Everything you always wanted to know about the female orgasm
Few things set up as many polarized opinions than women having orgasms. Few things make us uncomfortably avert our eyes while awkwardly trying to sneak a peek than that big O. Especially when it comes to female pleasure.
Just take a look at the marketing of "Hysteria", that movie with cutie Hugh Dancy inventing the machine for orgasms, and you'll understand. There's something supposedly embarrassing and taboo about women's orgasms.
Based on our severely conflicted behavior towards something that we're pretending to know nothing about (while desperately wanting to experience one) — is it any wonder that over 75% of women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone? Or that 10-15% never reach that climactic finish at all?
Instead of looking at the obvious, though, women end up asking themselves, "What's wrong with me? I don't understand...maybe my partner and I just aren't "doing it right".
As if there is a "right".
Well, take a deep breath and read on. Get ready to have your expectations blown (pun intended? You decide) because we're about to tell you something you both already know and that, if you can accept, could change the way you have an orgasm — maybe even allowing you to give yourself permission to have one at all.
The conversation about women having orgasms start out with a discussion about, "what women want," but it's not as complicated (or mysterious) as men would like to believe it is. Of course, this is not a battle-of-the-sexes competition but an opportunity to lift the veil.
Men necessarily must be a part of that conversation because women are in the dark about their own bodies. A study in The Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy showed that almost 37% of women require clitoral stimulation, while only 18% said they're able to come with vaginal penetration alone.
Furthermore, the determinants of the female orgasm can come more from behavioral and psychological cues than merely physical friction or stimulation, says Dr. Osmo Kontula. Think about that fact in contrast to a man's own biology and this will start to make sense. It's also why we may more easily accept that climax in a woman is "mysterious", when really what we mean is "comes from a different place" — literally and figuratively.
The nipplegasm: Studies on brain-body connection have found that, yes, the female climax is possible simply through lavishing attention on a woman's nipple area.
The coregasm: The focused pushing and pulling, the physical friction, combined with the endorphins that the body releases when you exercise brings some women to orgasm — especially when combined with weights. And yoga. Are you running to the gym yet?
The nocturnal orgasm: It's not just men who experience orgasms while sleeping. In several sleep studies, researchers unintentionally observed that women do have at least one orgasm during sleep.
The pressuregasm: These are often unintentional orgasms and occur when pressure is continually applied, but indirectly, to the physical body.
Relaxation orgasms: The opposite of a tensiongasm, relaxation orgasms can come as a simple form of release. It occurs when in a state of deep relaxation. Especially if a woman is wound up in the rest of her life, a relaxation orgasm may be a double whammy of "just what the doctor ordered.
Multiple orgasms: Yes, we're the envy of men for this reason. But then the powers-that-be decided to balance out our ability to reach a female climax multiple times with making it a little more "work" to get to that destination. Case in point: this article.
Tension orgasms: The tension-gasm comes from tensing up the body through direct stimulation.
The combogasm: The combination of any of these experiences together is a combogasm. Simple.
The bottom line is this, says Dr. Kontula, is that not only do women vary greatly from men in that they value their partner's orgasms more than their own (and that the key to more frequent orgasms rest in mental and relationship factors), they also vary vastly from each other in what turns them on and what is likely to bring them to a climax.
There are four stages of orgasm, according to researchers who have scientifically observed and studied the female climax: excitement, plateau, climax and recovery. The structure, at least, is consistent.
While the forms of the female climax vary, as we've seen, the consensus is pretty wide that it usually takes much more than friction or penetration to get her there.
Professor of behavioral neuroendocrinology at Emory University, Kim Wallen says that part of the issue is that a woman's orgasm is simply not an evolutionary mechanism — at least, not in the way that it is crucial for men.
"It's clear the male orgasm is strongly selected...If they don't reach orgasm, they don't leave offspring."
Simple, right? And even though there are studies that show that reaching orgasms consistently can lead to an overall boost in her fertility, it's not as definitive as a man's ejaculation of sperm.
