Are you having trouble reaching orgasm? A guide for women
Written by Christine Webber, psychotherapist and lifecoach and Dr. David Delvin, GP and family planning specialist
'Coming' isn't all that easy - if you're a woman! Nearly all men can climax without difficulty, but women just aren't built that way.
But most people don’t realise that fact.
Let's face it, books, films and teen and women's magazines paint a very different picture in which today's females are hot, raring to go and effortlessly orgasmic.
So for women who are not all of those things - and that is a great many of them - this type of media portrayal is, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, painful and damaging. Indeed, today's teens and 20-somethings tend to believe that there's something wrong with them - or even that they're frigid - if they can't climax to order. This is not the case. In fact, mostly they're absolutely normal.
Interestingly, however, only a generation ago many doctors used to believe that a high proportion of the female population simply couldn't climax at all. Why did they think this way? Simply because most of them had had little or no training in sexual medicine. Also, the great majority of them were so embarrassed about sex themselves that they tried to avoid discussing it with their patients. Furthermore, since women don't need to climax in order to conceive, most doctors didn't rate the importance of the female orgasm very highly.
Nowadays, fortunately, medics have a very different attitude. This is largely because they are now familiar with the results of sexual studies conducted by American researchers Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, Shere Hite and others.
In addition, the last 15 years have seen a number of sexual surveys conducted with large samples of people through newspapers and magazines. Indeed, our own company – the Medical Information Service – has designed many of these.
The results of these surveys have taken the lid off the sex life of the great British public. Now we know that virtually any woman can climax - and indeed have multiple climaxes - if the circumstances of her life are right. And these circumstances usually include having a caring, understanding partner who is knowledgeable about sex, and who uses that knowledge to help her relax and to reach orgasm.
As we've already said, orgasm is a much more automatic response for men than for women. It seems that even though there are plenty of deeply caring and decent guys around, their ability to climax does not necessarily have to be linked to feelings of love and romance. Women of all ages, by contrast, tend to find that their sexual confidence and competence flower in a climate of appreciation and deep affection.
Of course nowadays there are young 'ladettes' - females who set out to have as much uncommitted and uncomplicated sex as young men - but they are in the minority. And we have discovered that many of these youngsters are secretly quite miserable.
But to understand more about the female orgasm let's go back to the very start of a woman's sexual life.
A lot of very young women are worried about their lack of ability to climax. But the fact is, unlike males, most females have to learn to reach orgasm.
Our research shows that most younger women do not manage to climax until some considerable time after they have started sexual activity. Moreover, when they do 'come' for the very first time, they do so in a variety of ways. In a survey we conducted for our book The Big 'O', we found that:
- 47 per cent climaxed for the first time through masturbation
- 32 per cent through sexual intercourse
- 20 per cent through petting
- 1 per cent while sleeping.
- In the same survey we found that the most common age of first orgasm was 18, but that it could be as late as the 40s!
The 20s and 30s
Even in their 20s and 30s, a lot of women have difficulty reaching that elusive orgasm. These days, most sex therapists believe that if you can't climax (or don't climax easily) it's a good idea to start by practising on your own.
This may seem obvious, but many women, even today, feel very inhibited about self-love and can't help feeling that it isn't something they should be doing. But the fact is, masturbating helps you to learn just exactly which pressures and rhythms you need in order to bring you to orgasm. In particular, you need to explore your own body in order to find out precisely how to stimulate your clitoris.
However, it's important that, if you are using masturbation to help learn about orgasm, you should always do it when you are warm, cosy, relaxed... and, above all, alone. Learning to love your own body should be a delicious experience, but it can't be if someone is hammering on your bedroom or bathroom door demanding that you come out and get their tea!
A good 'reaching orgasms' video (such as Betty Dodson's Selfloving) is very helpful in this respect.
Once you have learned to climax easily, you can then show your partner exactly what you need in order to make you come.
Of course this may feel embarrassing at first, but it's important that you learn to communicate your feelings and also to communicate how you like your body to be touched. When you can't find the words, use caresses. But try also to build up a vocabulary with your partner that is easy to use. A lot of couples find their sex lives fail simply because they don't have the right language. And saying: 'Could you rub my ...er ...er?' isn't specific enough to be helpful.
Some women, incidentally, find achieving orgasm much easier with the help of a vibrator. But for many females actually getting hold of a sex aid that they can rely on isn't easy.
If this applies to you, we'd like you to know that several excellent online mail order businesses have been set up in the last decade or so that are run by women for women. Their sex aids really work.
By the time you're in your 30s, 40s or 50s, you should be able to reach orgasm quite easily provided that you have a loving, understanding partner.
But do remember that most women find that their ability to climax varies according to what part of their menstrual cycle they're in. It's quite common for a woman to feel especially orgasmic half-way through her cycle. But some women feel particularly turned-on just before a period. Others notice that they don’t really feel like sex at all during some times of the month. All this is normal.
However, if you are still not having any orgasms at all, or if you're still having enormous difficulty 'getting there', then it's definitely time to seek practical help. In the UK, one way of doing this is to talk to a woman doctor at a Family Planning Clinic. Many of these medics have had special training in helping their patients to relax and to achieve orgasm. Unfortunately, it is not so easy nowadays to get this treatment as it was, because many clinics have had to cut back on their services. But it is always worth asking at your local clinic if they are able to help you.
