On a cold, rainy night a few weeks ago, my good friend Dina and I holed ourselves up in her cozy east village apartment with cocktails and took in a film. The movie? "The Oh in Ohio," starring Parker Posey and Paul Rudd. The subject matter: Parker Posey's character being unable (ever) to orgasm with her husband... but finding her ultimate sweet spot with her first vibrator.
We gals got to talking, and it made me curious. Are there other women out there who have such a problem? We know that toys can spice up even the spiciest of relationships, but can they be the saving grace for when there is no spice at all?
Spice, spice baby
"If she's having trouble climaxing, she needs to do two things," says Christan Marashio, creator of moxieinthecity.net, a sex-positive web site that coordinates classes and events geared toward singles and sexuality education in a fun and informal setting. "First, figure out if it an emotional/mental issue or a physical one. She may not have any idea what or where the G-Spot is."
Marashio also explains, "If she's very 'in her head' during sex or masturbation then that's probably why she's having difficulty. Relaxation is key. Orgasms require both a relaxed physical and mental state. Yoga is fantastic because it gives you additional flexibility, helps you work on your breathing and leaves you feeling centered. But the best way to give way to your orgasm is to masturbate and become familiar with your own body."
According to Marashio, the majority of women -- actually about 70-75 percent -- do not orgasm from intercourse, and need additional stimulation.
"Research has found that many women experience their first orgasm(s) with a vibrator for a number of reasons," says Yvonne K Fulbright, author of Sex with Your Ex & 69 Other Tempting Things You Should Never Do. "She's typically masturbating, so she can explore her body on her own time and without the pressure of an on-looking partner to climax. She's getting to know her body and learns how to turn it on in a way she or her partner can't in the sack." Adds Fulbright, "She's more relaxed because it is a private moment. The toy itself is giving her sensations not yet experienced in the boudoir."
"Toys will, in most cases, help a woman to learn to orgasm," says LaSara FireFox, author of Sexy Witch and a sex educator (www.lasara.us and sexitupseminar.com). "Overall, the best thing a woman can do to increase her ability to orgasm is to get to know her sexual anatomy. Chapter four of my book, Sexy Witch, covers the benefits of masturbation extensively."
"Sex toys -- vibrators in particular -- are the 'treatment of choice' for women who have difficulty orgasming," says Sandor Gardos, PhD, a sex therapist with mypleasure.com. "On the other hand, if the real issue is that you are having a hard time letting go, then the best advice is to practice, with or without a toy of choice on your own." Dr Gardos also suggests that you lLearn what feels good and get in touch with what you need to really be in the moment. "For women who have never used a sex toy before, I would recommend trying out a few on their own at first. Figure out what you like and what works for you so you can show your partner."
What works for you?
LaSara advises that it's important that we get intimate with our anatomy, and not just in the abstract, either. Getting to know how we work -- what turns us on, how we like to be touched, what feels good -- and increasing our comfort with the visceral reality of our sex is, hands-down, the best way to improve our ability to orgasm. "If you don't know you're way around your house, how are you going to be able to give an effective tour?"
"Although it's not often thought of as a sex toy, I always recommend a good lubricant as a place to start," says Ellen Barnard, MSSW, a sex educator, counselor, and co-owner of A Woman's Touch, a sexuality resource center. "Lubricant enhances and increases a woman's sensation, increases her pleasure, and provides a wonderful introduction to the kinds of pleasures one can find when you add something simple to sex play."
"The G-gasm method is all about pleasing her with toys or fingers, no penis needed," says Jani (G-gasm.com), author of The G-Gasm Method: Your Ultimate Guide to the G-Spot Orgasm and Tonight's the Night...Your Ultimate Guide to Sexy Kinky Things to do With Your Lover.
"A good starter toy is the clit buzzing 'Slim Line Vibrator' which comes in assorted colors and is only about $6. To set off some toe curling delight, you need a vibrator with the G-spot curve, to reach and apply the right amount of pressure on the G-spot." Jani also says that a 'Body Teaser' (about $11) is a good beginner toy, "but to really hit the spot, get a "Blue Heaven Rotating Pet Rabbit Vibrator" -- one of these babies will set you back $100 or so, but well worth it for G-spot play -- will produce waves upon waves of G-gasms until eventually you become a puddle, out of breath and exhausted."
Just a helping hand
"Some women find a vibrator is too strong, or that it is difficult to get it on the right spot. They end up frustrated. The ultimate sex toy is one's finger, because a woman can vary the location and pressure of the stroke on her clitoris. Some women like to use more than one finger; they like friction all around and on the clitoris," says Dr Stephanie Buehler, director of The Buehler Institute and a certified sex therapist who in her practices teaches women to have orgasms.
"For women who like or need stronger stimulation," she says, "the classic, advocated by masturbation pioneer Betty Dodson, is the Hitachi Magic Wand. This is a pretty big vibrator, meant to rub out muscle tension all over. The beauty of it is its strong motor. It would be hard for a woman not to have an orgasm with this device. However, some women find it tiring to hold onto because it is a bit heavy and awkward."
She also strongly recommends the 'Pocket Rocket' because it is small and easy to move around. "For women who want to try using a vibrating device inside the vagina, the little Pocket Rocket is good. Only the first third of the vagina really has the nerve endings required for an orgasm anyway."
For many women, bullets for many are the way to go. Pureromance.com sells a wide selection and offers discreet, quick shipping (something the shy gals can't help but appreciate). Their seventh Heaven variety has seven different speeds and considering the clitoris has over 10,000 nerve endings, it can be a very successful experiment for the first-timer. A Pure Romance party may also be a good way to go, a sort of girls night in. (Imagine your mom's old Tupperware parties... just with vibrators!)
Your personal best
The "best" toy is the one that works best for you. "Before deciding on a first sex toy, a woman needs to understand whether she receives greater pleasure from being stimulated clitorally, vaginally or a combination of both," says Nicole Matthias, president of BadFun.com, an upscale online adult boutique.
"The bullet is a small yet powerful compact vibe that provides powerful clitoral stimulation. And best of all, it's very affordable. For women that prefer vaginal or the combined vaginal and clitoral stimulation, the Jack Rabbit features a rotating shaft for vaginal penetration while also providing the option of using the bunny ears for clitoral stimulation."
But if toys don't work for you, remember you aren't alone. "There are women who still have trouble climaxing with a toy," says Fulbright. "Often this is because they have a history of sexual trauma, have major guilt complexes about being sexually active (if even just with themselves), or they have major issues with using a toy and simply can't relax enough, and get out of their heads enough, to let go and enjoy."
"Be prepared to giggle a bit, and do some learning about your new toy when you first get it," says A Woman's Touch's Ellen Barnard. "Some women experience immediate orgasms the first time they use a vibrator, others need to take time to learn how to use one and how their bodies like to be stimulated. Consider this one more interesting learning experience on the path of a lifetime of pleasure."