Sexuality is an important part of the human experience. Having regular sexual relations with your partner increases feelings of overall well-being and decreases feelings of stress.
Yet according to several major surveys, only about 25 percent of women climax 100% of the time during sex with a partner. Approximately 10% never orgasm at all. The rest of the participants fell somewhere in the middle and the results are higher for lesbian women than for heterosexuals. Compared to men, approximately 90% of men orgasm 100% of the time (with mostly equal statistics for homosexual or heterosexual men). The female orgasm is a fleeting phenomenon (Garcia, Lloyd, Wallen, et al, 2016).
Biologists have been trying to figure out why there is such a discrepancy, but with little success. The clitoris has the single, arguably indispensable, function of promoting sexual excitement. This helps women have intercourse and get pregnant. But orgasm isn’t required for successful reproduction. So why does the clitoris exist and how can women experience orgasms more often?
According to Masters & Johnson’s research, Human Sexuality, women’s sexual organs work like men’s. During foreplay, the warm rush you feel is the result of blood heading straight to your vagina. As you become more excited about the prospects of your current activity, blood continues to flood the pelvic area. As your breathing speeds up and your heart rate increases, your nipples become erect and the lower part of the vagina narrows, in order to grip the penis while the upper part expands to give it some place to go. Nerve and muscle tension builds up in the genitals, pelvis, buttocks, and thighs during intercourse until your body releases it all at once in a series of intensely pleasurable waves, the blissful orgasm.
Many women report feeling different kinds of orgasms — clitoral, vaginal, and many combinations of the two. This may be because different parts of the vagina were more stimulated than others (Masters & Johnson, 1966). A 2005 study at the Netherlands University of Groningen found that areas involving fear and emotion are actually deactivated during orgasm (Holstege & Huynh, 2011).
For women who either never orgasm or do so irregularly, it’s often because of not enough clitoral stimulation. Change your position. Woman-on-top leads to more and more satisfying orgasms because she controls the angle and speed of thrusts. It also allows for more constant clitoral stimulation. Conversing and showing how you masturbate is another fun option.
Stress has its own role in everyone’s inability to orgasm. So-called “spectatoring” is when someone is too concerned with their appearance or performance to actually enjoy themselves. Let go of your worries (they’ll be there for you to pick up again after you’ve orgasmed, promise). Many women have a difficult time letting go of everyday stress and transitioning into a sexual being. A long hot shower, a massage by your partner, or some relaxing foreplay can help that transition.
The best part of female orgasm, aside from that tingly rush, is what’s going on in your brain. The hypothalamus releases a flood of oxytocin into your body. Often referred to as the ”cuddle hormone” oxytocin is correlated with the urge to bond and be affectionate, as well as protect. Nursing babies cause new moms to be bathed in oxytocin. Oxytocin also has been shown to strengthen the uterine contractions which transport the sperm to the egg, giving evolutionary biologists new hope. Additional oxytocin gives enough boost to contractions that orgasms might be a part of conception after all.
Ayurveda can help you lead a more fulfilling sexual life with the addition of meditation, yoga and herbs to help you manage your stress. Ashwagandha is adaptogen and helps to modulate stress responses at the cellular and endocrine level. Limiting cortisol output because of stress leads to better nerve function overall.
If you’re going through menopause or ‘change of life’, sexual intercourse may be painful and female orgasm may be completely out of reach. Using herbs like Dioscorea villosa (wild yam) or Asparagus racemosus (shatavari) can help replenish and modulate your endocrine functions to restore lubrication where it’s needed most.
The Female Orgasm: How it Works. (2016, November 17). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and- love/sex-ed- anatomy-of- an-orgasm
Garcia, J. R., Lloyd, E. A., Wallen, K., & Fisher, H. E. (2014). Variation in Orgasm Occurrence by Sexual Orientation in a Sample of U.S. Singles. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11(11), 2645-2652.
Holstege, G., & Huynh, H. K. (2011). Brain circuits for mating behavior in cats and brain activations and de-activations during sexual stimulation and ejaculation and orgasm in humans. Hormones and Behavior, 59(5), 702-707. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2011.02.008
Masters, W. H., & Johnson, V. E. (1966). Human sexual response. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Co.
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