With the male orgasm, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on — and there’s something to see afterward. But the female orgasm and how they reach into climax are far more mysterious, which lends itself to all sorts of myths. Writes Dr. Eileen Foster
Misconceptions about the female orgasm and how they reach into climax have made it difficult for women and their partners to understand how and when it happens. Male-centric societies, as well as an understudied female orgasm, have caused many myths to circulate around this subject. However, it is important to understand the basics.
According to Dr. Lauren Streicher, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “The female orgasm is far more mysterious,” which “lends itself to all sorts of myths.” Most vaginas don’t orgasm from penetration alone, and a 2017 study of 1,055 adult women in the US showed that only 18.4% of subjects could reach orgasm from intercourse alone.
Nearly 37% of women who reported they could reach orgasm during intercourse required clitoral stimulation. An additional 36% said that, even when clitoral stimulation wasn’t needed, they had better orgasms when their clitoris was stimulated during intercourse. Women can still enjoy sex without having an orgasm.
It usually takes women longer to orgasm than men. For women, it takes an average of 14 minutes to orgasm during partnered sex — if they orgasm at all. Female arousal often requires both emotional and physical foreplay, and that takes time. Women can orgasm without penetrative sex, and the clitoris is located outside of the vaginal opening. In fact, females on average are “more likely to orgasm without penetration”.
Multiple orgasms are possible for women, but not all are created equal. Misconceptions around the female orgasm should be addressed so that women can better understand their bodies and pleasure, along with their partners.
Questions surrounding female orgasm
There are plenty of questions surrounding the female orgasm, and even people with a vagina may not fully understand what goes into their ability to climax. Unfortunately, plenty of myths and religious taboos have circulated around the female orgasm, making it even harder for women and their partners to understand how and when it happens.
Sex therapist Debra Laino told Yahoo Life, “Americans live in a male-centric society, Streicher says, and men may have misconceptions about the female orgasm. There’s also this to consider: “The female orgasm has been understudied and has been compared to the male orgasm for many years”.
There are a lot of reasons why the female orgasm is misunderstood. Still, it’s important to understand some of the basics. Whether you have a vagina or just are curious about how to please someone with one, here’s what you need to know about the female orgasm.
Every female does not get orgasm from penetrative sex
According to Jess O’Reilly, “most vaginas don’t orgasm from penetration alone. A 2017 study of 1,055 adult women in the United States found that only 18.4 percent of subject could reach orgasm from intercourse alone. Nearly 37 percent of females reported they could reach orgasm during intercourse if clitoral stimulation was involved, while an additional 36 percent said that, even when clitoral stimulation was not needed, they had better orgasms when their clitoris was stimulating during intercourse. Sex therapists say, “the majority of women need to have physical clitoral stimulation to orgasm — and that doesn’t happen during penetrative sex unless their partner is stimulating the clitoris”.
They said, “When women have a longer distance between their clitoris and vaginal opening, they’re less likely to orgasm during penetrative sex than those who have a shorter distance. It’s really about anatomy”.
Unfortunate fact is some females never orgasm from penetrative sex, which can be for a variety of reasons, such as lack of body awareness, fear, anxiety, trauma and stress. But women can still enjoy sex without having orgasm.
Jess O’Reilly said, “orgasm is often presented as the peak experience of a sexual encounter in movies and porn, but it’s not the only pleasurable part of sex. Many women love the heightened arousal from sex and can still have a wonderful sexual experience without having an orgasm”.
According to tantric sex, for example, orgasm is not the end goal. In tantric sex, the journey is as pleasurable as the orgasm. The idea that if you do not have an orgasm, there is not pleasure is a male-centric thing.
Jess O’Reilly said: “Many people report that sex is exciting, sensual, fulfilling and hot — even when they don’t have an orgasm. This may not be your experience, but each person gets to decide what works for them”.
Duration of male and female orgasm
Research suggests that it takes men an average of five to seven minutes to orgasm and ejaculate. For women, it takes an average of 14 minutes to orgasm during partnered sex — if they orgasm at all.
Experts said, female arousal often requires both emotional and physical foreplay, and that takes time. Practical issues can also lead to the longer time to orgasm for women. If you have just put the kids to bed, it can be harder to create a distinction between your role as a mother and your role as a lover.
Orgasm, penetrative sex and clitoris
Female clitoris is located outside of the vaginal opening and, because of that, women don’t need to have penetrative sex to orgasm. In fact, females on average are more likely to orgasm without penetration. Buzzing, rubbing, grinding, kissing, sucking and caressing externally are more likely to lead to a full-blown orgasm.
But again, the clitoris is not the only road to orgasm for females. Some people orgasm from fantasy alone — without even touching the body or genitals. Others can have breast or nipple orgasms.