Going back to the nipplegasm, think about the fact that, in women, nipples have a very strong function: They're connected to breasts which sustain their offspring. So the sensation is there. In men, however, the nipple serves no evolutionary purpose — so not only do few men report feeling pleasure from touch on their nipples, many find themselves experiencing nothing at all.
The tenuous factors influence a woman’s ability to Orgasm
"Elusive" orgasms, then, are just a stand-in word for "many things have to come together to make it happen...and there are just no guarantees that it will happen."
Not so for men, right? At least, not those who aren't actively experiencing some kind of disorder.
There's a large gap, for example, in the number of heterosexual women who report experiencing orgasms and those who are homosexual experiencing orgasms. Part of it is that, in lesbian couples, these "orgasm gaps" can be explained by the fact that women take turns pleasuring each other.
The other issue is that, for a heterosexual woman, orgasm is strongly tied to her partner's pleasure. According to this research study of 52,000 participants aged between 18 and 65 who were in a relationship with one person, published in journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, 95% of all heterosexual men studied reported orgasms, while only 65% of heterosexual women did. Homosexual women? They reported experiencing orgasms 86% of the time.
Says Elisabeth Lloyd, professor of biology at Indiana University and author of The Case of the Female Orgasm, "About 30% of men actually think that intercourse is the best way for women to have an orgasm, and that is sort of a tragic figure because it couldn’t be more incorrect."
It's not a completely hopeless situation, though — far from it. There are plenty of behavioral, environmental and socio-psychological factors that contribute to a woman's ability to experience an orgasm. Which means that improvements on these points can help develop the orgasm in a more reliable way.
Mood and Mental Health
You definitely can't "get it up", so to speak, without being in the right frame of mind. For a woman, mood and one's mental and emotional health are factors that her orgasm is very much contingent on. If these are not smoothed out, a woman could experience premature orgasm.
It also matters to her — if not to anyone else — how attractive she perceives herself to be. Now, you may think it's cheesy to call it "self-love" but, really, that's what it is. If a woman is in peak physical health, she doesn't need to look like a fitness model. But a healthy estimation of her physical body can allow her to let go and experience more pleasure, feeling worthy in front of her partner.
Stress and Relaxation
Such a large part of North American society runs on stress and stress-inducing activities that it's a wonder we don't just stop in the middle of traffic, dropping from exhaustion.
Stress can have a debilitating effect on more than your organs. brain, mood, or heart. It can have a big effect on a woman's libido and it can look like simply being "too tired" to even have sex to being unable to be present with her partner.
A partner's perceived attractiveness
They say, "good guys finish last," but, in the case of a woman's orgasm, this is not the whole picture. The judgment of a "good guy" or an appealing or attractive partner is a highly subjective thing for a woman. Beauty in the eye of a beholder and all that.
However, there are some objective criteria that weigh in. Studies show that women are more likely to reach an orgasm with male partners if she judges him as being "attractive, wealthy, and self-confident." It's not that we're shallow creatures, argue scientists, it's that, in women, the orgasm has evolved like a feedback mechanism.
It tells the woman about the reproductive fitness and "viability" of her mate.
Of course, foreplay is a big part of it. Taking it nice and slow and building anticipation is the way to not only get a woman "in the mood" but is deeply connected to how much that final climax rocks her body (and mind!).
It should be amply clear by now that a woman's orgasm is not something you "reach", simply by the attention paid to (no matter how lovingly) ministrations of the clitoris, so to speak. Rather, a woman's orgasm is something to be [i]developed[/i] and the clitoris is certainly a part of it — but it's not the whole story.
Know thyself...and practice thyself
Before you can tell a partner how you like to be touched, you'll need to know the intimate details yourself. For some women, that means spending more time masturbating or taking more opportunities to touch themselves in a way that produces satisfying results — sans toys.
