Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2017 Contents A24 body & soul
guardian.co.tt Friday, September 1, 2017
Many of us equate "sex" with "intercourse" and
use those words interchangeably. Yet highly sat-
isfying sex doesn't have to be limited to penetra-
tion---and doesn't even have to include it at all.
According to a recent study, many women report
that they require clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm.
For the study, Debby Herbenick, director of the
Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana Uni-
versity and a research fellow and sexual health educator
at the Kinsey Institute, and her colleagues assessed data
from 1,055 women ages 18 to 94 who answered a de-
tailed online survey about their sex lives. "Our purpose
was to understand more about women's experiences
with ... the kinds of touch they find pleasurable and
how clitoral and vaginal stimulation contribute to their
orgasms," she explained.
In reading her results, I'm struck by the idea that the
majority of women report that they often don't reach
orgasm through intercourse alone. This flies in the
face of the stereotype of intercourse as the be-all and
end-all of sexual activity---and suggests that couples
should explore the whole range of pleasurable options
for achieving climax. The study contained a few com-
pelling findings worth enumerating.
This study found that only about 18 per cent of wom-
en reported being able to climax during intercourse from
vaginal penetration alone. About 36 per cent said they
needed clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm during
intercourse, and another 36 per cent said it enhanced
the experience. Yet, many women still fake orgasm dur-
ing intercourse, according to therapist Laurie Mintz,
author of the new book Becoming Cliterate.
"The main reasons they give for faking is that they
want to appear 'normal' and want to make their male
partners feel good," she said.
"This is one of the saddest and most common prob-
lems I deal with in my clinical practice," added Anita
Hoffer, a sexuality counsellor and educator. "Women
who either are uninformed or insecure and therefore
easily intimidated by ignorant partners bear a great
deal of shame and guilt at being unable to climax from
intercourse alone. Many are greatly relieved when they
learn that they are among the majority of women who
engage in sexual intercourse."
Do some orgasms feel better than others? According
to 78 per cent of the survey respondents, the answer is
yes. These so-called better orgasms aren't necessarily
dependent on the length of an encounter. In fact, fewer
than one in five women surveyed believed that longer
sex contributed to better orgasms.
Instead, the most common contributors to orgasmic
bliss included spending time to build arousal, having a
partner who knows that they like, emotional intimacy
and clitoral stimulation during intercourse, said Her-
benick. "A woman's general mood and stress level---
including the degree to which she is able to mindfully
immerse in the sexual encounter---can have an impact
on orgasm quality too," Mintz explained.
This term "outercourse" refers to sex that isn't inter-
course and doesn't involve penetration. It can include
kissing, touching, erotic massage and using sex toys,
just to name a few options.
"When we equate intercourse and sex and call
everything that comes before intercourse 'foreplay,'
we are buying into the cultural script that sex should
proceed as follows: foreplay (just enough to get her
ready for intercourse), intercourse (during which both
women and men orgasm), and game over," Mintz said.
But sex doesn't have to involve intercourse at all.
Herbenick suggested that couples take a lesson
from the early days of their relationship. "Sometimes,
when people are first getting together, they spend time
making out and touching each other's genitals long
before they start having oral sex or intercourse with
each other," she explained. "All too often, once oral
sex and intercourse become part of their routine, the
rest fades away---which is too bad, considering how
powerful genital touching can be."
The study found that 41 per cent of women prefer just
one style of touch. "This underscores how important it
is to have conversations about sex and pleasure or even
to show your partner what you like, since otherwise,
the chances of just stumbling upon that one preference
are pretty low," Herbenick said.
One good source of information about women's sex-
ual pleasure that can help you get the conversation
started is the website for OMGYES, which sponsored
the study. The site, which states it's for 18-year-olds
and older, contains a series of videos that demonstrate
different types of touch that real women find pleas-
Couples should have conversations about sex and pleasure.
Intercourse isn't everything for
most women, try 'outercourse'
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