Tag Archives: masturbation

5 Tips for Having an Orgasm

Angelina Jolie photographed by David LaChapelle

Oh, oh, oh: Orgasm. A tasty, potent hypothalamic chemical cocktail released through nerve ending stimulation. When many people think about sexual pleasure, orgasm is the ultimate goal.

But some people have a hard time getting on the orgasm bus, which the medical community calls “anorgasmia.” Among men, the prevalence is between 8%-14%. The rates for women are wildly divergent: anywhere from 5% to 75% depending on the literature. I would put the estimate of actual anorgasmia (different from “dysfunction” estimates, where we lump “low sexual” desire in with everything else) somewhere around 10-20% of females, not far off from male prevalence estimates.

Maybe you’re in that anorgasmic category. Or maybe your mojo is flagging and you can’t quite trigger that neuro-chemical delivery. Our sex drives fluctuate and vary throughout our lives. Many, many factors contribute to orgasm blockage. So how to get around orgasm barriers like sex-negative cultural messages or physiological blocks?

  1. Relax. You know that saying: “It’s all in your head?” This is especially true for orgasms and arousal. When we tense up or become anxious our bodies route blood to our heart and lungs instead of exposed skin like the lips and genitals. Tantric breathing practices are really helpful here. Sit with yourself or your partner and take slow deep breaths. You will start to feel high and relaxed.
  2. Enjoy sensation. Once you start to feel zen-like and anxieties subside, start exploring the vast expanse of skin. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. And I’ll say it a million more: Brain and skin. Largest sex organs. Focus on those first. Feel your whole body starting with your feet and moving all the way up. Forget the genitals for now, just concentrate on finding the most responsive non-genital areas on your body. Ironically, having an orgasm is best served by not trying to have one. The more you focus and make it the end goal, the more anxious you’ll feel about having one. Saturate yourself with sensation for the sake of sensation.
  3. Check your medicine cabinet. Sometimes the issue is not anxiety but medications to deal with anxieties or depression. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are a class of antidepressants that boost serotonin levels. While serotonin helps alleviate depression it also acts as a hand brake on orgasms so sexual activity can feel like driving a car with the hand brake on. If you’re on SSRIs, talk to your healthcare provider about newer SSRI options that have fewer side effects. Or see tip #2 above.
  4. Diet and Exercise. I recently hooked up with a past lover after three years. He went from hot-bodied sexy mofo to an aging alcoholic and the sexual side effects were not fun. Your circulatory system is important in sexual arousal and pleasure. Excessive smoking, drinking, drugs, bad diet and no exercise inhibit sexual arousal and orgasm by dulling nerve endings and messing with blood flow. This doesn’t mean that smoking or drinking or eating cheetos on the couch will absolutely prevent pleasurable sexual experiences. But if you’re having a hard time and you do any of those to excess, try stopping for a bit. (I quit smoking after 10 years, started exercising regularly and my sexual response capacity/level of sensation/orgasm intensity shot up like a rocket.)
  5. Love your body. Remember the whole “sex is in your head” rhetoric? Self-perception is all in your head as well. Sexiness is not limited to lithe, caucasian, photoshopped and surgically enhanced bodies. Turn off the TV, ignore the glossy mags, and realize that you have a perfectly touchable, huggable, kissable, masturbatable, fuckable body. The beauty is in difference. Dont believe me? For the next two weeks avoid mass produced media. Look at people around you instead. Find photographs in National Geographic or any media outlet that depicts lots of regular people. Marvel at the diversity and how so many different body shapes can look so attractive. Enjoy where your body fits in with that spectrum. Once you realize that sexiness comes from within, letting go and experiencing sex will be so much easier.

The Myth of Orgasm Types

Meg Ryan demonstrates the oft forgotten "Diner" Orgasm

First there were just orgasms. Then Freud came along and declared female orgasms fell into either the immature clitoral  or mature vaginal category. And thus began this century’s strange preoccupation with women attaining every orgasm type, like kids collecting baseball cards.

Already had clitoral? Experienced the remote lands of vaginal? Well move onto the mystical G-Spot orgasm. Or perhaps you’re skilled enough for the big, bad blended orgasm. Don’t worry if you haven’t gotten there; Cosmo will give you enough advice to keep trying.

In reality, the only true type of orgasm is the hypothalamic orgasm. That little section in our brains releases a delicious orgasmic chemical cocktail in our brains with enough pleasurable stimulation.