For others, it can mean returning to their once rampant libidos. Especially after childbirth, the muscles of the pelvis can collapse, leaving the area loose. It's almost like muscles that haven't been exercised. Many women turn to practice tightening the pelvic muscles related to uterine contractions and vaginal pleasure through the use of a jade egg.
The point is to build build up that knowledge of yourself, working on both your physical body and your mental connection to your body using different practices for a true libido boost.
Begin with a de-stressing routine
This is an excellent way not only to "get in the mood" but also simply as a way to keep the harmful and corrosive effects of stress away from your life.
For some women, it's wine, candles, and a hot bath. For others, its crystals, aromatherapy and a massage. For others still its a foot bath and reading their favorite trashy magazines. Whatever allows you to disconnect from the absurd pressures and demands we place on ourselves, do it — and make it a routine part of your life.
Especially prior to sex.
Take your time with foreplay
Foreplay, like the types of orgasms and the causes for them, is vastly varied. Different women want different things and find different things exciting. Some love to have their nipples stimulated. Others need their clitoris to be the starting point. Still others like a fantasy to be played out.
No matter what a woman's preference, the element of time is a big factor. Their partners should be ready to begin foreplay as a light flirting or even a tease earlier in the evening. This can be a sensual massage or a romantic, candle-lit dinner where you exchange light but meaningful touch. The promise and anticipation of sex are enough to make her imagine it — which can then lead her to faster, stronger, and more explosive orgasm.
Bring your body into balance with B-Vitamins
Now, it's not just about the actual act or the actions directly leading up to it. For women — as for men on this point — the levels of pleasure they gain from sex can be related, pretty deeply, to their bodies.
Even men who are self-conscious or not exactly in the best shape of their lives, while they will come, won't experience as much pleasure as when they feel at the peak of their physical and mental fitness with a partner.
B-vitamins are a great natural supplement to incorporate, which can give you a libido boost in an indirect but noticeable way. B-vitamins are known to support the adrenal glands, which are the body's stress-response glands. Ingesting these vitamins help the body regulate energy release by stopping the breakdown of too much dopamine and serotonin. We feel happier, longer, and certainly more energized.
Mix up those erogenous zones
There are erogenous zones and there are erogenous zones — and you want to have all of them hit up, equally. Especially the ones you're neglecting.
(Almost) everyone knows that the clitoris, the breasts, nipples and the so-called "G-spot" are the main suspects here. But what about other areas that, while having fewer nerve endings, would appreciate some loving attention?
These would include the abdomen, the forearms, the crooks of the elbow, the neck, behind the earlobes, the lips, eyelids, the feet, and even the brain.
Use binaural beats to turn that brain OFF
Remember the "relaxation orgasm"? The brain, which is the center of perception, operates on certain frequencies. In daily, waking and conscious life, for example, the brain is in "beta" state. The deepest levels of its relaxation are during deep sleep. But the state directly "above" that is "theta", which has shown to be a state of light relaxation and calm, deep breathing and connected to intuition and creativity.
To get yourself to this state, there are plenty of binaural audios available online for some easy listening. These audios channel audio sounds at two varying frequencies, helping you to relax.
Size doesn't matter...but fitness does!
Many women report not really caring about whether their male partner's penis is "long" or "thick" or not. But women who themselves are physically fit are the ones who expect their partners to put in the same level of work into their bodies.
Fitness affects not only our self-esteem but, on a more obvious level, our stamina and even our ability to get into and enjoy certain sexual positions.
Changing our expectations about the Big O
Here's what we know now: a woman's orgasm is not "elusive", "mysterious", "difficult to attain" or any of those limiting beliefs. Rather, a woman's orgasm is something you nurture. Sex, as leading sexual therapist Esther Perel says, is not something you do — it's somewhere you go.
So go, run, leap, skip, hop, bound towards your orgasm, now that you know it's well within your reach to have one. Several if you want.
Writer: Ms Gauri Lokare