The Female Orgasm Explored
Ways For A Woman To Climax - How A Woman Reaches Orgasm
Looking at the clitoris from the outside of the female body, you might come to the conclusion that it was a tiny organ. However, the reality is rather different: there is an extensive network of clitoral structures beneath the surface of the body which lie around the vagina and a behind the pelvic bone. Most if not all of this tissue is erectile tissue and becomes engorged and swollen with blood during sexual arousal, just as the erectile tissues of a man's penis do. Indeed, the movement of the visible part of the clitoris during sexual activity is due to the engorgement of the lower parts of the clitoris. These discoveries were made in the late 1990s by a female urological surgeon in Melbourne called Helen McConnell. Why they hadn't come to light before this is probably due to the patriarchal nature of modern medicine: if you search on any medical database for references to the clitoris you'll find they number about one-tenth of the references to the penis. This probably reflects, at least to some degree, the relative importance of female and male sexual in the eyes of the medical profession, t least until quite recently.
The very tip or glans of the clitoris, which is what you see when you look at a woman's body from the outside when you part her labia, is the only visible part of an organ that lies underneath the fatty tissues of the moms pubis: the body of the clitoris is made up of two extending shafts which are each about 4.5 inches long and which loop down around the vagina, extending almost as far as a woman's thighs. You can see this more clearly on the diagram provided below. The clitoris also has two so-called bulbs which are located between the two shafts. The function of these is not entirely clear but one thing they do is to transmit sexual stimulation received during intercourse to the nerve network of the clitoris. They may also have a function in ensuring that the urethra is closed during sexual activity, which may serve both to prevent the escape of urine and the ingress of bacteria.
So how does all of this recently revealed structure relate to the nature of female orgasm? The answer is that it's not entirely clear! For one thing, there's still some debate about the nature of female orgasm (except perhaps among those who firmly believe that there is a difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasms and those who understand this to be true from their own experience of orgasm). This ongoing debate about the nature of female orgasm is actually quite understandable, because if the clitoral structures that surround the vagina are stimulated during intercourse then it's entirely possible that this sexual stimulation can be transmitted from there into the nervous network of the clitoris and eventually stimulate an orgasm.
However, one of the reasons that this explanation doesn't entirely stand up to examination is that all the women who experience what they describe as a vaginal orgasm report that it feels different to clitoral orgasm. It's a more profound, whole body experience which often involves a sensation of energy moving around the body, perhaps with emotional release and a more subtle orgasmic wave of pleasure which continues for longer than that produced by a clitoral orgasm. We referred to Deborah Sundahl's work on another page of this website, and again it's worth reading what she has to say about this because it makes perfect sense: her take on the matter of clitoral and vaginal orgasms is that the innervation of the structures within the vagina which seem to be responsible for promoting vaginal orgasm is different to the innervation of the clitoris. The vaginal orgasm involves both pudendal and pelvic nerves; the clitoral orgasm involves just the pudendal nerves (there's more information on this aspect of sexual anatomy below). Women who enjoy vaginal or G-spot orgasms say these orgasms have a different quality to orgasms produced by stimulation of the clitoris alone, and we'll look at some possible reasons why this might be so later on - but for the moment we shall continue to consider the structure and function of the clitoris during intercourse.
As you will realize by now, the clitoris is much more than the small pearl which you can see just above the vaginal opening between the labia. Under the skin, the bulbs of the clitoris engorge with blood during sexual activity, causing the angle of the clitoris to alter, initially becoming more protuberant, and causing the clitoral hood or foreskin to retract, thereby exposing the glans to more stimulation. Low down around her vagina lie the two shafts of the clitoris, which appear to play some role in a woman's achievement of sexual pleasure: they will certainly be stimulated indirectly by anything that happens within the vagina including penile thrusting, finger stimulation, and the use of sexual toys. The way the clitoris is arranged around the vagina makes it inevitable that any movement within the vagina will cause the two shafts of the clitoris to receive stimulation, and this stimulation is transmitted directly to the clitoral glans, either by movement of the clitoral foreskin or prepuce over the glans, or by indirect mechanical transmission. Could it be, therefore, that a vaginal orgasm is simply the result of indirect stimulation of the clitoris? Once again, we will come back to this question lower down the page.
