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How do women really know if they are having an orgasm?

Dr Nicole Prause is challenging bias against sexual research to unravel apparent discrepancies between physical signs and what women said they experienced

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It’s not always clear if a woman is really having an orgasm, as Meg Ryan demonstrated in When Harry Met Sally.

It’s not always clear if a woman is really having an orgasm, as Meg Ryan demonstrated in When Harry Met Sally.

In the nascent field of orgasm research, much of the data relies on subjects self-reporting, and in men, there’s some pretty clear physiological feedback in the form of ejaculation.

But how do women know for sure if they are climaxing? What if the sensation they have associated with climax is actually one of the the early foothills of arousal? And how does a woman know when if she has had an orgasm?

Neuroscientist Dr Nicole Prause set out to answer these questions by studying orgasms in her private laboratory. Through better understanding of what happens in the body and the brain during arousal and orgasm, she hopes to develop devices that can increase sex drive without the need for drugs.

Understanding orgasm begins with a butt plug. Prause uses the pressure-sensitive anal gauge to detect the contractions typically associated with orgasm in both men and women. Combined with EEG, which measures brain activity, this allows for a more accurate picture of a woman’s arousal and orgasm.

Dr Nicole Prause has founded Liberos to study brain stimulation and desire.

Dr Nicole Prause has founded Liberos to study brain stimulation and desire.

When Prause began studying women in this way she noticed something surprising. “Many of the women who reported having an orgasm were not having any of the physical signs – the contractions – of an orgasm.”

It’s not clear why that is, but it is clear that we don’t know an awful lot about orgasms and sexuality. “We don’t think they are faking,” she said. “My sense is that some women don’t know what an orgasm is. There are lots of pleasure peaks that happen during intercourse. If you haven’t had contractions you may not know there’s something different.”

Prause, an ultramarathon runner and keen motorcyclist in her free time, started her career at the Kinsey Institute in Indiana, where she was awarded a doctorate in 2007. Studying the sexual effects of a menopause drug, she first became aware of the prejudice against the scientific study of sexuality in the US.

When her high-profile research examining porn “addiction” found the condition didn’t fit the same neurological patterns as nicotine, cocaine or gambling, it was an unpopular conclusion among people who believe they do have a porn addiction.

The evolution of design of the anal pressure gauge used in Nicole Prause’s lab to detect orgasmic contractions.

The evolution of design of the anal pressure gauge used in Nicole Prause’s lab to detect orgasmic contractions.

“People started posting stories online that I had falsified my data and I received all kinds of sexist attacks,” she said. Soon anonymous emails of complaint were turning up at the office of the president of UCLA, where she worked from 2012 to 2014, demanding that Prause be fired.

Does orgasm benefit mental health?

Prause pushed on with her research, but repeatedly came up against challenges when seeking approval for studies involving orgasms. “I tried to do a study of orgasms while at UCLA to pilot a depression intervention. UCLA rejected it after a seven-month review,” she said. The ethics board told her that to proceed, she would need to remove the orgasm component – rendering the study pointless.

Undeterred, Prause left to set up her sexual biotech company Liberos, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, in 2015. The company has been working on a number of studies, including one exploring the benefits and effectiveness of “orgasmic meditation”, working with specialist company OneTaste.

Part of the “slow sex” movement, the practice involves a woman having her clitoris stimulated by a partner – often a stranger – for 15 minutes. “This orgasm state is different,” claims OneTaste’s website. “It is goalless, intuitive, and dynamic. It flows all over the place with no set direction. It may include climax, or it may not. In Orgasm 2.0, we learn to listen to what our body wants instead of what we think we ‘should’ want.”

Prause wants to determine whether arousal has any wider benefits for mental health. “The folks that practice this claim it helps with stress and improves your ability to deal with emotional situations even though as a scientist it seems pretty explicitly sexual to me,” she said.

