Sunday, March 23, 2008

Female Orgasms: To Be Or Not To Be

Before writing this piece, I took a poll of my male and female friends. I simply asked: "Have you had an orgasm?" One male friend's response summed it up for the guys: "you mean this morning?!" Whereas the female responses usually ranged from "last summer" to "I'm not sure I've had one."

Male orgasms are like making a cup of brewed coffee. You just flip a switch. For women, it's like making a non-fat-decaf-with-whip mocha. Both are forms of coffee, one just takes a little more expertise and patience.

This discrepancy between males and females having orgasms unfortunately seems to be fairly normal. By his twenty-first birthday, the average guy has had approximately 4000 orgasms -- and I definitely have some friends who've probably had more -- whereas many women have had zero. Perhaps it's just a matter of evolution. The orgasm in males is necessary for biological perpetuation and therefore needs to be relatively easy to achieve. With a direct affect on childbearing the male orgasm may have evolved to require a lot less attention; while the woman's needs more.

So, what is a female orgasm? During stage one of the sexual response, blood enters into the pelvic region, much like an erection in males. The exterior folds of the vagina may enlarge at this point. There is a tension in stage two that lasts for ten to twenty-five minutes, and the clitoris may be erect (also called the plateau stage). Finally, in stage three, there is a release of tension with rhythmic, involuntary muscular contractions and even release of fluid.

While the male orgasm may last for only a few seconds, the female orgasm can last for a much longer period of time. (Now, I'm very secure with my male sexuality, but there are definitely some advantages to being female!)

But why are those longer orgasms so much harder to achieve? For one thing, many women don't realize that vaginal stimulation by itself only works for a fraction of them. (Especially at the quick, hard speeds which TV and movies like to suggest represent passion -- a style which will bring most men to orgasm and very few women.) There are other areas that may need stimulation including the clitoris, breasts, inner thighs or neck. One female friend says she like to "sit on top of the guy" because she has more control and it frees up the hands (both his and hers) for stimulating those other parts.

Another issue is a matter of age. Males peak sexually at a much younger age (late teens) while women peak in the third decade of life. It is often during this time that women have their first orgasm. For many years, they may have been suppressing their own satisfaction at the cost of pleasing a fairly easier to please partner. Moreover, I suspect that women in lesbian relationships achieve orgasm much more readily due to already having read the owner's manual, so to speak.

The basic tenet, male or female, for enjoying sex and having an orgasm is expressing your needs during sex. This is difficult for everyone, but crucial. We all have "our own private ways" and your partner has to know what feels good in order to please you. For that matter, it helps if you know what feels good -- another thing holding back women's orgasms is the greater taboo against female masturbation than men's. Like anything in life, orgasms take practice. To get more comfortable with a partner, a woman has to be comfortable by herself as well.

Just as men have impotency problems when anxious, women need to be relaxed and comfortable during sex. Being comfortable enough to enjoy herself and express what she needs from her partner to make sure she enjoys herself is the key to the female orgasm. My theory is if a person just enjoys the process and keeps from focusing so much on the orgasm itself, it will eventually come naturally.

No pun intended.

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