SELF

Introduction to the Female Orgasm

#sexuality #pleasure #selfpleasure
Introduction to the Female Orgasm

Female pleasure remains a taboo topic in the Arab world. Growing up, we are rarely taught about pleasure, about fantasies, and about the intricacies of the female orgasm. Today, some of us have never experienced an orgasm, and others are in relationships where the sole focus of sex is their partner's pleasure. However, exploring, understanding, and owning this part of ourselves will transform our relationship with our bodies and our partners.

What You'll Learn

SELF

An Introduction to the Female Orgasm

#sexuality #pleasure #selfpleasure

Female pleasure remains a taboo topic in the Arab world. Growing up, we are rarely taught about pleasure, about fantasies, and about the intricacies of the female orgasm. Today, some of us have never experienced an orgasm, and others are in relationships where the sole focus of sex is their partner's pleasure. However, exploring, understanding, and owning this part of ourselves will transform our relationship with our bodies and our partners.

What You’ll Learn

  • What an orgasm actually feels like
  • The different types and how to reach them
  • Why some women struggle to orgasm
  • How to talk to your partner about pleasure
  • How to work your way to having better orgasms
Introduction to the Female Orgasm
Disclaimer

This guide does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.

Introduction: A Brief History of the Female Orgasm

Throughout our history, the female orgasm has been at times celebrated, at times misunderstood, and at others demonized.

Here’s a small sample of key periods in history that informed our understanding and perception of female pleasure. 

The Female Orgasm Throughout History
The Female Orgasm Throughout History
Fun Fact
In the 1800s, also known as the Victorian Era, “hysteria," which originates from the Greek word for uterus, "hystera," was a diagnosis given to women for a psychological disorder. It was a blanket term that was used to describe any ailments that could not be explained (like epilepsy, seizures, miscarriages, or loss of appetite), attributing all of them to ridiculous concepts like a wandering uterus or abnormal womb. It remained a recognized medical diagnosis in the US up until the 1950s.

One popular but contested hypothesis puts forward the idea that Victorian doctors would treat their patients by stimulating them to orgasm and that this is, in fact, how the vibrator was born!

Today, female pleasure is about as taboo as a topic can get in the Arab world, but that wasn’t always the case. Indeed, while researching this guide, we stumbled upon numerous texts dating back to the Golden Islamic era that discussed and described female sexuality in beautiful ways. 

One such book, perhaps the most famous one of them, is The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight by Muhammad al-Nafzawi. Written in the fifteenth century in Tunisia, it was compiled at the request of the Hafsid ruler of Tunis, Abu Faris Abd al-Aziz al-Mutawakkil. Here are two excerpts from that book:

“I’ve seen women desire qualities in boys that are mostly present in men alone
Youth, money, individuality, health, and sex prolonged
And a heavy haft upon them descends, with a light chest atop them afloat
Slow to exhaust, because the longer he persists, the more he gives and lasts
What’s more: after exhaustion, he hurriedly awakens, and performs again, not half-mast
That is he who satisfies women in sex, and their love for him grows vast”

“He who seeks the pleasure a woman can give must satisfy her amorous desires after hot caresses as described. He will see her swooning with lust, her vulva will get moist, her womb will stretch forward, and the two sperms will come together.”

Since this book was written, and over many centuries, our societies have replaced this celebration of female sexuality and pleasure with an attempt to suppress it, giving birth to practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and honor killings.

Did you know that, in some Arab countries, the rates of FGM remain as high as 90% of the female population today?

This perception and approach has also affected the way that we are taught about pleasure in schools. As a teenager, chances are that you — like all of us — fell into one of these two camps: Either you received no sexual education in school whatsoever, or you learned that boys ejaculate and that their semen fertilizes the egg, that women have periods, which are painful, and that if you’re not careful, you could get pregnant. We were never taught about pleasure, about fantasies, and never ever about the intricacies of the female orgasm. 

Ted Talk: A Case for Cliteracy

In both of these scenarios, the result is the same: we’ve grown up with little to no understanding of female pleasure. Later on in life, for many of us, that gap in knowledge was filled through conversations with girlfriends, Hollywood movies, and pornography, often leaving us with an unrealistic view and expectations of what the female orgasm is. 

