You've seen countless articles on the subject: The female orgasm, and why it seems so elusive - during intercourse, anyway - for so many women.
What to do? According to some experts, stop thinking about it. If you do, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised.
About two-thirds of women don't have orgasms from intercourse alone, according to sex educator Joani Blank. "Would I like to have orgasms with intercourse only?" the 62-year-old grandmother asked. "You bet! But now I don't spend more than five seconds a year worrying about it."
Not only can worrying about it get in the way of pleasurable sex, it can paint women into a corner where they feel the only way out is deception.
"So many women fake it so they can just relax and enjoy," said Alice, a 60-year-old from New Jersey, "It's counterfeiting intimacy and it's dishonest, but women do it to feel close to their man." In other words, it removes the tensions of fulfilling expectations, although by devious means.
Anatomy gives women a handicap from the start when it comes to the intercourse O. That's primarily because the woman's most sexually sensitive area, the clitoris, is all too often a bystander during sex.
"Some people say, 'If God meant women to have orgasms through intercourse, why didn't he put the clitoris inside the vagina?'" Blank said. "But it's because women have to have babies, and it would really hurt if the clitoris were there."
The boundaries of the clitoris are controversial and ill-defined, but there is a consensus it extends far beyond its small, visible tip, and that it's responsible for almost all pleasurable sexual feelings in women.
Sex Between Your Ears
Anatomy aside, psychological factors often take precedence. The woman's partner may feel obliged to give pleasure, and if no orgasm is forthcoming the woman may feel she's let her partner down.
"You know your husband really wants you to reach orgasm because he loves you, and most women feel men's egos are pretty fragile," Alice said.
Nothing makes it harder to reach orgasm than to think about it, Blank said. The desire for a climax must be eliminated before feeling that toes-to-scalp tingle.
Here's one counterintuitive exercise: When you and your beloved are having sex, take a head-to-toe inventory of how your body feels, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 as an orgasm and one a trip to the dentist. Now, do your best to make yourself less aroused, trying to move from an eight to a seven, for example.
"I try to reduce how turned on I am," Blank said, "and invariably it turns me on. It gives you something else to do rather than think of the orgasm."
Mind games aside, you've probably heard of some down-and-dirty ways to reach the fabled simultaneous orgasm during intercourse, but they still bear repeating:
- Try the coital alignment technique. With the man on top, have him slide upwards and rest his full body weight on the spot where your pubic bones meet.
- Do your Kegels. A pumped-up pubococcygeal muscle can make it easier to orgasm.
- Find a new position check out the Kama Sutra if need be where the woman can give herself a little extracurricular stimulation. "A lot of women feel uncomfortable and self-conscious," Blank said, "so men should encourage their partners."
The Guilty Party
And let's not forget: Women aren't having sex by themselves.
"Orgasms are built on clitoral stimulation, right?" said Theresa, a 29-year-old actress who said she rarely loops the loop without some extra help. "So unless you know exactly what you're doing, and most men don't, it's not enough to just 'hit it.'"
"Guys should realize that all women are different, and we aren't going to have an O after a few thrusts!" said Lulu, a 25-year-old.
But for those willing to go the extra mile, partners will scream your praises.
"Most guys are more focused on getting their rocks off without considering women's needs," Lulu added. "But I'm more turned on by a guy who spends a lot of time really wanting to please me before himself."