The diagram on the right shows the similarities in structure between male organ and the clitoris. For many women the only effective route to orgasm is stimulation of the clitoris. It's very difficult to achieve sufficient stimulation of the clitoris during intercourse to reach orgasm: for one thing most men cannot last long enough before they come during sex to ensure that their partner reaches orgasm. To actually make a woman orgasm a man must generally stimulate her clitoris or a couple must adopt a position for intercourse which stimulates the clitoris during the man's thrusting. The glans, or tip, of the clitoris is usually hidden under the prepuce, and only becomes apparent when the woman has received considerable sexual stimulation. Behind the scenes, as it were, the shafts of her clitoris are engorging with blood, the change which results in the angle of the clitoral glans becoming more acutely upwards, which you can recognize when the clitoris becomes more prominent and erect.
This diagram illustrates the interaction of the penis and the clitoral shafts during conventional sexual intercourse. It's an illustration that first appeared in a book called Human Sex Anatomy, written by Robert Dickinson in 1949. Although highly simplified, it does illustrate how the clitoral shafts interact with the clitoral glans, and how each shaft encircles the vagina.
When the clitoris becomes more erect during sexual activity, it gets longer and more swollen and the bend above the glans flattens out somewhat so that it points upwards rather more than before. Between a woman's pubic bone and her clitoris is a layer of fat and muscle which forms a little cushion for the clitoris. A man's pubic bone is right above the root of his penis, and it is also covered with a padding of muscle and fat. This makes it possible for two sexual partners of similar size, weight and height to move together in a way that stimulates the woman's clitoris so that she reaches orgasm during sexual intercourse.
So, to reiterate, as the clitoris becomes erect during sexual activity or stimulation, it increases in length, it becomes larger in volume because of the blood flowing into the erectile tissues, and the angle of the shaft just above the clitoral glans alters so that the clitoris is more prominent. Between the clitoris and the pubic bone there's a layer of fat and muscle tissue which acts as a cushion for the clitoris. Now consider that a man's pubic bone is directly above the base of his penis where it enters his body, and it is also covered with a similar layer of muscle and fatty tissue. By moving together in the correct way during intercourse, it's possible for a man and woman who are similar in size, weight and height to ensure that with each thrust the woman's clitoris stimulated, thereby giving her the possibility of reaching an orgasm during intercourse.
The classic instructions on how to adopt this sexual position are as follows: just before the end of the forward stroke, and before the man pulls back in his partner's vagina, the woman alters the angle of her pelvis in the vertical plane, with the effect that her clitoris is then located between his pubic bone and her own. It's been described as a kind of downward roll of the woman's pelvis. What it amounts to is that the clitoris is moving downwards when his penis is thrusting forward into her vagina, and the clitoris moves upwards to receive the gentle pressure between the two pubic areas, together with some friction, as the man finishes his forward stroke. Overall, her clitoris is basically moving along his body as he thrusts: this will provide the couple with enough stimulation to bring her to orgasm during intercourse. The most effective sexual position in which a couple can do this is when the woman is positioned on top of her man, and she rides him so that her clitoris is stimulated to sufficiently for her to reach orgasm. This is a lot easier if she is highly aroused before intercourse begins, and if her man has the ability to control the rate at which he moves towards orgasm, so that intercourse can last for a long time. Given these attributes on the part of the lovers, there's no reason why a woman can not only enjoy the feeling of being penetrated during intercourse, but also control her own progress to orgasm -- which, when she achieves it, will almost certainly cause a man to tip over into his orgasm.
One of the major factors which appears to have an influence over the speed with which a woman can reach orgasm is the degree of emotional arousal she has - which can broadly be defined as the feeling of attraction she experiences to her male partner. This is determined by many things but there is undoubtedly a sequence of behavioral factors which can affect a woman's psyche - making her more likely to want sexual intercourse - and these have been explained in detail by what we can call the seduction community gurus or "pick-up artists". Mike Fiore is one of the forefront of this group of merry men. He has written a program called Text Your Ex Back which you can see here - check out a good review of text your ex back here and see if it can help you become a more efficient and effective lover and happier in your relationship.
It's possible for the man to control the pace of his progress towards orgasm by either shortening his thrusts or lying still while she continues to move on top of him. This enables him to slow down his progress towards orgasm while she continues to get the stimulation she needs to maintain her own arousal and progress towards orgasm. An even higher degree of control can be achieved by the woman if the couple lie side-by-side with her legs wrapped around him: this is a position which gives complete control of the rhythm and speed of the sexual movements, whilst also enabling either partner to stimulate her clitoris with their fingers. In this way, it's possible for a couple to achieve mutual orgasm during vaginal intercourse.
In passing I just want to mention the problem of the hooded clitoris: this is not particularly common, but it can cause a woman some difficulty in reaching orgasm. It's basically a condition where the glans is covered by a non-retractable fold of skin, and therefore the sensitivity of the glans is considerably reduced. It's possible to remove or free up the membrane covering the glans so that it is naturally sensitive -- but if this applies to you, please do seek the help of a doctor who can advise on the best way to deal with the problem.
