Sex doctor: The gender gap and how to get over it

There are certain classic mistakes that men and women are always making concerning the opposite sex. So, if you want to find out what sort of lover you really are, check that you're not committing any of the following carnal sins.

The mistakes men make

*Men think women want loving sex rather than lusty sex: The two aren't mutually exclusive. While we like a soft touch in some places, we're not adverse to a bit of rough handling of other parts. The trick is to ask what she feels like on that particular day.

*Men think women aren't as 'dirty' as they are: In a recent study which measured blood flow in the genitals (blood flow increases when we're turned on) women were more aroused by explicit fantasies than romantic ones.

*Some men still cling to the myth that women orgasm purely through intercourse: Only 30 per cent of women can climax from penetration alone. Most need stimulation of the clitoris by hand or vibrator during intercourse, or for you to perform oral sex or hand stimulation before or after intercourse, in order to orgasm.

*Men think all women want big penises: If anything, width tends to count more than length. This is because nearly all the nerves of the vagina are concentrated in the first inch or so and a thicker penis connects with more nerve endings.

*Men think sex isn't sex without intercourse: It's your main course with foreplay as the starter. For lots of women, foreplay is the main course and intercourse is a rather delicious side order. Get in the habit of being specific when you talk about sex. Divide it up: say, oral sex, hand stimulation, intercourse. This reinforces the idea that sex is about a lot more than penetration.

*Men think women are impressed if they change positions lots during intercourse: It's always wise to mix things up a bit, but don't do it purely for the sake of it, especially at the start. Changing positions works best when you know each other's orgasm patterns because you can sense when the other needs more stimulation or is close to climaxing and choose a position to suit.

*Men tend to rush women to orgasm: Even experienced male lovers underestimate how long women take to orgasm. The statistic most cited for oral sex – the fastest, most direct route – is 20 minutes. That gives you a bit of an idea, but it also depends on how turned on we were before you even touched us, and how much we've had to drink (two drinks and it's delayed, over four and forget it, everything's numb!). Stop thinking of oral sex or heavy petting as paying your dues and instead think of them as complete sex acts in themselves.

The mistakes women make

*Women think men are always ready for and always want sex:

Real life dampens a lot of men's sex drives more efficiently than a bucket of water poured over a lit match. Work, stress, pressure, bills, arguments – they all stop him, and you, feeling like sex, all day, every day. He's not like your vibrator – you can't just plug him in and expect him to perform on cue.

*Women think sex is over once he ejaculates: This is often the case. A selfish lover will collapse into a heap and leave you dry and sadly not high. But while his penis might be temporarily out of action, there's nothing wrong with his hands or his mouth. What's to stop you saying to him, "We're not finished yet!" If his orgasm has wiped him out – and it's true that his body does get flooded with "sleepy" hormones immediately after orgasm – explain that you need to have yours before he does.

*Women don't realise that sex is more than just sex to men: Sex for men appears to be a primal form of giving – it's a way for him to feel accepted both physically and emotionally. Because some men still aren't as verbose or comfortable with expressing emotion as women are, sex tends to be used as a means of showing his love and getting close to you. All of this means that when you reject sex with him, you're not just rejecting sex. In his eyes, you're effectively saying, "I don't like or want you." Always make it clear you're saying no to sex, not a cuddle or cosy chat.

*Women worry too much about their body during sex: If body worries are making you self-conscious, give yourself a huge kick up the bottom so you land somewhere in reality, which is this: if a man obviously wants to have sex with you, he thinks you're the sexiest woman on the planet at that moment. It's also worth remembering that lots of men find curvy women way more attractive than the skinny girls you envy.

*Women don't give instructions: Learn to show him or tell him how to touch you. And try letting out a little groan to let him know he's on the right lines, or giving a one-word command like, "Softer". You'll get there.

'The Sex Doctor' by Tracey Cox, is published by Corgi (£7.99)

Visit LoveHoney for relationship tips and advice from Tracey Cox. Every week, Tracey answers questions from visitors to the site.