Category Archives: Preorgasmic Women

Are you getting any closer? A pocket-sized primer on female sexuality

By Clarissa Fortin

Stay curious between the sheets, friends.

Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality
by Sarah Barmak
(Coach House Books, 2016; $14.95)

If it weren’t for Sarah Barmak’s Closer: Notes from the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality I might have gone for years of my life without ever finding out what my clitoris actually looks like.

“Illustrations of it resemble a swan with an arched neck,” Barmak writes. “When I saw an closerillustration of the clitoris’s true shape for the first time I felt like a blind man finally seeing a whole elephant when all he’s ever known was the tip of it’s trunk.” I realized while reading those sentences that no one in my Catholic high school health class ever bothered to show me such an image and I’d never thought to seek one out.

I consider myself a feminist and a sexually liberated woman. Yet, there are still surprising gaps in my understanding of my own body. And that’s why a book like Barmak’s is important. Closer tackles its subject with eloquence, intelligence and humour.

The book is split into five essays that tackle the “fear of pleasure,” the history of female sexuality, the science and psychology of the orgasm, the “female sexual underground” and the politics of acknowledging female desire.

While each essay has its own strengths, I think the most effective chapter is “A History of Forgetting.” This section aligns the historical “discovery” and “loss” of the clitoris with the individual experience of a woman named Vanessa — an actual interview subject.

We first meet Vanessa on the table at the doctor’s office filming herself masturbating in order to prove to the doctor that she can indeed ejaculate. We learn that Vanessa has been having a series of problems — pain after sex, recurring yeast infections and so on — that no doctors can figure out.

From here Barmak momentarily leaves Vanessa’s story behind and turns her attention to the clitoris itself, noting that “the mapping of the human genome was completed in 2003, years before we got around to doing an ultrasound on the ordinary human clit.”

While the tendency is to see history as ever moving forward and progressing, Barmak counters that “women’s sexuality began by being celebrated, then was feared as too potent, before being downplayed and denied in the scientific era.”

The Christian church, the scientific revolution and various other factors resulted in a demonization and rejection of female bodies. It’s a generalized historical account to be sure, but Barmak does point readers in the direction of Naomi Wolf’s Vagina, a much more comprehensive book on the subject.

What makes this essay so powerful is the way it revisits and concludes with Vanessa and her struggle. Her story held up against the larger history of the clitoris itself demonstrates all too well an overall contempt for and neglect of the female genitalia.

Along with research and anecdotes, Barmak amasses a diverse collection of interviews with doctors, researchers and sex educators. I was excited to learn many factoids that I will surely whip out at dinner parties in the future — for instance, vaginal self stimulation actually blocks pain in women, and even women who are paralysed can sometimes still feel sexual pleasure because of nerves which bypass the spinal cord and communicate directly with the brain!

Barmak combines this research and traditional journalistic writing with first-person narration, bringing her own experience into the story. This means attending seminars and workshops, watching a demonstration of a female orgasm at Burning Man, and getting a vaginal massage.

Barmak is open about her own skepticism and trepidation during these investigations. “I like to consider myself open to new things,” she writes. “Yet, the idea of a strange lady’s gloved fingers all up in my jade palace falls somewhat outside my personal boundaries.” She goes through with it and the personal account makes for a richer narrative overall.

A note about the term “woman”: Barmak uses it throughout the book to generally refer to the cisgendered female experience. If I have any strong critique of the book it is that by celebrating the distinctly female anatomy, the book sometimes verges on unintentionally emphasizing a gender binary. This is something Barmak herself seems aware of. She notes on pg. 21 that “the word woman can refer equally to cisgender, intersex, genderqueer and transgender women all representing varied shades of experience.” While it’s good that the acknowledgement is there, I think a declaration like this belongs even earlier on as a note for readers to keep in mind before the book even begins.

