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Finding the fireworks: five orgasm myths busted and how to have better sex

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The female orgasm must be one of science's most fascinating unsolved mysteries. Why women orgasm and the best way to achieve the best orgasm are questions women - and scientists - have been asking for centuries. Here, doctor and sex therapist, Andrea Pennington, busts the most common orgasm myths, and gives her advice for having the time of your life in bed... 


The female orgasm, to some, is like the holy grail. Its hiding place is a mystery, it’s sought after with intensity, it’s occasionally glimpsed, but all too often, reaching the pinnacle of ecstasy is missed entirely.

As women, we crave the intense, passionate release that orgasm promises and yet, we put in so much effort to attain it, we end up frustrated. Sadly, it can even lead to the demise of a relationship.


Read more: What women want: why the porn industry needs to wake up to female desire


The fact that only one out of every four women can achieve orgasm through penetrative sex alone eludes many women. Instead, some women blame their lover and lament the fact that their partner is either not interested, not focused or not skilled enough to get her off. Others will mistakenly blame themselves, compare their ‘O’ experience to their girlfriends’ and feel ashamed. All of which is just not necessary.

It's time to put an end to the myths surrounding the female orgasm and knock down the barriers to pleasure, setting you on the path to body-rocking orgasms...

Myth #1 : Our parts just don’t play well together

Assuming that they are somehow broken, many women will eventually seek out professional help. That’s when they ask me to be their ‘sex detective’, to uncover what blocks them from achieving orgasm. The surprising answer for most women lies between their ears, not between their legs.

Your brain is your biggest ally in reaching orgasmic bliss. 

Before you can reach the heights of ecstasy you must shed the mental junk that weighs you down. While it is tempting to think that if only your partner had better skills you’d climax easier, clinical research shows that what fills your mind has a greater impact than anything else.

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Research shows that our responsiveness depends on a delicate balance between excitation and inhibition. In some circumstances we may become excited by cues from our lover — like the curves of their body. But if we aren’t sufficiently seduced and mentally stimulated, some of us will not turn on at all — even to the sexiest of partners doing all the right moves.

Before you can reach the heights of ecstasy you must shed the mental junk that weighs you down.

Our own mental chatter can block our lover’s most potent moves.The likelihood of reaching orgasm is slim to none if we’re overwhelmed with anxiety about how we look, sound, or taste. Whether we’re concerned with our growing to-do list or embarrassed at the messy state of our flat, our brains will not create the flood of chemicals and stimulation to the vagina needed for the erotic explosion we desire.

So before you turn down the lights, be sure to turn down your internal dialogue first. Write a list of the things you need to do tomorrow, tidy up your bedroom, and remind yourself that keeping your head in the game so you can enjoy an orgasmic release will make you even more productive later. 

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Myth #2: More effort leads to more rewards

Sometimes we try acrobatic stunts or bring out sexy skivvies, buzzing sex toys and juicy lubricants hoping they’ll get us to the finish line more reliably. However, all of that effort puts the focus in the wrong place.

Since the dawn of sex research, therapists explain that when it comes to our bodies, where attention goes, orgasm follows. So even though it’s nice to put on skimpy lingerie, if it doesn’t allow you to bring your attention to the pleasure you feel in your own skin, it defeats the ultimate purpose.

When you’re ready to get into the act, focus on the sensations you feel or the pleasure you’re creating in your partner. This helps your brain bring attention to what’s really important in the here and now, right where the action is.

Prolong foreplay as long as possible so that you feel, really feel the tension and excitement. Again, this mindful approach will send the signal to your brain that it’s worth putting in the blood flow and increased lubrication needed for boosting pleasure and reaching orgasm.

Practicing meditation can also improve your ability to tune into your body and tune out distractions.

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Myth #3: Orgasm should happen ‘naturally’

A lot of women expect to have an orgasm while having sex. However, the clitoral stimulation needed to reach climax during penetrative intercourse is often insufficient for achieving orgasm. And that, my dear woman, is normal.

The most sensitive part of a woman’s anatomy is the head of the clitoris and the more clit stimulation you receive the more likely you are to have an orgasm. So before or during penetration, with a finger, vibrator or other toy, make sure to get consistent clit action.


Read more: The brave new world of toys, tech and wellness


It is also worth mentioning that women are more likely to experience orgasm when oral sex is involved. So invite your partner to go down on you to heighten the pleasure you feel. If they insert a finger in your vagina to gently rub your G-spot or even your A-spot (see the diagram) while performing oral, you may find that the combination leads to an orgasmic rush before you know it.

And - for hererosexuals -  if you think the only ‘natural’ way to have sex is the missionary position, you may be missing out on another lovely way to reach orgasm. By laying on your stomach and allowing your partner to enter you from behind, he may have better access to your G-spot, which can shorten the time to orgasm considerably.

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Myth #4 : My partner is ‘supposed’ to make me come

I can’t tell you how many women tell me they are frustrated that their partner fails to make them come. But your orgasm is your responsibility, too. If your partner is not spontaneously gifted in getting you there, it is up to you to take control. That means asking for what you want. Try getting on top so that you can control the rhythm and contact with your clitoris. Try masturbating more. Getting to know your body is the key to becoming orgasmic. If you don’t know how to make yourself come when you are alone, it will be a lot more difficult with a partner.

Myth #5 : I’m a medical anomaly and I just have to put up with no orgasms

Some women tolerate an orgasmless sex life - but there is no legitimate reason to do so. Painful intercourse can also stop the orgasmic flow in its tracks.

An under-diagnosed cause of vaginal pain is vaginismus, a condition in which the entrance to the vagina closes tightly when intercourse is attempted, thus preventing penetration. It is caused by an involuntary spasm of the sphincter muscles around the vagina and anus. Physical therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are often used in these conditions.


The Orgasm Prescription for Women: 21-days to Heightened Pleasure, Deeper Intimacy and Orgasmic Bliss, by Andrea Pennington, MD (£13.67, Make Your Mark Global) is out now. Dr. Andrea offers free meditations to heighten sexual responsiveness at OrgasmPrescription.com  

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