The Orgasm Gap Definitely Still Exists, New Evidence Shows

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By CARLY CASSELLA

Most people have heard of the gender pay gap, but there’s another form of gender inequity that doesn’t get nearly as much attention.

Not only are women getting short-changed in the workforce, studies suggest they are also getting the short end of the stick in the bedroom.

Even today, in an age where many women have more sexual freedom than ever before, evidence shows men are nearly two times more likely to orgasm during sex than women.

This discrepancy in sexual pleasure is known as the orgasm gap, and a new study now suggests the gulf persists beyond one-night stands and lasts into marriage.

The research focussed on 1,683 newlywed heterosexual couples, and each partner was asked how often they had orgasms and how often they thought their significant other had orgasms.

The participants were also asked about how satisfied they were with their sex life and their relationship.

The findings reveal that the orgasm gap is still very much alive in modern society, even in committed and loving relationships. While 87 percent of husbands said they consistently experienced orgasm during sexual activity, only 49 percent of wives could say the same.

Some of this could be due to anatomical differences, which make it easier for men to climax. Regardless of the cause – whether cultural, or physical, or some mix of both – closing the orgasm gap is in the interests of both men and women.

Another part of the study found that a person’s sexual satisfaction, no matter their gender, was linked closely to how often they thought their partner was orgasming.

“It turns out that her report of how often she has orgasm is important for her satisfaction and his report of how often he thinks she has orgasm is important for his satisfaction,” Nathan Leonhardt, who researches human sexuality at the University of Toronto in Canada, explained to Psypost.

“In other words, her orgasm experience seems to be important for both husbands and wives.”

So if most husbands say they want their wives to have a good time in bed, why aren’t they picking up their game?

Well, it might not be entirely their fault. Part of the problem could be that men are largely oblivious that there is a problem. In the recent survey, 43 percent of husbands misperceived how often their wives were experiencing orgasm.

According to the researchers, though, women only misconstrued their partner’s sexual pleasure 14 percent of the time.

The authors suggest these incorrect perceptions are just a symptom of another problem, which is that many couples are uncomfortable with sexuality, causing a lack of communication in the bedroom.

But these are just speculations, and more research needs to be done on why men are misinterpreting the sexual satisfaction of their wives, as multiple different factors have been put forward.

For instance, it could be that women are faking orgasms so their husbands feel more satisfied with the experience. Or, maybe it’s that men don’t know what it looks like for women to orgasm, perhaps because they have seen too many inaccurate portrayals in porn.

Whatever the cause, it never hurts to have a chat. If couples are looking to boost their sex life, the study suggests that staying attentive to a partner’s needs and honestly talking through any problems is a must.

“When counselling couples, clinicians should give particular attention to the wife’s orgasm experiences, to potentially help both husbands and wives have higher sexual satisfaction,” the authors conclude.

Over the next few years, the researchers are going to continue following these newlyweds to see how relationship dynamics change over the course of a marriage.

This study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Complete Article HERE!

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Fake Orgasms, They’re Not That Bad After All

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By Lux Alptraum

A short walk from my home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan lies Katz’s Delicatessen, one of the neighborhood’s biggest tourist attractions. It’s possible you’ve heard of Katz’s because of its famous pastrami sandwiches. But it’s equally likely you know it for reasons completely unrelated to its food: Katz’s is the site of the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally, a moment so iconic the restaurant even has a sign noting where, exactly, Meg Ryan’s famed fake orgasm took place.

It’s strange that a brief scene from an old an old film defines a place that’s been featured in over a dozen movies and TV shows. But the staying power of that scene is due to its unabashed look at a topic that manages to be intriguing, taboo, and incredibly controversial: the faked female orgasm. Whether you think it’s a harmless fib or a major faux pas, there’s no denying that “faking it” is inextricably connected to our ideas about female sexuality.

The typical read on fake orgasms is a simple one: women fake because they’re having bad sex and want to get it over with. In this version of events, women don’t understand their bodies, or are bad at communicating their needs, or end up partnering with someone who doesn’t listen, and the result is unsatisfying sex. Hoping to keep the peace with her partner — or perhaps just get some bad sex over and done with — the woman spares everyone embarrassment by mimicking the signs of sexual pleasure.

Women are crafty manipulators, but it’s ultimately to their disadvantage: sure, they’ve tricked a man into thinking he’s done well, but at the cost of their own sexual fulfillment. It’s this interpretation of faked pleasure that’s led to so many campaigns against faking it. If only women could be more in touch with their physical pleasure, could speak about their needs more, could advocate for their own orgasms, no one would need to fake. Taken to the extreme, this argument means women who fake aren’t merely letting themselves down: they’re actively traitors to the feminist movement and upholding mythical ideas about what women want from sex, and convincing legions of men that their selfish sexual technique is that of a giving, generous lover.

But is it really quite so cut-and-dry? Is the female urge to fake purely about preserving male ego at the expense of a woman’s access to enjoyment — or are there other, more complicated reasons why a woman might feign an orgasm when she isn’t actually feeling it? Is the act of faking an orgasm truly a betrayal of the fight for women’s sexual liberation, or is it, perhaps, a way of claiming control over a sexual situation? Why is the authenticity of anyone’s orgasm worth discussing to begin with? What is an orgasm? What does it feel like? How do you know if you’ve had one? If you have a penis, the answers to these questions are presumably straightforward. An orgasm is the sensation that accompanies ejaculation, and it feels, you know, pretty great. Because male orgasm is associated with ejaculation, few men devote much time to worrying about whether or not they’ve actually had one. The proof is — if you’ll pardon the turn of phrase — in the pudding. If you have vulva, on the other hand, the situation is a bit different.

During the mid-twentieth century, pioneering sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson attempted to map out the “typical” female sexual response cycle, dividing it into four distinct stages: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Under the model, the female sexual response cycle can be broadly understood as analogous to its male counterpart: penises get erect; vulvae lubricate. Muscles in the genital regions swell and contract, then release in a series of orgasmic pulses; post-orgasm, the body begins to cool down and relax.

There is value in the Masters and Johnson model, and it certainly describes the physical experience of some women (certainly enough so that doctors are still making use of it to diagnose sexual disorders). Yet in the decades since its debut, this linear, four-stage model has come under a great deal of criticism. It makes broad assumptions about the similarities between male and female sexual response. It primarily focused on women who were able to orgasm during penis-in-vagina intercourse, reinforcing the idea that that one particular sex act is central to female sexual pleasure while simultaneously devaluing the nonorgasmic pleasures derived from penis-in-vagina sex. In the decades since, a number of other sex researchers have attempted to map out female sexual response with other models: circular rather than linear models and models that include desire, emotional intimacy, and other nonphysical aspects of sexual pleasure. But even as these models improve on the work of Masters and Johnson, it’s still difficult to create one model of sexual ecstasy that can assuredly guide a woman on the path to orgasm (and guarantee that she’ll know when she’s had one) because of one very simple fact: there’s no one universal sign that serves as an indicator of female sexual ecstasy.

This fact can create a challenge for aspiring female orgasmers, particularly since orgasm isn’t an experience that we’re easily able to describe. “How would you describe what tickling feels like?” asks Charlie Glickman, a Seattle-based sex and relationships coach with two decades of experience in sex education. “How can you describe what chocolate tastes like? We don’t actually have a definition for these things. All we can do is give someone a piece of chocolate, or tickle them, and say, that’s the sensation that I’m talking about.” But orgasms aren’t as readily available, or easily distributed, as bars of chocolate — and if you’re a preorgasmic woman, desperate to figure out how you’ll know when it happens, it’s understandable that you might turn to porn or romance novels in search of some information that might help you better understand what, exactly, the elusive O is, and how you’ll know when (or if) you’ve achieved it.

