I didn't have an orgasm until after I had birthed a child. Until three years after I had penetrative sex for the first time, and 5 years after anyone had touched me intimately.
Not by myself and certainly not with a partner.
I have now been orgasmic for almost three years and it's been quite a process of breaking down misconceptions and getting to know myself. For a long time I felt broken. I felt like there was something wrong with my body, that I couldn't do this thing that everyone else seemed to find so easy.
But that's the thing: it's not easy. Especially not for women, and especially not in the society we currently live in. And this is why I wanted to write this blog post, in case there are any others feeling broken, who feel let down by their own bodies. To let you know that this is not your fault!
This feels especially important after this week. Did anyone happen to read this article in the Guardian? It's recommended reading if you want to become absolutely infuriated by the way educators (even female ones!) are letting down women. If you haven't clicked that link, it's basically a man writing in to an agony aunt to ask why his partner is masturbating when he gets into the shower after sex. Is she "insatiable", he asks?! Ms Connolly's response is to, "Have your shower and let her get on with it."
And that's it. She mentions craving second orgasms, but my query is whether this woman had a first orgasm?
Let's look at some statistics:
- In 2009, The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour found that 95% of men had orgasmed during their last sex experience, as opposed to only 64% of women.
- In the same study, 85% of men stated that their partner had reached climax during their last sexual encounter. Obviously this is discordant with how many women reported reaching orgasm, but makes sense when we consider...
- 67% of women surveyed by Cosmopolitan in 2015 reported having faked an orgasm, and 72% had experienced a partner climaxing and then not attempting to help them reach orgasm
It won't surprise any women in a queer relationship to find out that almost all of the respondents in these surveys reported that their last sexual encounter had been with a member of the opposite sex.
But please do not get me wrong, I am not blaming straight men for The Orgasm Gap. The fact is, you are all just as uneducated about the cis-female body as we are.
This problem is insidious, in schools there is barely any mention of the clitoris during sex ed. We are brought up on movies and TV shows where, literally seconds into taking off their clothes, a couple is already having penetrative sex and the woman is wildly moaning. She reaches climax in no time at all, simply from the presence of his penis and with little to no foreplay. And this trope is even more pronounced in most mainstream pornography.
In reality only 30% of women can reliably reach orgasm through penetrative sex alone. The rest of us require stimulation of the wonderful and woefully neglected CLITORIS.
I recommend everyone reading over this comprehensive guide to the clitoris, in order to get familiar with the fact that it is a lot larger than the tiny visible bulb (a lot of sex educators like to use an iceberg analogy), as well as to get a general idea of where it is anatomically.
Because the clitoris deserves some attention. And I should know.
It took me months into psycho-sexual therapy, because I thought it was strange that I didn't want to have sex months after pushing a baby out of my vagina*, to finally realise that my sex life wasn't going to look like those movie scenes. That it was going to better because it was going to be real.
I took control of my own sexuality and stopped relying on partners to help me reach orgasm. I figured out how to do it by myself: with vibrators, with porn, and eventually just me and my amazing imagination.
And now I'm blessed with a wonderful partner who communicates with me, who was patient and listened to what I needed. I now reach orgasm every time I want to and it's so so easy. I laugh now at how I could possibly think that it was my body's fault I wasn't orgasming. That I never once thought to question those guys who raved about how good they were in bed and then proceeded to fumble fingers inside my vagina without taking any notice of the magical spot just a couple of inches up.
I also never realised how important what's going on inside your head is to reaching orgasm. That accepting your fantasies is key, that depression reduces your chances of orgasming, and that if all you can think is, "why am I not orgasming?!" then it's pretty likely that you're not going to orgasm.
So I am here to encourage you to take it slow; open up those lines of communication with your partner but make sure you're making time to play with yourself; and, if all else fails, get yourself one amazing Body Wand. Because that's literally the advice my psycho-sexual counsellor gave to me.
*This is an issue for a whole other blog post, but SPOILERS, it's not weird at all to feel this way.