human sexuality, we have moved beyond the four stages, and will continue to do so in the future. Also umm heterosexuality is not the only sexuality, duh.
In the theme of considering sex as inclusive of everything that happens after two or more people consent to engaging in sexual activity, I’ll try to illustrate what that might look like. It can be everything from conversation, to touching while fully clothed, to oral sex, to multiple partner play and everything in between! What’s most important is that it’s consensual, safe and pleasurable.
"I want you to get to know your body and how it works, how it responds to arousal and pleasure."
Naturally getting wet is just something that may or may not occur for you, either way it’s absolutely fine! However, part of having a safe and pleasurable time may require lubrication to accommodate certain activities e.g. objects or body parts going inside other body parts. In that case, if you produce a generous amount of natural lubrication but are worried it’s excessive (it’s not, but) you can manage it with having towels or tissues handy, or take breaks and communicate with your partner/s. If you don’t produce any naturally, invest in a quality lubricant, and make sure it’s the right kind for your specific activity e.g. water or silicon based lube for latex condoms, and always read the care instructions for sex toys. A lack of lubrication can lead to the tearing of genitals, causing pain (not the good kind) and risk infection, which is neither pleasurable nor safe. I will note here that the anus can naturally lubricate too, this can happen during sexual arousal, or just be there to help you poop, either way it is not sufficient lubrication for anal play/sex so please come prepared.
I want you to get to know your body and how it works, how it responds to arousal and pleasure; Emily Nagowski’s book, Come As You Are, is a great start.
I want you to know that you are both unique and normal.
I want you to be open to a broader concept of sex.
And most of all I want you to get wet**!
*As long as you are not experiencing pain/discomfort, or have an unpleasant smelling discharge, you should be all G! If you’re worried please check with your GP.
**As needed ;)