When it comes to female orgasms we focus on the area being stimulated, hence all the different categories and “types” of orgasm. And it isn’t just women’s magazines devoting discourse to this idea. In my early sex education training days, several professionals repeatedly taught me that a clitoral orgasm is different than a vaginal orgasm. Even Planned Parenthood gives primacy to the theory of distinct orgasms:

“Although some researchers believe there is just one type of female orgasm, others believe that stimulation of these two parts of the genitals can cause different types of orgasm. During a clitoral orgasm, the vagina becomes longer, and it causes a pocket to be formed beneath the uterus. During a vaginal orgasm, the uterus drops lower and shortens the vagina. Stimulation of both the vagina and clitoris can cause a blended orgasm, the third type of orgasm. All these orgasms may feel different from each other.”

On one hand, it’s not illogical to categorize orgasms by stimulation source. But the idea behind the categorization is that some orgasms are superior to others, an idea that drives Cosmo sales every month. Read their article and achieve sexual enlightenment by finding your G-Spot.

Feminist writer Anne Koedt argued against this hierarchy of female orgasm way back in 1970′s “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm“, pointing out that the vagina contains far fewer nerve endings and any importance placed on vaginal stimulation served straight men more than it did women. In Koedt’s construction of female sexuality, the clitoris is the puppet master:

Although there are many areas for sexual arousal, there is only one area for sexual climax; that area is the clitoris. All orgasms are extensions of sensation from this area.

Weirdly, Koedt’s argument towards clitoral orgasm centrality operates within the very Freudian paradigm she railed against. We have orgasms from nerve ending stimulation. Though nerve endings exist abundantly in the clitoral structure (about 8,000) nerve endings exist everywhere else on the body. Substituting the clitoris for the vagina does nothing but rearrange the sexual stimulation hierarchy and ignore that nerve endings exist in the vagina. For some, those nerve endings feel amazing when stimulated.

When I present sex ed lectures, my favorite question to ask participants is: “What are the two largest sexual organs?”

The answer? Brain and Skin. Stimulating skin sends signals to the brain, which processes the sensations and releases the appropriate neurotransmitters. That’s an orgasm. No clits, vaginas or G-spots to define it. If you’re still feeling unsure or confused about the social construction of orgasm vs. the physical realities, I recommend reading Heather Corinna’s With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body.

Tune in tomorrow for suggestions on how to have an orgasm!

Advice: Masturbating all the Time

Curious, is there any evidence that masturbating All the time is bad/harmful? (question via Twitter)

My, this is a curious question. I’ll try to answer it in as many ways possible. Above all else, masturbation itself is not harmful. You will not go insane, grow hairy palms or develop out-of-control acne. Our collective anxiousness over masturbation is borne from years of anti-masturbation rhetoric intended to push people towards more reproductive sex acts. Like rape and incest.

Many people express anxiety over masturbation frequency. Am I doing it too much? How much is too much? If your life is impacted negatively by your masturbatory habits then you masturbate too much. If you cannot control your impulses and tend to stick you hand down your pants like a 5 year old at a dinner party then you masturbate too much. Other than that, even if you are squeezing one off at work, who cares? As long as you clean up after yourself, don’t get caught on camera and remember the cover sheet on the TPS report you’re golden.

The one possible physical effect of “over-masturbating” would be calloused genitals. This can be avoided by one of my favorite things: LUBE. All you have to do is cut down on skin to skin friction and no callous will form. One very misinformed, young, unqualified professor of mine tried to claim this could happen with vibrators. I wanted to throw a book at him. Friction develops callused body parts, not vibrations.

I have heard one rumor, rather unsubstantiated but ubiquitous:

I heard it from Fark.com. Can you confirm the veracity of their claims? Hit me up.

Better Sex in 2010

Someone, somewhere is turned on by this picture.

I raise my mimosa this morning to bid adieu to 2009, the worst year ever. The world seems at its lowest right now, so things can only get better. Right?

Many of my friends mark 2009 as a learning year. I sure as hell hope so. If we as individuals, cities, nations, cultures and subcultures stroll into 2010 padded with willful ignorance and blind to the lessons of the last decade, there is no hope for anyone.

But I’m an optimistic cynic. Here are my hopes for the world of sex in 2010. Continue reading

Masturbation Prevention, Victorian Style

Currently, I’m working on a lecture on masturbation. The evolution of social attitudes over the past few centuries is fascinating, especially when considering how far people went to prohibit masturbation.

Many periods in history viewed masturbation as a vice or crime worse than rape. The 1642 Council of Trent, which set the groundwork of the Spanish Inquisition, made a distinction between Mortal Sexual Sins (potentially, and frequently depending on time period and location was punished by death) and Venial Sexual Sins (possibility of repentance). Mortal Sexual Sins were Continue reading