The Self-Sexological Exam
No podcast today; instead there’s this…
The Ballad of Sylvie
Hi, my name is Sylvie. I’m 24 and I’ve been sexually active for three year, but I’ve never had an orgasm…at least not that I know of. I hear my friends talk about their orgasms and I know I should talk to them, but I don’t want them to know. Do you think there’s something wrong with me?
Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this complaint over the years, I’d be a wealthy man. Even in this day and age where sexual messages permeate the popular culture, there are still some women who are unversed about orgasms and their own bodies.
However, I almost never hear this from men. Sure, our sexual response cycle is more obvious. When we’re at attention, we’re at attention. I often wonder what the world would be like if men had as hard a time getting off as some women do.…
But let’s begin with dispelling the notion that there may be something wrong with you. There isn’t. You do, however, fall into a category we in the biz call “pre-orgasmic.” The idea is that you’re going to be orgasmic one day—you’ve just not accomplished it yet.
And I’m gonna assume a couple of things, even though I think it’s really dangerous to make assumptions in this line of work: 1. You’ve never had an orgasm, because you’d sure as hell know it if ya had. 2. You are sexually active with male partners.
I’m going out on this limb because I absolutely never hear from pre-orgasmic lesbians. And it stands to reason—lesbians tend to be more attuned to their bodies, and they certainly know their way around the bodies of their partners. But I digress.
Orgasms don’t come easily for some women. I suppose there are as many reasons for this as there are pre-orgasmic women. A woman’s pleasure center (her clit) is more subtle and less obvious than a man’s raging boner. Women are socialized about sexuality—even nowadays—in a much different way then men are. Men have more cultural permissions to be sexually adventuresome than do women. And, truth be told, men have never needed any permission to get themselves off!
The Ballad of Amy
Case in point: When I was just beginning my practice, a young couple, Joel and Amy, visited me with this very issue. As I’d soon learn, Joel considered himself a top-notch cocksmith. He was fond of saying that he could reduce any woman to blubbering jelly with either his mouth or his magic wand. But Joel was completely flummoxed to discover that the love of his life was immune to his sexual prowess—so he hauled the little woman in for my diagnosis.
Amy, for her part, squirmed with discomfort. I thought she’d absolutely die as Joel detailed the explicit intimacies of their lovemaking. I knew I’d get nowhere with Amy while Joel was there, so I told him to take a hike while she and I had a chat.
I first asked Amy about the early messages she got about her body. She thought for a moment and answered: “I don’t know if this is what you mean, but one of my earliest recollections is my mother teaching me to wash myself. I must have been no more than 3 or 4. She began by telling me I should wash my body like we washed dishes. First and foremost, I was to attend to my hair, my face and my hands—like we would first wash the fine crystal and silverware—because they would be what would attract a husband. Then I was to wash the rest of my body. Finally, at the end of the bath, I should wash my genitals…but only with a different cloth than the one I used on the rest of me…just like we washed the pots and pans.”
This unearthed memory startled Amy. Even though she hadn’t thought about it for years, she realized she continued to wash herself in the same manner to that very day. And she followed that revelation with one equally astonishing. She told me that once she reached puberty, her mother took her aside for “The Big Talk.” Menstruation and all the embarrassment and confusion that came with it added to the “pot and pan” imagery. As to her genitals, her mother said: “You must save that for the one you love and will marry.”
“This dirty part, this thing that’s cursed with a monthly unclean bloodletting was supposed to be SAVED for the man of my dreams. YUCK! Why?”
Poor Amy! She was a tangle of mixed messages. No wonder she was pre-orgasmic. No wonder fucking Joel, despite her love for him, was a teeth-clenching chore. No wonder his begging to eat her pussy was met with, “Oh, please don’t!”
There was a lot of work to be done, but she was eager to begin.
We started her with journaling and a self-sexological exam. I instructed Amy to get a hand mirror and a detailed diagram of female genitalia. She was to familiarize herself and make friends with her estranged pussy. Her exam would entail a touch-test. Every square inch from her anus to her navel was to be tested for sensitivity. I suggested she draw pictures of herself and color them to represent the levels of sensitivity: red being the hottest and most pleasurable areas; blue being more neutral, and all the colors in-between. I encouraged her to try this exercise first with a dry hand, then a wet hand using a personal lubricant. I encouraged her to spend at least 30 minutes a day for three consecutive days. She had a lot of reacquainting to do.
On the forth day, if she was ready, she could invite Joel to join her. No pressure; just a suggestion. But whenever she was ready to invite Joel, he could only attend as a guest, NOT a participant. Joel was only to receive the royal tour of Amy’s fabulous cunt. She was to show Joel her drawings, and once the show was over, that was it. No fucking, no sucking, no nothing—this was only to be an exhibition.
Poor Joel was beside himself. He couldn’t see the logic of him not being involved. I had to impress upon him that this was Amy’s work—not his. And if he just held on to that magic johnson of his, he’d be back with an orgasmic Amy in no time—but he had to be patient.
When next we were together, Amy shared her artwork with me. I could tell right away from pictures she’d drawn and colored that she’d found her clit. Amy was extremely pleased with her “newfound” pussy. She was eager to take it to the next level.
The following week’s play would include a vibrator. Amy was to buy the one she wanted, take it home and introduce it to her pussy. Using the pictures she’d created, she was to throw it into first gear and start making small, lazy circles around the blue areas, working her way to the bright red areas. She was to do this privately for 30 minutes for three consecutive days or until there was a breakthrough.
I knew this wouldn’t take long, and it didn’t. The very next day, I got the anticipated phone call. Amy was breathless.
“Holy shit, I did it!” She exclaimed. “I saw stars—the earth moved and I made so much noise that Joel came running into the room. He thought I’d somehow hurt myself. He stood there stunned as I threw myself another screaming me-me.” I loved the way she already had a name for her orgasms…screaming me-me’s.
And that’s how Amy went from pre-orgasmic to I totally know how to give myself a big fat juicy orgasm in a matter of a couple of weeks.
The Ballad of Becoming Presently Orgasmic
Now let’s review for you, Sylvie. The basic formula for achieving an orgasm is acquainting yourself with your pussy. Map out all the points of interest. Find out what feels good, and repeat it. The object of this first step is not to stress about having an orgasm—it’s all about reconnecting with your body.
The more you know about yourself, the better you’re gonna be at slamming yourself a “screamin’ me-me”. Knowing your way around your pussy is also helpful in partnered sex, especially if your partner doesn’t know shit from Shinola about your pussy.
Step two is masturbation. You may have tried before without success. This time, thanks to step one, you’ll better know your hot spots. I’m a big fan of full body masturbation. So while you’re diddling, be sure to spread the sexual energy all over your body—tits, ass, feet, mouth, whatever you like—stroke, pinch, pat, massage, and rub yourself all over. Vary your breathing, gyrate your hips, listen to sexy music, rent some porn, watch yourself in a mirror, or throw in some Kegel exercises. Try a wet hand. Play with yourself in the bath. Hell, dance around naked with a jewel in your navel…whatever it takes.
Like Amy, many women experience their first orgasm with the help of a vibrator. I encourage you to experiment with one—or try another sex toy.
Be sure to keep a journal during this exploratory period. This will help you later to bridge the gap in communicating with your partners.