Sometimes Lady-gasm Advice isn't Perfect But It's Okay

As you know, I'm harsh on advice articles about how to give women orgasms, and why not? The way our culture speaks about women and orgasms is, well, utterly misinformed, and nothing will change unless people start pointing out the ridiculousness and ignorance. On the other hand, I'm feeling generous today. Well, maybe it's not just that I'm feeling generous. I also have a soft spot for good intentions. So, I'm going to be highlighting the good, rather than the bad in this NetDoctor (The UK's leading independent health website!), article, titled How To Help Your Female Partner Have Orgasms. I do believe it came from good intentions, but I would still have no problem crushing it like an old 7UP can if it didn't also contain basically correct physiological information - which it does. There is nothing that irks me more than "medical" internet writings that clearly have a misunderstanding of female anatomy, orgasm physiology or both.

The Good

1 The article clearly states in a number of ways that women orgasm from clitoral stimulation.
Please bear in mind that – contrary to what many men think – sexual intercourse by itself is not likely to produce an orgasm. This is because intercourse alone is not very good at stimulating the woman's clitoris. Nearly all females need additional stimulation of the clitoris by fingers or mouth.
 Plus, in the "What To Do" list, there's this:
9. remember that stimulation of the clitoris is the key to female orgasm.
2  The article does not, after discussing how important the clitoris is, go on to talk about intercourse and different positions as ways for women to achieve orgasm. It also does not speak of clitoral stimulation as "one way" of achieving orgasm or as something "some women" need. It directly links stimulation of the clitoris with the ability to achieve orgasm, and it leaves it at that - as it should. 
It is a very basic, high-level, explanation, but the article does explain the physiology of female orgasm correctly and rightly points out how similar it is to male orgasm.
What happens in a woman's body during a climax is very like what happens in your (male) body when you ejaculate. In other words, there's a feeling of increasing excitement, building up to a point where everything 'blows' in a great blast of ecstasy. This 'orgasmic moment' is characterised by surges of contractions in the sex organs, occurring almost every 0.8 seconds.

The Bad

1  This statement about multiple orgasms:
This ability is extremely rare in males. Relatively few young women can achieve multiple orgasm, because it's an ability that usually has to be learned. But with the help of a skilled lover, most women can eventually achieve the capacity for multiple orgasms – if they so desire.
First off, I don't think this statement about more older women having multiple orgasms is backed up by any real data. There is certainly no citation for it in the article, and it doesn't jive with any stats I've ever heard. Unsubstantiated statements like this are unnecessary and misleading.

Secondly, this does the annoying thing where it discusses "multiple orgasms" and doesn't explain what they are. With only pop media knowledge of multiple orgasms, a reader could easily get the impression that it is some kind of super uber-orgasm that lasts all night. Actually, it is just the situation in which if a woman continues stimulation of her clitoris immediately after an orgasm, she could have another orgasm or a few quite quickly. Some women might even think of it as 1 particularly long orgasm. This isn't something that normally happens for men, so it is nice for us ladies, but it should be put in perspective given the tall tales about multiple orgasms all over our cultural lore. Multiple orgasms aren't all night affairs. They, necessarily, happen in fairly quick succession. It's as if women can have an orgasm that's 2 to 5 times longer than a man's, but the total time is still only measured in seconds or a small number of minutes. 

Thirdly, I don't like the impression this gives that multiple orgasms are some magical prize a woman gets for picking the right "skilled lover" to "teach" her how to manipulate her own body. Women make their own orgasms, just as men make their own.  Yeah, I get it...the article is specifically about how to "Help Your Female Partner Have Orgasms," so I can see why the statement may have been made in that way. However, I think the all to common idea that men give orgasms and that women don't have to experiment with and work for their own orgasms is a major contributor to non-orgasm not-having all over the world. If this were my world, every advice article about female orgasm would include a statement about how a woman could simply experiment with masturbation to find a good reliable way of achieving orgasm (even multiple ones), and then work with her partner to bring that tried and true way into the bedroom. Sha-Bam! Orgasm anytime you want one! It's not hard, and it's not much different than how men do it (They just have the luxury of "normal" sex being similar to the types of stimulation they use during masturbation). Advice articles almost never says this, and if they do, it's usually all mixed in with lots of additional bad advice. (Exceptions are the books 5 Minutes to Orgasm Every Time and For Yourself.)