That said, Barmak does make an effort to include the experiences of typically marginalized women such as trans women and women of colour in her narrative. “Being white affords privileges even in non-mainstream spaces of revolt such as sexuality,” she notes.

The topic is something “that requires far more depth and attention than this little book can offer,” Barmak says and while this seems like a partial cop-out for having only a few pages devoted to women of colour and trans women specifically, Barmak makes a valid point. Issues regarding sexuality faced by marginalized women warrant entire books altogether, preferably penned by a writer who has lived those experiences.

Nevertheless, I think this book would have been more complete with a sixth section devoted specifically to these issues.

At its core this book is compassionately optimistic, celebrating the innate complexity of sexual pleasure itself and arguing in favor of orgasms for all, something I can definitely get behind.

Sex educator and vlogger Lindsay Doe has a motto she repeats at the end of each of her videos: “stay curious.” Closer isn’t the definitive book about female sexuality and it doesn’t claim to be. But it made me curious about my own body, and even more curious about the wonderfully vast array of experiences we humans have between the sheets.

I recommend it to my friends of all genders, my boyfriend, my sisters, and especially the woman who started it all, my mother.

Complete Article HERE!

“That’s ICKY!”

Name: Marti
Gender: female
Age: 27
Location: Seattle
Is there such a thing as an asexual? The reason I ask is that I think I am one. I’m happy and well adjusted, but sex does nothing for me. I can’t orgasm. My genitals are icky. My marriage seems fine. I love my husband; we share the same values. And even if there’s nothing in it for me, I’m apparently pretty good at fellatio. We don’t do intercourse. Is this normal for some people? Are some people simply not wired to be sexual? I have no problems with love. I’m passionate about my husband and my friends, but it’s more of a cerebral thing.

Yeah, Marti, I do believe there is such a thing as an asexual. But I don’t think you’re one. Ya know why I say that? It’s because an asexual has an indifference toward sex. You, dear lady, exhibit disgust toward sex and things sexual…including your very own pussy. And that tells me you have an aversion to sex, which is completely different from what an asexual feels about sex.

frustrationI’d also have to challenge you on your statement that you are happy and well adjusted. I just don’t buy it, darlin’! And here’s a tip, if you have to go out of your way to tell someone you are happy and well adjusted, you’re probably neither.

In my estimation, a young married, albeit preorgasmic, woman who denies her hubby the old in and out, but begrudgingly blows him when absolutely necessary is NOT happy or well adjusted. SORRY! I don’t fault you for this, mind you. It’s just that since you have never known the joys of sex, you can hardly dismiss them as unimportant.

If we had access to your long-suffering husband I think he would tell a different tale than you, Miss Marti. I’ll betcha he’s withering on the vine for lack of nookie — the odd semi-obligatory blowjob he gets doled out to him on occasion not withstanding.

Listen darling, you got issues…big fuckin’ issues that need to be addressed ASAP. Don’t go trying to cover your shit with a happy face like asexuality. You’ll give all those real sexual ascetics a bad name if ya do.

Begin by resolving your anorgasmia, or as other call it preorgasmia. Because that, my dear, is the root of your sexual aversion. Work with a qualified sex-positive therapist. Learn to masturbate in a way that will bring you sexual satisfaction. Once you and your trusty vibrator slams yourself your first screamin’ meme of an orgasm, I believe you will change your tune about the rest of sex and your much maligned pussy too. I’ve written on this topic a lot.  Use the search function in the sidebar, search for “preorgasmic,” and you’ll find it all.  My posting:  Hey, Where’s My Big “O”?, is one fine example.

We can only hope that your deprived spousal unit will stick around during this remedial period. But you’re gonna have to level with him. Tell him you’ve finally accepted the fact that you have a problem that you need to get to the bottom of it, so to speak. With his help and support and that of your therapist, you’ll find your way to real happiness and being an authentically well-adjusted person, not just someone who says she is.shade

Anything short of this kind of honesty will continue to rob your husband of the full-fledged sex life he ought to be enjoying with you his wife. If ya don’t you can be sure ‘ole hubby will find his satisfaction in a more welcoming pussy than yours…if he hasn’t already.

