The A to Z of Sexual Words & Terms for Straight-Forward Conversations

Learning to communicate about sexual concerns and conditions is important to sexual health and well-being. In fact, getting your head around talking about sexual health can be life-changing and help prevent more serious sexual health conditions from progressing in time for treatment and intervention. As a culture, Irish people still struggle to discuss sex and sexual issues openly and often lack the correct language, terms and terminology, which holds them back from good conversations and getting to the root of the problem.

There are many benefits to attending sex therapy. One of these positive aspects of working with a therapist is the confidence and empowerment that comes with using the correct related sexual terms, words and language.

In my previous article, Straight-talking Sex Talk: Decoding the Sexual Metaphors, Analogies and Humour in the Irish Therapy Room, I discuss the many factors holding men and women back from expressing themselves and also share the voices of those in sex therapy who are feeling lost and stuck as a result.

My secondary role as a psychosexual therapist is often to promote sexual awareness and good quality sex education and make the experience of coming to sex therapy comfortable. Together we work to remove blocks in how the client talks about sexuality and sexual problems and concerns. Essentially removing the self-imposed censorship filter for open, authentic conversations. It’s also not just about the language. It’s also about how we learned to talk about sex and the limitations placed on our thinking and mindset about sexuality.  

There are many diverse and complex reasons men and women may come to psychosexual therapy or need to talk about sexual health with a health clinician. Learning to use the correct sexual terminology also translates into better partner communication, creating a new norm for deeper, more intimate conversations. Straight-talking sex talk terminology makes everyone’s sex life… more straightforward.”

I have sifted through the literature to identify the more common relevant terms and words that may be useful to you the next time you want to start discussing sexual concerns, your body and many aspects of sexual functioning. These range from anatomy, the sexual response cycle, sexual functioning, to the language of respect and consent.

As I mentioned in the last article, Irish people sometimes resort to using humour, slang and metaphors to discuss sexual matters, but a time comes when this is not beneficial, particularly when problems develop. Don’t let your fear, embarrassment or lack of experience talking about sexual health hold you back from talking to an expert or health professional. It is our job to make you feel more comfortable and break through those barriers.

You might like to read... [Straight-talking Sex Talk: Decoding the Sexual Metaphors, Analogies and Humour in the Irish Therapy Room]

Disclaimer! This A to Z is not a dictionary or a reference guide. It is a simple, straightforward, almost A -Z reference of anatomically and clinically correct terminology and words you can use to identify and articulate yourself in regard to sexual topics, sexual functioning, anatomy, and associated topics. I say almost because it remains a work in progress. To keep this reference simple, I have not strayed into fetishism, kinks, disorders, offending or paraphilia terminology. It’s just a simple guide for straightforward conversations about sex and sexology.

“Irish people sometimes resort to using humour, slang and metaphors to discuss important sexual matters, but a time comes when this is not beneficial for anyone, particularly when problems develop.”

The word sexual can be placed before many of these terms and words to more clearly identify what you wish to express and describe, for example, sexual desire, sexual health, and sexual abuse.

A – Anatomy, anatomically correct, asexual, anus, arousal, attraction, attachment style, abuse, anxiety

B – Body, boundaries, breasts, breathing, BDSM, bisexual, breathwork, body maps

C – Clitoris, communication, condom, caressing, compulsive sexual behaviour, consent, consensual, contraception, cultural messages, confidence, connection, clitoral stimulator, cervix, climax, Cowper gland, childbirth, compulsivity

D – Desire, dilators, dildos, disability, distraction, Dyspareunia, disempowered, desire discrepancy, dysfunction, de-sensitisation, delayed ejaculation, diminished libido

E – Ejaculation, excitation, erotic, erotica, empowered, erectile function, euphoric sensation, endorphins, expulsion, erogenous zones, engorged, endometriosis, erection, erect, eroticism, emotional intimacy, embodiment, estrogen

F – Foreplay, fertility, fluid, fallopian tubes, female, fantasy, fetish, female sexual distress

G – Gender, genitalia, gender identity, gay, genitals

H – Hymen, hormones, heightened arousal, hypersensitive

I – Intimacy, intercourse, identity, intersex, interest, initiating, impulsivity, infertility, impaired sexual functioning

J – (Working on it!)

K – Kissing, Kegels, kink

L – Labia, lubrication, libido, lesbian, loss of desire, limits, limitation

M – Masturbation, massage, menopause, menstruation, male, mutual touching, menstrual cycle, MSM, male menopause, masculinity, mutilation, medical factors, medication, mindfulness, mutual masturbation

N – Non-verbal cues, non-exploitive, negative cultural messages, nipples, natural touch, natural function, nurturing

O – Orgasm, oral, orgasmic, ovary, ovulation, oestrogen, orgasmic phase, orientation, oxytocin, organic arousal

P – Penial, penetration, pain, pelvis, pelvic floor muscles, protection, period, pornography, puberty, pleasure, psychosocial, pill, performance, performance anxiety, pubis, perineum, pubic hair, pansexual, pubic bone, penis shaft, prostate, postpartum, progesterone, pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome, performance anxiety, plateau, psychosomatic, partner factors, premature ejaculation

Q – Queer

R – Romantic, response, respect, refusal, responsibility, retrograde, reproduction, reproductive organs, rectum, rape, roleplay, resolution, relational satisfaction, repression, repressed

S – Sexual response cycle, sexual health, sexual template, sensual, sexual, sensate, sexually active, sexual limits, sexual activity, sexual experiences, stimulation, sensitive, sexual esteem, sensation, sexual identity, sexual organs, sexuality, sexual orientation, sexual abuse, sexual development, sexual feelings, sexual shame, sexual confidence, sexual beliefs, sexual healing, STD, STI, sex drive, sex positivity, safe sex, sexual values, sexual beliefs, sexual union, sexual energy, self-examination, smear test, senses, sex education, sensate focus, sexual wellbeing products, sex tech, scrotum, sperm, semen, sexual satisfaction, sensual intercourse, sensual play, sex appeal, sensuality, sensual exploration, self-guided, sexual problems, solo sex, self-sex, sexual history, sexual attraction, sexual script, seduction, sexual stimuli, submissive, serotonin, self-sensate focus, sex-positive

T – Testes, testosterone, touch, trauma, ticklishness, tolerate, tenderness, transgender, tantra, tantric, transition

U – Uterine, urethra, uterus, unconscious, urology, urologist

V – Vagina, vulva, vaginal wall, vaginismus, vulnerability, viagra, vibrator, vaginal, opening, vaginal, virgin, voice, virginity, vanilla, vulvodynia, violence, vasectomy, value system

W – Womb, woman, weight

X – (In progress!)

Y – Yeast infection

Z – (Any suggestions!)

If you are a health professional, sex educator, OBGYN or clinician and know there are terms that would be beneficial to add to this list, get in touch by email 
Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy

Orlagh Reid

Orlagh Reid is an IACP accredited Counsellor & Psychotherapist, Addiction Counsellor, Gottman Couples Therapist and Fertility Counsellor in private practice based in Co. Kildare, Ireland and worldwide online via DOXY. She specialises in addiction, recovery, well-being and clinical sexology. To find out more or to book an online consultation visit

Orlagh Reid Psychotherapy MIACP Therapy Ireland

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