Prause is examining orgasmic meditators in the laboratory, measuring finger movements of the partner, as well as brainwave activity, galvanic skin response and vaginal contractions of the recipient. Before and after measuring bodily changes, researchers run through questions to determine physical and mental states. Prause wants to determine whether achieving a level of arousal requires effort or a release in control. She then wants to observe how Orgasmic Meditation affects performance in cognitive tasks, how it changes reactivity to emotional images and how it compares with regular meditation.

Brain stimulation is ‘theoretically possible’

Another research project is focused on brain stimulation, which Prause believes could provide an alternative to drugs such as Addyi, the “female Viagra”. The drug had to be taken every day, couldn’t be mixed with alcohol and its side-effects can include sudden drops in blood pressure, fainting and sleepiness. “Many women would rather have a glass of wine than take a drug that’s not very effective every day,” said Prause.

The field of brain stimulation is in its infancy, though preliminary studies have shown that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), which uses direct electrical currents to stimulate specific parts of the brain, can help with depression, anxiety and chronic pain but can also cause burns on the skin. Transcranial magnetic stimulation, which uses a magnet to activate the brain, has been used to treat depression, psychosis and anxiety, but can also cause seizures, mania and hearing loss.

Prause is studying whether these technologies can treat sexual desire problems. In one study, men and women receive two types of magnetic stimulation to the reward center of their brains. After each session, participants are asked to complete tasks to see how their responsiveness to monetary and sexual rewards (porn) has changed.

With DCS, Prause wants to stimulate people’s brains using direct currents and then fire up tiny cellphone vibrators that have been glued to the participants’ genitals. This provides sexual stimulation in a way that eliminates the subjectivity of preferences people have for pornography.

“We already have a basic functioning model,” said Prause. “The barrier is getting a device that a human can reliably apply themselves without harming their own skin.”


 
There is plenty of skepticism around the science of brain stimulation, a technology which has already spawned several devices including the headset Thync, which promises users an energy boost, and Foc.us, which claims to help with endurance.

Neurologist Steven Novella from the Yale School of Medicine uses brain stimulation devices in clinical trials to treat migraines, but he says there’s not enough clinical evidence to support these emerging consumer devices. “There’s potential for physical harm if you don’t know what you’re doing,” he said. “From a theoretical point of view these things are possible, but in terms of clinical claims they are way ahead of the curve here. It’s simultaneously really exciting science but also premature pseudoscience.”

Biomedical engineer Marom Bikson, who uses tDCS to treat depression at the City College of New York, agrees. “There’s a lot of snake oil.”

Sexual problems can be emotional and societal

Prause, also a licensed psychologist, is keen to avoid overselling brain stimulation. “The risk is that it will seem like an easy, quick fix,” she said. For some, it will be, but for others it will be a way to test whether brain stimulation can work – which Prause sees as a more balanced approach than using medication. “To me, it is much better to help provide it for people likely to benefit from it than to try to create fake problems to sell it to everyone.”

Sexual problems can be triggered by societal pressures that no device can fix. “There’s discomfort and anxiety and awkwardness and shame and lack of knowledge,” said psychologist Leonore Tiefer, who specializes in sexuality. Brain stimulation is just one of many physical interventions companies are trying to develop to make money, she says. “There’s a million drugs under development. Not just oral drugs but patches and creams and nasal sprays, but it’s not a medical problem,” she said.

Thinking about low sex drive as a medical condition requires defining what’s normal and what’s unhealthy. “Sex does not lend itself to that kind of line drawing. There is just too much variability both culturally and in terms of age, personality and individual differences. What’s normal for me is not normal for you, your mother or your grandmother.”