As a result, some of us struggle to experience our full sexual potential, to communicate and ask for what we want in the bedroom, and to appreciate our capacity for pleasure. 

At Mauj, we believe that all women have a right to understand and become familiar with this part of themselves, in their own time and on their own terms. 

So What Is An Orgasm Anyway?

What does an orgasm feel like?

An orgasm is a physical reaction to sexual stimulus, which can be itself physical or mental. When a woman is sexually aroused, blood flow increases to her genitals, her muscles tense up, and her heart and breathing rate may also increase. During this build-up, she may also experience sweating, heavy breathing, or quivering lips. At the point of climax, or orgasm, all of that tension is released. It can feel different to different women, but most often it is characterized by a pleasurable release and muscle contractions that can include vaginal contractions. Some women may also experience something called “squirting”, or female ejaculation.

Endorphins are then released into the bloodstream, giving way to feelings of joy, giddiness, and warmth. It’s normal for the intensity of orgasms to vary; you might describe some as mind-blowing or earth-shattering, while others might be more mild. 

How does it happen?

Clitoral stimulation is the most common way that women orgasm. The clitoris, which has thousands of nerve endings, is extremely sensitive to touch. It is not merely a small “button” between a woman's legs. In fact, it is a much larger internal organ that remains unfamiliar to most people. Think of it as an iceberg, if you will, with only a fraction of the clitoris existing above the surface for you to see. 

Anatomy of the Clitoris

This stimulation can be external (to the glans or along the vulva) or internal (as most of the clitoris lies under the skin and can be stimulated through penetration). 

Fun Fact
Did you know the clitoris extends up to 12 centimeters inside of your body?

According to scientists, the clitoris is very similar to the penis in both form and function when it comes to arousal. For instance, both organs become erect when aroused. 

That being said, and while they are more rare, there are plenty of other ways to reach climax. These can include the stimulation of your breasts, the area around your anus, or any of the other dozens of erogenous zones in your body. The golden rule is this: Every woman is different, and the best way to discover what you like is to experiment on your own. If you’re curious to know what turns you on, give yourself an orgasm and find out!

Are there different types of orgasms?

In essence, yes. As we described above, it’s possible to have a clitoral orgasm, just as it’s possible to have a breast orgasm. Another type of orgasm is the cervical orgasm, which requires the stimulation of the cervix (the doorway to the uterus that is found at the very top of your vagina). 

Your ability to experience these different types of orgasms is very much linked to your individual anatomy (like how far your clitoris is from your vagina or where you have more nerve endings) and how sensitive your different parts are as a result of that. It’s important to note that where you are in your cycle can also impact the types and intensities of your orgasms.

Fun Fact
Women, unlike men, can have multiple orgasms in a row. Have you ever experienced this?

What’s the difference between a vaginal orgasm and a clitoral orgasm?

Public Service Announcement: The majority of women do not experience vaginal orgasms. Only 25% of us, that's one in four, reliably experience orgasm during vaginal intercourse without any clitoral stimulation — no matter how long it lasts, no matter who the partner is, and no matter how the woman feels about the relationship.

The commonly held belief (thanks to media, the porn industry, and patriarchal society, amongst others) is that orgasms from penetrative sex — or vaginal orgasms — are preferable and the healthier form of sexual expression. As a result, many of us feel that, if we can’t orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, there’s something wrong with us. Sometimes it can feel like everyone except you is having penetrative orgasms, when in fact 70 to 75% of women need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. 

In addition to that, recent research has found that a vaginal orgasm is essentially a clitoral orgasm as well. The closer the clitoris is to the vaginal opening, the higher the chances of it being stimulated through penetration (remember that the majority of the clitoris is actually below the skin, as depicted in the illustration above). 

Depending on who you talk to, this is still highly contested amongst sexual experts. At Mauj, we firmly believe in finding what feels good for you and not obsessing over what you think sex should be like. 

