COME AGAIN: YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF SEX & WELLNESS
April showers bring something much more indulgent than mere May flowers. May is masturbation month, offering us a wholly legitimate excuse to indulge in the art and science of orgasms. I’ve long believed that the world would be a far better place if more women pursued the singularly vivifying practice of daily orgasm(s). I hope you’ll come on board (last pun of this piece, I promise).
You have a million excuses not to bother, and I hear that. You’re busy. You have to get to the gym, go food shopping, commute to work, feed the dog. You have to put the kids to bed. You have to catch up on Game of Thrones, dammit.
But what if you thought about orgasms the way you think about brushing your teeth? You very rarely, even on your drunkest, latest night out, skip scrubbing your pearly whites. You accept because it’s been drilled into you that your teeth will rot if you neglect them.
Let’s apply the same logic to our nether regions (and to our brains, because that’s where orgasms actually happen). Imagine, for a moment, that neglecting your vagina would result in decay. You don’t even have to imagine it because it’s actually true. Women who abstain from sex (or using a vibrator internally) in peri- or postmenopause can suffer from vaginal atrophy. The opening of one’s vagina can shrink from disuse, which can cause pain during intercourse when it happens. It is indeed a case of “use it or lose it.”
This is one of many reasons we need to embark on this orgasm challenge, stat. Getting into the habit of daily pleasure, just for one month, can set you on a course of lifelong orgasmic bliss — and radiant health. Over the course of 31 days, you’ll learn what makes your body tick and quite possibly start the summer more refreshed than ever.
Your orgasms matter
Whether they’re derived from partnered sex (oral or otherwise) or masturbation, your orgasms matter — a lot. I’m endlessly frustrated and depressed when I read all the studies that suggest women are barely having orgasms. The usual stat is that in partnered, heterosexual sex, men have orgasms 90 percent of the time and women have them 25 percent of the time.
That, dear reader, is what we call the “orgasm gap,” and one of my missions in life is to make it into a historical relic. We’ve overcome the designation as our husband’s property and gotten the right to vote — 100 years later, I think it’s about time we get what’s ours in the bedroom.
Don’t accept poor excuses from men about why the gap exists. Here are a few I’ve heard:
- Women just don’t need, physiologically, to orgasm as much as men do. Myth.
- Women are much more complex and/or take longer to orgasm. Myth (one that your lesbian friends will disprove for you. Truth: Men are sometimes just too stupid or lazy to learn — it’s not your body’s fault.)
- Women just want to be close and cuddle; orgasms aren’t important to us. Myth.
Let’s review some actual facts about orgasms, including a few that you may have never heard before:
- Depressed? The part of your brain that controls fear and anxiety turns off during orgasm.
- You, too, can experience “blue balls” if you get turned on and don’t finish.
- Orgasms can improve markedly with age; your vagina is a fine wine.
- Orgasms might be better than Advil for headaches and other body pain.
- Your clitoris is more likely to produce your orgasms than the inside of your vagina, and it’s much bigger than you think — the part you can see and touch is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The glans (colloquially known as “the bean”) has 8,000 nerve endings, and its sole reason for existence is pleasure. It has no reproductive function, unlike the penis.
- Women don’t take longer to come than men. It may take us a bit longer to get aroused in the first place, but when we’re properly stimulated, it’s a dead heat.
- Orgasms enhance our sense of smell, thanks to the release of the hormone prolactin.
- Orgasms can reduce our risk of breast cancer.
- Oxytocin, also released during orgasm, reduces inflammation and can calm stress.
- They make you pretty — orgasms release DHEA, a hormone associated with clear skin and healthy hair. (The sex glow is totally real.)
- If you don’t have time to go to the gym (see above excuses not to pleasure yourself), a romp in the hay is a pretty good runner-up to clocking 45 minutes on the treadmill (and a lot more fun, I’d argue). Sweating also makes you glow.
Some less obvious reasons you might not be having orgasms in partnered sex
I blame the patriarchy. When I meditate on the many reasons we women don’t orgasm, I often go back to this quote from art critic and public intellectual John Berger, from his book Ways of Seeing:
“Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object — and most particularly an object of vision: a sight.”