And Prause says that no device is going to solve a “Bob problem” – when a woman in a heterosexual couple isn’t getting aroused because her partner’s technique isn’t any good. “No pills or brain stimulation are going to fix that,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Name: Sofia
Gender:
Age: 54
Location: Arizona
You are sick Dr DICK! I believe that porn is a sign of weakness in men and women. They cannot control their need and put their personal relationship in harm. Its degrading towards women and it gives off the wrong message to men about women. Porn is very harmful in peoples daily lives. Relationships come to an end because of men’s porn addiction. Men have lost families, wives, girlfriends etc. because of porn. Men find themselves defending it so much that they end up losing the people in their lives who do not agree with it (wives, GF, BF, etc.) What does porn leave them? Nothing! Lonely nights with no one by their side and a PC full of nasty images. Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic. Men are destroying their lives to make a porn filmmakers more wealthy. What a great exchange.

So nice of you to drop by, Sofia, and thank you for being so solicitous about my health. Yes, I was sick; I had a little cold there for a couple of days, but now I’m better.

Oh wait, you’re saying I’m sick because I don’t share your repressive opinion about porn. I get it; you’re another moral crusader who needs to denigrate those who don’t share your beliefs. What’s up with that?

Ya know the thing is, darling, I actually agree with you; a lot of porn is harmful and exploitative. It also can be very disruptive to people’s lives and can cause serious damage to otherwise healthy relationships. I mean how difficult was it for you to come up with that critique? Taking pot shots at porn in this sex-negative culture is like shooting fish in a barrel. Get over yourself, girlfriend.

And ya know what else, ma’am, all the things you accuse porn of being — harmful and exploitative, disruptive, damaging to otherwise healthy relationships — you could say about organized religion, the fast food industry, our government, the credit card industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical industry, the war machine and it’s horrific profiteers, like Halaburton. And the list goes on and on.

Hell, everything humans touch has the potential for becoming harmful and exploitative; it’s in our nature.  We can just as easily fuck things up as make them up-lifting and life-affirming. Even your own tirade is harmful and disruptive to those of us who are and have been trying to make a difference in the adult entertainment industry. Trust me, you would have made a better case if you said you wanted to help change the status quo in porn, not just point out its inherent flaws.

And what’s all this; “Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic”? What, are you saying you’re the alternative? Perhaps, if you weren’t so bitchy, condescending and mean-spirited the men in your life wouldn’t need to turn to porn. Your abrasive personality and moral rectitude would drive the pope to porn.

Oh, and have a nice day!

Name: Phillip
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: Austin, Texas
Dr. D, I’ve never had a problem with my sex life up until now. My wife and I have been very happy with our physical relationship. But, about 8 months ago, in a very vivid nightmare, I dreamed we were making love and when I came, the ejaculate was blood. I came blood. Everything in the dream stood still as I watched, almost as a third person, as my life flowed out of me. I woke in a sweat, and we’ve not made love since. We’ve talked about the dream, tried to be intimate, but I’m simply not able to enjoy the contact anymore. This is someone about whom I care deeply and with whom I am deeply in love. I’m considering professional help but would like your take. Thanks, Phillip in Austin

Interesting! Here is yet another instance of how one’s psyche can override one’s eroticism.

Trust me, Phillip, this is nothing to toy with; you are spot on thinking this is a matter for a professional. Like an earthquake, this vivid dream has jarred you out of your happy, healthy sex life with your wife. And like anyone who has survived an earthquake, or a similar natural disaster, you need to put your life together again as quickly as possible. I encourage you to seek a sex-positive therapist to help you break the spell of this nightmare.

To that end; I suppose you know that I offer counseling and therapy to all who visit Dr Dick’s Sex Advice, right? Thanks to the wonders of the internet and phone, my practice is not limited to the Seattle area. In fact, I have had remote clients from all over the world. Here’s what you do; look for the tab in the header that reads: Therapy Available.  You will find all the information you need to make an educated decision about joining me for some counseling.

Regardless if you choose to work with me or someone else, closer to home, the object here is to get on this ASAP. The longer you let this thing hang out there the more perverse it will become.

Good Luck ya’ll

Who’s up next?

