I rarely have orgasms with my partner, although I enjoy the sex and am very happy with our sex life. He doesn’t understand that for me it’s more about the foreplay and sex and closeness, and he wants me to have more orgasms. Do they matter as much as he thinks?
You do realise that you are completely normal, don’t you? Men have an orgasm 90% of the time during penetrative sex, but only about 25% of women do. This inequity is one that could easily be resolved if couples were willing to be more honest with each other about what feels good and what doesn’t. Instead, research suggests that men think about female orgasm as a measure of their own sexual performance, rather than as an indication of female sexual satisfaction. And women even see themselves as faulty.
Although the literature on female orgasm is extensive, and confusing, there is consensus on the fact that, like you, only about half of women who have difficulty experiencing orgasm with a partner also report feeling distressed about it.
However, what women say in surveys and what they feel when they are having sex, are not necessarily one and the same thing. Some sexologists suggest that women learn to minimise the importance of orgasm as a way of dealing with the conflict between their partner’s expectations and their own experience.
The easiest way to deal with conflicting attitudes within a partnership is to adjust the characteristic that is the most malleable, so when a woman finds it hard to have an orgasm, the best way to neutralise the inequity is to insist that orgasm is not a big deal. Your orgasm should benefit you, not someone else’s ego, and if you really don’t care about climax and are not burying subconscious anxieties, your partner should accept that. Orgasm is a proportionately tiny element of sex and not a goal that needs to be achieved every time.
There is no universal recipe for female orgasm and there is an extraordinary range of variability in the type or intensity of stimulation required to trigger it. Some women can think themselves to climax. Others require 6,000 vibrations per minute. If you feel you would benefit from more stimulation, or you want to take an occasional shortcut, you could try incorporating a vibrator into foreplay.
If you want to eschew sex toys and get back to basics, you might benefit from what Nicole Daedone, author of Slow Sex, describes as “orgasmic meditation”. In a nutshell, it suggests that you lie back on a comfy bed and get your boyfriend to spend 15 minutes gently stimulating you (with a little lube). Afterwards you talk to each other about how it felt and whether there were any memorable moments of sensitivity during the session.
The exercise serves two useful purposes. First, it allows you to immerse yourself in a sensory experience with no pressure to orgasm or to have sex. Second, it forces you and your partner to be vulnerable with each other and to communicate openly about sexual sensation.
Setting a 15-minute timeframe is also useful because few men are willing to provide clitoral stimulation for that length of time during foreplay. When the end game is intercourse, male impatience is compounded by female anxiety and too often women sabotage their potential to orgasm because they feel rushed, or shy, or they prioritise their partner’s orgasm over theirs.
The meditation exercise confirms the importance of taking things slowly. When women feel relaxed, and confident about the way in which their bodies respond to stimulation, they learn that taking things at a leisurely pace and building arousal over a longer period of time leads to a much more powerful climax.
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