SPRING TALKS SEX - I’ve been thinking about orgasm

Friday, February 15, 2013 - 16:44

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By Lyba Spring

For years, women have been told we are responsible for our own orgasms; no one can hand it to us on a silver platter. And most of us can manage to get there very nicely on our own, thank you.

There are some obvious blocks to orgasm, like prior trauma, repressive sexual upbringing, shyness, overthinking, inability to relax, control issues, problems in the relationship or other stresses. What is a partner’s role in a woman’s desire or ability to come?

Two-thirds of women who have sex with men don’t have orgasms during vaginal intercourse. These women often minimize their desire for it, saying they enjoy the good feelings and intimacy that they get during sex. But women’s partners—male or female—sometimes feel cheated, both by women’s lack of desire for orgasm or because they don’t know how to get us there. There’s nothing new here. Shere Hite reported the same dilemma in the 1970s (The Hite Report, 1976). Communication is, of course, key. But “I really want you to come” may be perceived as pressure. “How can I get you there?” assumes that’s where you want to go. On the other hand (so to speak), “I want to come. Let me show/tell you what to do” sounds like a plan.

Most workshops about reaching orgasm focus first on familiarizing yourself with your own sexual response and eventually finding the type of stimulation that leads to orgasm. Some women have orgasm that is qualitatively different depending on whether there is anal, G-spot, or clitoral stimulation. You may like direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoris with a finger, vibrator, something inside your vagina or anus, anal stimulation, with lubricant or without, direct, strong pressure on the vulva, like a thigh or a pillow, or not.  Women may ejaculate or not, or only some of the time. We don’t always want—or are not always able—to come the same way every time; nor do our orgasms always feel the same, even when we have a session with several orgasms. 

Let’s say you can already have orgasm on your own. How comfortable are you having an orgasm in front of your partner? Is it exciting, embarrassing, eyes open, eyes closed, watching your partner watching you, getting off on their pleasure? Is there an alternate kind of stimulation that your partner can try? If you’re used to hard and fast stimulation with a finger or vibrator and your partner tries to bring you to orgasm with oral sex, do you feel the pressure to perform? Are you worried your partner will get tired or frustrated? And maybe more importantly: can you show your partner what works for you without detailing an exhaustive list? Sex is primarily for pleasure. If performance worries get in the way, where’s the fun?

A hilarious example of how sex can become too much work and turn off a partner appears in Carol Shield’s Republic of Love.

“He’d rather enter a life of celibate denial than go through the hard labor and humiliation of bringing Charlotte Downey to quality orgasm ... Quality orgasms were the only kind worth having, she told him”  (pp. 144 – 145).

Some women feel the need to stay in control of all aspects of their lives, which may impede erotic intimacy. What a gift to put yourself in your partner’s hands and allow the barriers to fall away. Sometimes I wonder if dealing with barriers to orgasm is as simple—and as complicated—as dealing with insomnia.  Instead of anxiously wanting it (orgasm or sleep), we just let go and it “comes”.

It would be lovely if two people could go with the flow. If it feels good, do it. If you or your partner gets tired, stop and do something else. And all of this can happen with a smile, a laugh, the conspiratorial joy of discovery. This is intimacy; it happens between the two of you.

And what about your partner’s orgasm? Again, it depends on how important it is to him/her. Is it your role to be The One who finds their magic formula? Answer: the magic is what happens between you, not between their legs. 

Talk to me: springtalks1@gmail.com