Here are some of the descriptions of orgasm I’ve heard in my discussions with women: Mia, who learned about orgasm through watching porn, told me she’d been primed to expect a “big ordeal that came with bells and whistles” that served as a “big finish” to the act of sex (though what, exactly, was causing that big ordeal, or “what exactly it felt like, remained pretty mysterious to her). Ruby told me that as an adolescent, she knew orgasm “was supposed to feel like a ‘build up and release’ and that there would be full-body pleasure.” Rebecca, a 27-year-old sex blogger, had heard it was “an explosion that ran through your body,” but was convinced it could only happen during penis-in-vagina intercourse. Amanda Rose, a 23-year-old PhD student who’d been sexually active for a few years before learning about orgasms in her late teens, wrote in her high school journal that she’d heard orgasm was “a tingly feeling all over your body” and “like you really have to pee.”

You could be forgiven if all this orgasm talk makes your head swim, and you could especially be forgiven if it leaves you feeling more confused than ever about the dynamics of sexual climax. If you’re preorgasmic, learning that orgasms are like sneezes, but also fireworks and definitely something you’ll recognize when you experience it, and, most importantly of all, the greatest and best experience ever, isn’t particularly helpful — especially if most of that doesn’t quite turn out to be true. Yes, in spite of all the hype, there are plenty of orgasms that aren’t all that exciting, let alone awe inspiring or life changing. The notion of an underwhelming orgasm goes against everything we think we know about sex, but climaxes that aren’t particularly explosive are much more common than we think.

“We’ve gone from ‘People have sex for procreation’ to ‘People have sex to have orgasm,’” says Erin Basler, MEd, a staff member at Rhode Island’s Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health. Basler notes that she doesn’t really think that either of those sexual motivations has ever been universally true. The long history of birth control makes it abundantly clear that making babies has never really been the primary reason modern humans have pursued sex with one another. But if orgasm isn’t the primary motivation for getting busy, then what, exactly, is?

Basler offers up a number of different reasons why someone might enjoy, or pursue, sex that they’re pretty sure won’t lead to orgasm. There’s the thrill of physical intimacy, the desire to make another person happy, the stress-relieving potential — and, of course, the fact that the nonorgasm parts of sex can feel pretty good too. Fundamentally, we have sex “because touching erogenous zones feels good,” she tells me — and while we’ve been conditioned to see the experience as a task-oriented one, it’s also possible to treat it as an “experimental process” or “a journey that may just loop back around on itself,” Möbius strip style.

Conversations I’ve had with women about their sex lives back up Basler’s assertions. Julia, a 32-year-old based in London who’s more easily able to achieve orgasm through masturbation than sex, noted that “a sexual experience for me is about everything but the orgasm.” What does that include?

The ego boost of watching a partner get turned on by her body, the feeling of skin-to-skin contact, the pleasure of having someone celebrate and admire her vulva. Ruby made a distinction between her “sex drive” and her “orgasm drive,” explaining, “When I have sex, I certainly require pleasure, but I don’t require orgasm. So as long as my partner’s penis is hitting me at a good angle for a good amount of time, I’m happy.” That appreciation for penetration was echoed by Amanda Rose, whose ability to orgasm is directly correlated to where she is in her menstrual cycle. As she told me, “getting rhythmically banged out” can still feel great even when she knows orgasm isn’t likely, or even possible; on nights when she wants to sleep well, but isn’t feeling particularly horny, orgasm-free sex can be a useful way to relieve tension, relax, and get herself to sleep. Barbara, a 22-year-old designer from Venezuela, described the thrill of “you and your partner in a naked tangle of limbs nuzzling and kissing and licking, exploring each other’s bodies and whispering inside jokes and love words, smelling their hair and smacking their butt — orgasms I can have all by myself, but not that.” Other women talked up sex as an opportunity to provide a partner with pleasure.

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that faking orgasm is not the sole domain of women. Men can — and do — fake orgasms, albeit not in quite the same numbers as women. A 2010 study appearing in the Journal of Sex Research found that a full 25% of male participants had faked (or, in the lingo of the study, “pretended”) orgasm at some point in their sex lives; though that number is low in comparison to the 50% of women who reported faking it, it’s far greater than the zero percent that most people would assume. When men fake, they tend to rely on the same strategies as women, using moaning and exaggerated body motions to feign a climax. Why do men fake? Largely for the same reasons as women. The above-mentioned study found that pretend orgasms occurred when a genuine orgasm was deemed unlikely, but the faker was ready to be done with sex and wanted to avoid hurting his partner’s feelings. Most of the men I spoke with shared stories of faking that could just as easily have come from women: they were exhausted and ready for it to be over; the sex was subpar, but they still felt pressure to perform; they were hoping to bring an early end to a nonconsensual experience.

So while it’s tempting to write off faking as an easy out at best — or a betrayal of feminists at worst — perhaps we should be a little more generous toward the fakers among us. There’s so much pressure on women to live our best sex lives: to be enthusiastic, adventurous, always up for it, and, of course, easily orgasmic. Yet there’s so little space carved out for women to actually understand what that best sex life looks like for them, personally, as individuals, to buck against the narrative of acceptable sex and pleasure. Sometimes a fake orgasm is just a way of closing the gap between expectation and reality.

Complete Article HERE!

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A strong libido and bored by monogamy:

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the truth about women and sex

By

When a heterosexual couple marries, who’s likely to get bored of sex first? The answer might surprise you…

What do you know about female sexuality? Whatever it is, chances are, says Wednesday Martin, it’s all wrong. “Most of what we’ve been taught by science about female sexuality is untrue,” she says. “Starting with two basic assertions: that men have a stronger libido than women, and that men struggle with monogamy more than women do.”

Martin pulls no punches. Her bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue cast her as an anthropologist observing the habits of her Upper East Side neighbours. She claimed among other shockers that privileged stay-at-home mothers were sometimes given a financial “wife bonus” based on their domestic and social performance. The book caused a furore, and is currently being developed as a TV series, with Martin as exec producer. Her new book, out this week, should be equally provocative. Entitled Untrue, it questions much that we thought we knew about women’s sexuality.

Her starting-point is that research into human sexuality has been, historically, overwhelmingly male-centric; “notable sexologists”, starting with Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890) are mostly male. You have to scroll through another 25, including Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, before you arrive at a female name: Mary Calderone (1904-1998), who championed sex education. And even in the subsequent 30 names there are only five women, including both Virginia Johnson (partner of the famous, and male, William Masters), and Shere Hite.

All these men made certain assumptions about women’s sexuality. It’s no surprise that it was Hite who revolutionised thinking on female orgasm, arguing that it was not “dysfunctional” to fail to climax during intercourse. Crucial, too, says Martin, has been the work of Rosemary Basson, who realised that spontaneous desire, the kind sexologists had measured for years, was only one type of relevant desire, and that responsive or triggered sexual response is much more important for women. Measured on that scale it turns out that women are, in fact, every bit as sexually arousable as men.

New findings showed that women reported similar intensities of desire and arousal to men, and “a real shift in thinking” about females and monogamy. “We were taught that men were the ones who needed variety, but the exact opposite turns out to be the case,” says Martin. “Overfamiliarisation with a partner and desexualisation kills women’s libido. We used to think it’s only men who became sexually bored after marriage; turns out that’s not true. It’s when women get married that it’s detrimental to their libido.”

Martin isn’t here to talk about her own relationship, but for the record she’s 53, has been married for 18 years, still lives in New York, and has two sons aged 17 and 10 who are, predictably enough, “mortified” at what their mother writes about. She hopes her work will help validate the feelings of the next generation of young women: “It’s not about giving them permission to ‘cheat’, not even giving them permission to refuse monogamy, but I hope it does give them permission to feel normal if they don’t like monogamy,” she says. Because that’s the central fallacy: the belief that monogamy is harder for men than for women. In fact, argues Martin, the exact opposite is the case. “Women crave novelty and variety and adventure at least as much as men, and maybe more.” She talks me through what she says is the classic pathway for women when they marry or commit to one heterosexual partner long-term (the research has so far concentrated on heterosexual couples; more work is needed on gay women’s sex lives). “A couple live together, their libidos are matched, and they have a lot of sex. But after a year, two years, maybe three years, what tends to happen is that the woman’s desire drops more quickly than the man’s. At that point the woman thinks, ‘I don’t like sex any more.’ But what, in fact, is happening is that she is having a hard time with monogamy; because women get bored with one partner more quickly than men do.”