Good luck

Hey, Where’s My Big “O”?

Name: BJ
Gender: Female
Age: 23
Location: PA
I’ve been sexually active for several years now and have yet to reach an orgasm. Oral sex, intercourse nor masturbation have been effective. Is there something wrong with me, what might help?

I’d be very much surprised if there was actually something physically wrong with you. But you clearly have some difficulty letting go. And simply put, an orgasm is letting go of built up sexual tension.the big O

Lot of preorgasmic women don’t feel entitled to an orgasm, for one reason or another. Other women are simply unversed on how to make the big “O” happen in their own fine self. Sometimes it’s a combination of both resistance and a lack of know how.

I once had a client, a woman in her late 30’s, the mother of three and a devote Catholic. She was preorgasmic too. Her big stumbling block was fear. You got it; fear of having an orgasm. She had heard from other women over the years how powerful orgasms were and how much fun they were. My client somehow got it in her head that if she were to ever let go and give up that long-awaited screamin’ meme, her entire world would collapse. She’d become a sex addict, neglect her children, divorce her husband and turn her back on God…the whole enchilada.

With that kind of mindset, this little lady wasn’t gonna let herself cum no how.

the big O 2I had to reassure her that, as delightful as orgasms are, they are not like crack cocaine. I told her there was no chance that she’d fly to pieces as a mother, wife and friend of Jesus if she were to diddle herself once in a while. I had to keep repeating this over and over till it finally sank in. You talk about hardheaded! In the end, she had her precious orgasm, joined the ranks for the sexually satisfied and lived happily ever after. …Well, I can’t honestly say about the happily ever after part, but she sure did smile a whole lot more afterwards.

Back to you BJ, I don’t suppose there’s any way you could have one of your gal-pals show you how it’s done, is there? The reason I ask is most guys learn how to choke the chicken by watching, or being instructed by another guy. Us men folk are really good about doin that for one another. Women, on the other hand, don’t seem to do this for one another as much. Which is a freakin’ pity, if ya ask me.

If you can’t (or won’t) get a pal to show you around proper pussy pleasuring, I have another suggestion for you. Mozie on over to DR DICK’S HOW TO VIDEO LIBRARY  and check out a swell instructional video. (There’s a link to this marvelous resource in the header.) Do a quick search for “female masturbation” and let the experts show you a thing or two. You’ll be so glad you did.

Another great resource: The Ultimate Guide to Orgasm for Women: How to Become Orgasmic for a Lifetime by the brilliant Mikaya Heart. By the way, you can find a dynamite two-part interview with Mikaya HERE and HERE!ultimate-guide-to-orgasm-for-women-lg

Here are a few tips:

Get in the mood

Relax as much as you can. Whatever that means for you. Take a warm bath or have a glass of wine. Ensure your privacy: turn off the phone, lock the door for privacy from roommates, kids, whoever. Find a comfy position. Most women start out lying on their backs, legs bent and spread apart, with feet on the ground. Remove most or all of your clothing (or as much as your comfortable with).

Explore your body

Run your hands along your body, lingering along areas that are more responsive to touch than others. If you’re able to do it, and you’ve never done it before, you might want to try to look at your genitals in a mirror. Because so many women are raised with negative messages about their bodies, and particularly their genitals, being able to see while you touch can be powerful and surprising. Find and touch your inner and outer labia, your clitoris, your vagina and your perineum.

Touch yourself

Using one or two fingers, rhythmically stroke the different parts of your vulva, paying particular attention to your clitoris and labia. Experiment with different types of pressure, speed and motion. Try placing a finger on either side of the clitoris and stroking up and down, or placing two fingers on the clitoral hood and rubbing in a circular motion.


