A young friend of mine (she’s in her 20s) confided in me that she couldn’t have orgasms in front of her long term boyfriend and, although she’s been having orgasms since she was 7 or 8, she has never had one in the presence of another person. I’m not a sex therapist or a doctor, but I feel humbled and privileged that people think I’m the sort of person that they can talk to about these things. I don’t know where I got the reputation for being non-judgmental and un-shockable, but I’ll take it! I gave my friend a few recommendations for sex therapists, as she admitted that she had issues around shame which she needed to work through. Aside from any pathological cause, I wanted to reassure her that this state of affairs can change over time with a bit of self-awareness, good communication, and perhaps a surrendering of expectation. Above all, hope is not lost. My own experience has been to go from a 1 Orgasm a night girl to a 30xO a night girl. I’m now super-orgasmic and that is a recent development. The reasons are a mystery to me but I think it’s something to do with Pilates, a new-found desire for adventure and a boyfriend who is a “giver”. The point is: we change, our bodies change, our orgasms change.
I ran a recent Instagram survey on sex, desire, orgasms and masturbation, prompted in part by my friend’s question, and also as a blatant attempt to gather material for an upcoming talk. The survey was intended for women (see postscript below) but of course I got answers from men too. It was far from a randomised clinical trial but the hypothesis I had was that women’s bodies, specifically our sex organs, and our orgasms change over time. Nothing is static, and especially not a muscle that we use every day (the pelvic floor muscle).
The unscientific data gathered from my poll seems to back up my theory, that most women get better at having orgasms. They get stronger, which would make sense if the muscles in the vagina get stronger, thereby increasing the intensity of the contractions, Also, climax is easier to achieve. This is presumably because we learn more about our bodies, our desires, our preferences, and hopefully our communication with partners. As predicted, and in line with many other studies, external stimulation is the more efficient way to bring on an orgasm.
Similar data on the last point is in a much more scientific study shown in the infographic below (courtesy of the Sex & Psychology blog, which is a great blog by sex researcher Justin Lehmiller from the Kinsey Institute)
I also have a theory that bearing children has a direct physiological effect on your orgasms, in different ways for different people. No evidence yet (stay tuned) but my own story is that I had the biggest orgasms during pregnancy, which subsided after pregnancy, but I was more orgasmic after children than before. Still not a squirter, but don’t think I’ve given up on trying yet – my body is still developing!
I want to assure my friend that she’s still young and her body may not have learned all the ways of receiving pleasure yet. So much is to do with practice (so use it or lose it) and learning through self-pleasure what works for us. I swear by Pilates for working the pelvic floor and to make your vaginal walls as strong as nutcrackers. And another whole realm which I will dive into for next time is our inner erotic world. When we are young, we may have sexual fantasies, but some of those take a lifetime to really take shape and become intense erotic movies that we have produced, cast and directed down to the last detail. In my next post, I will address some of the poll results around sexual fantasies.
Thank you to all those who participated in the poll. Some of the comments and stories I received were deeply personal and moving. I’m grateful and humbled by your openness and for sharing your thoughts with a stranger on the internet.
Postscript: I annoyed someone by stating that the poll was only for people with vaginas. As should now be clear, there was a reason for saying that. But she said that I could be hurting the feelings of non-cis women and I should have specified “cis-women”. I had not wanted to do that because (a) many people around the world do not understand the term, and (b) the language of gender is evolving rapidly and we probably won’t be using the same terms in two years time. Also, “woke” language is highly location- and class-based. People who should all be on the same side end up “calling out” each other for not using precise definitions and arguing over who wins in the “pure language” stakes. I certainly do not want to hurt the feelings of non-cis/gender-fluid people and I took the time to ask a few friends who fall into those “fluid” categories. They tell me that they would not have been offended but that the preferred term is currently “AFAB” (Assigned Female At Birth). I will use that term in future or for as long as it remains current.