Sunday, September 1, 2019
Home The politics of sex Misconceptions Talking to women about female orgasm

Talking to women about female orgasm

Since the experts I talked to had no rational explanations, I decided to do my own research by talking to women I met in everyday life.

I quickly learned just how highly embarrassing it is to approach women on such an intimate topic. Very few women are willing to talk about sex at all and even fewer have anything to say about female orgasm.

The vast majority is silent so who knows what they think? We might imagine that at least some are quietly getting on with it; too busy doing to be talking about it.

But when I mention sex (only to those women I hope will not drop dead from shock at the mention of the word!) most women simply ignore me or change the subject. They don’t even risk a commonplace comment like ‘How interesting!’ or ‘How brave!’.

I can only assume that women’s sexual experiences are not as sensational as we’d like to hope.

“Because there is such wide variation in the sexual responsiveness and frequencies of overt activity among females, many females are incapable of understanding other females. There are fewer males who are incapable of understanding other males.

… Sensing something of this variation in capacities and experience, many females – although not all – hesitate to discuss their sexual histories with other females, …” (p539 ‘Sexual behavior in the human female’ 1953)

Men may exaggerate their sexual abilities but they do not grossly misrepresent their sexuality the way that women do. Naturally there is distrust between women who suspect that those, who claim to be sensationally orgasmic, are simply reacting to men’s desire for a responsive sexual partner.

I have talked to women of varying ages. No doubt, people will tell me that I have encountered an unrepresentative group of women. One woman suggested that I must ‘live in a broom cupboard’ because of the reactions I have reported. They have no idea.

Most women show little interest in orgasm

Anyone who doubts that these attitudes exist should get out of their own broom cupboard. I challenge anyone who thinks that everyone is happy to talk about their sex life to try approaching women they know: relatives, friends, neighbours, etc.

Many people claim to be relaxed about sex but they run a mile if you ask for details. Likewise women may joke together as a group and compare notes over their lovers’ sexual performance but never their own. The women who were brave enough to talk to me admitted that they had never divulged the same details to anyone else not even to their closest friends.

A young woman in her mid-twenties told me that she was too embarrassed to talk to anyone about her inability to orgasm during sex. She had assumed that it was her boyfriend’s fault and that perhaps she didn’t love him enough. Only once I told her some of the facts that might explain her experience was she brave enough to mention the issue to her mother.

Her mother, a medical doctor, replied (with slight bravado given her previous silence): “Of course you don’t orgasm during sex!” Some women accept such conclusions without questioning. Others want to understand why popular beliefs are so misleading. I certainly did. Unfortunately, it isn’t done to question because people feel uncomfortable when they have no answers.

One woman told me that she would never allow her adult children to have sex in her house. I do not understand this attitude towards sex but it was clearly impolite to ask for an explanation. Even discussing the taboo nature of sex is a sensitive subject.

Excerpt from Jane’s book Ways Women Orgasm (2011)


  1. Hi Jane, Just wanted to say that i love your work!! I consider myself to be ‘hypersexual’ so I can relate to a lot of what you say. It makes me feel more normal. I am always turned on; By pretty much anything really, i have the odd day where i feel ‘normal’ but most the time anything sets me off and I either need to relieve myself or have sex immediately. i have sex about 5 times a week and have to masturbate at lest 6/7 times a week, is that too much? lol Em x

  2. Thanks Emma – that’s very kind of you! I don’t get many women who say anything – so it really means a lot to me. Can you be specific? What do you relate to exactly?

    Most women don’t masturbate to orgasm. I think you are mistaking emotional and sensual feelings for orgasm. Orgasm is very specific and involves erotic turn-ons. These are explicit aspects of eroticism that cause us to become aroused enough for orgasm. What you are describing is not orgasm. But that doesn’t matter you can still enjoy sexual activity without orgasm.

  3. Yes I am meaning specific things set me off, I understand the difference in being emotional and sensual about something and the physical action of an orgasm. I masturbate until I climax but do not always orgasm through sex (with men anyway, I can usually come through oral sex). I have been this way since I was about 9. If I see a man I like or a pretty woman, I think about having sex with them and can feel the physical arousal in my vagina. I then masturbate until I climax, it’s the only way to relieve it. Does that make sense? Xx

  4. I suspect that you are male. But either way, women are not spontaneously aroused as men are. They are certainly not aroused by nudity, genitals or the prospect of sexual activity. Kinsey made this very clear in his research. Women are not aroused as men are. Otherwise they would buy porn and go to lap-dancing bars as men do. Even men are not aroused just by looking at men and women. Their minds engage on the prospect of engaging in explicitly sexual images or activity.

    Women do not orgasm like clockwork – orgasm is much more sporadic. The vagina is not a sex organ and therefore cannot produce sensations of arousal. Neither does cunnilingus lead to orgasm. Men assume because fellatio works for them then the same must work for women. The stimulation from intercourse, cunnilingus and masturbation are totally different from the female perspective. Only masturbation works unfortunately. Women can only use fantasy when alone. Although you say you relate to what I am saying you actually haven’t read a word of my site. Men are usually more curious about sex than women are…

  5. ok, well first of all, I am certainly not male. I am assuming that you have a different definition of orgasm as what I do. I am struggling to understand the differences that you make as my ‘orgasm’ from oral and masturbation and similar but probably stronger from oral as the situation of being involved with somebody else feels more intense. From penetrative sex, i certainly have heightened arousal but there is no climatic end, just the feeling of being about to contain the arousal. I agree that its certainly not clockwork, if somebody said to me ‘go and masturbate to orgasm over there’ and I wasn’t in the mood then I would not be able to finish as the urge to climax is not there in the first place. sometimes i can orgasm quickly and sometimes it takes a lot longer dependant on a variety of factors.

  6. Orgasm is primarily about what happens in the brain. You don’t talk about the sexually explicit aspects of sex that turn you on. This is why people want to have an orgasm because of the feelings of arousal that come from aspects of eroticism they enjoy. You talk about sex as a functional process. Just look at male homosexual literature. Men talk about genitals, responsiveness, ejaculation etc.

    Men like fellatio because it is similar to intercourse for them. The vagina and the mouth are both warm and wet. But the clitoris does not penetrate a vagina or anything warm and wet. So there’s nothing specially arousing about cunnilingus.

    If you think you are having an orgasm then you are mistaken. The stimulation of masturbation is very specific. The kind of stimulation is significant but ultimately orgasm arises in the brain.

  7. No – except for some very young boys who orgasm spontaneously. Orgasm is a specific erotic response. The brain responds positively to some aspect of eroticism which causes blood to flow to the penis/clitoris which then become responsive to stimulation. But the right kind of stimulation…

  8. I think you have been misled. Most women never orgasm by any means. Women are not meant to orgasm. Responsiveness is a male characteristic. But no matter how much you want it – you cannot make yourself orgasm. In any event orgasm is simply a consequence of being aroused. If you can’t get aroused in your mind then you can forget about any physical stimulation. Orgasm occurs because you have the capability. If you haven’t had an orgasm then it may be that you haven’t got the necessarily responsiveness. Female responsiveness is incredibly rare.

  9. Hi Jane, I have been thinking about this alot since you sent the message and I agree with you about the orgasm coming from the brain. So do you think it is possible to orgasm from just thoughts alone? Never done it but would be interesting if it was possible xx