Let's return now to the subject of clitoral and vaginal orgasm
One of the problems that we face in trying to get clarity when discussing the existence of these two types of orgasm is that very little scientific research is being done on the subject. Most of the evidence that is available is purely anecdotal. And the scientific research that does exist has been contradictory in its findings, with some reports suggesting that the G-Spot is indeed an area of tissue with a distinct character on the wall of the vagina, while other reports suggest that in fact it does not exist in any way whatsoever! The classic viewpoint which denies the reality of vaginal orgasms - a viewpoint we absolutely do not support - is this one: Vaginal Myth - we include the reference here for the sake of completeness.
We have to be very suspicious of reports which suggest the G-Spot does not exist because they reflect, at least in our opinion, a cultural view which seeks to suppress and deny female sexuality its full expression. One thing that has been incredibly helpful in demonstrating the existence of the G-spot and the phenomenon of female ejaculation has been a widespread discussion of the subject on the Internet, together with the posting of video clips which show women reaching the point of ejaculation. Indeed, there's so much circumstantial evidence for this phenomenon, not to mention the testimonies of those who engage in Tantric sex, that it's hardly possible to deny the G-Spot's existence any longer.
Many women would testify to the blossoming of their sexuality when they have been through training programs based on Tantric sexual philosophy which seeks to open out the potential of vaginal orgasm through G-Spot stimulation. What does this mean in fact? It may mean a process of training the nerves and tissues in the G-Spot to respond to sexual stimulation, or, perhaps more likely, it means making the woman aware of the potential of receiving sexual stimulation when this area of the vagina is touched in the appropriate way. Because the sensations that result from G-Spot stimulation appear to be much more about emotional connection with a partner, it can only happen in the right circumstances -- which basically means with a partner who the woman trusts and respects (note that love is not necessary for this process, just trust and respect). When a woman receives G-Spot stimulation she is offering her man the opportunity to see the depths of her emotional and sexual being, in a way that she does not when a couple is simply "fucking". Simple mechanical sex may not lead to orgasm for either partner, producing anorgasmia in women and certainly not doing anything to reduce the possibility of delayed ejaculation in human males, and is a poor substitute for the connected, almost spiritual experience described above.
I mentioned the work of Deborah Sundahl, because she has written extensively and clearly about the nature of G-Spot stimulation. The very act of opening her mind and heart to her sexual partner is the fundamental way in which woman gives herself to her man: it's not just about opening her body and receiving his erect cock inside her -- indeed, although this is one form of opening, there's absolutely no reason to assume that a woman who lets a man have sex with her is in fact opening her soul to him. And it does appear that when a woman is fully engaged with her lover on all levels -- physical, emotional, and spiritual -- that her body responds differently to sexual stimulation. The nerve supply to the G-Spot is different to the nerve supply to the clitoris, a fact which means that the difference in a woman's sexual response to stimulation of these two areas is probably not just down to the physical mechanics of stimulating the shafts of the clitoris that lie around the vagina. More information: G-spots
As you may have inferred from the above description, we firmly believe that the G-spot exists and that it is capable of providing greater sexual pleasure in a woman in whom it has been sensitized to sexual stimulation. The transition from an insensitive G-Spot to a sensitized one seems to be something that happens when a woman's sexuality unfolds naturally during the course of her life. There seems to be a link between the degree to which a woman can open her heart to her lover and the level of stimulation that the G-Spot requires to produce sexual energy flows around her body. You can read much more about this phenomenon on Tantric websites such as this one. The problem with this viewpoint, of course, it is that women who have not experienced G-Spot orgasm, or who deny the existence of the G-Spot, will naturally regard the statements above as nothing more than an act of faith. But if you look around the Internet you can see lots of video clips where women appear to be reaching states of sexual ecstasy together with the ejaculation of prostatic fluid from the paraurethral glands; you have to separate the fraudulent videos, where a woman is simply urinating, from the genuine ones where the phenomenon of female ejaculation seems to be taking place. Once you do this, the body of evidence in support of G-Spot orgasm and female ejaculation is overwhelming. Many of the video clips which demonstrate female ejaculation show a woman receiving very vigorous stimulation to the inside upper wall of her vagina. Although this does produce a dramatic ejaculation, often to the woman's evident surprise, there is a much gentler way of producing female ejaculation which is demonstrated in many of the clips on this website. Basically it involves a slow and prolonged buildup to sexual arousal, with stimulation of the G-Spot and paraurethral glands towards the end of the extended foreplay. You can find detailed instructions on how to achieve female ejaculation either on this website Female Ejaculation and the G spot or in Deborah Sundahl's book.