Can women have multiple orgasms?
Multiple orgasms are possible for women — it’s just not clear how common they are. Nobody really knows how common it is, these things are very difficult to study. But not all multiple female orgasms are created equal. Some women have a series of less intense orgasms followed by a big bang Oh. Others alternate between different types of stimulation to experience different types of sensation as they orgasm. And others only enjoy multiple orgasms when they’re deeply relaxed and free of practical responsibilities.
Here are some comments from few of the people who took my counselling on their sexual lives.
Cynthia: Me and my husband talked about these things in order to please each other. It has to be talked about. but not when actually doing it. Has to feel spontaneous. but knowing how for each other is a must. can change it up any way that makes it fun for both. I do not see a better way other than sharing thoughts and feelings about it. might work for a while not sharing but it will eventually hit a roadblock.
Reynold: An experienced an willing tongue and the use of fingers without selfishness of men has always been best in my experience. If you want a woman to be pleased, then please her first. Give her your feelings and understanding and the desire to know she can be honest with her desires. It will always be better for the both of you.
Kenneth: Every woman is different. Some can come more than once a night; others cannot come with someone working on them for an hour and others can come from playing around versus doing the real thing.
Jeff: You have to learn what they like and one “size” does not fit all. Size, yes some like big other does not matter. What really does matters is about the chemistry between the two, or more, people. As a young man in the early 80’s was not great looking back but the women didn’t know what they preferred either. Time and interest in being better for your wife, lover, etc., makes the difference.
Edward: Working with the hand does well, but proper oral work is a guarantee of success.
Lou: a woman can help a lot if they will tell what’s feel go and what doesn’t during their act. Both party gain by doing this … it worked for us.
Robert: I always, ALWAYS, make sure my wife reaches the O before I even think about myself – usually my mouth and fingers are very tired but the feel of the JJ when it is soaked is next to none.
David: Fourplay starts way before you get to the bedroom. Sometimes a woman can be turned off by the way she was treated earlier that day. A woman can reach her O quicker if she doesn’t just lay there waiting for the man to get her off. If she’s emotionally engages, she will enjoy the journey and the finish.
Brian: The best thing that can happen to a young man is finding an older woman to really teach him how to please a woman. I was one of the very lucky ones I was 18 she was 41.
Jerry: Oral is a great way to get it started, then go for the “inside scoop.” I think the secret for a woman is to make sure the foreplay is not rushed and that your hitting HER erogenous zones! Also, the foreplay starts hours before the bedroom starts, at least that’s what my wife tells me.
Karl: The thing I have always wondered about this is do women discuss this amongst themselves? As in do the 80% who cannot reach Valhalla with just the straight up act talk to their friends who are in the 20% and know they are in the 80%? Do the 20% know they are in the 20%?
Peter: I learned this years ago from some women. Since then I’ve been dedicated to their pleasure. It’s only fair and works out for everyone. Sometimes it helps to just ask.
Fredrick: Seems odd because my wife sure did release when I came home early and caught her with the gardener, was he better at it then me? Nope. Was his bigger? Nope. I was hidden and observing the scene, it’s the excitement of someone new, the excitement of not getting caught, and the most important is she can’t be thinking of work/bills/stressful stuff because the guy is not her partner, he is there for one reason only and therefore she can reach the “explosion” because she is at ease and he’s certainly not there to listen to her problems.
Christopher: Well I can tell you that 18.6% number is spot on. When I total up the number of girls, I had serious relationships with (as in more than a single night) and then consider the ones who reached Valhalla with just the straight up act, it is exactly 20% of them.
It’s also way more mental with women, one of the 20% told me I was the first guy to bring her to Valhalla. The thing that is weird is if you encounter one of the 20% early on in your life, you think all girls are like that. I don’t mind the extra work to get them to Valhalla but it’s certainly great when you encounter the 20%.
Mike: Once you figure out what gets it done for your partner then it’s much easier. Pay attention to them. We can go for every position in the world, but unless my weight is on top of her there is no pay off. My record is 5. I can get 2-3 out of her with minimal effort. Stamina helps.
Taboo centering female orgasm in the Muslim societies
In my career, I have seen plenty of females in the Muslim societies, particularly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East who told me about their “dull sexual life” without any orgasm. They said, in most cases, their male partners do not even pay attention to the importance of orgasm. Instead, he fully focuses on his own erection and ejaculation. One of the most important factors here is – Muslim societies consider foreplay as sinful and forbidden by their religion. Even in some societies, kisses are considered as bad.
Similar thing prevails within uneducated societies in South Asia as well some of the African nations, where majority of the females never have orgasms during sexual intercourse with their partners. This forces some of them towards masturbation.
Dr. Eileen Foster is a sex therapist.
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