Absence of orgasm doesn’t need to be called ‘dysfunction’. The language we use to shame people around sexuality must stop! What’s dysfunctional is our inability to understand the requirements of sex that bring meaning to all of us, not just those who fit a medical definition (made up by clinicians, not sensual pioneers.) – Cyndi Darnell
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from women who come to see me for counselling (a.k.a sex therapy) is about their ability to orgasm.
Orgasm, it seems, is the main outcome or goal so many of us focus on when discussing sex. Linguistically and culturally it’s THE thing we (all of us, not just women) use to determine whether or not sex has been not only satisfactory, but more accurately, worthy of our efforts.
For most of us, we never stop to even consider what good sex is, means, or even feels like. Especially if we’ve never had it. As a result we have little to no frame of reference, so understandably we latch onto a framework provided to us, by – of all people – clinicians in lab coats to decide what ‘good sex’ looks like. In the history of human consciousness, what was once in the realm of mighty cosmic superpowers like Eros, Aphrodite and Pan, has now been superseded by the high priests of the universities whose life blood is determined by the likes of pharmaceutical companies, whose primary function is to tell you whether on not your sex life is normal and worthy. The trouble is that neither entity, divine or clinical is either capable of, nor responsible for, knowing something so fundamentally idiosyncratic as the nature of your own orgasm.
When we conjure up images of clinicians, few (although some), may find this especially sexy. So unless you have an erotic bent toward clinical sex and its associations as a means of direct arousal, using a scale of satisfaction created by people who have no idea what you like, and whose economic well-being is determined by corporate interests, seems utterly ludicrous to me. Some would argue it’s a better model than that of our ancestors, but that is neither my point. My point is that whether you’re praying to Eros or Viagra, your focus isn’t on the place where you will find the information you’re looking for; the very machinations of what motivates your decision to have sex in the first place. When you know why you’re doing something, you’re in a much better position to be able to enjoy it (and maybe have an orgasm).
What is Good Sex?
Take a moment to allow yourself to think about GOOD SEX… Go on… really think about it…
Notice these things:
What part of you is most responsive to the thought of good sex?
STOP – take notice
What part of you comes alive when you think of good sex?
STOP – take notice
How about when I change my language and invite you to feel good sex? What happens then?
STOP – take notice
My guess is that at the very least you will need to slow down, and allow yourself to get out of thinking and into more feeling, something that neither Eros nor Viagra alone will be able to do for you.
Now, there certainly are techniques, tips and tricks I can share with you to help you get on your way to super-duper orgasm land, absolutely.
Motivation + awareness + technique = orgasm.
But what happens if you do EVERYTHING I say and you still don’t have an orgasm? Does that mean you are abnormal and unworthy? Does it mean you are defective? Or does that mean you don’t fit into The Big Cheese model of female sexuality, just like most women on the planet? According to a model of ‘sexual dysfunction’, then yes! But according to the dance of sexuality, your body is doing just fine.
Indeed there are endless blogs, articles and videos online these days dedicated to how to have bigger, longer, stronger, faster more explosive orgasms. But let’s stop and consider this; if many or any of them held absolute bona fide secrets that applied to all women all of the time – wouldn’t we then all be focussed on those very things that all women (allegedly) crave in order to achieve the greatest orgasm of all?
So what are they?
Because unlike in clinical manuals or new-age blogs describing (often noteworthy) sexual function, these erotic secrets don’t exist in isolation from the rest of your life.
The truth is, that just because we are women (whatever that even means), it does not mean we are all hardwired the same way for pleasure, sex and orgasm. Nor does it mean what we like in our twenties, we’re going to like in our 30s, 40s and beyond. Our genitals may look and operate similarly, but genitals alone do not good sex make. What distinguishes so-so sex from utterly mind blowing sex is exactly that; our capacity to distinguish, to truly be with the experience of our bodies, allowing our minds to be blown and not distracted by trying to do something that a text book or magazine article tells us we ought.
If you are a woman who struggles with orgasm, let me ask you this:
Why do YOU want to have an orgasm?
Just take a moment to think about that answer. Do not read any more until you have that answer.
One thing I do know for sure is that when I ask women who don’t have orgasms why they want to, they very, very rarely if ever say it’s because they want pleasure. This may come as a surprise to many of you. Remember, I am in the very privileged position of hearing people’s deepest, most intimate erotic secrets day in and day out. For many women, genuine pleasure is rarely even on their radar. More than anything, their reasons are because they want to feel normal or because they feel they are missing out, or because everyone else is having them (apparently), or their partner expects it of them – all of which are answers motivated by fear and shame rather than pleasure.
So if pleasure is not the motivation (which is actually perfectly OK), why then would you torture yourself with the pressure of achieving something exclusively associated with pleasure, when YOUR personal motivation is fear or shame or something more nebulous? It’s like eating gravel in order to satisfy hunger but wondering why you’re perpetually dissatisfied? After all, it’s heavy, mineral-rich and fills you up; on paper it should work, but it’s just not what your body wants.
Busting Through The Bullshit
As far as I am concerned, it’s not women’s fault that such a cycle of thinking tends to dominate the minds of Western women. It a combination of a lack of understanding of, and respect for, the diversity of sex – not just by regular folks, but also those who decide what’s normal and abnormal. Shame and fear are very powerful motivators that keeps us in our place (and dependent upon clinicians for answers) but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Sad but true, the concept of sexual dysfunctions has been largely created in labs and universities and perpetuated by media across the world; not in bedrooms, beaches, hotel rooms or parks where much more sex generally occurs! Even the mere concept of function vs dysfunction implies a standard of performance rather than the very urges that drive sex in the first place, including pleasure, shame, guilt, fear, money, obligation, boredom and revenge. Unless you are a sex professional where you are paid to perform sex , why on Earth would we use a scale based solely in performance to measure satisfaction, when in actual fact it is satisfaction we seek? Our scales and our objectives are deeply misaligned.
When you’re motivated by anything other than pleasure (which is OK, remember?) and wondering why you’re struggling with orgasm, you may have found your answer right there. No pills or lab coats required. And this my readers, is where we are rather complex and nuanced creatures. Regardless of our gender, we are not necessarily all the same, but all of value regardless of difference. It’s fundamentally important that you understand your own motivations around sex in order to get the most out of it. When we learn to better understand ourselves through recognising our needs and emotions and how they motivate us, we’re in a better position to get and maintain the kind of sex we want, which may or may not involve abundant orgasms.
While we keep racing madly looking for a cure to the ‘sex problems’ women have, we are missing the answer that is so obviously in front of us.
 Meston. Cindy. Why Women Have Sex. St Martin’s Press. 2009. New York.