Sex Dictionary: Q-S


A popular term used to describe gay men. It is derived from the old English word ‘quaen’ meaning a female prostitute.


A term used to describe a lesbian or a gay man. Its usage has been documented in Britain as early as the 1920s.

Radical sex

Sexual practices that are considered unconventional.


1960s term for group sex involving people of different skin colours.

Rainbow flag

A symbol for the lesbian and gay movement that has been used since 1978. The artist Gilbert Baker produced the first prototypes, which consisted of eight strips in pink, red, orange, yellow, green, turquoise, indigo and violet.


An Indian literary classic written by Valmiki, which includes descriptions of lesbian sexual activities.


To force a person to have sexual intercourse against their will. Victims of rape can be male or female, of any age or social background. Rapists are almost always male, although cases of sexual assault by women have also been reported. Their relationship to the victim may be as stranger, acquaintance, friend, family member, date, lover or long term partner or spouse. It is estimated that at least fifty per cent of rapists know their victims.

Rear entry

Various positions for sexual intercourse in which the man penetrates his partner from behind.


The lowest part of the alimentary canal whose opening is the anus. See Anus.

Refractory period

The period of time following orgasm, during which the male sexual response to arousal is temporarily impossible. See Multiple orgasm.

Rent boy

A male sex worker, often young, who provides gay sexual services.

Reproductive organs

The organs that are involved in the processes of reproduction, including the production of reproductive cells (sperm and ova), sexual intercourse enabling sperm and ovum to meet, and the nurturing of the foetus should conception occur. They include the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and vagina in the female, and the testes, epididymis and penis in the male.

Rhythm method

A natural method of contraception. See Natural methods.


The practice of licking or sucking the anus of a partner. See Anilingus, Dental dam.

Row boat

Sexual practice where a woman has intercourse with one man in the ‘on top’ position, while giving fellatio to two other men, one standing on each side of her.


A form of sexual practice in which a person gains pleasure from inflicting pain on another. The word is derived from the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), whose writings featured descriptions of such practices. See Masochism, Sadomasochism.

Sadomasochism (SM or S&M)

A form of sexual practice in which pleasure is gained from a combination of sadism and masochism.

Safe period

The stage of a woman’s menstrual cycle when she is least likely to be able to conceive. See Natural methods.

Safer sex

Any form of sex that does not involve the exchange of body fluids, including non-penetrative sex, penetrative sex with the use of a condom, or the use of dental dams.


Inflammation of the fallopian tubes caused by an infection such as gonorrhoea or tuberculosis, or a reaction to an 1UD. Symptoms include pain on one or both sides, fever and increased menstrual flow. See Gonorrhoea.


Term for lesbian. The word is derived from the Greek, lesbian poet Sappho (610-580 BC). See Lesbian.


Lesbianism. See Sapphist.


An infestation of parasitic mites, which burrow into the skin where they lay eggs, usually on the hairy parts of the body. Their saliva and droppings cause acute irritation. They are spread by close contact, including sexual contact, and poor hygiene.


Any sexual practice that involves faeces. See Coprophilia.


(1) Term referring to lesbian sex practice involving manually stimulating a partner’s anus and clitoris simultaneously. (2) Sexual position where the partners’ legs are between one another’s and their torsos are at right angles.

Scrotal sac

See Scrotum.


The sac of loose, wrinkled skin that contains a man’s testicles. Also known as the scrotal sac.


An oily substance that is first produced at puberty. It is released from the sebaceous glands of the skin and makes the skin and hair more greasy.

Secondary sexual characteristics

The physical characteristics, excluding the reproductive organs, which develop during puberty and distinguish male and female. They include men’s greater facial hair and women’s greater body fat.


A mixture of seminal fluid and sperm, ejaculated from the penis at the point of orgasm.

Seminal fluid

One of the two main constituents of semen, produced chiefly in the prostrate gland. It functions as the medium in which the sperm is carried and nourished.

Seminal vessicles

Small sacs, at the back of a man’s prostrate gland, which discharge seminal fluid into the urethra just before ejaculation.

Seminiferous tubules

Tightly coiled tubes in the testes where the sperm are produced. Each testis contains as many as 800 tubules, each of which may be 40 cm or more in length.

Sex aids

Any object used to generate or enhance sexual arousal and/or orgasm. Some of the most common are dildos, vibrators, clitoral stimulators, extension condoms, vaginal balls and various ‘stay longer’ creams and lotions. See Sex toys.

Sex change

See Gender reassignment.

Sex drive

The urge or desire to have sex; also the amount or frequency of sexual activity which an individual requires in order to be sexually satisfied.