The Benefits of Orgasms

It’s the year 2021, and we still don’t know for sure why women orgasm. While the male orgasm has a very clear role and purpose within procreation, the transfer of sperm, the female orgasm does not. Instead, there are a number of different and sometimes conflicting theories about this. Some scientists believe that it was once necessary for the release of an egg and that the female body has since evolved to do that spontaneously without the need for orgasm. Another theory suggests that, because males and females start out with the exact same genetic tissue in the womb, women have orgasms simply because men do.

Both of these schools of thought assume that, today, the female orgasm doesn’t serve any real purpose. According to researchers at Rutgers University in the US, however, that’s hard to imagine. "Virtually every brain system is activated during women's orgasms," explains Professor Barry Komisaruk. "It's such a big phenomenon that it must be doing something." Indeed, our bodies adapt over time so as not to devote much energy to traits that don’t serve any function, which is far from the case for female orgasms. 

Other theories have suggested various reasons and functions, including that the hormones associated with pleasure and released during orgasm are key for the bonding of partners, that it sends signals to the vagina and cervix that can make the receipt of semen more effective, and that it may actually benefit our immune systems. 

While scientists battle it out, we like to focus not on why women developed to orgasm but rather why we’re glad we do!

Orgasms are pleasurable, and that in itself is a benefit.

The hormonal release that is associated with pleasure can improve your mood, relieve pain and stress, boost immunity, and help you sleep better.

Another hormone strongly associated with orgasms is the neurotransmitter oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone”, which has been shown to make us more sympathetic, supportive, and open with our feelings. It plays a key role in helping partners bond and as a building block for long-term relationships, and it is also involved in stress relief. 

Other benefits of orgasms, to name a few, are that they increase blood flow throughout your body, including to your pelvic area, and they get your heart pumping, both of which promote good health. 

Finally, the muscular contractions associated with orgasms can help strengthen your pelvic floor, which is associated with better bladder control.

Your Most Googled Concerns

I can’t orgasm.
I can orgasm alone but never with a partner. 
I don’t orgasm as often as my partner.
I feel down after I orgasm. 

The Pleasure Gap

According to research dating back to 2010, women in heterosexual relationships are four times more likely to say that sex wasn’t pleasurable in the past year, while men have 20 to 50% more orgasms as their female partners. So what’s going on?

The Pleasure GapThe Pleasure Gap

For starters, the fact that 75% of women require clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm means that most of us will not come from penetration alone. Unfortunately, media and the porn industry, which is how so many of us learned about sex, have painted an unrealistic picture of what it should look like. The usual script goes something like this: man and woman kiss (sometimes), penis enters vagina, and soon after both partners come, sometimes simultaneously. For most women, this could not be farther from the truth. 

As a result of this mythology that we’re fed, a lot of men simply don’t know what it takes to make their partner’s experience pleasurable – not aided by the fact that women sometimes fake orgasms. What’s more, women are made to feel like something is wrong with them if they can’t climax on demand.

Put your hand up if you've ever faked an orgasm because:

These are just some of the many reasons why we'd sometimes rather pretend, but what if we told you that this was harming your chances of deepening your connection with your partner, as well as doing him and other women a disfavor? Men deserve to know that orgasms don't always come as easily for us as they do for them and to learn how to reciprocate pleasure.

Okay, you can put your hand down now and read through these tips on how to talk to your partner about this.

Tip 01

First things first: you need to figure out what it is that you like on your own, so that you can then communicate it to your partner. Spend some time getting to know your body and fantasies. 

Tip 02

Now that you’ve figured that out, you need to be able to communicate it. Picking the right time and approaching the topic in a way that is not accusatory but comes from a place of vulnerability will be key. Be honest about the fact that sex hasn’t been as pleasurable as it could be for you and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. 

Tip 03

Ideally, your partner will be open to hearing you out, curious to discover what it is that you like, and willing to explore your pleasure with you. On the off chance that your partner experiences feelings of failure and tries to shift the blame, come armed with the following statistic: 75% of women require clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. You’re not the exception; you’re the rule. And now that your partner is aware of that, you can start to experiment with various positions and tools to bring you to orgasm. 

