Should health professionals be recommending more orgasms in a committed relationship as an effective tool of health promotion? Read More
What about the vast majority of women who cannot come to orgasm through intercourse, but still have good marriages? Most women need manual stimulation of the clitoris to achieve orgasm. Does this mean that they won't live as long because they're unable to achieve orgasm through intercourse? You can't be serious.
Good question. Other studies we report in The Longevity Project show that single women, divorced women, and even widowed women often thrive and live long. But divorced men are at especially high risk of dying. Clearly we need to understand more about which elements are important to which individuals in which circumstances.
To introduce myself, I'm a professional sex life coach mentored for the last ten years by pioneering sex coach, Betty Dodson. My comments:
I agree with the comment above. However, through this comment, I want to go deeper with the inquiry. It leads me to wonder why Prudent Pam, or whatever her nickname was, was not asked more specific questions after she gave such a curve-wrecking account of the quality of her sex life in comparison to the other study participants.
Why does psychology and by broader association, science, consistently and brilliantly fail to ask more specific questions when dealing with sex? Why wasn't she asked what happened during the allegedly orgasmic, amazing sex she had (or during the vaginal intercourse itself. That distinction matters. Maybe she was having all her orgasms via receiving oral sex.)
Was she even having what our culture most commonly calls "vaginal" orgasms, achieved as is commonly believed, through stimulation of the vaginal canal through friction alone and/or "cervical buffeting," as I've seen proposed, via the penis? What if she massaging her clitoris while her husband did vaginal penetration? Would she still call that orgasm during intercourse on the questionnaire?
Another possibility: Did she have a clitoris with sensitivity levels toward the higher end of the spectrum, and was thus able, through indirect or semi-direct stimulation of the clitoris during coitus, to orgasm? Once again, in the questionnaire, did she feel she was giving an accurate account of having orgasms during intercourse while having no idea at the time that her clitoris was the primary triggering source? The researcher reads her account and then assumes she's referring to a penis moving inside a vagina was the primary triggering source.
Let alone possibilities of g-spot orgasm, or others still, during vaginal intercourse, which, while difficult to inefficient an application of sex-time and energy for the current majority of women/couples, could have been happening in Pam's case. After all, she was the aberration to the general pattern indicated by what was reported by other study participants. And in my breakdown of female orgasmic function, the g-spot orgasm is a primary focal point of orgasm stimulation no different than the clitoris. It just happens to be within the body, not outside of it, but would still not refer to it as a "vaginal" orgasm. It is what it is: A g-spot orgasm. We do not call clitoral orgasms "vulvar orgasms," do we?
There are more things that I bring into question: Both Betty and I have had and continue to have woman clients and respondants who cannot accurately identify whether or not they are having an orgasm, during partnersex or self-stimulation. When this variable is thrown into the mix, along with what I've already indicated above, it changes results even more. How sexually sophisticated were women-at-large in the 1940's? Can you still apply that data to today or must you leave it in the 1940's mostly and retest for today's environment?
What are your thoughts, Dr.?
You make a lot of good points Eric. Dr. Terman was a brave pioneer for his time, but lots of new questions arise given our increased understanding from the past half century of modern research.
However, such issues always arise in studies of long-term health, because it is many years before we can know the results.
And think of how difficult it is to conduct such long, comprehensive studies. One thing we try to do is put it all in a broader context of love, relationships, and health. If you do read our new book, The Longevity Project, I'd be interested to hear how the overall picture we describe fits with your clinical experience. As everyone contributes their insights and information, we can gradually close in on the most valid answers for these complex questions.
I will give it a read, and thank you for the interest in my perspective. I believe, in my forthcoming book, working title, "The Power of Appreciation", that the more of those of us who are interested in good sex's role in life understand about the details of sexual function, the better direction and education we can give, which obviously leads to those bigger goals like quality love, relationships, and health.
Like exercise, orgasm floods your body with positivity-inducing chemicals from your brain. It floods your whole body with sensation and general alive-ness. How could this not keep you healthy? I have several orgasms a day and have noticed a significant decrease in sickness and a significant increase in over-all life satisfaction since bringing more orgasm into my life. It makes sense that our bodies would have a built-in way to do this. I saw this Tedx video recently that blew my mind. The woman in it talks about orgasm like I've never heard anyone talk about it. It was really inspiring:
In light of sexual expectations and stereotypes placed on both men and women in modern society, I think it is extremely important to filter word choice- even that in jest- in regard to the matter. By calling Patricia "not prudish", and supporting this with evidence of her satisfactory sex life, it implies that women who do not consider themselves as "well mated" with their partners, or do not achieve orgasm as frequently, are prudes. A word with such a negative connotation (in modern society) should be used with tact and consideration, due to the chance of personal offense as well as the stereotypes it may, unintentionally, reinforce.
No hostility intended, and thanks for listening, Dr. Friedman.
OK, thanks for the note.
More information about formatting options
Howard S. Friedman, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside.
When and how should we open up to loved ones?