Vaginas are magical. These self-cleaning, elastic, muscular life and love canals that can give amazing amounts of pleasure to their owners and others are sophisticated in both design and function. But with great complexity comes the great potential for system hiccups.
The common umbrella term for many hiccups is “Vulvovaginitis” and describes any irritation of the vulva or vaginal areas. Often the irritation comes in the form of painful swelling or itching caused by an external factor irritating sensitive mucous membranes. (Ever gotten something in your eye, be it infection or irritant? Same idea. ) Many cases of vulvovaginitis occur because of an imbalance of naturally occurring bacteria and yeasts and sometimes parasites or viruses.
But don’t fret! These are easy to remedy. Here’s a handy guide to the more common causes:
I don’t know if you can help me, but maybe you know somebody who can.
I am 34 years old and unable to have a penetrative, penis-induced orgasm. I have been having clitoral orgasms since I was 18. Just about anybody can make me orgasm with their finger or mouth. I can also come if I touch my own clitoris during penetration. But nobody has been able to make me come from penetration alone.
I have two amazing male partners right now, one of almost three years, and the other of almost one year. Both of them are open to helping me and trying different things, but so far unsuccessfully.
I know that I have trust issues. I know that I don’t fully trust either one of my partners and am not sure I am emotionally able to fully trust any man.
I don’t know what other emotional blocks I may have.
Please let me know if you have any recommendations for me.
Thank you! Blocked Vagina
Dear Blocked Vagina,
Thanks for writing to me about this; your question is a very common one among women.
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!
Today at 2pm PST I’ll be the weekly guest on KPSU’s Sex Talk in Portland. (Streaming here.)In honor of PDX, here’s a video from local artist Storm Large.Video is SFW, save for some scantily clad dancers in the end, and a grinding dance train featuring someone in a bear costume. But really, who doesn’t love a dirty bear?
Is precum in guys like vaginal wetness in girls? Is it a similar process? (-question asked during a sex ed talk.)
No. Vaginal wetness comes internally from transudation (water content in plasma pushes past cell walls when blood vessels/capillaries become engorged) and externally from the Bartholin’s (greater vestibular) glands. Lubrication is part of the arousal process in females and can vary greatly due to a long list of factors.
Precum, on the other hand, occurs for a very different reason: to prep the urethra for safe sperm transportation. Urine and semen both pass through the urethra in males. Because urine is acidic enough to kill sperm, males secrete a small amount of fluid prior to ejaculation to create a more alkaline environment.
Be aware: precum still contains enough sperm to impregnante someone.