One of the problems that we inevitably face when we talk about G-Spot orgasm or vaginal orgasm, is that critics will regard it as the patriarchal distinction drawn between clitoral and vaginal orgasms as, respectively, immature and mature. This perverse way of thinking about female sexuality originated with Sigmund Freud who regarded the transition to vaginal orgasm as a sign of full sexual maturity in a woman. We would see it very differently: the transition is part of an evolution of an individual woman's sexuality, and the vaginal orgasm, though of a different quality and nature to clitoral orgasm, does not in any sense represent maturity or immaturity, it simply shows a different response has been evoked by sexual stimulation within a woman's body. Neither do vaginal orgasms replace clitoral orgasms when a woman is capable of experiencing them; indeed, Tantric sex experts will tell you that it is necessary to stimulate both the clitoris and the G-Spot to obtain maximum sexual pleasure and that this is the easiest route to a full body orgasm.
More scientific evidence for the subject of vaginal orgasm comes from work reported in the International Society of Sexual Medicine's Journal. Stuart Brody and colleagues investigated the degree to which an individual woman's capacity to reach orgasm through stimulation of the internal tissue of the vagina was correlated with her emotional and psychological development from childhood onwards. For example, they looked at whether or not vaginal orgasm was related to sexual education during childhood, the length of time for which intercourse lasted, and even the size of her partner's penis.
This research seems to throw some light onto the origin and mechanism of vaginal orgasm. Brody and colleagues confirm something that we've long suspected, which is that women who respond to vaginal stimulation with sexual pleasure and even orgasm report greater satisfaction with their sexual relationships, their emotional health, and even life in general, than those women who do not. Now, this is not necessarily cause and effect: it's possible that women who are prone to experience vaginal orgasms have different personality characteristics which are responsible for their greater satisfaction, but it is worth keeping in mind the possibility that regular vaginal orgasms can promote sexual energy flow around the body and reduce stress, heal sexual trauma, and perhaps even assist a woman in her spiritual development. (The Tantric sexual philosophy has long believed that sexual energy flow is one route to spiritual enlightenment.) One circumstantial piece of evidence that points to the healing effect of vaginal orgasms and energy release after G-Spot stimulation is the fact that Brody and his colleagues reported that women who experience vaginal orgasm display a physiologically more balanced gait than other women: my interpretation of this is that these women have a lower level of neurotic musculoskeletal blockage and less stress and tension manifesting in their bodies.
The authors actually claimed that the more vaginal orgasms a woman experiences, the more positive she is about her relationship quality, the degree of intimacy, passion and love in her life, and the less she uses psychological defenses. All of this does strongly support the view that a woman who experiences regular and profound orgasms is happier than one who does not, and that this difference is not just down to the pleasure of the orgasm, but also down to the underlying relief of stress and tension and the healing of emotional and sexual trauma. (Further, they also claimed that a trained observer could tell whether a woman was vaginally orgasmic.)
One thing that we do know is that an orgasm produced by stimulation of the inside of the vagina does in fact involve different neural pathways to an orgasm produced by stimulation of the clitoris. This has a strong bearing on the woman's capacity to reach orgasm, and how she experiences that orgasm objectively.
Brody and his colleagues conducted their research in 2008 using a representative selection of women in the Czech Republic over the age of 15 years. I have to admit that this in itself makes me slightly suspicious about the value of this work, because at the age of 15, and perhaps even up to the age of around 30, I suspect that most women's level of knowledge around the sexual capacity of the G-Spot is "just developing" rather than "fully explored". However, all the women in this survey answered a questionnaire about how often they reach orgasm during intercourse, and the length of foreplay and intercourse required for them to do so; they also asked many other questions about the woman's upbringing and experience, so that they could establish if any correlations existed between vaginal orgasm and other factors in a woman's history.
The researchers questioned a group of 917 women who were prepared to answer questions about vaginal orgasm; the first surprising -- indeed, astonishing -- fact that emerges from this work is that a massive 78% of the women claimed to experience vaginal orgasm. This is absolutely at odds with every other survey and piece of research that I'm aware of on the subject, all of which seem to show that the percentage of women who can have a vaginal orgasm is lower than 20% and probably as low as 10% -- at least when you consider only orgasms achieved by means of vaginal stimulation alone without any additional stimulation of the clitoris.
