One of the most frequently asked questions I get from women who come to see me for counselling is about their ability to orgasm.
Orgasm, it seems, is the main outcome or goal many of us focus on when discussing sex. In terms of both language and culture it’s the default used determine whether or not sex has been not only satisfactory, but more accurately, worthy of our efforts.
Most of us never stop to even consider what good sex is, means or feels like. Especially if we’ve never had it. As a result, we have little frame of reference to help us understand what satisfaction might feel like, so understandably we latch onto ideals provided to us by anecdotes and clinicians.
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 – no one would be struggling. But they are. Because unlike in clinical manuals or new-age blogs describing (often useful) sexual function and technique, these erotic secrets don’t exist in isolation from the rest of your life. In other words, your sexuality is a robust experience embracing the mind, the body and the heart.
The truth is, that women are not all hardwired exactly the same way for pleasure, sex and orgasm. And what we like in our 20s, will differ somewhat 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, paying attention and allowing our minds to be blown, and not distracted by trying to please anyone except ourselves.
If you are a woman who struggles with orgasm, consider what orgasm represents to you.
Just take a moment to think about that answer. Do not read any more until you have it.
Why do you want to experience an orgasm?
One thing I do know for sure is that when I ask women who don’t have orgasms why they want to, they very rarely if ever say it’s because they want pleasure. This may come as a surprise. 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 sexual motivations are:
- they want to feel normal
- they feel they are missing out
- 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), you can alleviate yourself from the pressure of achieving pleasure. If your motivation is something more complex, expecting it to yield pleasure may be a long bow to draw at the start. It’s like eating clay in order to satisfy hunger but wondering why you’re perpetually dissatisfied? After all, it’s heavy, mineral-rich and fills you up; it should work, but it’s just not what your body wants. By paying more attention to what you are feeling, noticing and experiencing, you may find yourself getting closer to satisfaction without even trying.
Busting Through the Myths
It’s not our fault that the pressure to ‘perform’ sex correctly tends to dominate the minds of Western women. The diversity of the human sexual experience is simply not valued enough in our culture. Not just by regular people, but also those who decide what’s normal and abnormal. Shame and fear are very powerful motivators that keep us in our place and stop us being curious and compassionate about sex.
The concept of ‘sexual dysfunctions’ has been largely created in romance movies and science labs, not in bedrooms, beaches, hotel rooms or parks…places where most of our sex generally occurs! Even the mere concept of function vs dysfunction implies a standard of accuracy and performance. It dismisses the motivations that ignite sexual interest in the first place. Sexual motivations can be far reaching; including pleasure, shame, guilt, fear, money, obligation, boredom and revenge. Consequently, the absence of orgasm doesn’t need to be called ‘dysfunction’. The language we use to shame women around sexuality must stop! What’s dysfunctional is our inability to understand the requirements of sex that bring meaning to each of us, not just those who fit a medical definition. Unless you are a sex professional where you are paid to perform sex, it may be helpful to reconsider why performance is the central goal. When your motivations for sex and your sexual practices aren’t complementary, satisfaction becomes elusive. In many cases of unsatisfying sex, our motivations and our practices are simply out of sync.
So… why do you want an orgasm?
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 is where we all are rather complex creatures. Regardless of our gender, we are not necessarily all the same, but each with an erotic curiosity worthy of exploring. It’s fundamentally important that you understand (physically, mentally and emotionally) 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.