So women are socialised to believe that they’ve gone off sex, when in fact they’re craving variety. Instead of being the brake on passion, says Martin, the female half of the long-term partnership is the key to a more adventurous and exciting sex life. What it’s all about, she explains, is the existence of the only entirely pleasure-seeking organ in the human repertoire, the clitoris. For her portrait, she wears a necklace shaped like one. “Women evolved to seek out pleasure, women are multiply orgasmic, women’s biology sets them up to seek out pleasure,” says Martin. “The clitoris has a very important back story about female human sex which is that our sex evolved for the purpose of adventure.”

Another element in the mix, she says, was the finding that a third of women who are having an extramarital relationship say their marriage or long-term partnership is happy or very happy. “So we need to understand that women aren’t just seeking variety because they’re unhappy, they’re seeking it because they need variety and novelty,” she says.

What does all this mean, in a practical sense, for our sex lives? Martin doesn’t like the word “cheating” – she prefers to use the term “step out” – and that’s what some women decide to do. But it’s not the only solution. “There are many women who are suffering but don’t want to leave their relationship or to step out, and they’ve not yet discovered vibrators,” says Martin. “I can’t tell you how many women have told me they never had a vibrator – there’s a generation in their 40s and 50s who missed the vibrator revolution and never caught up. And there are all these new vibrators out there – and anything new you can introduce will make a big difference to your sex life.” Another way forward can be for a couple to open up their relationship in some way, and invite someone else in. And she has other ideas up her sleeve that seem a lot less risqué, like going on a zip wire, taking up dance lessons or going scuba diving together. Why does that help? “Research on the neurochemicals has found that our sexual desire is triggered when we do something new with a long-term partner. A thrilling activity is ideal: it can give you a wash of hormones that makes you feel new to each other again.”

Indeed, part of the narrative seems to be that men are too quick to settle for “the usual” (which makes sense now we know they’re not the ones who are bored); but opening up the conversation about what else they could try can relight the fuse. The trick here, counsels Martin, is for them to keep on and on asking. “Men really caring about what women want sexually makes a huge difference. You might need to have the conversation over and over, and women might keep saying they’re happy with things as they are – but keep asking, and eventually women will open up about their sexual fantasies. We find that their menus are more varied than men’s. Men are shocked, but also gratified and thrilled, when they find out how sexually exciting we can be when we get past the inhibitions that have been socialised into us.”

Paradoxically, there’s been a parallel shift in attitudes towards extramarital affairs and divorce alongside the growing studies into women’s sexuality. Martin quotes the US statistics: in 1976, fewer than half of well-educated Americans thought having an affair was always wrong; by 2013, that figure was 91%. “We’ve become a lot less tolerant of infidelity in recent years,” says Martin. “And meanwhile divorce has become much more common: a large number of people in the 1970s who thought affairs were OK, thought divorce was wrong.”

So at the precise moment science reveals women have the bigger “need” to be sexually adventurous, society clamps down on infidelity. And that, says Martin, is hugely significant. “The way we feel about women who refuse monogamy is an important metric for how we feel about equality.” She’s talking, she says, about women who openly refuse monogamy by being polyamorous. The overwhelming story we buy into, after all, is that men who “cheat” are just “men being men”; women who “step out” are far more likely to be criticised and shamed. Ultimately, though, they’re challenging something very deep in society’s expectations of them – and perhaps their stance is the most radical female stance of all.

Complete Article HERE!

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5 Types of Orgasms and How to Get One (or More)

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by Hannah Rimm

The ‘Big O(s)’

There’s a lot of talk about the “Big O,” but did you know there’s more than one kind of O to sing about? Orgasms in women may seem a little harder to spot since there’s no obvious spray to end the play. But they exist, and with a little awareness and attention, you can get the Os you deserve, from the fireworks-on-display kind to the calm oh-my-gods.

When you find yourself missing out on the Big O, there are three likely culprits: expectations, communication, and method. And alongside all of that, experimenting is required. You’ll find sites reporting that there are anywhere from 12 orgasms to just 1. But we’re focusing on the five an average person can achieve, for the definitive happy ending they deserve.

What are the types of orgasms?

Here’s a list of the most common types of orgasms and what they typically feel like, although this varies from person to person:

Now, how do we make these orgasms happen?

Let’s talk about the clitoris

The clitoris is a small organ with a lot of nerve endings that peeks out from the tiptop of the vulva, is often covered by a hood, and extends down the inside of the labia. The best way to stimulate the clitoris is by gently rubbing with the fingers, palm, or tongue in a back and forth or circular motion.

Tackling the elusive vaginal orgasm

Vaginal orgasm is often misconstrued as the “best” way for women to orgasm (read: the easiest for penises), but it’s often the most difficult for ladies. Instead of a penis, try fingers or a sex toy. Insert the fingers or toy into the vagina and make a “come hither” motion toward the belly button.

There’s a point of pleasure on this wall called the G-spot and when you hit it with regular, strong pressure, it can lead to orgasm. Stimulation of the G-spot is also the way to lead to female ejaculation, as it stimulates the Skene’s glands on either side of the urethra.

Exploring the anal orgasm

Anal orgasms are much more common in men because of the prostate, but can also be achieved simply by rubbing the outside of the anal opening as well as stimulating the inside of the anus with a finger. When it comes to anal sex, please, please, please use lube. Butts don’t naturally produce lubricant and the skin around the area is very prone to tears, which can lead to unwanted infection.

If you’re looking to return the favor with your male partner, stimulate the prostate by gently inserting a finger straight forward and massage the gland.

Going for the combo and erogenous zones

In order to achieve a combo orgasm, combine clitoral and vaginal stimulation at the same time, either in parallel or opposite rhythms — whatever feels best for you or your partner. This is also the most common way to achieve female ejaculation because the clitoris is stimulated and the G-spot or Skene’s glands are engaged.

Finally, erogenous zone orgasms are achieved exclusively through a lot of experimentation. You may be able to orgasm from kisses on your neck, teeth on your nipples, or fingers on the inside of your elbows. The best way to find your erogenous zones is to use a feather or another light external object and take note where you feel the most pleasure.

Orgasms won’t come without communication

In any kind of sexual play, communication is key. Not only is consent literally required by law, but telling your partner what you want, how, and where is the best way to ensure maximum pleasure. It’s ideal to have these conversations before engaging in sexual play, but it’s equally effective to guide your partner during sex. This means asking for what you want either with words or with your body language. Remember, partners aren’t mind readers, even though we want them to be.

This also means being open to experimentation. If your regular sex routine isn’t getting you off, then experimenting with touching new areas at different times with different body parts (genitals, fingers, mouths) is the next best step to solving your orgasm mystery.

It’s also important to note that experimenting and achieving orgasm doesn’t require a partner. Pleasure is not dependent and neither are you — the better you know your rhythm with fingers and toys, the faster you can teach your partner how you tango.

What actually happens during an orgasm?

What physically happens in a woman’s body during actual orgasm is this: the vagina, uterus, and anus (and sometimes other body parts like hands, feet, and abdomen) contract rapidly 3-15 times, squeezing for 0.8 seconds at a time. Women may also ejaculate, releasing a liquid out of the urethra that contains a mix of whitish fluid from the Skene’s peri-urethral glands and urine. Don’t worry — urine is very sterile and the liquid usually comes out clear.

But not everybody experiences sex and orgasm the same way. The above explanations are great starting points, but sex doesn’t have a manual. That’s why exploring in the moment and finding what your body loves is absolutely key.

