I’ve had a sexual concern for the longest time: I have trouble feeling orgasm during sex and masturbation. At first I thought it might be my partner not knowing my spots too well, but I realized I’ve never had any ejaculations by myself either. I’m worried that my body isn’t sensitive enough to feel orgasm and that’s why I can’t be sexually satisfied.
My summer beach book has been Come as You Are, the brilliant New York Times best seller about female sexuality and sexual response by Smith College wellness education director, PhD, and smart sex educator Emily Nagoski. As someone who writes and reads and teaches about sex for a living, I’m all “Oh, another sex book? Whatevs,” but Nagoski’s book has re-inspired me about the hows and whats of female orgasm.
Nagoski highlights the crushing pressure of the female-pleasure-phobic world we live in and how it comes to hinder our coming. I don’t want to give away too much because you (and everyone who either owns or touches a clitoris) should read it, but I want to draw attention to the book’s exploration of the context in which women come.
Thinking about sexy, orgasmic context might bring to mind mood music, candles, a hot partner, maybe a favorite vibrator. This might make a dent, but more importantly, women need to consider their mental context (stressed about work? parenting children?), physical context (PMSing? managing chronic pain?), environmental context (worried about waking the neighbors? the baby?), relational context (is this partner trustworthy? is consent actively practiced?) and then, THEN there’s the social context, which pushes down on women in big in small ways, labeling some women as “sluts” if they enjoy sex, “frigid” if they don’t, and, in your case, BBB, “broken” if their sexual response doesn’t match that of their partners.
The sexual response of male bodies and brains has been more widely studied mostly because their orgasms make the babies and their sexuality is socially sanctioned. Because of this, female sexual response is compared to male sexual response; if our orgasms don’t follow the same path as their orgasms, we must be broken.
But female bodies are different than male bodies (duh!), and all bodies are different from each other (DUHHH!!) in the ways we experience pleasure. The female body takes longer to get aroused, different things spark our desire, and our orgasms happen much differently than male-bodied orgasms. More specifically, they don’t easily happen via penile penetration alone and don’t often feature ejaculation.
BBB, you are not broken. The way we think about and are educated about female sexual response and pleasure is broken.
Self-education and masturbation are both great places to start in repairing sexual pleasure education and experiences. Start by reading books that empower women to feel sexual pleasure on their own terms like Come As You Are and Sex for One by Betty Dodson. Share what you learn with your partner. Reflect on what makes for a sexy, orgasmic context for you (I recommend Nagoski’s helpful exercise on page 95 of her book as a guide).
Once you rethink your orgasmic context, apply it to your masturbation rituals. Experiment with a few different vibrators, a butt plug, some porn, even a blindfold. Masturbation gives us the freedom to experiment without an audience. It also allows us to take the mental pressure off of focusing on orgasm as the goal. Take advantage of this and focus on pleasure as the initial goal, allowing the orgasm to follow as a happy byproduct of your genuine pleasure.
Don’t angle for female ejaculation quite yet as this often takes more finessing and doesn’t happen for all female bodies. First focus on exploring your clitoral pleasure as this little morsel of anatomy is responsible for the majority of female-bodied Os.
Oh, and BBB, the issue here isn’t that you’re not feeling your orgasms, it’s that you haven’t had one quite yet. Because when you do have an orgasm, BBB, you’ll know. Trust me, it’s worth the effort to explore and re-learn about your pleasure because it feels goooooooooood.•