Try different types of touch: stroke, tickle, knead, pinch, or lightly pull your genitals. Try using one or several fingers, the palm of your hand, even your knuckles.

Build up excitement

Learn to hold onto sexual excitement by building up and then reducing or temporarily stopping the stimulation. (Men do this all the time when they jack-off.  It’s called edging.) Pay attention to how your body is responding. It will tell you the particular stroke that feels best and when to pick up or slow down the tempo.

Don’t forget to breathe

Many women hold their breath as they get excited. Be mindful of your breath and learn to play with breathing during arousal. Try to breathe deeply rather than hold your breath. This can help release the sexual energy, rather than fight it.

Moving a little

In addition to often holding our breath, many women tense up and don’t move much at all when wtheye masturbate. This might work for you just fine, but if you haven’t explored movement, it’s worth a try. Moving while you are getting turned on, and moving during orgasm can change the way you experience pleasure in your body. For some women this means rocking their pelvis. For others it means moving their legs or torso side to side. Find what movement works for you and then intentionally start doing it while you masturbate.

Letting go

If your hand gets tired, give yourself a rest, switch hands, or try a vibrator. If you’re on the brink of orgasm, but can’t quite get over the hump, try to become more conscious of your breathing, give yourself extra stimulation: caress your nipples, or try thrusting your other fingers or a dildo in and out of your vagina.

Ride the Wave

As you begin to orgasm, continue the stimulation through the orgasm. Lighten up on the stimulation during the first extremely sensitive moments but keep it going to enjoy those little pleasurable aftershocks. Your first orgasm may feel like a blip or a blast, but the more you practice, the more variety you will experience.


Sexual fantasy can be a double edged sword when it comes to masturbation. If you have trouble getting yourself in the mood or getting over the top, a hot fantasy may be just the ticket. I often suggest reading erotica to get in the mood. However, when we fantasize some of our attention is taken away from what’s happening in our bodies in the moment. Sometimes what is getting in the way of us enjoying masturbation is that distance from our bodies. It’s good to try everything, but be mindful of whether or not your fantasies are acting as an enhancer or a distraction.

hitachi-magic-wand-2Some final thoughts…
Vibrators take some of the manual labor out of masturbation by providing direct, intense physical stimulation to the clitoris.  check out all the marvelous vibrators we’ve reviewed for you at Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Reviews.

Many women learn to jill-off in the bath or shower. A direct the stream of water on your vulva and clitoris can be a game changer. Vary the pressure, the pulsation, and the temperature. Alternate methods: slide your butt over the drain so your legs are up in the air and your genitals are up under the tub faucet (rather awkward but do-able for some), or use Jacuzzi jets.

Rub against something–a pillow, the corner of some furniture, a washing machine in operation.

Dildos can be a pleasurable accompaniment to clitoral masturbation, as they offer the fullness of penetration and can also stimulate the g-spot.

Write back again, BJ, and let me know how things go. If you’re not successful, I still have a few other tricks up my sleeve.

Good luck

The Little Engine That Could

Name: Terri
Gender: Female
Age: 24
Location: ND
I’m having a problem with knowing when I am feeling an orgasm. I feel like I have to fake it around my husband because I am unsure. Sometimes when I’m alone I just feel like I have to go to the bathroom so I stop myself and then other times I feel like my legs are paralyzed but that’s it. I don’t ever feel like I’m sexually stimulated. Just tired. Any ideas as to what I am doing or not doing or what might be causing it?

I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and guess that your are, what we in the business call, preorgasmic. My experience tells me that if you’ve actually had an orgasm, you’d know it. All the symptoms you list — feel like you have pee; feel like your legs are paralyzed; or just plain exhausted, don’t sound orgasmic to me.

clitoral anatomyI can’t actually say I know what you are doing wrong, if anything. You don’t really go into detail on how you pleasure yourself. But I will hazard a guess as to what is causing this. And that would be inadequate stimulation to your pleasure centers.