Understanding the stages that lead to an orgasm may help you

Masters and Johnson wrote a book that detailed the sexual response cycle, which states that there are four stages of the sexual response:

  • Excitement. Initially being turned on.
  • Plateau. Repetitive motion that feels pleasurable.
  • Orgasm. The burst of pleasure, and release.
  • Resolution. The refractory period.

While this is mostly accurate, it’s too general — especially when these stages cross over and there’s no explosive resolution. It’s also inaccurate to suggest that sex ends in orgasm, because this denies many women of their orgasms by pushing the idea that sex is finished when their male partners finish. Plus, not all sex requires an orgasm and orgasms don’t mean the sex is great.

Orgasms can be small. They can happen many times in a row or just once, and they don’t always happen. Don’t define your orgasms by someone else’s description… that’s ultimately shorting yourself on pleasure. Your calm clitoral orgasm can still be mind-blowing, just as your combo orgasm can be fun, and your partner’s ejaculation can be exciting.

Bodies are different. Orgasms are different. But the path it takes to get there is all about experimenting, communicating, and trying again. Allow yourself to soak in the sensations of the pleasure process just as much, or even more than, the finale.

Repeat after us: Orgasms aren’t the end goal of sex.

Complete Article HERE!

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How Orgasms Actually Happen

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The complicated ways we experience sexuality.

By Gigi Engle

What leads us to orgasm? What if we haven’t experienced an orgasm? What happens to the body during orgasm? Have you had an orgasm? Is orgasm important?

These questions have been asked for many, many years. We’re constantly trying to break down orgasm. We want to know how to have one, how we get there, and how we get our partners there.

There is so much variance in the way women experience desire, pleasure, arousal, and orgasm. There are no true black and white answers. “Most of us tend to think of sex as linear and it doesn’t have to be. It’s great to use it as a guideline, but everyone’s experience is subjective,” Dr. Emily Morse, a sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast tells Brides.

While we can suss out facts based on scientific research, it is important to recognize that there are vast personal differences. We each fall on a kind of spectrum. In no way is this information meant to incite feelings of “lacking” or “abnormality.”

The only normal that exists is the abnormal. We are all complex, unique, and different.

That being said, here is everything we know on the stages of sexual response and, yes, orgasm.

A wee bit of history

Not to bore you with a bunch of facts and history, but it’s actually quite important when discussing the ways we’ve come to understand (and not understand) female sexuality. If we don’t have the facts, what do we even have? It’s not like the information we receive on sex from school or family is highly reliable. (If you hate history and facts, just skip to section three).

When we talk about human sexual response, orgasm, etc. we usually jump to the original model created by pioneering sex researchers, Masters and Johnson, in the 1960s. These groundbreaking researchers broke the human sexual response cycle into excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. While a huge contribution to sexual science, Rena McDaniel, a certified sex therapist, tells Brides that this isn’t where the story ends.

In the 70s, this original model of human sexual response was further developed by Helen Singer Kaplan, adding in desire as the beginning of the sexual response cycle. This made way for a new framework which broke sexual response into a Triphasic Model: desire, arousal, orgasm.

“I’m most concerned with women knowing the difference between desire and arousal. Desire is our sex drive, our pilot light, or mental stimulation – whereas arousal is what happens when we’re physically turned on,” says Morse. Desire is in your mind, arousal is in the body. Including desire in the overall sexual cycle is crucial.

This three-part model may seem a little simpler than the Masters and Johnson’s, but it actually accounts for the overlapping, broad way we experience desire and arousal. Each of these three phases is complex and are experienced differently from woman to woman.

But, there’s more!

Sexual response was even further developed by researchers Janssen and Bancroft’s Dual Control Model and Basson’s Sexual Response Cycle.

These models map out sexual response as a super complex, overlapping, nonlinear system. McDaniel tells us that for female sexual experiences, desire may not be the first thing you feel; it might develop as you brain recognizes and codifies sexually relevant contexts. For example, your partner has lit candles and you start making out. Your vagina may lubricate before you think, “This is hot. I’m into it.”

“The Dual Control Model speaks to a similar system of ‘accelerators’ and ‘brakes’ that govern sexual response in a non-linear way,” McDaniel says. Accelerators move you forward in the sexual response cycle, while breaks slow you down. (To learn more, read on here.)

It’s complicated to say the least!

So, why does this matter?

It’s, like, why are we talking about this history stuff when there are juicy sex things to discuss? Because if you’re a woman, or a man, or a genderqueer person, or a non-binary person, or ANY person, you know that sexuality is complex AF.

It’s important to know how far science has come in order to get a better grasp on how your body works. If anything, all of this history and research can show you how we’re still figuring stuff out. You are not broken or lacking. Bodies are not a one-size-fits-all model.

Orgasm is not some ‘big finish” or “goal”

If the history lesson above should teach you anything it’s that sexual response and experience is anything but simple. Orgasm is defined as the involuntary release of sexual tension. That’s it. The word pleasure ain’t present in there, y’all.

We put a bunch of pressure on “orgasm” as this exciting big finish. If we don’t “get there” or if our orgasm is anything other than earth-shattering, we’ve failed. This is the wrong way to think about it. And frankly, it just makes women feeling like crap about themselves.

Orgasm isn’t the goal—sexual pleasure is the goal. If orgasm happens to take place, great. If not, your sexual experience is not invalidated. “When we reframe orgasm as the ‘cherry on top’ of a pleasurable and intimate sexual experience, it takes the pressure off and gives us more space to be present and enjoy the pleasurable sensations for their own sake instead of a means to an end,” McDaniels explains.

What this all means

Stop forcing an orgasm! It’s not doing anything for you. Putting pressure and stress on yourself will not result in the framework needed to relax into an orgasm.

If your partner is constantly asking you, “Did you come?” Have a conversation with them about how orgasm works. Pressure = breaks.

“It’s most important for women to figure out what turns them on and explore their body rather than worrying about whether or not they’re experiencing the ‘correct’ model of sexual arousal,” Morse says.

If we stopped freaking ourselves out so much, we’d probably all have more orgasms. Ah, a lovely sexual catch-22. Take time for yourself and figure out what works for you. Whatever works is right. That’s all there is to it. “Self-exploration is the key to understanding what it takes to orgasm during sex,” Mose says.

Masturbate, masturbate, masturbate. Consider this your call to action.

Complete Article HERE!

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Finding it difficult to get that big O? Here’s all you need to know about orgasmic disorder

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Bookmark these 5 tricks to deal with inconsistent orgasm.

By Aishwarya Vaidya

During sexual activity, there is a feeling of intense sexual pleasure which is known as an orgasm but many women find it difficult to get it and hence don’t tend to enjoy the sexual activity. But, do you know that women who find it difficult to get an orgasm or there is a reduced intensity of sensations can suffer from an orgasmic disorder. A woman can fail to get an orgasm due to relationship problems, alcohol consumption, anxiety and pregnancy concerns. Here, we decode the female orgasmic disorder for you and tell you how to get the best orgasm.

Orgasmic disorder
Difficulty or inability for a woman to reach orgasm during sexual stimulation is known as an orgasmic disorder (female orgasmic disorder). Orgasm is either absent or significantly reduced in intensity on almost all or all occasions of sexual activity in women with the female orgasmic disorder. Though, this can affect their relationship and cause distress.

The causes

A woman can experience orgasm during masturbation than during sexual intercourse. Mental health, low sexual desires, marital difficulties, boredom and monotony. Hormonal disorders and even sexual health can get affected due to chronic illnesses which can also be some of the factors. Furthermore, the woman may be shy or embarrassed to ask about the stimulation which can work wonders. Lack of emotional bonding can also be the culprit.

Here are 5 ways to get the best orgasm

Use fantasies
To turn off your anxiety and get turned by coming up with a fantasy while masturbating or during sex. You need not worry if your fantasy doesn’t involve your partner with whom you are in the act. This can help you to get rid of your anxiety and you can get orgasm with ease.

Masturbate regularly
Orgasm issues related to a lack of awareness about what stimulation works best can result, as most of the women do not self-stimulate. Masturbating regularly can help you to get arouse and can regulate your hormones.