So what can you expect if you pluck up courage to go for an appointment at an FPC? The woman doctor will take a history - which means that she'll ask you all about your sex life and relationships and your physical health as well. She'll then examine you to make sure that everything is okay physically and she'll then counsel you over a period of several weeks.
Various types of orgasm
Thanks to Freud, the father of psycho-analysis, people used to believe that vaginal orgasms were what mature women had, while clitoral orgasms were what immature women had.
Experts no longer believe this. And many of today's sex experts as well as ordinary women say that they really don't know the difference between a vaginal orgasm and a clitoral one.
The majority of women need clitoral stimulation in order to climax. This applies whether they're enjoying loveplay or intercourse.
Some women, on the other hand, believe they can 'come' through intercourse with no manual stimulation of the clitoris and claim that it is the vagina itself that sparks off the orgasm. However, many sex experts reckon what is happening during intercourse is that the clitoris is being stimulated by being pulled down or being rubbed by part of the man's torso.
There is also the G-spot to consider. Some women experience a particularly intense orgasm when that part of their anatomy is stimulated (you can find the G-spot inside you on the front vaginal wall). Indeed, many women who enjoy having their G-spots touched claim that they ejaculate during these intense orgasms. So, there may be a case for saying that there is a G spot orgasm, as well as possibly a vaginal one, and one that originates in the clitoris.
Our feeling about all of this is that it really doesn't matter whether or not there are different types of orgasms. The important thing is that you should be having good, reliable orgasms whenever you want them - and that you should be enjoying them hugely.
A lot of women write to us complaining that they can't reach simultaneous orgasm with their partners.
But in fact, simultaneous orgasm is quite uncommon. Surveys done by the Medical Information Service and others have found that most women rarely climax at exactly the same time as their partners.
However, it is certainly nice when this happens. And it can be achieved, if the man has good control of his own orgasm, and if he is skilled at using his fingers during intercourse to bring the woman to a climax just at the same moment as he comes.
Until quite recent years doctor believed that only a tiny minority of women could have multiple orgasms. But research by the Medical Information Service and others has shown that in fact, the majority of females can have a series of climaxes, one after the other if, that is, they are happy and relaxed in the relationship and if the partner is willing to stimulate them to 'come' again and again.
Please note that the ability to have multiple orgasms increases with age. It's unusual at the age of 20, but many women in their 40s, 50s and 60s can do it.
Orgasms in mid-life
As we have already said, a woman's ability to climax tends to improve with age.
But we know that some women get well into mid-life before they manage to have an orgasm. However, the important thing is that you should never regard it as ‘too late’. Time and again we have heard of women who have learned to orgasm when they were in their 40s, 50s – and even later.
In February 2009, Danish psychosexual therapist called Pia Struck presented the results of a study at the Royal Society of Medicine she had made of 500 women.
These women all had long histories of difficulties with orgasm and 25 per cent of them had never climaxed. Their ages ranged from 18 to 88.
They were helped through the Betty Dodson method (see above) and were treated by use of group therapy, where they were encouraged to think more positively about their genitals and to learn acceptance of their sexuality through touch. They also embarked on practical sex-therapy by using clitoral vibrators.
Of these women, 465 (93 per cent) had an orgasm which was witnessed by a therapist. And it was reported that the post-menopausal women among them were just as able to achieve orgasm as the younger participants in the study. So, clearly, you are never too old to become orgasmic.
There can of course be other problems in midlife around the time of the menopause. Most of these difficulties occur because of all the hormonal changes going on in the body. And it's extremely common for women to 'go off' sex temporarily simply because it becomes too dry and uncomfortable.
Fortunately, there are all sorts of ways to remedy this nowadays. There are good over-the-counter lubricants like Wet, Silk, Astroglide, Senselle and K-Y Jelly. These are all suitable, by the way, for any age of woman.
In mid-life there is also the option of going on HRT, but this is something that any woman should think about very carefully indeed. Until recently, it was widely believed that HRT commonly helped a woman to feel much better generally, and to feel more sexy in particular. However, the picture has now changed significantly.
Extensive research into HRT now suggests that though it is still very effective for ridding a woman of unpleasant menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and sweating attacks, it is not safe to use long term. So it should definitely not be viewed as a magical youth elixir that you start taking at the menopause and continue using till you’re a very old lady.
How can men help?
- Remember that most women need stimulation of the clitoris. This is the part of them that would have turned into a penis had they developed as males - and it's just as important to women as the penis is to a guy.
- Remember that love, romance, cuddling and a good atmosphere turn women on in the early stages of a sex session just as much as your caresses do.
- Take your time.
- Caress her breasts - a few women learn to climax through breast fondling alone.
- Give her oral sex. Most women adore this and some claim that they cannot come unless a man 'goes down' on them.
- Don't be too proud to ask her to show you what she wants.
- Have some sex sessions where you encourage her to take the initiative and to decide the agenda.
- If you lose control and come before her, do try to summon some energy to kiss and stimulate her so that she can climax, too.
- Do tell her that she's marvellous, sexy and beautiful.
Having an orgasm is a lovely feeling. You are entitled to it, but it's not easy to do if you are uptight, tired, stressed or unhappy in your relationship. If in doubt, seek help from an expert advisor.
Article from www.netdoctor.co.uk/sex updated 25.02.2009
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