The Bad But Good Too

2  This article is heavy on the idea that women's orgasms are different than men's in that male orgasms are just physical and women's are deeply linked to things like feelings and romance and stuff like that.
 ...perhaps the most important thing to realise about female climaxes is that with women, it's not a mechanical thing – as it generally is with men. You see, most males will ejaculate quite quickly if they have their penises rubbed. This applies even if the circumstances aren't very romantic – or even if they don't particularly like the person who's doing the rubbing! Women are not like this. Female orgasm isn't a push-button response. The conditions have to be right.
Although females vary, many women need the following if they're going to reach a climax easily:
  • a romantic atmosphere
  • pleasant, comfortable surroundings
  • a partner who they really like
  • a feeling of being wanted and appreciated
  • a good flow of natural lubrication - so that the delicate female parts don't get sore
  • a skilled partner who knows how to stimulate the clitoris.
Unless you can provide the above, you are not going to have great success in giving your partner orgasms.
 This is annoying to me because orgasm, by it's very nature, is as much of a physical thing for females as it is for males. Men need penile stimulation and females need clitoral stimulation. It is as simple as that. However, it is also not that simple. To very loosely paraphrase Master's and Johnson in their book Human Sexual Inadequacy, the orgasm is a natural physiological event, and any healthy body is capable of achieving it with the correct physical stimulation, but it can easily be blocked by things that the brain be doin' and think'.

So, here's my dilemma. When we speak of the female orgasm like it is somehow more connected to emotion and circumstance than men's, we are further selling the myth that the female orgasm is innately different; as if it's mysterious and unknowable. Working for orgasm equality partly means busting that myth and making sure that people understand the physical basis of female orgasm and its similarity to the male orgasm. Without that correct understanding, the wrong types of physical stimulation will continue to predominate and women will continue to not orgasm in large numbers.

On the other hand, women in general do kinda "need" more (romance, personality, whatever) to get into the mood, to stay in the mood, and to get to an orgasm. I discuss reasons why with great detail in the movie, but in short, it ain't some innate female difference in biological make-up. We ladies as a whole have way more mediocre, bad, and simply non-orgasmic past experiences with sex that can add to the "blocking" our arousal and orgasm. For one simple example, most women do not have an orgasm during their first experience of sexual intercourse. Most men do. Clearly, for reasons nothing more than orgasm, the raw physical associations that men have with sex after that first time are different - more sexual - you might say. Just think about that for a moment, and then think about the types of sexual experiences women vs. men have over a lifetime. If a woman only orgasmed 60% of the time she had sexual encounters (and honestly, I think that's high for a lot of women) and her male partners orgasmed more like 90-95% of the time, is it any wonder who would be in the mood sex quicker, more often, and in more situations?

So, for real life advice, telling a man to make sure the atmosphere is comfortable and romantic and that the lady feels appreciated...is actually not bad advice. Since for women in general orgasm is not something that can be reliably or sometimes ever associated with partnered sexual acts, it's not a bad idea to enhance the other pleasurable parts of sex (like romance, emotional connection, arousal, ect) so that there can be as many good associations with sex as possible. It's just that the back story for why it's true irks the hell out of me - and I desperately want to change the cultural situation that makes sex this different for men and women.

So, I begrudgingly approve of this article, not because it's perfect, but because it's better than most, because it's largely physiologically accurate, and because I'm feeling soft-hearted today...but don't get used to it.


  1. Just wanted to leave a quick note and let you know that I'm still stewing on the ideas we discussed previously and I do intend to write you an email with more details.

    Also wanted to give you a virtual fist bump, because you and this blog are awesome, all of the time. You give me so much to think about every time I visit here and while I sometimes shake my head in shame at the unarguably bad sex advice I have written in the past, I feel like I have learned SO MUCH about my craft, my field and my own orgasms from reading your critiques.

    Don't stop, I absolutely cannot wait to see your film and talk about it to everyone I know... and most of all, thank you for all your amazing work. I am so inspired!

    1. I just saw this (I sometimes forget to check comments - because I usually don't have any). Thank you so much, and I can't tell you how much that virtual fist bump means to me. I know exactly what you mean - I have and am still going through a lot of learning with my own sexual functioning and my thoughts on sex over the almost 15 years I've been working towards this movie. It has not always been an easy process, but I think that's why this movie and this blog are so important to me - because I know other women are trying to untangle all this stuff on their own - not realizing a lot of it's societal, not personal. Sometimes I wonder if I'm a little off-base and that this stuff doesn't really affect other women the way I think it probably does, so I really appreciate the encouragement. I'll keep on keepin' on if you keep on keepin' on!...and I look forward to talking with you more!