Name: Sofia
Gender:
Age: 54
Location: Arizona
You are sick Dr DICK! I believe that porn is a sign of weakness in men and women. They cannot control their need and put their personal relationship in harm. Its degrading towards women and it gives off the wrong message to men about women. Porn is very harmful in peoples daily lives. Relationships come to an end because of men’s porn addiction. Men have lost families, wives, girlfriends etc. because of porn. Men find themselves defending it so much that they end up losing the people in their lives who do not agree with it (wives, GF, BF, etc.) What does porn leave them? Nothing! Lonely nights with no one by their side and a PC full of nasty images. Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic. Men are destroying their lives to make a porn filmmaker more wealthy. What a great exchange.

So nice of you to drop by, Sofia, and thank you for being so solicitous about my health. Yes, I was sick, I had a little cold there for a couple of days, but I’m much better now.

Oh wait, you’re saying I’m sick because I don’t share your repressive opinion about pornography. I get it; you’re another moral crusader who needs to denigrate those who don’t share your beliefs. What is up with that?

Ya know the thing is, darlin’, I actually share many of your concerns — a lot of porn is harmful and exploitative. It also can be very disruptive to people’s lives and can cause serious damage to otherwise healthy relationships. I mean how difficult was it for you to come up with that critique? Taking pot shots at porn in this sex-negative culture is like shooting fish in a barrel. Get over yourself, girlfriend.

And ya know what else, ma’am, all the things you accuse porn of — being harmful and exploitative, disruptive, damaging to otherwise healthy relationships — you could say about the worst aspects of organized religion, the fast food industry, our government, the credit card industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical industry, the war machine and it’s horrific profiteers, like Halliburton. And what about BP and the damage it is wreaking families, an entire way of life and on a whole ecosystem in the Golf of Mexico? The list goes on and on.

Hell, everything humans touch has the potential for becoming harmful and exploitative; it’s the nature of the beast. Even your own tirade is harmful to and disruptive to those of us who are trying to make a difference in the adult entertainment industry. Trust me, you would have made a better case if you said you wanted to help change the status quo in porn, not just point out its inherent flaws.

And what’s all this; “Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic”? Are you suggesting that you are the alternative? Perhaps, if you weren’t so bitchy and condescending your men wouldn’t turn to porn. Your abrasive personality and moral rectitude would drive the pope to porn.

Oh, and have a nice day! NEXT!

Name: Suzanne
Gender:
Age: 25
Location: Auckland
Should a woman fake an orgasm to keep her partner happy?

Brilliant idea, Susanne! Rather than help your ineffectual lover overcome his inadequacy with the truth and a little tutorial on how to make you cum — lie to monkey about his sexual prowess.

I see nothing wrong with that! Other than when you’re done fuckin’ him, or he’s done fuckin’ you, the next unlucky woman he happens upon will have twice the work. She’ll not only have to tell him the truth — that he sucks as a lover — but she’ll also have to contend with his inflated ego. Thanks to you and the deception you practice, he’ll be convinced that he’s a fabulous lover when, of course, he’s a Neanderthal.

What could be wrong with that, Susanne? D’oh!

Name: Emily
Gender:
Age: 28
Location: Texas
How much should I tell my new partner about my sex life with my exes?

How about just enough to get his dick hard?

Hell, I don’t know! Some guys get off on hearing all the gory details of the sexual exploits of their partners, albeit, it’s a relatively small number of guys. Just keep in mind that most men prefer the bliss that is ignorance.

If you’ve been around the block a time…or six, maybe you best keep that to yourself till you find out how much the new guy can stomach.