Even in this day and age where sexually laden messages abound in the popular culture, there are still some women, even young women, who are unversed about orgasms in general and how they could go about getting one for themselves in particular.

Orgasms don’t always come easily for some women, and that’s a fact. I suppose there are as many reasons for this as there are preorgasmic 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 if the truth be told, us men folk, — we don’t need no stinkin’ permission to get our self off!clit

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 cunt.

The more you know about this marvelous part of you the better you’re gonna be at slammin yourself a screamin’ meme when the time comes. Knowing your way around your pussy is also gonna be helpful in partnered sex, especially if your partners are men.

The first part of this exercise is called a self-sexological exam. Get a hand mirror and find a really detailed diagram of female genitalia on the internet. Using the diagram as a guide, work at familiarizing yourself and making friends with your pussy. Once you are certain you know all the parts, I want you to do a detailed touch test. I want you to test for sensitivity very square inch of your body from your asshole to your navel. I want you to draw pictures of your own cunt and surrounding area, then color them to represent the levels of sensitivity — red being the hottest and most pleasurable areas to blue being the more neutral areas and all the colors in-between. I encouraged you to try this exercise with both a wet hand and a dry hand. I suggest a nice personal lubricant for your wet hand exploration. Spend at least 30 minutes a day for three consecutive days on this home-play. You have a lot of reacquainting to do, don’t cha know. And this is private time; your partner(s) is not invited.

hitachi-magic-wandThe next step in your home-play will include a vibrator. If you don’t already have one, shop for one. There are plenty of suggestions for vibes on my product reviews site: (There’s a vast array of pleasure products on that site and all the guesswork has been eliminated. The Dr Dick Review Crew painstakingly reviewed each product so that you’ll be able to see what’s hot and what’s not.)

Now using the pictures you created of your genitals in part one of this exercise, I want you to kick-start that vibrator, throw it into first gear and start making small lazy circles around the blue areas, and work your way to the bright red areas. Do this privately for 30 minutes for three consecutive days or until there was a breakthrough.

The next step is masturbation. You may have tried it before without success, that’s ok. This time you’ll be better informed about all the hot spots of your cooch that you learned in step one. I’m a big fan of full body masturbation. So while you’re diddlin’ yourself spread the sexual energy all over your body — tits, ass, feet, mouth, whatever.Aloe Cadabra

Vary your technique: 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.

Many women experience their first orgasm with the help of a vibrator. I encourage you to be adventuresome and experiment with one too. Try a dildo or 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 partner(s).

Finally, Terri, I want to turn you on to a fantastic website, This is a one-stop shop for all things relating to female sexuality.

Good luck

More SEX WISDOM With Yvonne Fulbright — Podcast #390 — 09/18/13

Hey sex fans! Welcome back.Yvonne Kr

That internationally famous sexologist, sex educator, author, relationship expert, advice columnist, and television and radio personality Dr. Yvonne Fulbright is back with us today for Part 2 of her turn on the SEX WISDOM show. And that means I get to ask her all the questions I didn’t get to last week. So yay for that!

But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of this show, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in the Podcast Archive right here on my site. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header; type in Podcast #389 and Voilà! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.

Yvonne and I discuss:

  • Sex coach/sex therapy;
  • Sexual performance concerns for women — preorgasmia;
  • Performance anxiety;
  • Sexual performance concerns for men — premature ejaculation;
  • Masturbation and self-pleasuring;
  • Expanding our sexual repertoire;
  • Sex trends — circumcision;
  • Erection enhancers;
  • The G-spot debate;
  • Sex play;
  • Who inspires her and her sexual heroes.

Yvonne invites you to visit her on her site HERE! Her Sensual Fusion site HERE! Her Facebook page HERE! And her twitter feed HERE!

Click on the book covers below for more information about Yvonne’s books.

YOP cover TMT cover SwEx cover hi res Pleasuring cover HGS cover




Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: SPUNK Lube.