Talking about sex during your formative years can be incredibly awkward -- even squirm-inducing. But whether you experience formal sex ed, awkward "birds and the bees" talks, candid conversations with friends or all or none of the above, it's all theoretical until you're actually doing it -- which can make for some surprises along the way.
On a Nov. 7 Reddit thread, commenters answered the question "what is something about sex that you wish someone had told you?" The thoughtful responses touched on everything from the way pornography has influenced our sex lives ( "changing positions every 30 seconds not actually required despite what porn clips had taught me") and calling out the unrealistic portrayal of sex in Hollywood ("Sex on a beach is not half as good as the movies make it out to be"), to safe-sex information ("Antibiotics impact the effectiveness of birth control pills") and general wisdom ("Sooner or later, one of you will do something utterly embarrassing. It will be absolutely mortifying. A good partner will not care.")
We decided to ask our readers what they wish someone had told them about sex before they started having it. Here are 18 things they shared with us:
1. There is no dignified way of "cleaning up" -- and you WILL need to clean up afterwards.
2. A male partner won't always have a higher sex drive than you.
3. You can have as much sex as you want, with as many people as you like.
4. Sex is truly awesome when you really love the person you're having it with.
5. Women are allowed to enjoy sex as much as men.
6. Sex doesn't look like it does in the movies -- or in porn.
7. You are not more valuable as a person if someone wants to have sex with you, and you are not less valuable as a person if you choose not to.
8. Learn what turns you on and don't be afraid to ask for it, because your partner isn't a mind-reader.
9. It's fine to say "no" -- it doesn't make you less sexual.
10. The best sex is about mutual giving.
11. Plenty of women can't orgasm from intercourse alone. An estimated 50 to 75 percent of women require clitoral stimulation.
12. It's easy to get caught up in the moment, so know how you plan to protect yourself from pregnancy and STDs beforehand.
13. Great sex does not equal great love.
14. Anxieties and fears about sex are totally normal -- and it's (more than) fine to talk about them.
15. Just like with anything else, to get good you need practice. Sex is not something you're born knowing how to do well.
16. It can be really, really awkward.
17. Your "sexual peak" won't necessarily be in your twenties.
18. Experiment! (And have fun doing so.)
What's something about sex that you wish you had known, or that someone had told you? Comment below, or tweet @HuffPostWomen!