carrie
Image via HBO's Sex at the City

Q: I am a 30-year-old woman who can’t easily have an orgasm with only vaginal penetration. I have to have penetration and clitoral stimulation at the same time to orgasm. This often leads to me stimulating my clit while my partner penetrates me. My partner has become a little frustrated, because he wants to make me orgasm just vaginally. I think it’s more common than people think for a woman to not be able to orgasm only vaginally, but I’ve had a difficult time finding information on it. I was able to orgasm vaginally on occasion in my early 20s. Have my vaginal muscles gotten weak, or have I just found that I orgasm best with clitoral stimulation during sex? Is this normal?
–That’s The Way I Like It

Carol Queen: You are absolutely correct in assuming that this is common. In fact, upwards of 75 percent (perhaps more) of women don’t easily reach orgasm through intercourse alone. This doesn’t have a great deal to do with the strength of your vaginal muscles, except insofar as well-toned pelvic floor muscles should help you feel the contractions of orgasm more easily. Stimulating your clitoris during intercourse is exactly the right strategy, and more women should try it! I respect your partner’s frustration—many men share it—but it’s based on faulty or insufficient information.

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The real secret to vaginal orgasm is that there are at least two separate nerve pathways from the genitals to the brain, and the brain is where orgasm actually occurs. One pathway is hooked up to the clitoris (or the penis, or whatever comparable thing a person packs in their panties). The other one serves the inner vagina, cervix, and G-spot or prostate. Some people can orgasm equally easily from stimulation of either nerve pathway, but most find it easier to come via stimulation of the clitoris or the head of the penis. (These two body parts are homologous, which means they developed from the same tissue—they respond similarly and have comparable nerve function.) In most female-side-of-the-spectrum pleasure parts, the clitoris can be found some distance from the vaginal opening, which means that during penis-vagina intercourse, the penis isn’t coming close enough to the clit to evoke orgasmic response. If your partner were to masturbate without touching the head of his penis at all, he’d find it much less easy than the way he most likely does it now—most men include the head of the penis as a really central part of self-stimulation (and anyone with this body part, regardless of gender identity and what they call it, may do so also). In short: The clitoris is as important to most women’s orgasmic response as the penis is to male response.

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Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone

Dr Carol QueenIllustration by Marcellus Hall

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This originally appeared in the April/May print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today

 

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