Fun Fact
Including oral sex in any type of sexual encounter, whether it’s with a longterm partner or a first-time hookup, doubles your odds of having an orgasm.
Tip 04

Once you’re back in the bedroom, it’s important that you are clear about what you like and what you want, but saying it in a suggestive manner will help your partner feel more involved. You could try saying, “I’d really like us to try this new position/toy together.” 

Tip 05

Remember to have fun!

NOTE
It’s important to note that this gap has nothing to do with women’s ability or willingness to orgasm. When masturbating, women reach climax just as fast as men do, i.e. in approximately four minutes. This dispels the myth that it’s easier for men to orgasm and brings to light one key fact: women and men can come just as easily as each other when they are stimulated in the right way.

How to Have More and Better Orgasms

a) Solo

Practice self-discovery and self-pleasure.

We can’t rave enough about the benefits of self-discovery. Your body has an immense capacity for pleasure, and a great way to familiarize yourself with it, to discover what you like and how you like it, is through self-pleasure. This will also help you communicate your preferences to a partner. For instance, do you like having your nipples rubbed or are the insides of your thighs more sensitive?

Add more steps.

Instead of going straight for the clitoris, adding more steps and involving more body parts can help intensify your experience. 
For instance, you could start with a breast massage or by caressing the inside of your thighs before working your way towards your vulva. Once there, remember that your clitoris is not the only part of it with sensitive nerve endings; your labia (inner and outer lips) and the area around your clitoris can also be really pleasurable to stimulate. Slide your fingers around and take your time building up to the clitoris. 

Look at your vulva in a mirror.

There’s a world of wonder between your legs. If this is your first time looking at it with a mirror, you might feel surprised, intrigued, or awed. The more you look at it, the more familiar you will become with how your unique vulva looks and the more you will begin to appreciate it. Look at it both when you’re aroused and when you’re not, and look for physiological changes (like more swollen labia) to understand how arousal impacts your body.

Practice mindful self-pleasure.

We spend most of our day thinking and doing but very little of it feeling. Negative thoughts, shame, shoulds, and woulds all exist in our minds. Pleasure requires you to let go of that and to sink into your body. 
To practice mindful self-pleasure, set some time aside for this so that you’re not rushed or worried about being interrupted. Focus on the sensations and tune into what your body is telling you, rather than how you think you should be feeling. 

Add some lube to your self-pleasure practice.

Lube can help make the whole experience a bit smoother by allowing your fingers (or tool of choice) to glide from one part of your vulva to another. If you experience vaginal dryness, it will also make vaginal stimulation more pleasurable, especially if you’re using an intimacy product (aka a toy). 

Intimacy Product

Most lube manufacturers also offer formulations that can create additional sensations, like warmth or tingling, which could add some excitement and variety to your experience.  

b) With a partner

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

We can’t say this enough. Communication and intimacy are key for better and more frequent orgasms. Don’t be afraid to ask for what it is that you want, to express yourself in the bedroom, and to say things like, “It feels so good when you do that. Please don’t stop.” And if they seem to be completely missing the spot, redirect them gently. 

Expand your definition of sex.

Research has found that, when a sexual encounter lasts for fifteen minutes or longer, there is a higher likelihood that a woman will orgasm. This requires us to expand our definition of sex. Indeed, restricting that definition to penetrative, penis-in-vagina intercourse could result in less pleasure for you and a much quicker (and sometimes disappointing) experience that is essentially reliant on how long your partner can keep going for. What’s more, jumping straight into penetrative sex means that you might not always be as aroused as your partner. There is a world of pleasure and fun outside of penis-in-vagina intercourse. Find out what feels good for you and your partner and do more of that – regardless of labels, definitions, and expectations. 

Practice mindful sex.

Similar to mindful self-pleasure, mindful sex is about being present, in the moment, to all of the sensations that arise. Don’t worry about how you look or sound and let go of the laundry list of things you need to do that day. 
Tuning into your five senses is an easy way to stay mindful. Pay attention to what your partner is doing to your body, to the sensation of your two bodies, to the smell of their skin, to the taste of their lips, and to the sound of your breathing, for example. Allow your bodies and your pleasure to lead the way. It may be tricky at first, but like every other practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. 