Sex hormone

The hormones that determine the development of the sexual organs and secondary sexual characteristics and that also maintain and regulate the reproductive system and sexual feelings. The extent of their role in psychological and emotional changes is not yet fully understood. The principal sex hormones in women are oestrogen and progesterone; in men it is testosterone. See Oestrogen, Progesterone, Testosterone.

Sex toys

Objects used to enhance sexual arousal. See Sex aids.

Sexual abuse

Any form of unwanted sexual advance or use of sex to intimidate or threaten. This can range from verbal harassment to sexual assault and rape. See Rape.

Sexual arousal

Feelings of sexual excitement, accompanied by mental and physical changes. Physical signs of arousal include erection of the penis and tightening of the scrotal sac in the male, and swelling of the areolae and clitoris together with increased vaginal lubrication in the female. Both men and women experience increased pulse and breathing rates. See Erection.

Sexual harassment

The use of sex to threaten or intimidate; in particular, unwanted, offensive and/or repetitious sexual advances.

Sexual intercourse

See Intercourse.

Sexual inversion or Inversion

Term used at the beginning of the twentieth century to refer to homosexuality.

Sexual orientation

An individual’s pattern of sexual interest and attraction. This may be towards people of the same sex, the opposite sex, or both sexes.

Sexual response

See Sexual arousal.

Sexual satisfaction

Deep feelings of contentment and well-being experienced after sexual activity, particularly after orgasm.

Sexually transmitted disease (STD)

Any illness that can be transmitted through sexual contact.

Sex worker

Term developed in the 1980s as a substitute for the word prostitute.


The main part of the length of the penis (from the base to below the glans) or clitoris. See Penis, Glans, Clitoris.


See Condom.


The practice of sucking the toes for sexual arousal.


Japanese term for pederasty. See Pederasty.


Form of oral sex in which two people perform oral sex on each other at the same time. It is so-called because the positions adopted by the couple while performing this practice resemble the figure 69 when viewed from the side. The French translation, soixante-neuf, is also used.

Sleep with someone

Euphemism meaning to have sexual intercourse with someone.


Sebum-based substance that can accumulate under the foreskin of the penis or the hood of the clitoris.


Anal intercourse. The word is derived from the ‘sinful’ biblical city of Sodom. See Anal intercourse.


See Sixty-nine.


To offer sexual services in return for money, especially in a public place. See Pimp, Prostitution.

Spanish fly

Powder made from dried Lytta vesicatoria beetles. It contains an active ingredient, cantharidin, which inflames the urethra. It is sometimes taken as an aphrodisiac. It can be fatal.


The practice of smacking or hitting a partner for sexual excitement.


The male reproductive cell, produced constantly in the testes of the mature male, and released through the penis at ejaculation. See Testes, Semen.

Spermatic cord

The cord that passes from each of the male testes through the inguinal canal in the groin. It contains the vas deferens which conveys sperm to the ejaculatory duct.


Any substance, usually a gel or cream, designed to kill sperm. It may be injected into the vagina prior to intercourse or used in conjunction with other forms of contraception. See Contraception.


A barrier form of contraceptive that consists of a small, round sponge soaked in spermicide, placed inside the vagina over the cervix. It is less reliable than other forms of contraception.

Squeeze technique

A technique for delaying ejaculation or developing ejaculatory control, in which the head of the penis is squeezed just before the point when ejaculation becomes inevitable.

‘Stay longer’ creams and sprays

Products designed to help a man to delay ejaculation, usually by reducing penile sensitivity with small amounts of local anaesthetic. See Sex aids.


See Sexually transmitted disease.


A surgical operation that renders an individual unable to conceive a child (woman) or cause impregnation (man). See Vasectomy, Female sterilization.


Slang term for heterosexuals. It may also be used as an expression for conservatism, while its use in drug-taking circles refers to someone who is either not under the influence of a mind-expanding drug or who does not consume such substances.


Abbreviation of the term submissive, used to refer to a passive partner in practices involving bondage and sadomasochism. The term bottom is also used. See Bondage, Bottom.


Sexual practices in which partners take defined dominant and submissive roles. Sub-dom practices may or may not involve bondage, role-playing and sadomasochism.


Partner-swapping and sharing within groups of friends or associates. Swinging may involve singles or couples having sex play in pairs or groups, in front of each other or in private, with mutual consent and usually at the same venue. It may be arranged through swinging clubs or parties, through friends or through advertisements in specialized magazines.

Sympto-thermal method

See Temperature method.


Sexually transmitted disease caused by the treponema bacterium. It enters the body through tiny cracks in the skin and lives and multiplies in the blood and other body fluids of an infected person. It is passed on by the fluid secreted from the characteristic sores or chancres. These develop wherever the bacteria enters the body – usually on or near the penis or vagina, or sometimes in the anus or mouth. If untreated the bacteria can affect other parts of the body including the brain. In very severe cases disfigurement or death may result.

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