By far, the most frequent thing students ask about in my Human Sexuality course is female orgasm. I get asked everything from “How come I’ve never had an orgasm?” to “What’s the easiest way for a woman to climax?” In some ways, people’s lack of knowledge on this topic is not surprising. For example, think back to the sexual education courses you took in grade school or high school. Or maybe the uncomfortable talks that you had with mom and dad while you were growing up. At what point did the subject of female pleasure come up? If your experiences were anything like mine, I’m guessing never. The focus always seems to be on teaching how babies are made, and because female orgasm isn’t absolutely essential for that to happen, educators tend to ignore it.
Given that we are not formally taught how to pleasure women, what we learn about this subject usually comes from our friends, or maybe the internet. But, as you may have discovered, these are not always the most reliable sources for information when it comes to sexuality. As a result, I thought it would be useful to put together this condensed guide to some of the key things that every woman and lover of women should know about female orgasm. Let’s start with one of the most important, but least known facts.
Most women do not experience orgasm through vaginal intercourse. There are a lot of women who assume that there must be something wrong with them because they cannot seem to orgasm while having sex. However, this is actually a quite normal experience and does not signify that anything is wrong. In fact, most women’s route to orgasm does not even require intercourse and instead focuses on other means of stimulation.1 Why is this the case? It probably has something to do with the fact that the most dense concentration of nerve endings in a woman’s nether regions is in the clitoris, and the clitoris typically receives very little stimulation during sex. This leads me to my next point.
The clitoris, although tiny, has just about as many nerve endings as a penis and is the only organ in the human body with the sole purpose of providing sexual pleasure. Because the clitoris is so sensitive, many women find that stimulating it is a much faster and easier way to achieve orgasm than intercourse. Plus, if the only reason it’s there is to delight and excite, why have you been ignoring it? I guess I should also ask why you’ve been ignoring that other female hot spot as well…
Yes, women really do have a G-spot. This region of the female body was first discovered by Dr. Ernest Grafenberg in the 1950s, and since that time, many studies have confirmed its existence.2 The G-spot is an area within the vagina (see here for an approximate location) that, when vigorously stimulated, can yield an intensely pleasurable orgasm, sometimes accompanied by an expulsion of fluid. That’s right, female ejaculation is real too! However, whereas all women have a clitoris, not all women seem to have a G-spot, and among women who have one, it varies in size and ejaculation may or may not occur.
Regardless of how a woman gets to orgasm, there is one other unique feature of the female finish we should discuss: Women have the capacity to experience multiple orgasms. After orgasm, men undergo what is known as the “refractory period,” where no amount of additional stimulation will produce another orgasm. This period can last a short time, or a long time—but it’s almost always there for men. For women, however, no such period exists. With continued stimulation, women may be able to experience several orgasms in rapid succession.3 The groundbreaking sexuality research of William Masters and Virginia Johnson conducted in the 1960s suggests that most women have the ability to do this; however, many women may not realize it because they have never tried it.
Remember that old phrase “knowledge is power?” Well, in this case, it might be more appropriate to say “knowledge is pleasure.” Enjoy!
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1Fugl-Meyer, K., Oberg, K., Lundberg, P., & Lewin, B. (2006). On orgasm, sexual techniques, and erotic perceptions in 18- to 74-year-old Swedish women. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3, 56-68.
2Whipple, B., & Komisaruk, B. (1999). Beyond the G spot: Recent research on female sexuality. Psychiatric Annals, 29, 34-37.
3Masters, W., & Johnson, V. (1966). Human Sexual Response. Boston: Little, Brown.
Dr. Justin Lehmiller - Science of Relationships articles | Website/CV
Dr. Lehmiller's research program focuses on how secrecy and stigmatization impact relationship quality and physical and psychological health. He also conducts research on commitment, sexuality, and safer-sex practices.
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