Focus on the clitoris.

As we've said before, most women require clitoral stimulation to orgasm. Whether it’s oral sex, stimulation during intercourse, or using a intimacy product, there are many ways to incorporate this into your sexual experience. There’s also nothing wrong with pleasuring yourself during penis-in-vagina intercourse. Anecdotal evidence from women suggests that this is one of the surest ways to experience simultaneous climax with a partner. 

Focus on the clitioris

Try something new.

Experimenting with new positions, locations, and props can make sex more exciting and more pleasurable. Because it can also make it more stressful or awkward, it’s important that you both take this on with a beginner’s mindset. Don’t focus too hard on the climax, and just have some fun. 

Add lube.

Adding lubricant during sex can have the same positive effects as it does when practicing self-pleasure. If you’re using a latex condom, make sure to buy lube without oil, as this could damage it. 

Try edging.

Edging is essentially the act of building up to orgasm but stopping just before you get there, and repeating that a few times. If 0 is not aroused at all and 10 is orgasm, you want to work your way up to a 7 and 8 and then stop whatever you or your partner is doing, allowing you to come back down to a five before you work up again. When you do finally orgasm, it’ll be a much more intense one – take our word for it.  

Don’t fake it.

As we’ve just explained, faking an orgasm is just doing a disservice to both you and your partner! 

Myth Busting

The Vulva
This is the name given to a woman’s external genitalia.
The anatomy of the vulva.

The vulva includes the mons pubis (the mound of flesh on top of a woman's pubic bone), the clitoral hood and the clitoris underneath that, the inner and outer labia (also known as the labia minora and majora), the vestibule (the space between the inner labia), the urethral opening (which carries urine out of the body), and the opening to the vagina. This diagram can help you understand that better.

Fun Fact: Origins
Do you know what a vulva is called in Arabic? It's "farj", which literally translates to "opening" and has shared origins with the term meaning relief, release, comfort, pleasure, and relaxation.

At Mauj, we like to think of "farj" as an opening of the body, the mind, a new chapter, and your sexuality, just to name a few.

a. The Clitoris and Clitoral Hood

The clitoris is found at the uppermost part of the vulva, under what is called the clitoral hood. More accurately, however, that is the only visible part of the clitoris, also known as the glans, as most of it is hidden under the tissue of the vulva (refer to the next illustration to see what that looks like). Think of it more as an iceberg, with only a small portion peaking out. The glans, which is the most sensitive part of the clitoris with thousands of nerve endings, varies in size from person to person and can range from 0.5 to 3.5 centimeters.

We’ll be diving into the full anatomy of the clitoris, which incidentally was only discovered in 1969, in future guides.

b. The Labia

The labia come in two sets: the outer labia (or labia majora) and the inner labia (or labia minora). The outer sides of the outer labia are covered in regular skin and pubic hair, while the inner sides are covered in mucous membrane. The inner labia, on the other hand, are thinner and have no hair. In most cases, the inner labia are longer than the outer labia and often unsymmetrical, with one side longer than the other. Both the labia minora and the labia majora vary greatly in appearance from person to person.

These lips or flaps serve the important purpose of protecting your inner sexual organs.

c. The Urethral Opening

The urethral opening sits in front of the vaginal opening, within the inner labia. If you use a mirror to look at your vulva, it’s the first hole you will notice at the top of your vestibule. It connects through a tube called the urethra to the bladder to discharge urine outside the body. In other words, it’s where you pee from.

d. The Hymen

The hymen is a rim of tissue (thin skin) at the outer opening of the vagina. It usually has a doughnut or crescent shape with a large, central hole. However, this varies a lot, and sometimes hymens can have fringes or several holes or can consist of lobes. The most common forms of the hymen leaves enough space for blood to come out during a period and even to put a tampon in. Because of its partial tears and elasticity, the hymen can allow for the insertion of tampons or menstrual cups without necessarily causing major changes to its structure (this differs from person to person). Very rarely does the hymen cover the whole vagina.

