Rating: 7/10

First published: 2017

Author: Laurie Mintz

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In society, the word “sex” usually refers to intercourse. We expect a fantastic evening in bed to end with sex, aka intercourse. If that didn’t happen, then we didn’t “have sex.”

But there is a problem: most women can’t orgasm via intercourse. They can only do so by stimulating the clitoris. Yet, most women are still expected to not only have sex, but to orgasm via sex. If they can’t, society deems that as problematic. Women end up having to visit sex therapists to “fix” this or faking orgasms to seem normal.

Intercourse as the pinnacle of a sexual encounter is looking from a man’s viewpoint. It’s patriarchal—most men can orgasm from intercourse, so women should be able to. We now know that’s wrong.

We shouldn’t define sex just as intercourse. We should broaden the definition—sex should be anything that brings pleasure. This includes clitoral stimulation. By doing so, we can close the “orgasm gap” between both men and women.

My notes

  • A good place to start in changing your language is by just noticing. As you read magazines and books and watch television and movies, pay attention to the word “sex.” Notice how often it’s used to mean intercourse. When you couple this with the knowledge that very few women orgasm from intercourse alone, the craziness will become clear to you.
  • As a woman gets excited, the vaginal opening constricts a bit, which is why when a man first puts his penis inside it can feel as if it’s being snugly held. It’s also why many women who enjoy intercourse say that the first thrust is the best.
  • When a woman is aroused, her vagina does two things. First, it lubricates, or gets wet. Second, it changes size and shape. It narrows in the front but also gets wider in the back and elongates. The vagina expands from about 3 to 4 inches in length to about 5 to 6 inches—long enough to accommodate fingers, dildo, or a penis. This miraculous change is called “vaginal tenting.”
  • Like the vaginal opening, the first third of the vaginal canal has a lot of touch-sensitive nerve endings. On the other hand, the inner two-thirds of the vagina has almost no touch-sensitive nerve endings and, instead, has a lot of pressure-sensitive nerve endings.
  • Because the (inner) lips and clitoris are physically connected, a lot of women find that caressing or gently tugging on their inner lips is a great way to indirectly stimulate their clit.
  • Some research finds that those women who can orgasm from the stimulation of just a thrusting penis may have less distance between their clitoral glans and vaginal opening than those who don’t orgasm this way. There’s even what’s been referred to as the “rule of thumb”: women who have less than 2.5 centimeters (a little shy of an inch) between the tip of their clitoris and their vaginal opening are more likely to orgasm from just a thrusting penis.
  • Female ejaculation is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s also not a goal to strive for. It’s just another beautiful variation among women. However, sex therapists say that if you’re not a natural gusher/squirter, trying to become one can harm pelvic muscles that are essential to reaching an orgasm.
  • A lot of the squirting in porn is fake, accomplished by filling the porn actresses’ vaginas with liquid using either oral syringes or douches.
  • Among psychologists, “feeling entitled to pleasure” means believing that it’s essential a partner cares about your pleasure. To me, it also means that if you’re having sex with a man, you and he both genuinely believe that your pleasure is as important as his. This means that you consider—and expect him to consider—stimulating your clitoris to be as central to sex as stimulating his penis. In other words, entitlement could simply be another way of saying equality.
  • The more you incorporate your solo-sex methods into partnered sex, the more satisfying and orgasmic your sex will be.
  • One topic for a kitchen-table sex talk is sexual fantasies. While many people feel embarrassed or hesitant to do this, sex therapists recommend it. When partners share sexual fantasies, it can open the door to trying fun new things together.
  • Of course, before sharing fantasies, it’s important to agree to this ground rule: it’s perfectly okay for either you or your partner to give a nonjudgmental “No” to trying out the other person’s fantasy. Sex therapists recommend stretching your boundaries but never engaging in an act you’d find distasteful or painful, or feel averse to.
  • Afterglow Talks. Many couples benefit from talking immediately after sex (or soon after waking up from their post-sex nap!) in order to “process” the encounter.
  • Afterglow talks can also occur in the context of long-term relationships. Routinely, after sex, my friend Patti and her partner, Amy, discuss what just occurred. They even rate their sex on a one-to-ten scale. “What was that for you?” one of them will ask. They then use this as a way to discuss what would have made it a better encounter—or sometimes they just bask in the glow of their mutually high scores. All of this is simply material for non-defensive and open discussion.
  • If you always like to have sex with your vibrator, why not always have sex with your vibrator? Many people hold this belief that “real sex” has to be somehow without any outside influence (no lubricant, no sex toys, etc.). This is a socially constructed idea whose time has passed. Real sex is precisely whatever we say it is, and good healthy sex is anything two (or more) consenting adults engage in for sexual satisfaction.
  • Here’s another myth that goes hand in hand (or penis in vagina) with the vaginal and simultaneous orgasm myths: the longer intercourse lasts, the better.
  • What’s most helpful is to understand that many “problems” aren’t concerns after all and instead are actually “normal” sexual functioning. You already know that women’s lack of orgasming during intercourse fits this description. So do the increasing number of men calling sex therapists because they think they’re orgasming too quickly—even though they’re right within that two- to ten-minute range mentioned earlier. In sum, because of distorted cultural information about sex, much totally normal sexual functioning is mistaken for sexual problems.
  • Here’s a second pressure to take away: the idea that every sexual encounter has to be equally great for you and your partner. Equality sex doesn’t mean that both people involved will always experience the exact same level of enjoyment.