Good Luck

Name: Phillip
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: Austin, Texas
Dr. D, I’ve never had a problem with my sex life up until now. My wife and I have been very happy with our physical relationship. But, about 8 months ago, in a very vivid nightmare, I dreamed we were making love and when I came, the ejaculate was blood. I came blood. Everything in the dream stood still as I watched, almost like a third person, as my life flowed out of me. I woke in a sweat, and we’ve not made love since. We’ve talked about the dream, tried to be intimate, but I’m simply not able to enjoy the contact anymore. This is someone about whom I care deeply and with whom I am deeply in love. Considering professional help but would like your take.

Interesting! Yet another case of how one’s psyche can override one’s eroticism.

This is nothing to be toyed with, Phillip. Like an earthquake, this vivid dream has jarred you out of your happy, healthy sex life with your wife. And like anyone who has survived an earthquake, or a similar natural disaster, you need to put your life back together again as quickly as possible. I encourage you to seek a sex-positive therapist to help you break the spell of this nightmare.

The longer you let this thing hang out there the more perverse it will become.

Good Luck

Name: Lorenzo
Gender:
Age: 33
Location: Italy
I can only get off by squeezing my cock with my thighs. I have done this for as long as I’ve masturbated. I only found out years later that you should use your hand. But this does not work for me. Is this normal or common?

Lorenzo, what you report is neither normal nor common. But do you really care about “normal” and “common” if this technique works for you? And what the fuck is normal anyhow — statistical normalcy? I think we can forget that being the arbiter of things sexual.

Apparently your masturbation technique isn’t any less effective than those who employ a more “common” practice — like using one’s hand.

Basically, there aren’t a whole lot of “shoulds” when it comes to the style one employs to squeeze one off — and in your case, I mean that literally. If squeezing your cock with your thighs works for you — SWELL, knock yourself out!

Since you don’t report that this method of getting off is getting in the way of your partnered sex, I think you should leave well enough alone and enjoy your uniqueness.

Good Luck

Name: Sam
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: London, UK
Dear Dr. Dick, I am a young gay guy, and when I masturbate I am able to achieve orgasm and ejaculate; but when I am with another guy I do not cum. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time during sex, but my partner doesn’t get me off. This is not a person-specific thing — this has been happening to me since I was 16.
Call it “delayed ejaculation”, if you will; but it’s more like “non-existent ejaculation”! The weird thing is, I don’t mind myself; the foreplay and sex is totally hot and I’m as happy as a clam with that as it is. But my partners have always been frustrated and disappointed, as if ejaculation is the official mark of success to show the culmination of a great fuck. So they keep trying until they get tired, which I guess is inevitable.
Is this something I should be worried about if I’m otherwise okay with sex? Or should my partner be less concerned about the orgasm and just realize that it doesn’t bother me. Many thanks and kudos for such an informative site.

Hey Sam, thanks for your kind words about the site, they’re much appreciated.

As to the issue you present, it’s not particularly uncommon. Many people are unable to, or choose not to, get off in partnered sex. And there are several very common reasons why. Without going into detail about that, let me just ask one thing. Are you able to masturbate yourself to orgasm when you are with a partner, like you can do when you are alone? If so, maybe you could incorporate that into your sex play your partner.

It’s true what you say about some people thinking a sexual encounter is only “successful” if both partners shoot. That’s nonsense, as both you and I well know. There’s no necessary connection between an ejaculation and sexual satisfaction, just like there’s no necessary connection between an ejaculation and an orgasm. If you cave to that way of thinking you won’t help your misguided partners and you will be adding a good deal of performance anxiety to your sex encounters. And nobody wants that! Stick to your guns, Sam!

Good Luck

Clearing The Deck

Time to clean out the dr dick sex advice anonymous submission in-box. I wish I could have used some of these questions in my podcast. But I can only do that if you use the toll-free voicemail phone number to call in your submissions, people!

If you want to be in one of my podcasts, use the Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection!