In Arabic, it's called ghisha'a al-bikara, meaning the virgin membrane. "Ghisha'a" literally translates to a coating or covering layer, which connotes that the membrane is sealed, closing the opening of the vagina. Physiologically this is rarely the case, so the name just further perpetuates the notion that the hymen is something that can be teared open or broken.

Hymens are just as unique as you are. Just like vulvas come in different shapes and sizes, so do hymens. They look very different from vagina to vagina, and the shape, size, and flexibility of a hymen can change significantly across a woman’s lifespan due to changes in estrogen levels and physical activities. The elasticity of the hymen can also allow it to retain its shape even after penetrative activities, depending, again, on the person’s body. Therefore, the shape of the hymen is no indication of sexual activity.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

We have just described and illustrated the typical vulva. However, if you come from certain Arab countries, it’s possible that your vulva looks nothing like the one illustrated above as a result of female genital mutilation (FGM), which remains a part of many communities in Egypt, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and beyond. There are varying degrees of FGM, ranging from just a nip to the clitoris to the full removal of all external sexual organs.

The types of female genital mutilation (FGM).

If you suspect or know that you have been subjected to FGM, you are not alone, and there are resources and treatments that can help you overcome physical or psychological trauma.

Here are a few NGOs that will be able to assist you or point you in the right direction:

The Vagina
This is the muscular tube that extends from the vulva to the uterus.
It’s about 7 to 10 centimeters in length.
The anatomy of the female internal reproductive system.

The vagina’s walls, which are covered in mucous membrane, are squeezed against each other most of the time, but it expands when you’re aroused, both in terms of length and of width. If you were to feel inside using your finger, you would find that it feels bumpy or ridged.

The vagina has multiple functions. It is the passage through which menstrual blood is evacuated from the uterus and from which a child is born into the world. It is also the canal that receives the penis during intercourse and holds sperm until it has passed into the uterus.

In English, the word “vagina” finds its origins in the Latin word for “sheath”, which is the covering of a sword. In this case, the sword is the penis. Feminist groups have pointed out that this is etymologically problematic as it paints the female, once again, as a passive recipient of the male.

Your vagina secretes a liquid known as vaginal discharge, which is influenced by your hormones, meaning it’s different depending on where you are in your cycle. There is also a normal increase in the amount of discharge around mid-cycle.

Your discharge can tell you a lot about your vaginal health. To better understand it, here are four things you should look out for:

The types of discharge and what they mean.
Tip 01

Choose your lubricant carefully.

Certain ingredients found in commercial lubes can be harmful to the health of your vulva and vagina. Glycerin, for instance, can contribute to bacteria growth in the vagina, while parabens, scents, flavors, and dyes can cause irritation. Petroleum can also affect the delicate pH balance of your sexual organs.

Tip 02

Practice safe sex.

Use protection and get checked regularly for STIs.
Tip 03

Pee after sex.

The truth is that intercourse can increase your chances of having an infection because of micro tears in the vagina and urethra that can result from sex. These can accumulate bacteria and impurities, leading to infection. Peeing after sex washes the urethra of any bacteria or impurities, which can help prevent UTIs.

Tip 04

Wipe from the front to the back.

This will help stop the spread of bacteria from the anal area to your vulva and will reduce the chances of infections.

Tip 05

Wear breathable underwear and clothing.

Synthetic or non-breathable fabrics can cause an accumulation of moisture that promotes bacterial growth. Cotton underwear is ideal.

Tip 06

Do not use soaps to wash your vagina.

Your vagina is self-cleaning. Its mucous membrane and bacteria (also known as vaginal flora) keep it healthy and clean.

Tip 07

Don’t douche.

Douching actually eliminates some of that healthy bacteria, which changes the pH and makes you more susceptible to infections.

Disclaimer
This list is not intended to replace a visit to the doctor and a medical diagnosis.

However, it might help you narrow down what’s going on based on your symptoms and could help you better explain to your gynecologist what’s bothering you.
Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
Other Lumps and Bumps

The golden rule is this: If you’re worried about a symptom, listen to your body and go see a gynecologist.

