Commonly, women engage in displays of affection, such as kissing on the cheek or hugging. A kiss on the lips, a prolonged kiss or hug, or other forms of touching, may or may not be regarded as sexual. Sex educator and feminist Shere Hite stated that one of her female research subjects had written, "Sex with a woman includes: touching, kissing, smiling, looking serious, embracing, talking, digital intercourse, caressing, looking, cunnilingus, undressing, remembering later, making sounds, sometimes gently biting, sometimes crying, and breathing and sighing together."
Disrobing before a partner, removing the clothing of a partner or performing acts of physical intimacy, such as the touching of a partner's erogenous zones by the use of hands, tongue or rest of the mouth, may be regarded as indicators of the partner's desire for sexual activity and an erotic stimuli or turn-on (sexual arousal), which may generate erotic sensations in both partners. Allowing such acts of physical intimacy, especially the stimulation of a partner's breasts and nipples, is an indication of reciprocal interest in sexual activity.
A woman's mouth, lips and tongue may be sensitive erogenous zones; they are commonly used by partners during the preliminary stages and throughout a sexual activity, whether for kissing, sucking, licking or specifically for oral sex. The stimulation of a partner's breasts, including oral or manual stimulation of the nipples, is a form of foreplay. Breast and nipple stimulation of women is a common aspect of sexual activity. The stimulation of a woman's nipples promotes the production and release of oxytocin and prolactin. During the stimulation of the nipples, large amounts of oxytocin are released, which would normally prepare the breast for breastfeeding. Besides creating maternal feelings in a woman, it also decreases her anxiety and increases bonding and trust.
An orgasm includes involuntary actions, including muscular spasms in multiple areas of the body, a general euphoric sensation and, frequently, body movements and vocalizations. The period after orgasm, known as a refractory period, is often a relaxing experience, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin. While, due to factors concerning the possibility of females being able to achieve an additional orgasm soon after their first orgasm, research often indicates that they do not experience a refractory period, other sources define refractory period in females partly as a stage where further sexual stimulation does not produce excitement and therefore include females in the definition.
Oral sex, manual stimulation and tribadism
Oral stimulation of the clitoris or other parts of vulva or the vagina is commonly practiced between women and, like oral stimulation of the nipples, can include the use of teeth in addition to use of the lips or tongue. Oral sex that involves the stimulation of the woman's clitoris or other parts of the vulva or the vagina is called cunnilingus. The oral stimulation of the anus, called anilingus, is less often practiced.
Fingering (manual stimulation) involves the use of the fingers to massage a woman's clitoris or other parts of the vulva, the vagina, or anus. Oral or manual stimulation of the vulva, and in particular the clitoris, is the most common way for a woman to reach and achieve an orgasm. Fingering may be self-fingering, one-sided, mutual, penetrative or non-penetrative. Massaging inside of the vagina may stimulate a very sensitive area, sometimes termed the G-spot area. For some women, stimulating the G-spot area creates a more intense orgasm than direct clitoral stimulation. For deeper vaginal, anal or oral penetration, a dildo, strap-on dildo or other sex toys may be used.
Tribadism is a common non-penetrative sexual act between women. It is often known by its "scissoring" position, and is also referred to as frottage or in popular slang as dry humping. It involves a woman rubbing her vulva against her partner's vulva, thigh, stomach, buttocks, arm, or another body part. This may be achieved in a number of sex positions, including a missionary, a woman on top, doggy style, scissoring or other position. It may be accompanied by fingering or penetration with a dildo.
Dominance, submission and BDSM
On occasion, for variety, or on a more regular or routine basis, a woman may assume a passive role during sexual activity and leave it to her partner to provide their sexual satisfaction, which can also be an aspect of dominance and submission. For example, a person in a doggy style position may be passive and open to a variety of sex acts, generally at the choice of the active partner, such as fingering from behind, massage or stimulation of erogenous zones, including the genitals, nipples, or buttocks, and receiving a playful spank to the buttocks. The active partner can also introduce a sex toy, such as a dildo or vibrator, into the vagina or anus.
To ensure passivity and to enhance the feeling of or actual female submission, a partner may also take part in bondage (such as handcuffs) or in other BDSM activities. During sexual bondage, the restrained partner is generally open to a variety of sex acts and cannot interfere in the ensuing sexual activity. She is dependent for her sexual satisfaction on the actions of her partner, who can choose the type and pace of the sexual activity and can introduce sex toys. For example, a pecker gag can be used to gag the restrained partner as well as to require her to suck during sexual activity in a similar manner to an adult pacifier. The active partner has the role of treating the restrained partner as a sex object to be used for her own sexual satisfaction. The active partner may herself derive sexual satisfaction from providing her sex partner with sexual satisfaction and bringing her to orgasm.