Mature couple in bed

Not so dry January: The ultimate glossary of sex terms for 2024

As we step into the new year, the conversation around sexual health and intimacy continues to evolve, reflecting the diverse experiences and desires of us all as individuals. For many women navigating their sexual journey, understanding the sex-related terms can be both informing and empowering. In this comprehensive glossary, we delve into the vocabulary surrounding sex, promoting a better grasp of sexual health and wellness, and leaving you feeling empowered.

Our A-Z of and sexual health & well-being terms

Asexual – having a lack of (or very low level) of sexual attraction to others and/or a lack of interest or desire for sex or sexual partners. Another term used within the asexual community is “ace,” meaning someone who is asexual.

Atrophy – Vaginal Atrophy or atrophic vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that manifests itself with a thinning and shrinking of the vaginal tissues. It can cause vaginal dryness, itchiness, and irritation. Experiencing vaginal atrophy? Check out our guide here.

Bisexual - A sexual orientation that describes people who experience sexual, romantic, or emotional attraction to people of more than one gender. Also referred to as “bi,” bisexual typically includes individuals who are attracted to a variety of people, with genders that are similar to and different than their own.

Body Neutrality - Shifting focus from achieving an ideal body image to accepting and appreciating one's body as it is! Allowing you to foster self-confidence and a positive relationship with yourself.

Clitoris - The clitoris is a highly sensitive, pleasure-producing sexual organ located at the top of the vulva. Despite being a relatively small structure, the clitoris consists of a complex network of erectile tissue, nerve fibres, and blood vessels. Many people with vulvas need their clitoris to be stimulated to achieve an orgasm. Read our 5 ways to enhance clitoral play here.

Clitoral Anatomy

Condom - A thin sheath, usually made of latex, designed to cover the penis during penetrative sex. Used to prevent pregnancy and/or reduce the risk of giving or receiving STIs. Remember not all lubricants are condom compatible. Looking for a safe lube to use with condoms? We recommend our water-based lubricant, YES® WB. Compatible with natural rubber latex and polyisoprene condoms and toys.

Dryness - Vaginal dryness is more common than you might think. At least 17% [1] of women will experience vaginal or vulval dryness, and the numbers soar to as many as 90% for postmenopausal women [2]. It can cause embarrassment, a sense of loss, and at times, extreme physical discomfort. Yet there are effective ways to treat vaginal dryness naturally. Read our guide to Understanding and Treating Vaginal Dryness here.

Erogenous Zones – Located all over the body, essentially, an erogenous zone is any part of the body that can trigger sexual arousal when touched. 1 For example, the nape of your neck or your wrist can potentially elicit pleasurable feelings when stimulated.

Edging – Getting closer to orgasm and intentionally stopping, often for sexual pleasure.

Foreplay - Any sexual activity that people do to or with each other to create arousal before or instead of intercourse. Often thought of as physical sexual activity, non-physical activities such as mental or verbal acts (think dirty talk!) can also be foreplay.

G-spot - The G spot (or Gräfenberg spot) is part of your clitoral network, located about one-third of the way along the upper wall of the vagina. Stimulation of the G-spot can lead to orgasm in some people and is sometimes associated with female ejaculation – see squirting below. [3]

Horny – a state of sexual arousal.

Kink - A non-standard sexual activity, fetish, or interest.

Lubricant –Personal Lubricant, or lube for short, can be used for a range of both sexual and intimate health needs. Including penetration, masturbation, massage, oral, clitoral play, sex toy use, tampon, and menstruation cup use – the list goes on! Not sure what lubricant is right for you? Check out our YES® guide to understanding and enjoying lube – and remember, the wetter the better!

Libido – The sex drive or amount/frequency a person desires to have sex. It’s important to remember libido varies a lot from person to person, and there is no right or wrong level. It’s normal for it to fluctuate, and there may be many reasons for this. Experimenting with a clitoral stimulant, toys, mutual masturbation, and massage are great ways to ‘get in the mood’ if you struggle with low libido, and don’t skip the lube!

Labia - Sitting on both sides of the vaginal opening, labia are called the "vaginal lips." They protect the genital organs and can also become flooded with blood when aroused, making them sensitive during sex.

Masturbation – Touching one’s own genitals for sexual pleasure. Both sex and masturbation can be great for boosting your mental and physical wellbeing. According to Dr Caroline West, lecturer in sexuality studies, sex, and masturbation “has a ton of health benefits. It’s known to help to relieve stress and tension, boost your mood, and give you a hit of endorphins. [4]

Orgasm - The peak of sexual arousal when all the muscles that were tightened during sexual arousal relax, causing a pleasurable feeling that can involve the whole body. Every woman experiences an orgasm in her own way and there is also more than one type of female orgasm. In fact, some women won’t even know they’ve experienced an orgasm. However, the vast majority of orgasms will be accompanied by an intense feeling of pleasure. Want to explore new ways to orgasm? Check out YES® O YES here – our certified organic clitoral stimulant!

Painful Sex - Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort during or after sex. Experiencing pain during sex can be a challenging and distressing situation for individuals and couples. It's important to remember that painful sex is treatable, and seeking professional help is crucial for proper diagnosis and guidance. In our YES® guide, we explore the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for painful sex, to help you navigate this journey and find relief.

Role-Play – Acting out a fantasy with a partner.

Squirting – Other known as female ejaculation. Ejaculation occurs when fluid is expelled from your urethral opening during sexual arousal or orgasm. This fluid is different from the cervical fluid that lubricates your vagina when you’re turned on or otherwise “wet.”

Self-esteem – means feeling worthwhile! Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. It is the driving force behind our positive and negative thoughts about our own abilities, worthiness, and value. Our sexual self-esteem is very closely linked. If we don’t feel desirable or if we are uncomfortable with our body, it can impact us in different ways, including lack of sex drive, and avoiding sexual or physical contact.

Sexual Health - As defined by the World Health Organisation: "sexual health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence." [5]

UTI - A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system — your kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Most infections involve the lower urinary tract — the bladder and the urethra. Women are at greater risk of developing a UTI than are men. It is curable and is not an STI.

Vagina - The muscular, tubular part of the female genital tract that joins the cervix (the lower part of uterus) to the outside of the body. The vagina allows for sexual intercourse and childbirth and for the release of the menstrual flow.

Vulva – Often confused with the Vagina, Vulva is the global term that describes all of the structures that make up the female external genitalia. The components of the vulva are the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, clitoris, vestibular bulbs, vulva vestibule, Bartholin's glands, Skene's glands, urethra, and vaginal opening.Vulval anatomy

Vaginal Moisturiser - A product designed to hydrate, soothe, and moisturise the internal vaginal walls when vaginal dryness is experienced. This differs from a vaginal lubricant in that a moisturiser is not used to aid sexual penetration but is for day-to-day vaginal hydration and comfort. Shop YES® VM, our pH Matched Natural Vaginal Moisturiser here.

Vibrator - Vibrators are sex toys that are used on the body to create sexual stimulation. Modern vibrators, use electronic power to create vibrations or pulses. Vibrators come in many shapes and sizes. Vibrators can be used alone or with a partner. Vibrator use is popular among both men and women of all sexual orientations.

Yeast Infection – A Yeast infection (also called Thrush) is an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast in the vagina, commonly causing itch, skin irritation, and a clumpy white discharge. It is not an STI and can usually be treated with over-the-counter medication.