Painful Sex
If you’re experiencing painful sex, there may be a number of reasons at play, ranging from the physical to the psychological. These could include STIs, endometriosis, or vaginismus. We’ll be diving deeper into this in future guides, and we recommend that you start by visiting a gynecologist to rule out any physical causes. If the root doesn’t seem to be physiological, a psychologist or sex therapist will be able to diagnose you.

Because of the stigma, fear, and misinformation around the female body, a number of myths and misconceptions have made their way into our cultural discourse. We're here to bust them, once and for all.

Myth 01

The G-Spot

In the 90s and early 2000s, the G-spot was all the rage. While a lucky few women claimed to have experienced a G-spot orgasm, others tried in vain to reach the elusive climax. Even today, a quick google search will pull up conflicting information about whether or not it exists. Supporters of the G-spot describe it as a spot of increased sensitivity, located on the inner front wall of the vagina (towards the belly button), while deniers claim it doesn’t actually exist. So which one is it?

The scientific consensus today seems to be that the G-spot is not actually a particular spot, but rather a region. According to researchers at Rutgers University in the US, it’s not a single anatomical entity; it’s “several independently erogenous structures that happen to all be concentrated in the region of the anterior vaginal wall behind the public bone,” including the part of the clitoris that lies below the skin. 

This region also includes two small glands, called Skene’s gland, which produce a fluid that acts as a lubricant for the urethra. This could explain why, for some women, stimulation of the G-zone or G-area can cause a release of fluids, also known as female ejaculation. 

So while this small, intimate area remains the subject of much scientific debate, one thing that cannot be argued with is women’s personal experiences. Those who have experienced a G-orgasm claim that it feels very different to a normal clitoral orgasm. The only way to discover this for yourself is to keep experimenting. Here are two ways to do that:

  • Solo: Insert one or two fingers into your vagina, about two-thirds of the way up, and create a come-hither motion as depicted in the illustration below.
The G-Spot - Solo
  • With a partner: You could instruct them on how to find this area using their fingers, or you could try one of the many positions that women have linked with G-area orgasms, including the cowgirl or doggy style.

And remember: Whether or not you can find your G-zone is no big deal. There is a world of pleasure in your body waiting to be unlocked, with or without it. 

Myth 02

Every woman can have a vaginal orgasm.

According to certain sex and relationship experts, with enough focus and practice, every woman should be able to experience a vaginal orgasm. However, as we’ve said before, the scientific consensus is that this generalization is incorrect and that a woman’s ability to experience different types of orgasms is very reliant on her anatomy, like how close her clitoris is to her vagina and what parts of her body are most sensitive to stimulation. 

Myth 03

Vaginal orgasms are superior to clitoral orgasms.  

We’ve covered this already, but it’s such a hotly debated topic that we felt it necessary to include here!

Women who have experienced vaginal orgasms claim that they feel different or more intense and that they involve more of the body than clitoral orgasms, which can feel more localized. The same goes for what is sometimes called a cervical orgasm.

So, why is this happening? According to researchers at Rutgers University, “The nerves that convey clitoral sensation are different from the pelvic and vagus nerves that convey vaginal sensation, so it is not surprising that the orgasms that are stimulated by one or the other of these nerves feel different from each other.” 

While clitoral and vaginal orgasms may indeed feel different, there is no proof or reason why one of them should be considered superior to the other. Focus on using exploration and experimentation to discover what works for your unique body and pleasure. 

Myth 04

Sex should end in orgasm.

Wrong. Sex should be consensual and sex should be pleasurable, but it does not need to end in an orgasm. In fact, this misconception is responsible for a lot of the pressure and stress that can make a sexual experience anything but pleasurable and result in performance anxiety. 

If your sexual experience ends in orgasm, that’s great. If it doesn’t but it felt pleasurable, that’s great too. 

Myth 05

Women should scream/moan/shake when they orgasm.

The porn and movie industries have taught us that, when a woman orgasms, she screams, or she moans, or she shakes, or she contorts her face into various grimasses. The truth is that there is no one right way to experience an orgasm. Yes, some women might scream, or they might shake, or they might moan, but that’s not a rule of thumb. 

