Women might draw the short straw when it comes to many areas of physiology, but not when it comes to orgasms. Our orgasms can last for as long as 20 seconds, whereas a man’s will normally be over in just three. On top of this, women are capable of having multiple climaxes in a single romp – some even report having orgasms into the double figures.
“When a woman is sexually satisfied she feels fantastic – by doing herself some good, she’s doing everyone around her a favour too,” says orgasm expert Dr Andrea Pennington, a regular on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“Women should have three orgasms a week as a minimum. The benefits are numerous, including stress relief from depression and natural pain relief.”
But the downside is us women aren’t always reaching our potential – for every three orgasms men have, we’re likely to have just one. Time to start getting jiggy with it…
As you become aroused, blood rushes to your genitals. A huge number of nerve endings in your pelvis, buttocks and thighs tense up, and when you climax your body releases the tension in a series of pleasurable waves at 0.8 second intervals. A big orgasm might consist of 10-15 waves; a small one 3-5.
Meanwhile, your brain focuses entirely on the sensation, in an altered state of consciousness. No other natural stimulation is capable of creating this level of intense concentration – during an orgasm we lose our awareness of sounds and smells around us.
Why do we orgasm?
While the male climax is tied in with ejaculation, it’s unclear what the exact purpose of the female orgasm is. Here are some theories…
? The vaginal contractions experienced help to draw semen towards the cervix, good news for baby making.
? In prehistoric women, the hormones released during climax caused their ovaries to release an egg. Hundreds of thousands of years later, women have evolved to ovulate independently.
? Orgasms evolved as a bartering tool for positive reinforcement in relationships. It would keep partners coming back for more.
Although your libido may wane over the years, the quality of your orgasms may get better.
“The reality of sex over 50 is actually quite different from what many believe,” says Claire Kim, program director at OMGYes.com , a website dedicated to female sexual pleasure.
“We have a saying that, ‘Your grandma has better orgasms than you do,’ because older people have more experience and insight into what feels best for them.”
Your clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings – double the number in a penis. Sorry, guys!
One in 20 women have never had an orgasm – and 40% of us admit to faking them
How to get to 20 seconds
If you find your climaxes are too short and sweet, give edging a try. The technique involves nearing orgasm, but pulling back at the last moment. Repeating this two or three times builds a stronger, longer orgasm in 65% of women. Build yourself up until you’re close to orgasm, and try one of these edging techniques to delay.
Move your hand (or your partner’s hand or penis) away when you feel as if you are about to climax. Cool down for a few mins, then start again.
Create sudden sensations away from your clitoris just before orgasm – try tapping or squeezing your inner thigh.
Your orgasm questions answered
Q. I’ve never had an orgasm, is there something wrong with me?
This is not uncommon – in fact, almost one in 20 women have never had one.
“All women are capable of having an orgasm, they just haven’t found out how,” says Dr Andrea. “Eighty percent of an orgasm is tied up with psychological issues – concerns about the way you look, past experiences, and religious and cultural programming can all play
a part in whether you can climax.”
Q. My orgasms are weaker since the menopause, what can I do?
Levels of oestrogen and testosterone lower during the menopause, meaning many women notice a decreased libido.
“Low oestrogen can cause painful vaginal dryness, meaning it may be harder to climax,” says Dr Andrea.
“A dip in testosterone can cause muscles around the vagina to become looser, meaning sex will be less pleasurable.”
Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy and lubricants, and try pelvic floor strengthening exercises.
Q. I’ve been faking orgasms with my partner for years, is it too late to show him how I really want it?
Forty percent of women admit they have faked an orgasm, and most of us admit to having faked it at one time or another.
“If you fake it, you’re giving your partner feedback that what they’re doing is pleasing you,” says Dr Andrea.
But it’s never too late to reteach them.
“Introduce some novelty into your relationship,” says Dr Andrea. “Come home with a new toy or lingerie, read erotic literature together, or watch adult films. This causes spikes of dopamine in the brain, which creates craving for your partner.”
With all this going on, encouraging your partner to pleasure you differently won’t be such a big deal.