Relax yourself
Stress and anxiety can wreck your sex life. You can try yoga, meditation or take up any hobby of your choice to beat that stress. This will help you to increase your libido.

Teamwork
Your partner and you should work as a team here. It is all about you and your orgasm. So, you should also help yourself in this process. While your partner is penetrating, going down on, or fingering you, don’t hesitate from touching yourself and feel yourself. This can increase your arousal.

Observe what you like
To  get that big O, you should discover where you like to be touched and which are your erogenous zones.

Complete Article HERE!

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Can We Please Stop Blaming Women For Not Being Able To Orgasm?

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By Kasandra Brabaw

[M]edical experts, sexologists, and other sexperts had a lot to say when a Twitter user named La Sirena tweeted on Monday morning that all women should be able to have orgasms from penetrative sex alone. “When a woman can’t have an orgasm from pure penetration she’s usually suffering from some deep-seated mental [and] spiritual blockages regarding her sexuality [and] her worth. She probably doesn’t trust her sexual partner much either,” she tweeted.

In addition to her tweet simply being inaccurate (it’s well-known that a majority of people who have vaginas don’t orgasm from penetration alone), it also caused outrage because, La Sirena is putting the blame 100% on women. That’s a problem, says Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist who specializes in teaching women how to orgasm, because many people who struggle to have orgasms already blame themselves. “A lot of women are beating themselves up,” she says. Her clients have told her things like: “I feel like I’m the only woman in the world who hasn’t figured this out.” “What’s wrong with me?” and “I feel like I’m broken,” Marin says.

These kinds of insecurities are common, especially since women’s sexuality is still so taboo. But Marin says that even though we’re talking about women’s pleasure more than ever, the way we’re talking about it isn’t helpful. Often, information about having orgasms if you have a vagina involves something simplistic like “relax and it’ll happen,” she says. So, that makes people who can’t just relax and let their orgasms flow feel as if there’s something wrong with them.

That’s the same kind of rhetoric we see in La Sirena’s tweet. She goes on to say that once a woman releases her trauma, she should be able to orgasm on demand. She suggests kegels and womb massages to release physical trauma, but stresses that mental blockages need to be cleared, too. While there is some truth to what La Sirena is saying — i.e. doing regular kegels can cause stronger orgasms from penetrative sex and feeling emotionally distant or untrusting of a partner can make it difficult to reach climax — the problem lays in how she’s saying it.

Many people on Twitter have called La Sirena out for spouting “misogynistic shit under the guise of female empowerment,” as Jennifer Gunter, MD, an ob/gyn and a pain medicine physician, tweeted. And her critics have a point. If Marin could rewrite the tweet, she’d say, “Hey look, there’s a lot that can get wrapped up in our orgasm and it’s important for us to try to explore what comes up for us [during sex] and prioritize learning about our bodies and our sexuality.” That way, there’s no judgement about people who can’t climax from penetration alone. Because, FYI, there are lots of other (just as amazing) ways to orgasm.

Complete Article HERE!

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Why Does Sex Feel So Good, Anyway?

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By Kassie Brabaw

[T]here’s a reason that sex toy shops choose names like Pleasure Chest, Good Vibrations, and Sugar. All of these words invoke the tingling, heart-pumping, all-over ‘yum’ feelings many people associate with having sex.

There’s no question that great, consensual sex feels amazing. But why does it feel so good? What’s actually happening inside someone’s brain and body to create that euphoria?

According to sexologist Laura McGuire, PhD, there are three main physiological reasons someone feels sexual pleasure: the pudendal nerve, dopamine, and oxytocin.

The pudendal nerve is a large, sensitive nerve that allows someone’s genitals to send signals to their brain. In people who have vulvas, it has branches in the clitoris, the anus, and the perineum (the area between the anus and the vulva or the anus and the penis). In people who have penises, the pudendal nerve branches out to the anus, the perineum, and the penis. “It’s important for women to realize that the nerve doesn’t have much concentration inside the vaginal canal,” Dr. McGuire says. “Most of the pudendal nerve endings are focused on the clitoris.” That’s why it’s common for people who have vulvas to struggle reaching orgasm from penetrative sex alone, and why the clitoris is often considered the powerhouse of women’s sexual pleasure.

The pudendal nerve explains how signals get from someone’s genitals to their brain during sex, and then the brain releases dopamine and oxytocin, which causes a flood of happy, pleasurable feelings. “Oxytocin is often called ‘the love hormone,'” Dr. McGuire says. “It’s what makes us feel attached to people or things.” Oxytocin is released during sex and orgasm, but it’s also released when someone gives birth to help them feel attached to their baby, she says. “That’s the big one that makes you feel like your partner is special and you can’t get enough of them.”

Like oxytocin, dopamine helps your brain make connections. It connects emotional pleasure to physical pleasure during sex, Dr. McGuire says. “So, that’s the hormone that makes you think, that felt good, let’s do it again and again and again,” she says.

Oxytocin and dopamine are both in a class of hormones considered part of the brain’s reward system, says Lawrence Siegel, a clinical sexologist and certified sexuality educator. As someone’s body reaches orgasm, they flood their system because the brain is essentially trying to medicate them, Siegel says. “The brain seems to misunderstand sexual arousal as trauma,” he says. As someone gets aroused, their heart rate increases, their body temperature goes up, and their muscles tense, all of which happen when someone’s body is in trouble, too.

“As that continues to build and increase, it reaches a point when the brain looks down and says ‘Uh,oh you’re in trouble,'” Siegel says. “An orgasm is a massive release of feel-good chemicals that leaves you in a meditative state of consciousness.”

Yet, not everyone desires sex. So how do we explain asexuality? Science doesn’t have any solid answers, Dr. McGuire says, although it’s important to know that asexual people don’t choose to be asexual any more than gay people choose to be gay. While we don’t know what makes someone asexual, it’s pretty certain that there’s no physical difference between asexual people and everyone else, Siegel says.

“It’s not correct to say that people who identify as asexual don’t experience pleasure,” he says. “They just don’t have the desire to have sex.” Desire is ruled by different hormones, most notably testosterone. But even that might not fully explain why someone isn’t interested in having sex. “It feels like a different appraisal or reaction to the experience in their body,” Siegel says.

While everybody has a pudendal nerve and can experience the release of dopamine and oxytocin that happens with sex, not everyone will experience that release as pleasurable or experience the same level of pleasure. “People are very complicated,” Dr. McGuire says.

Complete Article HERE!

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A new study quantifies straight women’s “orgasm gap”—and explains how to overcome it

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by Leah Fessler

[E]ver faked an orgasm? Or just had orgasm-less sex? If you’re a woman—especially if you’re straight—your answer is probably “Ugh.” Followed by “Yes.”

Not reaching orgasm during sex is, obviously, a real bummer. Not only does it make the sex itself unfulfilling, but can lead to envy, annoyance, and regret. Thoughts like “Stop grinning you idiot, your moves were not like Jagger!” and “I didn’t ask him to go down on me…does that mean I’m not actually a feminist?” come to mind. It’s exhausting.

Traditional western culture hasn’t focused on female pleasure—society tells women not to embrace their sexuality, or ask for what they want. As a result many men (and women) don’t know what women like. Meanwhile, orgasming from penetrative sex alone is, for many women, really hard.

Many studies have shown that men, in general, have more orgasms than women—a concept known as the orgasm gap. But a new study published Feb. 17 in Archives of Sexual Behavior went beyond gender, exploring the orgasm gap between people of different sexualities in the US. The results don’t dismantle the orgasm gap, but they do alter it.

Among the approximately 52,600 people surveyed, 26,000 identified as heterosexual men; 450 as gay men; 550 as bisexual men; 24,00 as heterosexual women; 350 as lesbian women; and 1,100 as bisexual women. Notably, the vast majority of participants were white—meaning the sample size does not exactly represent the US population.