Focusing your energy on putting on a performance because that’s what you think you should look like can actually diminish your experience by taking you outside of your body (where you should be experiencing the orgasm) and into your head (thinking of what you should look like). 

Happy orgasming, ladies!

Try This at Home

A woman examining her vulva. Artwork by @lynne.on.paper.
Artwork by @lynne.on.paper

Have you ever used a mirror to see what your vulva looks like?

Some of us shy away from this because we’re worried about what we’ll see. Others shy away from this because they feel like they’re doing something wrong. Neither of these fears should keep us from discovering this part of ourselves.

Get to know your unique shape and color, and familiarize yourself with your most intimate parts. If you don't know what your vulva looks like when it's healthy, how will you be able to tell when there is something wrong?

Why you should look at your vulva:
  • Self-love: Observing and discovering your vulva with appreciation is more powerful than you think and can start to mend the connection between yourself and your body.
  • Acceptance: The media and porn expose us to a very limited range of vulvas, many of which are retouched or have undergone surgery to look the way they do. This exercise helps you accept your body by familiarizing yourself with how your own vulva looks.
  • Sexual confidence: A common insecurity around sex is what our vulva looks and smells like. You can begin to overcome that by spending some time looking at your vulva. This will help normalize it for you and can hopefully start to make you see it for the wonderful, magical landscape that it is.
  • Health: Do you know what a healthy vulva looks like? Do you know what your healthy vulva looks like? How would you notice a rash, a redness, or a lump if you didn’t look? Looking at your vulva is important for your health and can provide early warning signs that something is wrong.
  • Pleasure: Looking at your vulva and understanding its anatomy is key for expanding your understanding of pleasure. It will also help you communicate better in bed with a partner.

Sources

Luciana Gravotta, “Be Mine Forever: Oxytocin May Help Build Long-Lasting Love,” Scientific American, February 12, 2013.

Isobel Whitcomb, “Why Do Women Have Orgasms”, Live Science, February 17, 2020.

Robinson Meyer and Ashley Fetters, “Victorian-Era Orgasms and the Crisis of Peer Review,” The Atlantic, September 6, 2018.

Sara Nasserzadeh, Barry R. Komisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, Beverly Whipple, The Orgasm Answer Guide, 2009.

Jenkins, Lawrence C, and John P Mulhall, “Delayed Orgasm and Anorgasmia,” Fertility and Sterility vol. 104,5 (2015).

“What is the Pleasure Gap,” Swell, April 4, 2019.

Armstrong, Elizabeth A., Paula England, and Alison C. K. Fogarty, “Accounting for Women’s Orgasm and Sexual Enjoyment in College Hookups and Relationships,” American Sociological Review 77, no. 3 (June 2012).

Vincenzo Puppo and Giulia Puppo, “Anatomy of Sex: Revision of the new anatomical terms used for the clitoris and the female orgasm by sexologists,” Clinical Anatomy, 28 (October 2014).

Amanda MacMillan, “The G-Spot: What It Is and How to Find It,” Health, September 18, 2020.

McCool-Myers, M., Theurich, M., Zuelke, A. et al., “Predictors of female sexual dysfunction: a systematic review and qualitative analysis through gender inequality paradigms,” BMC Women's Health 18, 108 (2018).

Muhammad al-Nafzawi, The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight.

Thierry Lodé, “A brief natural history of the orgasm,” All Life, 13:1 (2020).

Stephanie Pappas, “Nipples 'Light Up' Brain the Way Genitals Do,” Live Science, August 03, 2011.

Liu, Hui et al., “Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk among Older Men and Women,” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 57,3 (2016).

Wade LD, Kremer EC, Brown J, “The incidental orgasm: the presence of clitoral knowledge and the absence of orgasm for women,” Women Health, 2005;42(1).

Susan Scutti, “The ancient evolutionary origin of the elusive female orgasm,” CNN, August 2, 2016.

Special thanks to Dr. Maha Nasrallah-Babenko for her guidance and support.