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Glossary of key terms used on this site

Age of consent - The age at which a person may legally consent to sexual relations. Sex with someone below the age of consent is statutory rape. Click here for a list of various ages of consent from the United States and around the world. There may be more than one age of consent. In some states, there is one age of consent for heterosexual relations and a higher one for homosexual relations. In some states, the law considers the relative ages of the participants. For example, it might be statutory rape for a 19 year old to have sex with a 15 year old but not for a 16 year old to have sex with a 15 year old, even if the age of consent is 16. In most states, the age of consent is for both sexes, although in some states the law still retains statutory rape as a crime against females only. Mistake in age is not a defense in most cases, so you can be guilty of a crime even if your partner tells you he or she is of legal age.

Anorgasmia - Inability to reach orgasm, or orgasm delayed by 30 minutes or more. The primary problem in males who masturbate prone.

Blue balls - See: Vasocongestion.

Bulbourethreal fluid - Also called Cowper's fluid (after the gland that produces it) or "pre-cum," this clear fluid is released during sexual arousal and serves to neutralize traces of urine that may remain in the urethra.

Circumcision - Surgical removal of the foreskin.

Climax - A semi-archaic word referring to the peak of a female's sexual arousal. Before Masters and Johnson established in the 1970s that females have orgasms very similar to the male orgasm, the word orgasm was used exclusively to describe male sexual response.

Clitoris - The primary female sex organ and the only human organ whose only function is sexual.

Cowper's fluid - See: Bulbourethral fluid.

Cunnilingus - See: Oral sex.

Dental dam - A sheet of latex used to protect against sexually transmitted diseases during cunnilingus. They are so called because of their use in dental practice to keep fluids from the mouth from contaminating the tooth being repaired.

Dildo - A penis-shaped object used by many women to masturbate.

Ejaculation - The expulsion of semen through the penis, generally at the point of orgasm.

Erectile dysfunction - Inability of a male to erect in a timely manner with proper stimulation. If a male is completely unable to erect, it is called impotence.

External masturbation - In females, masturbation by stimulating the external genitalia (labia, clitoris) without inserting fingers or objects into the vagina. See also: Internal masturbation.

Fellatio - See: Oral sex.

Foreplay - Sexual activity, such as manual manipulation of the genitals, leading up to intercourse. When the same activity is done not as a prelude to intercourse, it's called petting.

Foreskin - The hood of the penis. In uncircumcised males, it covers most of the head of the penis when the penis is not erect. In circumcised males, what remains of the foreskin is collapsed around the bottom of the head. See also: Circumcision.

Impotence - See: Erectile dysfunction.

Inorgasmia - See: Anorgasmia.

Internal masturbation - In females, masturbation by inserting fingers or objects into the vagina. See also: External masturbation.

Kegel exercises - Exercises practiced to strengthen the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle.

Libido - The sex drive, and especially the energy it creates.

Manual intercourse - Stimulation of the genitals of one person by the hands of another person.

Masturbation - Stimulation of ones's own genitals for the purpose of advancing sexual arousal. Most people masturbate until they have an orgasm.

Multiple orgasm, male - When a male has an orgasm but does not ejaculate or lose his erection and keeps having intercourse or masturbating until he has one or more additional orgasms and finally ejaculates.

Mutual masturbation - Two or more people masturbating together when touching only their own genitals. If they are touching each other's genitals, it is manual intercourse.

Nocturnal emission - An orgasm with ejaculation that happens to a male while he is sleeping. Usually called a wet dream.

Oral sex - Sexual intercourse consisting of contact between the mouth of one person and the genitals of another. When oral sex is performed on a male, it is called fellatio. When oral sex is performed on a female, it is called cunnilingus.

Orgasm - The peak of sexual arousal, resulting in a series of muscular contractions in both males and females, and ejaculation in males. When a male has been masturbating or engaging in intercourse for a period of time, he has a sudden rush of sexual feeling followed by a burst of fluid. This is his orgasm. Also called "coming." See also: Sexual response.

Paraphilia - Sexual arousal in response to unusual stimuli, such as urine, blood, or watching someone brush their teeth.

Petting - See: Foreplay

Point of ejaculatory inevitability - The moment during sexual stimulation at which a male will proceed to ejaculate even if the stimulation stops altogether. This point is sometimes apparent to males who are discovered masturbating and stop but ejaculate anyway.

Pornography - Consider these two definitions from different dictionaries:

  • "Sexually explicit pictures, writing, or other material whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal." (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition.)
  • "Material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement." (Merriam-Webster New Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition.)
What kinds of material would be included in one definition but not another?

"Pre-Cum" - See: Bulbourethral fluid

Prone - Face-down. See also: supine.

Prone masturbation - Masturbating by lying on one's stomach and thrusting the genitals into or against something, like a mattress or pillow. Prone masturbation has been documented as a cause of sexual dysfunctions in males.

Prostate fluid - One of the principal components of semen, it gives semen its distinctive smell and color.

Pubococcygeus (PC) muscle - A key muscle located in the pelvic region that controls sexual function in both men and women. Many sexual health practitioners recommend Kegel exercises to strengthen it.

Refractory period - The time after ejaculating during which a male is unable to have an erection. In teenagers, this period might be a minute or two. In the 20s, it is more typically 20-30 minutes. In the 80s, the refractory period might last days.

Semen - The fluid a male ejaculates as a result of masturbation or sexual intercourse. It is principally comprised of seminal fluid, sperm, prostate fluid, and bulbourethral fluid.

Sex flush - Flushing of the skin of the head and upper body after orgasm. Generally goes away within a few minutes.

Sexual intercourse - Any sexual act involving the genitals of one person and the genitals, mouth, or anus of another person. Some people use a narrower definition encompassing only the act of inserting a penis into a vagina.

Sexual response - There are four stages of sexual response: arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. The arousal stage lasts the longest. In males, it starts with the erection. Plateau is the feeling that one will orgasm and/or ejaculate if stimulation continues. It lasts anywhere from seconds to one minute. Orgasm only lasts for about eight seconds. Resolution is the period from when the orgasm ends until the body returns to equilibrium, which is the state of not being aroused.

Sperm - The male reproductive cell. About 350 million are included in every ejaculation. The fluid that carries sperm is called semen.

Statutory rape - Sexual relations with a person who is not old enough to consent. It can be a crime even if the person tells you they are of legal age. See also: Age of consent.

Supine - Face-up. See also: prone.

TMS - Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome, a term no longer used on See prone masturbation.

Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome - A former term for masturbating in the prone position, which is no longer used on

Vagina - The female organ of copulation. The vagina is an internal organ which cannot be seen on the outside. A female's visible private parts should be called the vulva.

Vasocongestion - A condition causing discomfort in the male pelvic area due to sexual arousal going unrelieved by ejaculation. The ordinary cure is to masturbate. If not relieved by ejaculation, the congestion will go away within a few hours.

Vibrator - An electrical device used by many women and some men to masturbate.

Virgin - A person who has never had sexual intercourse.

Vulva - The external sex organs of the female, comprising the labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, and clitoral hood. Mistakenly called the vagina by some.

Wet dream - See: Nocturnal emission. is not designed to provide medical advice and does not provide medical advice. All material is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Please review the information contained on carefully and confer with your doctor, psychologist, or other health care professional as needed. Copyright 2002-2016 by