In case you haven’t heard the term before, “psycholagny” means the ability to reach orgasm without any genital stimulation. Since the word itself is something you’re more likely to encounter on the GREs than in casual conversation, it translates better as a “wet dream.”
While you might associate that term with people with penises having an erotic dream that leads them to orgasm, it’s not limited to this group of humans — people with vaginas have nocturnal emissions as well, and you don’t have to be a teenager for it to happen. A wet dream is a pretty good parallel to psycholagny because you don’t have to touch yourself to have an orgasm. You can just be having a sexy dream.
On Reddit, you can find a pretty in-depth description of a man who practices psycholagny. After experimenting with prostate stimulation, he says, he learned to recreate his experience with his thoughts alone. This concept isn’t new to some women, though — in 2010, Lady Gaga reported that she could achieve a mental orgasm: “Sense memory is quite powerful,” she said.
We know that people with vaginas can’t always orgasm during penetrative sex with people who have penises, and that’s for many reasons, including the fact that it’s not as simple as penetration = pleasure. There’s an intellectual component as well. You might be able to get off when you’re alone, genital stimulation or not, because you’re calling the shots in regard to your sexual fantasy, unencumbered by another person, what you think is supposed to happen or how you’re supposed to feel.
If you want to try and learn how to think yourself into orgasm as well as expand your definition of the word, you might want to check out Barbara Carrellas’ online workshops, which help people learn the practice of “thinking off.”
According to Dr. Barry Komisaruk, a researcher at Rutgers University and coauthor of The Science of Orgasm, how you think your way to orgasm is unique for everyone. “Some women use a combination of breathing exercises and fantasy, while others used their imagination and pelvic floor exercises,” he told the Daily Mail in 2010.
Komisaruk’s research on women with spinal cord injuries suggests that pleasure doesn’t actually depend on the spinal cord exclusively. Three women in Komisaruk’s study had orgasms via stimulation of the vagina and cervix. In other words, there are numerous pathways to orgasm, and there’s way more going in the brain in regard to orgasm than we thought.
Psycholagny, also called the “psychic orgasm,” is better and more widely known in the BDSM community, according to Kinkly. It’s employed by folks in the dominant position and is also used in play, specifically instances involving chastity. You might achieve climax via the sound of your partner’s voice or if they’re creating a scenario for you in which they’ll talk you to the point of orgasm.
Of course, how psycholagny plays out in a partnership has a lot to do with communication between those involved. Dr. Wyatt Fisher, a licensed psychologist and porn-addiction counselor in Boulder, Colorado, says that it’s vital to consider the sex drive of folks if you’re going to bring psycholagny into your relationship.
“Often the higher-drive spouse must learn to reign in their drive while the lower-drive spouse must learn to flame their libido more,” he explains. “Therefore, while psycholagny is easiest for the higher-sex drive spouse to execute, it’s more recommended for the lower-libido spouse because it can help them practice getting their mind engaged sexually by intentionally fantasizing to reach arousal, which can lead to deeper passion in their relationship.”
Because there’s such a taboo around female masturbation (talking about it and doing it), if you can orgasm without genital touching, by yourself or with a partner, you might think something is wrong with you. People with vaginas have been told that we’re supposed to be dependent on a person with a penis for an orgasm, that it is the only acceptable way to get pleasure (see: the Sex and the City episode where Charlotte worries about getting addicted to her vibrator and not being able to enjoy sex with a man). In other words, being able to get off without touch is a pretty big coup and an excellent tool to have in your pleasure arsenal.