Unsurprisingly perhaps, a woman's reported ability to reach orgasm during intercourse through vaginal stimulation alone seems to bear a close association with the level of sexual education she received during childhood -- which, roughly speaking, we can take to mean the degree to which she was brought up in a sexually open and uninhibited atmosphere. Those women who had been educated to believe that they could experience orgasm through stimulation of the vagina alone actually appeared to have a higher rate of vaginal orgasm than those women who had not been taught that such a thing was possible. Clearly, one's expectations play a major role in determining the sexual satisfaction that one achieves.
There's a certain kind of logic to this, because you'd expect women who were informed that stimulation of the clitoris was the only means by which a woman could achieve orgasm would neither expect to achieve orgasm through vaginal stimulation nor would they go out of their way to obtain it or experiment with the possibility.
Kestenberg has made the observation that denial of the concept of G-Spot orgasm and a woman's resistance to it may be a two-part process: she starts from a place where she relies on stimulation of the clitoris to achieve orgasm during sexual activity, but in addition she defends herself against the feelings that result from stimulation of her G-spot, and this defense in itself prevents her from achieving vaginal orgasm. That's a view that makes sense to me, because we know that stimulation of G-Spot can invoke memories of sexual trauma; and for women for whom these are too painful to accept, such defensiveness would be a natural reaction. Only when she's in the presence of a loving and trusted partner with whom she feels she can release the trauma will she open herself to an awareness of the sensitivity of her G-Spot.
The original discoverer of the G-Spot, Perry, observed that for three decades the majority of medical professionals who work in the field of gynecology have been telling women that clitoral stimulation was the only way to reach orgasm, and that vaginal orgasm was a figment of the imagination; as a result, the number of women who did experience vaginal orgasms has been continually decreasing. Perry was bitterly critical of the medical profession, who he claimed had perpetrated what he regarded as a downright distortion of the truth on the female population of the Western world.
We'd also support his viewpoint about how women learn to masturbate. He suggested that because most women learn to masturbate by stimulating their clitoris, they are in fact prevented from experiencing (and then growing into) a greater awareness of the sensitivity of their vagina. It's an unpleasant and disturbing thought that women may be so subject to the influences of culture and society, at least as far as their sexuality is concerned.
Having said all of that, let's not overlook the possibility that there is some kind of genetic difference between women which makes the achievement of vaginal orgasm easier for some women than others. And let's also not overlook the possibility that some women who are experiencing vaginal orgasm may be reaching a climax due to indirect stimulation of the clitoral structures lying around the vagina, or indeed through indirect stimulation of the clitoral glans itself. However, we referred earlier to the evidence about different types of neural activity during different sexual stimulation, and one of the reasons why we don't believe that vaginal orgasms are merely the product of indirect stimulation of the clitoris is that the vagina is innervated with branches of the not only the pudendal nerve, but also the pelvic nerve, the hypogastric nerve, and the vagus nerve, none of which respond particularly strongly to stimulation of the clitoris.
There's evidence that stimulating the cervix and vagina together in women who have a complete spinal cord severance can actually lead to orgasm; the significance being that when the spinal cord is completely severed it's only the vagus nerve which provides a route from the sexual organs to the brain. And, a fact which is possibly not too surprising in view of the above discussion, the vagus nerve also seems to have some role in emotional regulation and perhaps even the mechanics of pair bonding.
And it obviously follows that penile length has no bearing on how easily woman reaches a vaginal climax, because the G-spot is located only one or two inches inside the vagina. Clearly, however, if stimulation of the cervix contributes to a so-called blended orgasm, then penile length may be very relevant - because only a long penis can stimulate the cervix during intercourse. Deborah Sundahl suggests that stimulation of the clitoris, the G-Spot and cervix together will produce a very different quality than stimulation of the clitoris alone.
The authors of the scientific paper referred to above did make the observation that, at least as far as women who were qualified to comment were concerned, the consistency and ease with which a woman achieves vaginal orgasm seems to be dependent on the duration of intercourse. This fits with the fact that prolonged stimulation of the G-spot (or possibly short stimulation which is very intense) is necessary to bring a woman to the point of climax. One of the more unfortunate aspects of the researchers' commentary is the observation that many North American university courses (and this even includes courses which are designed to be feminist in orientation i.e. women's studies courses), include as standard various texts which claim that vaginal climax does not exist or is very rare; this would appear to be a backlash to the Freudian view, the patriarchal myth in fact, that vaginal orgasm is a more mature form of female sexuality and orgasm. At the end of the day however, any suggestion that vaginal orgasm is simply a nonexistent phenomenon or a patriarchal myth is a grave disservice to women, and it alienates them from a massively important sexual experience, not to mention depriving them and their partners of considerable pleasure.