How to Have Orgasms

Sex for Women Network

It's now over 30 years since feminists set out to educate women about their own bodies and placed female orgasm on the agenda. Unfortunately, many women today still experience difficulty experiencing orgasm during sex.

While there are a number of factors behind this, such as medical or psychological problems, this column is setting out to address a major and relatively simple reason why women have trouble achieving orgasm.

There's no way to be delicate about it: the problem is often ignorance.

Perhaps a lack of knowledge is a better term. Our society still values penis-in-vagina sex above all else, and as long as people consider this to be "having sex", women will continue to miss out on full sexual satisfaction.

While a number of women are capable of achieving orgasm through straight intercourse alone, the vast majority need some form of clitoral stimulation to help them out. Unfortunately, a lot of men don't understand this. If they've been reared on a diet of mainstream porn - where women come at the drop of a hat with no clitoral stimulation - then they've got a lot of catching up to do. Similarly, women also tend to believe that they should be having orgasms through penis-in-vagina intercourse, and if they don't, there's something wrong with them.

If you are reading this, and you've never had an orgasm, relax - you're fine. You've been a victim of  continuing misinformation about female sexuality. These beliefs are the result of a continuing cultural legacy that has persisted for over 200 years. Part of this is the way people always refer to a woman's genitals as her vagina, rather than her vulva or clitoris. The focus has always been on the vagina, to the detriment of all else!

The best way to make women happier in bed is if society as a whole changes its view of "sex", so that it includes all kinds of sexual contact AND a guaranteed female orgasm every time.

So what's the best way to learn how to have an orgasm?

1. Acknowledge that you probably aren't going to come through intercourse alone.

2. Get to know yourself "down there". Use a mirror to study your genitals and locate your clitoris (if you don't know, here's a picture). Don't worry about how your genitals look. Every woman's vulva is different, and they're all beautiful. If you want to learn more about the vulva and clitoris, you may want to see Betty Dodson's video Viva la Vulva - Women's Sex Organs Revealed

3. Learn to masturbate. A large number of women who've never had an orgasm have often never pleasured themselves, perhaps through guilt because they were taught it was a "sin", or because they thought it was something that women just don't do. The fact is, you know yourself best. You know exactly where to scratch when you have an itch, and masturbation is similar in that respect.

a) Manual technique: Create some time alone for yourself, get naked, get into bed, and begin to rub yourself on the clitoris. Experiment to see what feels best. Try rubbing in a circular motion, or up and down. Some women like to insert a finger into their vagina while they rub. Relax, and don't worry about it. If you feel an orgasm coming on, don't fight it, or tense up. If that happens, it's no big deal. Jus start again, or try again another time. You will get there.

b) Vibrators: This is often the best way to reach orgasm if you can't do so manually. While any vibrator bought at an adult shop (or online equivalent) will do the job, I recommend an electric "personal massager" such as the Hitachi Magic Wand or Breville Massager (you can buy these from any appliance shop - many women find this much less embarrassing than going to a sex shop!). These provide far more intense vibrations and don't ever run out of batteries at a crucial moment! Again, get naked and apply the vibrator to your clit. Sometimes direct contact can be too much, so experiment with positions - put it on your pubic mound, or just below the clit so you get the "echoes" of the vibration. If you want to hold your legs shut, or any way, go ahead. The important thing is finding what gets you going, and what gets you over the line.

I also recommend reading the books featured on this page.

Of course, it may be difficult to "get in the mood" to masturbate in the first place. Some women find looking at sexually explicit material to be helpful. There are now a number of women's erotica sites on the internet. Click here for a full list.

4. Introduce your partner to what stimulates you. This may mean masturbating in front of him, or using the vibrator. You may feel a little embarrassed, but remember, you have to teach him how to pleasure you, in the same way that you've just taught yourself, and the only way to do that is to be completely open, honest, and able to trust.

5. Incorporate your new methods of masturbation into your lovemaking. This may mean manual stimulation or use of the vibrator as "foreplay" (I've put the word "foreplay" in quotation marks because it's an old fashioned term that implies intercourse as the most important stage. In fact, "foreplay" is often the best time for the woman to reach her orgasm.)

A small note for men: Do not let your ego get in the way of this process. A vibrator is not a rival, it's simply a tool to help your partner reach orgasm. If she is using the tool, but she's kissing you, then you are making love. Remember: you want her to come. Be patient, caring, and eager to please.

6. Learn to orgasm through different methods. This may mean learning to orgasm while receiving cunnilingus, or learning to orgasm during sex itself through constant stimulation of the clitoris during penetration. Once you've reached stage 5, that may be as far as you can go, and that's fine. But it's always fun to try and improve on what you know! ;)

If after all this, you are still having difficulties, it is time to seek outside help. This may mean going to see your GP, who can suggest what medical options are available. You may prefer to see a sex therapist who can guide you through a sexual self discovery program. It may be there are other psychological problems that you need to deal with before you can embark on this journey.

I recommend Dr Betty Dodson's guide to masturbation called Sex for One. This book is devoted to self loving in all its forms. Dr Dodson was a feminist in the 70's who pioneered many great techniques for helping women achieve orgasm. Betty has also made a video on the same topic, called Self Loving. This film steps inside one of Betty's workshops where 10 women explore their sexuality. Celebrating Orgasm - Women's Private Selfloving Sessions is in a similar vein.

You may also want to visit Betty's amazing website here.

Good luck!

First Person Sexual: Women and Men Write About Self Pleasuring
, by Joani Blank (ed)

In First Person Sexual, Joani Blank has collected 43 accounts by men and women of masturbation experiences, many of them the first time they "got off," that is, had an orgasm. This isn't your ordinary Sunday school or public-school fare. Certainly it's the most talked-about subject on the planet, and next to eating and breathing the most practiced of all human activities. But talk about it? For most of us, it's uh, uh

 In the foreword, sexologist and author Leonore Tiefer writes: "Sexuality can be subversive, as activists and theorists on both the left and right have known. Literary and artistic depictions of masturbation symbolize resistance to authority and display an existential commitment to sensory and sensual pleasure." 

What Joani Blank offers in First Person Sexual is permission-giving. Hey it's all right to masturbate. Everybody does it (and, as a friend of mine once said, if 9 out of 10 guys admit they masturbate in the shower, it's a good guess that the 10th guy is lying) so why shouldn't you, and not feel guilty about it? Tiefner says masturbation should be recognized as a "positive aspect of childhood. While Blank's book won't be on any Sunday school reading lists, or show up any time in the next few centuries in public-school health courses, its publication is another small stamp of approval merely by its appearance. Blank, with this book, peels back another layer of the onion of existence of what it means to be human.
- Amazon reviewer

You may wish to explore your sexuality and discover arousal techniques through an adult site. Naturally you want something that caters to women, and is an excellent place to get in the mood. Here you can watch adult films and enjoy pictorials that focus on the woman's pleasure. I recommend it!


You may also want to check out Becoming Orgasmic (the video) over in our Adult Video section.

Don't forget to visit For The Girls, a new ezine and erotica site for women. Created by women, for women, you'll find lots of pics and movies here to get you feeling aroused and ready for orgasm! 
Plus, plenty of sex advice.
Click here to see more

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How to Have Orgasms: A guide to achieving orgasm.