The researchers asked participants how often they reached orgasm during sex in the past month. They also asked how often participants gave and received oral sex, how they communicated about sex (including asking for what they want, praising their partner, giving and receiving feedback), and what sexual activities they tried (including new sexual positions, anal stimulation, using a vibrator, wearing lingerie, etc).

Men orgasmed more than women, and straight men orgasmed more than anyone else: 95% of the time. Gay men orgasmed 89% of the time, and bisexual men orgasmed 89% of the time. But hold the eye-roll: While straight and bisexual women orgasmed only 65% and 66% of the time, respectively, lesbian women orgasmed a solid 86% of the time.

These data suggest, contrary to unfounded biological and evolutionary explanations for women’s lower orgasmic potential, women actually can orgasm just as much as men. So, how do we crush the orgasm gap once and for all?

According to the study, the women who orgasmed most frequently in this study had a lot in common. They:

  • more frequently received oral sex
  • had sex for a longer duration of time
  • asked their partners for what they wanted
  • praised their partners
  • called and/or emailed to tease their partners about doing something sexual
  • wore sexy lingerie
  • tried new sexual positions
  • incorporated anal stimulation
  • acted out fantasies
  • incorporated sexy talk
  • expressed love during sex

And regardless of sexuality, the women most likely to have orgasmed in their last sexual encounter reported that particular encounter went beyond vaginal sex, incorporating deep kissing, manual genital stimulation, and/or oral sex.

The study’s authors noted that “lesbian women are in a better position to understand how different behaviors feel for their partner (e.g., stimulating the clitoris) and how these sensations build toward orgasm,” and that these women may be more likely to hold social norms of “equity in orgasm occurrence, including a ‘turn-taking’ culture.”

That might be true. But the study is pretty clear on the fact that anyone in a relationship of any kind can increase their partner’s orgasm frequency—and that it depends on caring about your partner’s pleasure enough to ask about what they want, enact those desires, and be receptive to feedback. Such communicative techniques—whether implemented by straight, gay, bisexual, or lesbian people—are what stimulate orgasm.

Complete Article HERE!

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How to close the female orgasm gap

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Studies show sexual pleasure, self-esteem and satisfaction profoundly impacts our wellbeing. That’s why increasing our ‘sexual IQ’ matters

By

[I]n this moment of brave truth telling and female empowerment, it’s time to address one topic that’s been missing far too long from our conversations around sex: female pleasure.

Study after study show that sexual pleasure, self-esteem and satisfaction have profound impacts on our physical and mental wellbeing. It is a natural and vital part of our health and happiness.

As a society, we accept this premise fairly easily when it comes to men and they learn it at a young age. When discovering how babies are made, male ejaculation (ie his pleasure) plays a featured role. Men feel entitled to pleasure and our culture supports that. There are endless nicknames for male anatomy and jokes about masturbation; and TV shows, movies, advertisements and porn all cater to their fantasies.

Women, on the other hand, appear mostly as the object in these fantasies rather than as subjects. In middle school sex ed classes, drawings of female anatomy often don’t even include the clitoris, as if women’s reproductive function is somehow separate from their pleasure. Female pleasure remains taboo and poorly understood. There is little scientific research on the topic and even doctors shy away from discussing it: according to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, less than 30% of gynecologists routinely ask their patients about pleasure and sexual satisfaction.

This silence has real consequences. Almost 30% of college-age women can’t identify their clitoris on an anatomy test, according to a study from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Another survey by the UK gynecological cancer charity, Eve Appeal, finds that women are more familiar with men’s bodies than their own: while 60% could correctly label a diagram of the male body, just 35% of women correctly labeled female anatomy. (For the record, men scored even worse.)

Lack of sexual health knowledge is associated with lower rates of condom and contraceptive use. It also contributes to pleasure disparities in the bedroom. While gay and straight men climax about 85% of the time during sex, women having sex with women orgasm about 75% of the time and women having sex with men come last at just 63%, research from the Kinsey Institute shows. The reasons for this “orgasm gap” are surely multifaceted, but we can start to address it by talking more about the importance of women’s pleasure.

Let’s talk about what women’s sexual anatomy really looks like, so that we can normalize differences, reduce body shame and improve self-care. We should encourage self-exploration from an early age so that women (and men) learn what feels good to them and how that changes as we move through the different stages of our lives.

Knowing our own bodies can promote our own health and wellbeing, and empower our relationships. The Kinsey study showed that compared to women who orgasmed less frequently, women who experienced more pleasure were more likely to ask for what they want in bed, act out fantasies and praise their partner for something they did in bed, among other things. We can’t talk about what we like or don’t like with our partners if we don’t know ourselves.

In order to cultivate a culture of true gender equality, we need candid conversations and accurate, sex-positive information. Without this, pop culture, pornography and outdated cultural institutions fill in these gaps with unhealthy stereotypes and unrealistic expectations that center on male pleasure and leave women in a supporting role.

Through our willingness to speak openly about sex and to seek out empowering information, we can increase our “sexual IQ” and make more informed choices that will improve our sexual satisfaction, happiness and wellbeing throughout our lives.

As author Peggy Orenstein says “We’ve raised a generation of girls to have a voice, to expect egalitarian treatment in the homes, in the classroom, in the workplace. Now it’s time to demand that ‘intimate justice’ in their personal lives as well.”

Complete Article HERE!

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9 Sex Resolutions Every Woman Should Make for the New Year

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By Danielle Friedman

For those of us who make New Year’s resolutions, we too often focus on doing less—eating less sugar, drinking less booze, spending less time in pajamas binge-watching The Crown. And while those goals may be worthy (though, really, The Crown is pretty great), this year, we’d also like to encourage women to do more—when it comes to pleasure.

As research consistently shows, the “orgasm gap” between men and women is real. A study published this year in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that, while 95 percent of heterosexual men said they usually-to-always orgasm when sexually intimate, only 65 percent of heterosexual women said the same. Meanwhile, along with simply feeling good, orgasms bring an impressive list of health benefits, from decreased stress to better sleep. “There’s freedom in pleasure,” Kait Scalisi, MPH, a sex educator and counselor and instructor at the Institute for Sexual Enlightenment in New York City, tells Health.

Convinced yet? We culled sexual health research and called on Scalisi’s expertise to bring you nine tips for getting the pleasure you deserve in 2018.

Carve out time for solo pleasure

If masturbation feels self-indulgent, that’s because it is—in the best way possible. Still, in a recent national survey out of Indiana University, one in five women said they had never masturbated in their lifetime—and only 40.8% said they had masturbated in the past month. In the year ahead, consider devoting more time exclusively to solo sexual satisfaction.

“The more you learn about your body and what feels good—and what doesn’t feel good—the more you can bring that into partner sex,” says Scalisi. And if you aren’t having sex with a partner, well, “the more you are able to bring yourself oodles of pleasure.”

Try a vibrator

Thanks to lingering stigmas around sex and pleasure, many women still feel too shy to purchase a vibrator. But research shows this is changing: In the same Indiana University survey, about half of women said they had used a sex toy. And that’s a good thing!

“Vibrators give us one more way to explore what feels good and what doesn’t,” says Scalisi. And the more methods we experiment with, “the more flexible we’ll be in terms of our ability to experience pleasure.” If you haven’t given one a whirl, why not start now?

Focus on foreplay

For the majority of women, research has shown that intercourse alone isn’t enough to orgasm—but a little bit of foreplay can go a long way. “One of the most common things I hear from clients is that [sex moves] too fast, from kiss kiss to grab grab,” says Scalisi. “Most women need time to transition from their day to sexy time. And that’s really what foreplay allows.”

Foreplay can start hours before the act. “When you say good-bye in the morning, have a longer, lingering hug,” she says. Send flirty texts during the day, or read or listen to erotic novels on your commute. As for in-the-moment foreplay, make time for kissing, touching, and massaging. “That allows the body to really experience a higher level of pleasure, and then satisfaction.”