Name: Sofia
Gender:
Age: 54
Location: Arizona
You are sick Dr DICK! I believe that porn is a sign of weakness in men and women. They cannot control their need and put their personal relationship in harm. Its degrading towards women and it gives off the wrong message to men about women. Porn is very harmfull in peoples daily lives.Relationships come to an end because of mens porn addiction. Men have lost families, wives, girlfriends etc. because of porn. Men find themselves defending it so much that they end up losing the people in their lives who do not agree with it (wives, GF, BF, ect.) What does porn leave them? Nothing! Lonely nights with no one by their side and a PC full of nasty images. Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic. Men are destroying their lives to make a porn film maker more wealthy. What a great exchange.

love-dr.jpg

So nice of you to drop by, Sofia, and thank you for being so solicitous about my health. Yes, I was sick, I had a little cold there for a couple of days, but now I’m better.

Oh wait, you’re saying I’m sick because I don’t share your repressive opinion about porn. I get it; you’re another moral crusader who needs to denigrate those who don’t share your beliefs. What’s up with that?

Ya know the thing is, darling, I actually believe, as you do — that a lot of porn is harmful and exploitative. It also can be very disruptive to people’s lives and can cause serious damage to otherwise healthy relationships. I mean how difficult was it for you to come up with that critique? Taking pot shots at porn in this sex-negative culture is like shooting fish in a barrel. Get over yourself, girlfriend.

And ya know what else, ma’am, all the things you accuse porn of — being harmful and exploitative, disruptive, damaging to relationships — you could say about organized religion, the fast food industry, our government, the credit card industry, the big oil companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical industry, the war machine and it’s horrific profiteers, like Halaburton. And the list goes on and on. Hell, everything humans touch has the potential for becoming harmful and exploitative; it’s human nature. Even your own tirade is harmful to and disruptive to those of us who are trying to make a difference in the adult entertainment industry. Trust me, you would have made a better case if you said you wanted to help change the status quo in porn, not just point out its inherent flaws.

And what’s all this; “Porn leaves men lonely and pathetic”? What, are you saying you’re the alternative? Perhaps, if you weren’t so bitchy and condescending your men wouldn’t need to turn to porn. Your abrasive personality and moral rectitude would even drive the pope to porn.

Oh, and have a nice day!

Name: suzanne
Gender:
Age: 25
Location: Auckland
Should a woman fake an orgasm to keep her partner happy?

Brilliant idea, Susanne! Rather than help your ineffectual lover overcome his female_ontop.jpginadequacy with the truth and a little tutorial on how to make you cum — lie to the monkey about his sexual prowess.

I see nothing wrong with that! Other than when you’re done fuckin’ him, or he’s done fuckin’ you, the next unlucky woman he happens upon will have twice the work. She’ll not only have to tell him the truth — that he sucks as a lover — but she’ll also have to contend with his ego. Thanks to you and your deception, he’ll be convinced that he’s a fabulous lover when, of course, he’s not.

What could be wrong with that, Susanne? D’oh!

Name: emily
Gender:
Age: 28
Location: Texas
How much should I tell my new partner about my sex life with my exes?

How about just enough to get his dick hard?

Hell, I don’t know! Some guys get off on hearing the gory details of the sexual exploits of their partners, albeit it’s a relatively small number of guys. Just keep in mind that most men would prefer the bliss that is ignorance.

If you’ve been around the block a time or six, maybe you best keep that to yourself till you find out how much the new guy can stomach.

Good Luck

Name: Phillip
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: Austin, Texas
Dr. D, I’ve never had a problem with my sex life up until now. My wife and I have been very happy with our physical relationship. But, about 8 months ago, in a very vivid nightmare, I dreamed we were making love and when I came, the ejaculate was blood. I came blood. Everything in the dream stood still as I watched, almost third person, as my life flowed out of me. I woke in a sweat, and we’ve not made love since. We’ve talked about the dream, tried to be intimate, but I’m simply not able to enjoy the contact anymore. This is someone about whom I care deeply and with whom I am deeply in love. Considering professional help but would like your take. Thanks, Phillip in Austin

Interesting! Yet another case of how one’s psyche can override one’s eroticism.