It’s bad enough when we do this walking down the street. But what happens when you do it in bed? The male gaze can be deadly to our self-esteem and equally deadly to our ability to orgasm. If you’re focused on the size of your thighs, it’s not really possible to relax and to derive real pleasure from touching and being touched. (Note that lesbians and bi women can also suffer from the male gaze, even if they’re not sleeping with men.)
So, unless your current partner is a generous feminist and a good listener and he has gotten to know your body, you might have to go grab all those health-giving, beauty-boosting orgasms for yourself — at least for now. You can, of course, bring your partner along for the ride and teach him how to pleasure you as you’re learning how to better pleasure yourself.
When you don’t actually know how to pleasure yourself
The truth is that some of us are reluctant to make orgasms a priority because we actually don’t know how to pleasure ourselves, even as adults. This is why it’s so important to experiment with masturbation techniques and to learn your anatomy. This is especially the case if you grew up in a religious household or one in which you were sexually shamed in any way — even if sex was merely something your family never, ever discussed.
Barring a willing, talented partner (show me a partner who isn’t into the #OrgasmChallenge and I’ll show you a dead man), there are many awesome ways to get your orgasm on this May:
- Try orgasmic meditation. I think all orgasms are a kind of meditation, truly, but there’s an actual technique that you can practice with a partner. Here’s a primer.
- Sex toys! I’m doing a roundup of three next-level toys in a few weeks. Stay tuned.
- If you have a partner who doesn’t quite know how to get you there, invest in this virtual vagina course — it’s life-changing. (This also works for solo sex, so singles can give it a go as well.)
- If you’re in a state where it’s legal, get yourself some weed lube.
- Your lube doesn’t even have to have weed in it. Regular lube also works wonders for achieving orgasm more easily, both in masturbation and partnered sex.
- There are other kinds of orgasms that don’t even involve the genitals. Learn more about Tantra and see if you can achieve a full-body orgasm.
Improve your orgasm hygiene
You’ve probably heard of sleep hygiene and why it’s so important to create the right vibe before bed. (Arianna Huffington has been talking a lot about this lately.) Well, I’m going to teach you about something I like to call orgasm hygiene.
If you have a favorite sex toy, make sure it’s clean and ready to go, and keep it by your bedside. If you don’t have a fave toy, go to your nearest woman-friendly sex shop this weekend and talk to the experts about what kind of stimulation you prefer. If there isn’t a shop near you, there are plenty of choices online. Jimmyjane is one of my favorites.
Consider skipping The Daily Show (you can always DVR it) in order to spend some quality time with your body and your mind before sleeping. In the same way that you schedule a gym visit or a yoga class, you should schedule time for your daily orgasm.
If you were too tired to give it to yourself the night before, consider morning sex or morning solo sex, depending on your circumstances. Remember, if regular PIV sex isn’t getting you off (it rarely stimulates the clitoris enough to do so), make sure your partner is willing to go the extra mile. You might be surprised how amazing it feels to start your day with an orgasm. It’s like a vitamin before your vitamins — vitamin O, that is.
If you missed your chance in bed last night and then again this morning, your shower is always there for you, as is your trusty showerhead. If you’ve never tried it, you’ll wonder if it was designed with the intention of getting you off.
If you miss a day, no biggie! I would recommend keeping an orgasm log throughout the month. Try to jot a few notes about your orgasmic experiences. Are you having mostly clitoral or vaginal orgasms? Blended? How many from partnered sex and how many solo? Are you more or less horny before, during or after your period? Have your orgasms increased in intensity as you move through the month? Are you finding it harder or easier to achieve climax?
Finally, don’t push yourself or feel bad if you’re not coming. This is about the journey, not the final destination. You’re going to learn how to provide yourself the sweet elixir of pleasure, but you don’t have to feel like you’re grunting through a personal training session. These reps should be ones that you desire.
I’ll report back about my own results at the end of the month. Happy Masturbation Month, y’all, and follow #Ogame on Twitter for more throughout the month!