Resolve to never fake an orgasm

If you’ve faked it during sex, you’re not alone. But chances are, if you’re feigning an orgasm, whether to avoid hurting a partner’s feelings or to hurry sex along, you’re missing out on having a real one. And if you want to be having a real one, that’s a situation worth remedying. “If [your partner isn’t] stimulating you in the way you enjoy, have that conversation,” says Scalisi. Maybe not in the heat of the moment, but at a later time when you’re feeling connected.

Don’t apologize for body parts you don’t like

When we’re self-conscious about our bodies during sex, we’re distracted from the act itself—and when we’re distracted, research shows, the quality of sex can suffer.

“So much of what impacts sex has nothing to do with the mechanics of sex,” says Scalisi. A very worthy goal for sex in 2018 is to “learn to be with your body as it is. You don’t necessarily have to be totally in love with it, but just be with it as it is. That allows you to be present, and to process sensation in a more pleasurable way.”

Try a new move or position

Changing up your sexual routine can feel daunting if you’re not especially sexually adventurous, but a tiny bit of risk can bring big rewards. Just the act of trying something new together can help you feel more connected to your partner, “no matter how it turns out!,” says Scalisi. “It can be a tweak to a position that you already know and love or an entirely new position. It can be as big or as small, as adventurous or as mundane, as you and your partner are comfortable with.”

Discover a new erogenous zone

Women’s bodies are filled with erogenous zones—some of which you may only stumble upon if you go looking! (Did you know the forearm ranks among women’s most sensitive parts?) “Have a sexy date night in,” says Scalisi. “Strip down and take the time to explore your partner’s body from head to toe. … The goal here is not orgasm. The goal is to answer the question: What else feels good? What else turns me on?”

Watch woman-directed porn

When women call the shots in porn—literally and figuratively—the final product tends to be “a bit more realistic and a bit more body- and sex-positive” than male-directed porn, says Scalisi, “and that means you can see a bit more of yourself of it.” Not only is women-directed porn excellent for stoking desire and arousal, but it can also inspire new ideas for your IRL sex life.

Speak up if you’d like your partner to touch you differently

It doesn’t have to be awkward! And even if it is, it’s worth it in the long run. “If you’re in the moment, rather than focus on the negative stuff, focus on what would feel good,” says Scalisi. “So rather than say, ‘I don’t like that you’re doing this,’ say ‘It would feel so good if you stroked me softly.’” Then, later, consider having a conversation about your likes and dislikes.

Complete Article HERE!

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Women don’t need to ‘switch off’ to climax, orgasm study shows

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Not switching off

By Helen Thomson

[T]he most detailed study yet of orgasm brain activity has discovered why climaxing makes women feel less pain and shown that ‘switching off’ isn’t necessary.

It’s not easy to study the brain during orgasm. “A brain scanner like fMRI is the least sexy place in the world,” says Nan Wise at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. “It’s noisy, claustrophobic and cold.” There is also the problem of keeping your head still – movement of little more than the width of a pound coin can render data useless.

Despite these hurdles, Wise and her colleagues recruited 10 heterosexual women to lay in a fMRI scanner and stimulate themselves to orgasm. They then repeated the experiment but had their partners stimulate them.

Wise’s custom-fitted head stabiliser allowed the team to follow brain activity in 20 second intervals to see what happens just before, during, and after an orgasm.

Pain relief

Back in 1985, Wise’s colleagues Beverly Whipple and Barry Komisaruk, both at Rutgers, discovered that, during self-stimulation and orgasm, women are less likely to notice painful squeezing of a finger, and can tolerate more of this pain. They found that women’s ability to withstand pain increased by 75 per cent during stimulation, while the level of squeezing at which women noticed the pain more than doubled.

Now Wise’s team has explained why. At the point of orgasm, the dorsal raphe nucleus area of the brain becomes more active. This region plays a role in controlling the release of the brain chemical serotonin, which can act as an analgesic, dampening the sensation of pain.

Her team also saw a burst of activity in the nucleus cuneiformis, which is a part of brainstem systems that are thought to help us control pain through thought alone.

“Together, this activity – at least in part – seems to account for the pain attenuating effect of the female orgasm,” says Wise.

Turn on, not off

Wise’s team also found evidence that overturns the assumption that the female brain “switches off” during orgasm.

In 2005, Gert Holstege at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands used a PET scanner to analyse brain activity in 13 women while they were resting, faking an orgasm and being stimulated by their partner to orgasm. While activity in sensory regions of the brain increased during orgasm, activity fell in large number of regions – including those involved in emotion – compared with their brain at rest.

Based on this finding, it was suggested that women have to be free from worries and distractions in order to climax. From an evolutionary point of view, the brain might switch off its emotional areas because the chance to produce offspring is more important than the immediate survival to the individual.

But the new study saw the opposite: brain activity in regions responsible for movement, senses, memory and emotions all gradually increased during the lead-up to orgasm, when activity then peaked and lowered again. “We found no evidence of deactivation of brain regions during orgasm,” says Wise.

The difference between the two studies may be because PET can only get a small snapshot of brain activity over a short period of time, unlike fMRI scanners.

Better understanding

It’s not yet clear why pain sensation decreases during orgasm, or if men experience the same phenomenon. It may be that, in order to feel pleasure in the brain, the neural circuits that process pain have to be dampened down.

Whipple suggests that the pain-dampening effects of the female orgasm could be related to child birth. Her research suggests that pain sensitivity is reduced when the baby’s head emerges through the birth canal. Vaginal stimulation may therefore reduce pain in order to help mothers cope with the final stages of birth, and promote initial bonding with the baby.

The ability to study what happens during stimulation and orgasm could be used to better understand and treat those who have mood disorders like anhedonia – the inability to experience pleasure, says Wise. “We know so little about pleasure in the brain, we are just now learning the basics.”

You might wonder what it’s like to participate in such experiments. Wise says people often think her participants must be exhibitionists, but it’s not the case, she says. “Some women do like that aspect, but most are doing it because it’s empowering to them. Some find it difficult to orgasm, others don’t. One of our participants in this experiment was a 74-year-old lady who had two fabulous orgasms in the machine. I said to her, ‘You go girl!’ ”

Complete Article HERE!

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9 Reasons You Might Not Be Orgasming

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By Sophie Saint Thomas

[W]hile orgasms don’t define good sex, they are pretty damn nice. However, our bodies, minds, and relationships are complicated, meaning orgasms aren’t always easy to come by (pun intended). From dating anxiety to medication to too little masturbation, here are nine possible culprits if you’re having a hard time orgasming — plus advice on how to deal.

1. You expect vaginal sex alone to do it for you.

One more time, for the cheap seats in the back: Only about 25 percent of people with vaginas come from penetration alone. If you’re not one of them, that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you or your body. As licensed psychotherapist Amanda Luterman has told Allure, ability to come from vaginal sex has to do with the distance between the vaginal opening and the clitoris: The closer your clit is to this opening, the more vaginal sex will stimulate your clit.

The sensation of a penis or a dildo sliding into your vagina can be undeniably delightful. But most need people need that sensation paired with more direct clitoral stimulation in order to come. Try holding a vibrator against your clit as your partner penetrates you, or put your or your partner’s hands to good use.

2. Your partner is pressuring you.

Interest in your partner’s pleasure should be non-optional. But when you’re having sex with someone and they keep asking if you’ve come yet or if you’re close, it can throw your orgasm off track. As somatic psychologist and certified sex therapist Holly Richmond points out, “Being asked to perform is not sexy.” If your partner is a little too invested in your orgasm, it’s time to talk. Tell them you appreciate how much they care, but that you’re feeling pressure and it’s killing the mood for you.

It’s possible that they’re judging themselves as a partner based on whether or not you climax, and they may be seeking a little reassurance that they’re making you feel good. If they are, say so; if you’re looking to switch it up, this is your opportunity to tell them it would be so hot if they tried this or that thing next time you hop in bed.