This is nothing to be toyed with, Phillip. Like an earthquake, this vivid dream has jolted you out of your happy, healthy sex life with your wife. And like anyone who has survived an earthquake, or a similar natural disaster, you need to put your life together again as quickly as possible. I encourage you to seek a sex-positive therapist to help you break the spell of this nightmare.

The longer you let this thing hang out there the more perverse it will become.

Good Luck

Name: Mike
Gender:
Age: 33
Location:
I can only get off by squeezing my cock with my thighs. I have done this for as long as I’ve masturbated. I only found out years later that you should use your hand. But this does not work for me. Is this normal or common?

Mike, what you report is neither normal nor common. But do you really care about “normal” and “common” if it works for you? Apparently your masturbation technique isn’t any less effective than those who employ a more common practice — like using one’s hand.

Basically, there aren’t a whole lot of “shoulds” when it comes to style of masturbation. If squeezing your cock with your thighs works for you — SWELL, pup, knock yourself out!

Since you don’t report that this method of getting off is getting in the way of your partnered sex, I think you should leave well enough alone and enjoy your uniqueness.

Good Luck

Name: Sam
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: London, UK
Dear Dr. Dick, I am a young gay guy, and when I masturbate I am able to achieve orgasm and ejaculate; but when I am with another guy I do not cum. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time during sex, but my partner doesn’t get me off. This is not a person-specific thing — this has been happening to me since I was 16.
Call it “delayed ejaculation”, if you will; but it’s more like “non-existent ejaculation”! The weird thing is, I don’t mind myself; the foreplay and sex is totally hot and I’m as happy as a clam with that as it is. But my partners have always been frustrated and disappointed, as if ejaculation is the official mark of success to show the culmination of a great fuck. So they keep trying until they get tired, which I guess is inevitable.
Is this something I should be worried about if I’m otherwise okay with sex. Or should my partner be less concerned about the orgasm and just realize that it doesn’t bother me. Many thanks, and kudos for such an informative site.

Hey Sam,

Thanks for your kind words about the site, they’re much appreciated.male_fuck19.jpg

As to the issue you present, it’s not particularly uncommon. Many people aren’t able to, or choose not to get off in partnered sex. And there are several common reasons why. Without going into detail about that, let me just ask one thing. Are you able to masturbate yourself to orgasm when you are with a partner, like you can do when you are alone? If so, maybe you could incorporate that into your sex play with a partner.

It’s true what you say about some people thinking a sexual encounter is only “successful” if both partners cum. That’s nonsense, as you well know. There’s no necessary connection between an ejaculation and sexual satisfaction. If you cave into that way of thinking you won’t help your misguided partners and you will certainly add a good deal of performance anxiety to your sex encounters. And nobody wants that! Stick to your guns, Sam!

Good Luck

The Thrills of Left-Handed Wanking

By Tom Usher

left hand

I’ve always been confused about my strongest hand. When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I used to switch hands when writing or coloring in, when one or the other hand got tired. As a grew older I realized I was left-handed when I was writing but had an ambidextrous hangover because my stronger side was always my right.

But, I hear you ask, what does this mean for your preferred wanking hand of choice? Yes, a pertinent question. A little personal, as I barely know you, but it means in reality that I’ve always used both hands, and never really thought too much about it either way, you weirdo. After doing a bit of research I found that left-handed wanking, or “non-dominant hand masturbation,” is a thing.

“I wank with my left hand so I can browse porn using my mouse easier with the right,” is one excuse trotted out a lot by wankers. Others say the “orgasm is more intense and lasts longer when I wank with the left hand.” Finally, a lot of wankers seem to say that “wanking with the opposite hand makes it feel like someone else is doing it.” All good and valid reasons from people of an ‘ambisextrous’ nature (ZING). But to find out the real reasons why we may choose to bash off with our non-dominant hands I spoke to counselor, psychosexual, and sex addiction therapist Michael Stock, a member of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (ATSAC).

