Shere Hite identified two main approaches that women used to increase clitoral stimulation and their chances of orgasm during intercourse. They either maximised DIRECT clitoral stimulation by using masturbation during sex or they used positions and techniques for sexual intercourse that maximised INDIRECT clitoral stimulation caused by the penis thrusting into the vagina.
“… orgasm is most likely to come when the woman takes over responsibility for and control of her own stimulation. You always, in essence, create your own orgasm.” (p52 The Hite Reports 1993)
Since direct clitoral stimulation is likely to be more effective, sex experts will often recommend applying orgasm techniques to sex learnt from masturbation. Evidently some women do succeed with transferring their orgasm techniques from masturbation to their sex life but Ways Women Orgasm asks women to comment on how successful this approach is for them in practice.
“For many women intercourse is not the best way to get the type of clitoral stimulation needed to have orgasm. In these cases manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris combined with intercourse and other pleasurable activities usually leads to orgasmic response.” (p113 Dictionary of Sexual Terms 1992)
Hoping for someone else’s sex life
It is sometimes implied that because someone else has succeeded with a certain technique that we might all be able to use the same orgasm techniques with the same success. Unfortunately there are no guarantees. What works for one woman will not necessarily work for another because we all have different personal backgrounds, personalities and attitudes.
The overwhelming reaction I have had when asking experts about lack of orgasm is that I am expecting too much. Essentially, if you can orgasm ever then you are luckier than most women out there. The fact that a woman can’t orgasm when she wants (e.g. during sexual activity of any description with a lover) is just plain spoilt. Others appear to assume that a woman who knows how to orgasm one way (e.g. through masturbation) should be able to orgasm in any other situation (much as a man can).
Men’s innate level of arousal is usually so high (especially when younger) that they orgasm no matter how they are stimulated. So masturbation works (either alone or with a partner), oral sex works, intercourse works etc. etc. Equally, although standing can be the most natural position for masturbation alone, a man easily adapts to sitting or lying when with a partner. Women’s minds and bodies are not as flexible in the way they respond to stimuli – often we only orgasm in specific circumstances.
“Many males, projecting their own experience, are inclined to overestimate the incidences and frequencies of masturbation among females. For the same reason, they poorly understand the techniques by which females masturbate, the anatomy which may be involved, the nature of the female’s physiologic responses and the part which fantasy plays in her masturbation.” (p133 Sexual behavior in the human female 1953)
Explanations for female orgasm are often too vague to be useful but even when they are specific it is not clear why they do not work for all women. For example, Shere Hite catalogued a variety of positions/techniques that women use for masturbation including legs apart/together, rubbing against pillow/object, on front, on back etc. I have always masturbated on my front using my fingers to stimulate the clitoris. Despite trying other positions and vibrators none of them has worked for me.
Likewise even though many women say they get their best orgasms from oral sex, I have never found oral sex arousing enough for orgasm. Interpreting our sexual experiences in a way that can be useful to others is difficult and it may be that each woman learns differently how she can orgasm. This makes it difficult to pass on sexual experiences to others because in the end we all have to learn what works for ourselves. Perhaps a woman learns only one way to enjoy the best orgasms.
Excerpt from Jane’s book Ways Women Orgasm (2011)