3. Your antidepressants are messing with your sex drive.

As someone who continues to struggle with depression, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to seek treatment and take medication if you and your care provider decide that’s what’s right for you. Antidepressants can be lifesavers, and I mean that literally.

However, certain medications do indeed affect your ability to come. SSRIs such as Zoloft, Lexapro, and Prozac can raise the threshold of how much stimulation you need to orgasm. According to New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder, author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long Lasting Relationship. “For some women, that just means you’re going to need a good vibrator,” says New York City sex therapist Stephen Snyder, author of Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long Lasting Relationship. “For others, it might mean your threshold is so high that no matter what you do, you’re just not going to be able to get there.”

If your current medication is putting a dramatic damper on your sex life, you have options, so talk to your doctor. Non-SSRI antidepressants such as Wellbutrin are available, while newer medications like Viibryd or Trintellix may come with fewer sexual side effects than other drugs, Snyder says. I’m currently having excellent luck with Fetzima. I don’t feel complete and utter hopelessness yet can also come my face off (a wonderful way to live).

4. Your birth control is curbing your libido.

Hormonal birth control can also do a number on your ability to climax, according to Los Angeles-based OB/GYN Yvonne Bohn. That’s because it can decrease testosterone levels, which in turn can mean a lower libido and fewer orgasms. If you’re on the pill and the sexual side effect are giving you grief, ask your OB/GYN about switching to a pill with a lower dose of estrogen or changing methods altogether.

5. You’re living with anxiety or depression.

“Depression and anxiety are based on imbalances between neurotransmitters,” OB/GYN Jessica Shepherd tells Allure. “When your dopamine is too high or too low, that can interfere with the sexual response, and also your levels of libido and ability to have sexual intimacy.” If you feel you may have depression or an anxiety disorder, please go see a doctor. Your life is allowed to be fun.

6. You’re not having sex for long enough.

A good quickie can be exciting (and sometimes necessary: If you’re getting it on in public, for example, it’s not exactly the time for prolonged foreplay.) That said, a few thrusts of a penis inside of a vagina is not a reliable recipe for mutual orgasm. Shepherd stresses the importance of foreplay, which can include oral, deep kissing, genital stimulation, sex toys, and more. Foreplay provides both stimulation and anticipation, making the main event, however you define that, even more explosive.

7. You’re recovering from sexual trauma.

Someone non-consensually went down on me as part of a sexual assault four years ago, and I’ve only been able to come from oral sex one time since then. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common among survivors of sexual trauma; so are anxiety and orgasm-killing flashbacks, whether or not the survivor in question develops clinical PTSD. Shepherd says sexual trauma can also cause hypertonicity, or increased and uncomfortable muscle tension that can interfere with orgasm. If you’re recovering from sexual trauma, I encourage you to find a therapist to work with, because life — including your sex life — can get better.

8. You’re experiencing body insecurity.

Here’s the thing about humans: They want to have sex with people they’re attracted to. Richmond says it’s important to remember your partner chooses to have sex with you because they’re turned on by your body. (I feel confident your partner loves your personality, as well.) One way to tackle insecurity is to focus on what your body can do — for example, the enormous pleasure it can give and receive — rather than what it looks like.

9. You’re shying away from masturbation.

Our partners don’t always know what sort of stimulation gets us off, and it’s especially hard for them to know when we don’t know ourselves. If you’re not sure what type of touch you enjoy most, set aside some time and use your hands, a sex toy, or even your bathtub faucet to explore your body at a leisurely pace. Once you start to discover how to make yourself feel good, you can demonstrate your techniques to your partner.

Complete Article HERE!

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Female Orgasms Are Not Puzzling Enigmas, Study Helpfully Concludes

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By Tom Hale

[T]he female orgasm is apparently a subject of great mystery and bewilderment for many men and women alike. But after you break through the old myths, taboos, and prudishness, it’s not quite as complicated as the glossy gossip magazines and hearsay makes out.

A new study by sexual health experts at Indiana University looked into female orgasms and the sexual preferences of a “nationally representative” group of 1,055 women in the US from the ages of 18 to 94 to demystify the idea female orgasms are complicated and encourage people to communicate what works for them.

It turns out, the female orgasm is hardly a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. However, that’s not to say that women don’t have their own preferences. Just like music, food, art, and all the best things in life, we all like different things.

According to the study, just under 1 in 5 women said that sexual intercourse alone was sufficient for orgasm, over 36 percent reported clitoral stimulation was necessary for orgasm during intercourse, and an additional 36 percent suggested clitoral stimulation was not needed during sex but it made the orgasm all the better. A considerable number of the women, almost 1 in 10, said they did not climax during intercourse at all.

Basically, the long and short of it was that different women enjoy different things: some can orgasm during sex, some can orgasm from stimulating the clitoris during sex, some women do not have orgasms easily (or have gone through periods of life where it was difficult to climax).

The study even investigating different ways women liked to be touched. Once again, while there were certainly different preferences, it isn’t the enigma it’s occasionally made out to be. The huge majority of women enjoyed a light to medium pressure of touch, while nearly 16 percent said all pressures felt good and 10 percent liked firm pressure. Around two-thirds of women enjoyed touching in a up-and-down movement, 50 percent like circular movements, and 30 percent indicated a preference for a side-to-side motion.

The study authors explain that the real importance of the study is “underscoring the value of partner communication to sexual pleasure and satisfaction.” The only real requirement to have fun in the bedroom is the ability to communicate, embrace, and not shy away from finding out what works for you.

The researchers add that they hope their study helps to break down some of these boundaries, making it easier for women and men alike to comfortably communicate about sex, suggesting developing a “more specific vocabulary for discussing and labeling their preferences could empower them to better explore and convey to partners what feels good to them.”

Complete Article HERE!

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These Are the Moves That Really Make Women Orgasm, According to Science

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Back and forth? Up and down? Straight across or in a circle? No one type of touch guarantees an amazing climax for everyone, but the women in a recent study said yes! yes! yes! most often to these.

By Julia Naftulin

If you relied on Hollywood as your guide to sexual pleasure, you’d think that the typical woman only needed to rock the sheets for 8 seconds before finding herself on the brink of an earth-shattering orgasm.

But in the real world, this usually isn’t the way it goes. And the results of a recent study back up the fact that not only do most women need some level of hands-on touching to hit climax during intercourse, the type of touch—the rhythm, motion, and pressure—varies widely.

The study, published in July in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, surveyed over 1,000 women between ages 18 and 94. Participants were asked how much touching they needed to reach orgasm and what exact strokes produced the most pleasure, among other questions.

One major finding: 37% of women said they need clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. Another 36% said that having this body part touched isn’t necessary for reaching the big O—but it does make the experience that much better.

When it comes to specifics, two-thirds of the women in the study said they preferred up-and-down motions directly on their clitoris, while 52% enjoyed direct circular movements and a third liked direct side-to-side strokes. The majority of women reported preferring light to medium pressure on their vulva, with 11% preferring firm pressure there.

Among the two thirds of women who said they preferred indirect clitoral stimulation, 69% said they enjoyed touching “through the skin above the hood,” the study stated. Approximately 29% said they liked it “through both lips pushed together (like a sandwich).” Twenty percent favored indirect touch “through the skin on the right side of [the] clitoris,” and 19.2% chose “through the skin on the left side of [the] clitoris.”

“I hope this study challenges the idea that certain things work for everyone or everyone should have sex a certain way,” Debby Herbenick, PhD, director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and a co-author of the study, tells Health. 

“Forever, data on orgasms during intercourse focused on college women or people in sex therapy,” says Herbenick. “But this study was nationally representative and speaks to women of all ages, educations, races, and ethnicities, since it matches the demographics of women in the United States.”

While there’s no formula for the perfect orgasm, the study shows that some types of touch are more popular than others. And while the researchers make no judgments, Herbenick has one suggestion for women hoping to experience more pleasurable orgasms: maintain an open dialogue with your partner about the type of touch you like.

Complete Article HERE!

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