VICE: Why might you think guys might want to masturbate in different ways? What reasons have you heard so far?
Michael Stock: The key thing with internet porn is that the person, or teenager, watching it and masturbating separates sex from emotion. They’re short-circuiting—going straight to strong sexual arousal using porn, rather than putting in the effort from being with a man or woman. When they switch on their computer, they have more porn than they can shake a stick at their command—with anonymity and accessibility.

So you think people end up wanking in different ways because it’s become so easy to be aroused?
Yes. A typical guy will orgasm within about two minutes of starting to masturbate. Some people will say, ‘no that’s not me’ but most men masturbate roughly to porn, completely focused on the idea that they have to get to the orgasm—nothing pleasurable about it. Some of my clients play around for several hours and might sit there watching porn, stimulating but not allowing themselves to come, but most come quite quickly.

What mental or physical difference can non-dominant masturbation make, then?
I imagine it’s about variety, because the human brain craves excitement. If I were looking at porn, I’d start on the reasonably soft stuff and then I’d want more and more, which all has to do with dopamine. That’s when people get addicted. I’ve worked with clients who the only way they could come is masturbation—they couldn’t even do couple sex anymore. So I can imagine that non-dominant hand masturbation is another way to get some excitement and make wanking feel different.

I see a lot of stuff on the internet about the shape of people’s penises and how it affects things differently when masturbating. Have you come across anything like that?
I would say that’s unlikely to be true. I think there are a lot of rumours but, first of all, most of us are boringly normal, and secondly the size and shape shouldn’t matter. The only issue is if a man has been circumcised or not: circumcised men may find the head of the penis, filled with nerves, feels very sensitive. Unless the shape of the penis was absolutely extreme, it’s not relevant.

Have you seen any experiments or research done on the right and left hemispheres of the brain and how that impacts on masturbation?
I think that’s a red herring. Neuroscience says the right and left hemispheres talk to each other all the time—this idea is very overdone. You’re right in the sense that as someone right-handed, the left hemisphere of my cerebral cortex controls my right hand and the right side of my brain controls my left hand. But I wouldn’t think using one side of the brain or the other would be particularly important in masturbation. It would be different probably more realistically, if you think about it—and I’m going to assume you masturbate…

Assume away.
… If you were masturbating with one hand, your thumb and finger would be in a particular position, rubbing up and down the shaft of the penis. If you used your other hand, you’d stimulate other areas of the penis.

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I’m ambidextrous, so this idea of right-handed people masturbating left-handed is a new thing for me.
You’ve made the case for me! You can be ambidextrous, able to do it either way around, and we can certainly learn to change. I’m strongly right-handed. I can write with my left but it’s extremely difficult; it feels like I’d get brain-ache after a while. I would say that for someone imasturbating with their non-dominant hand, the main effect would a different, and somehow novel physical stimulation of the penis.

Earlier you mentioned how porn may be desensitising us when it comes to our pleasure from masturbation.
I’ve had young men as clients, 18-year-olds, so hooked on porn that they’ve become uninterested in couple sex. We train our brain all the time, and I believe most of our behavior is learned. Young guys in particular—say 16-year-olds—who masturbate a lot are in the middle of a crucial time when their brains are growing in complexity, in neuropathological ways.

At 16, your brain did something called ‘pruning.’ It went in and got rid of lots of neural pathways it didn’t need, like a railway network over the UK that’s gone mad laying tracks everywhere until you say, ‘This is crazy I don’t need this track.’ And your brain rips up a track. Your brain goes from an overgrown weed at 16 to a nice tree structure two years later—you’ve pruned your brain. Today’s youngster are being exposed to more extreme porn when they’re young, in this pruning stage, and that’s where things have grown really interesting for someone in my line of work.

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