July 31 is National Orgasm Day. To be honest, I wrote a whole book on female orgasms and I didn’t know this day existed, so don’t feel badly if you've never heard of it before. It certainly doesn’t get as much mainstream press as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or even Valentine’s Day—although I do wonder if we should have Valentine’s Day and Orgasm Day on the same date, encouraging people to share an orgasm with their partner rather than to exchange flowers or chocolate.

In honor of this underappreciated national holiday, below you will find what I consider the five most important tips for female orgasm. First, though, it's important to understand the cultural status of female orgasms. Specifically, we currently have an orgasm gap in our culture. That is, in heterosexual sexual encounters, men have more orgasms than women. To illustrate using just two of many studies on the topic, in one survey of about 3,000 single women and men in the U.S. ranging from 18 to 65 years old, when having sex with a familiar partner, women said they experience orgasm 63 percent of the time, whereas men said they orgasm 85 percent of the time. In anonymous surveys of students in my Psychology of Human Sexuality class, 55 percent of the men versus 4 percent of the women said they usually had an orgasm during first-time hookup sex. Indeed, the orgasm gap is largest in hookup sex, and gets progressively smaller in subsequent hookups, friends-with-benefits-sex, and relationship sex, but it never completely closes.

Harper One, Used with Permission
Source: Harper One, Used with Permission

In my new book, Becoming Cliterate, I first detail the cultural reasons underlying this gap (e.g., a sex-education system that rarely mentions pleasure or the clitoris; false media images of women having orgasms from intercourse alone), and then I provide detailed advice on closing this gap in one's personal life. Below you'll find a brief summary of the tips given in the four chapters of this self-help portion of the book, so that you can enjoy orgasms both on this national holiday and all year long. Importantly, though, know that I use the word "sex" broadly to include any act that brings you pleasure, alone or with a partner, and not as synonymous with intercourse. This is because, as I also detail in the cultural analysis section of Becoming Cliterate and in a prior blog, language that prioritizes male pleasure also drives the orgasm gap.  

And now, the tips:

  1. Think Sex-Positive Thoughts When You Aren't Having Sex. Good sex begins in your mind. Specifically, it's important to become aware of any conscious and unconscious sex-negative thoughts you may have (e.g., "Sex is for my partner and if it's good for him, it's good for me"; "masturbation is bad") and replace these thoughts with contrary sex-positive thoughts (e.g., "I deserve pleasure as much as my partner," and "Masturbation is a healthy human activity"). 
  2. Don't Think at All When You Are Having Sex. During sexual encounters, it's critical that you turn off your thinking brain. Many women are distracted by thoughts during sex including about if they look attractive, or if they smell good, or if they are taking too long to orgasm, etc., etc. It's impossible to have an orgasm while observing and monitoring oneself. Instead, orgasm requires a complete and total focus on the sensations of the moment. This unthinking, simply feeling stance is best accomplished by mindfulness. Since instructions for mindfulness abound (including in a prior blog I wrote on mindful sex), I won't go into detail here except to say its key to first practice being fully in the moment and bringing yourself back to the moment when your mind inevitably wanders in your daily life. Once you've mastered that, n apply this mindful stance to self-love sessions, and then, finally, to your partnered sex life.
  3. Practice Self-Love. What every woman requires to reach orgasm is unique because each woman's genital nerves are positioned differently. One woman may most reliably experience orgasm while laying on her back and rubbing circles on her clitoral hood, whereas another may do so by laying on her stomach and rubbing up and down on the sides of her inner labia. It's thus critical that a woman take time to learn what type of touch brings her to orgasm, using her fingers, a clitoral vibrator, or both.
     
    Becoming Cliterate
    Source: Becoming Cliterate

    If, as you read this paragraph, you are unsure where your clitoris or inner lips are, know this is not uncommon, due to our lack of education. Find information on female genital anatomy and take a guided tour, such as that provided in either Becoming CliterateOur Bodies, Ourselves, or many reputable online sources. To summarize, first learn your body and what you like by yourself and then apply this to your partnered sex life. Indeed, the most crucial step for female orgasm is for a woman to get the same type of stimulation she uses when alone when with a partner. How? With the next tip below.

  4. Practice Sex in Which Your Orgasm Is as Central as Your Partner's. Research is clear in documenting what scholars call our "cultural sexual script" which is heterosexual sex that proceeds as follows: foreplay (just enough to get her ready for intercourse), intercourse (during which the male orgasms, and often the female fakes), and sex over. Since the vast majority (about 95 percent) of women do not orgasm from intercourse alone, and instead require clitoral stimulation, it's critical we change the script for this play and practice plays in which both clitoral stimulation and intercourse are equal stars of the show. Becoming Cliterate provides four such new plays, which are also inclusive of both lesbian and heterosexual sex. They are titled, You Come First; You Come Second; Only You Come; and You Come Together. A heterosexual example of the first play is oral sex during which you come, followed by intercourse during which he comes. A heterosexual example of the fourth play involves intercourse during which you use a clitoral vibrator on yourself. These new scripts are limited only by what you enjoy and your creativity, but the bottom line is to make sure that your orgasm is as central as your partners' orgasm. 
  5. Use Good Sexual Communication. Not only does what each woman need to experience orgasm vary, but what what a woman needs can vary from one sexual encounter to another. Thus, it's key to learn to communicate both verbally ("faster", "slower") and non-verbally (moving your partner's hand where you want it to be) during sex, as well as to talk about sex when not having it (e.g., "I'd like to ....."). No one teaches us this type of communication, but it's worth learning. Communication is the foundation of a good relationship, and good communication can make your bed rock!

Perhaps you are reading these tips and are aware that they are more complex than the standard "try this position and you are sure to orgasm" advice. However, if female orgasm was as simple as a one-position fix, we wouldn't have an orgasm gap. To close this gap, both culturally and personally, requires replacing prevailing myths and standards with accurate information and egalitarian sexual practices. Maybe, then, we should think of National Orgasm Day as akin to New Year's Day—time to both have some celebratory fun (an orgasm!) and to make resolutions for the year to come (pun intended), including learning more about your body and what brings you pleasure and finding ways to incorporate this into sex with a partner.  

Happy Orgasm Day!

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