Women: Finally Learn to Orgasm
Times are a changin’ for women’s sexuality. There is much more openness about sex, with increasing permission for women to seek their own pleasure. Yet I frequently have women patients who come to me because they cannot have an orgasm, alone or with a partner. They are relieved to find that their problem can be solved. But I want you to know, as a sex therapist, that there is no pill I can give you to teach you to orgasm. Often it takes concentration, practice, reading, experimentation, getting over past attitudes, and learning to ask for what you want. So to get over anorgasmia, (which we now call “pre-orgasmia”), you have to explicitly give yourself permission to become a more sexual person. For a lot of women, that’s a tall order in and of itself.
Discussions of women’s sexuality used to be forbidden, but things began changing with the publication of Masters and Johnson’s Human Sexual Response in 1996. These two pioneers documented in detail women’s ability to have an orgasm and described the human sexual response cycle, which had not been done before. Since that time, other sexual self help books have proliferated. Many of them were so wonderfully written that books written as early as 1975 (Barbach’s For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality) and Heiman and LoPiccolo’s Becoming Orgasmic are still a valuable read today. Helpful books highlight your self awareness and encourage experimentation by yourself before you try to have a partnered orgasm.
Sex trailblazer Betty Dodson is worth knowing about. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her, and in person she is a true delight. Dodson is now almost 90 years old. When I sat and talked to her at a meeting of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, she was telling me about her boyfriend, who was more than 40 years younger than she!
She is a fantastic resource and an inspiration that sex is fun throughout one’s life. Dodson is a pro-sex feminist –a differentiation that was very important during the early days of radical feminism, which could be quite hostile to men and, therefore, to anyone who was interested in heterosexual sex.
Dodson’s written work encourages women to masturbate in order to learn more about their sexuality. She has a website, Dodson and Ross, that has a wonderful question and answer section. You can write to her if you have questions in your own quest to become orgasmic. If you are inhibited about sex, I want to introduce you to Dodson’s work with the knowledge that some of what you find on her website might knock your socks off Dodson is known for encouraging women to masturbate, and in her workshops, she runs groups where women learn to masturbate in real time, together!
Dodson has always been very fond of a tried and true vibrator called the Hitachi Magic Wand, a plug in appliance which you can still purchase for about $60. It is huge and very powerful. It is strong enough to massage out kinks in any muscle of your entire body. I use it for that purpose when I have tight muscles in my legs or back. I really don’t’ think it was designed originally to be a sexual device. You don’t insert it into your vagina. You use it to vibrate and stimulate the entire region of your external genitals. Since most of your clitoris is inside your body, having this powerful vibration that can penetrate so deeply into your body is very important, and the pleasure that lies there is a huge revelation to many women. This vibrator is way, way too powerful to be used on your bare skin. This is the number one mistake that women make with it. Put a thick towel between the magic wand and your skin. As I was making sure that the magic wand is easily available for you on the internet, I was amused to find one review of it that sang its praises and noted that it had “two speeds, stun and kill.” So don’t forget that towel, ladies.
It would be impossible for me to describe all of the good advice that Dodson gives, but I will share two of my favorite Betty Dodson highlights. (1) As you are experimenting with being in your body and enjoying the sensations you are having, you might begin having tiny, little orgasms. Don’t discount these little orgasms. Call them what they are! In modern days, our vision of female orgasm is Meg Ryan‘s portrayal in the movie When Harry Met Sally. Or, Goddess forbid, in pornography. Not everyone’s orgasm will be earth shaking. So by acknowledging tiny orgasms, you are giving yourself permission to acknowledge and learn about letting go of control and about your particular expression of sexual pleasure. (2) Dodson also talks a lot about a phenomenon that I find very common among my patients: Not applying enough pressure to your genitals at the point that you have teased yourself to a high degree of arousal. You can’t will yourself to have an orgasm, you have to let go in order to have one. Sometimes it is hard for women to differentiate between the sensation of pain and pleasure, and if you don’t apply some extra pressure when you are very close to orgasm, sometimes it will elude you.
Becoming orgasmic is truly a learning experience, and it is a “do it yourself” job. It’s impossible to tell someone else what you need moment to moment if you don’t know that yourself. You need to teach yourself your personal neural pathway to pleasure. So ladies, if you aren’t orgasmic, get to work learning. You’ll be so happy you did.