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I can tell when a guy has learned all he knows about sex with women from porn and Hollywood. There are a few different hallmarks, but the biggest giveaway is asking if I’m going to come when there is not a single thing — animate or not — in the vicinity of my clitoris.

If you don’t own a vagina or a clit or some combination of the two, you could be forgiven for not knowing how the hell the female* orgasm works. After all, every movie you’ve ever seen depicts a hetero couple reaching climax together, at exactly the same time, missionary-style, with all hands above the waist. This is, of course, highly suspect.

*Disclaimer: gender and biological sex both exist on a spectrum. For the specific purposes of this article, I’m referring to cis-women, and speaking to anyone who has sex with cis-women.

Every mainstream porn film you’ve ever watched, meanwhile, has taught you that using your tongue and hands down there are just obligatory stops on the way to penis-in-vagina town, and should be approached with the fervor of someone who hasn’t seen food or water for days. Not to mention that the story ends when the guy ejaculates.

All of which is, shall we say, misleading. Straight men, it’s time to face it: the vast majority of your sexual partners will not reach orgasm with your penis alone.

But because you are (to borrow from Dan Savage) a “good, game, and giving sexual partner,” you’re going to read on to debunk the most pernicious myths about the female orgasm.

Myth: Women’s Anatomy Is Completely Different From Men’s and Therefore a Mystery

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: We all start with the same equipment.

Here’s a quick biology lesson: in the early stages of development, every fetus is female. As the fetus grows, the production of testosterone (triggered by the presence of the Y chromosome) directs the clitoris to grow into a penis and to close the opening that would otherwise be the vulva. Basically, what you’re equipped with as a dude started out as what women are equipped with.

This is important to know because it should help you conceptualize the primacy of the clitoris to sexual function and how sensitive it is. A clit has all the nerve endings you have in your penis, but at approximately a zillion times the concentration. It also gets erect as a result of increased blood flow to the area, just like a penis, which is worth paying attention to as a sign of whether or not a woman’s body is seriously into what’s up.

Myth: Lots of Women Have Vaginal Orgasms

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: No, they straight up don’t.

A survey of the substantial body of research into this suggests that at least 75 percent of women only reach orgasm with direct clitoral stimulation. That means if you’ve slept with four women and all of them came during penetrative sex with no other action down there — e.g. the elusive vaginal orgasm — my money’s on three of them faking it.

Given those bleak statistics, it might seem surprising that the vaginal orgasm is so firmly lodged in mainstream representations of sex. Freud has a lot to answer for (he claimed that the vaginal orgasm was the only “mature’” orgasm for women), as do the West’s puritanical notions of reproductive sex being the only kind of acceptable sex.

In the 21st century, however, it’s the explosion of cinematic pornography that has done the most to condition how we understand sex and pleasure. Never forget that porn is created almost exclusively for the (predominantly male) viewer’s pleasure, not the participants’. Camera angles and the viewer’s attention span overwhelmingly dictate the angles, positions and duration of everything happening on screen. (If you want a deep dive on this, porn’s popularization of the facial is a great example to look at.)

So: we have a history of considering clitoral orgasms to be a) immature at best, immoral at worst; and b) physiologically irrelevant to male pleasure. This is the perfect recipe to sideline the one thing that the vast majority of women say brings them to climax.

But what about the women who do experience orgasm during penetrative sex without direct clitoral stimulation? To jump back to the biology lesson for a second, “the majority of the clitoris is actually within the pelvis — that is, it’s far more internal than external.” Vaginal orgasms can be accounted for with indirect stimulation (think cowgirl style, for example, where the clit is getting friction from a woman grinding on top) or with stimulation to the “internal” clitoris that wraps around the vagina and swells under the labia majora with the increased bloodflow of arousal.

The vaginal orgasm is just a clitoral orgasm from a different angle. The takeaway still stands: pay attention to her clit. All roads lead to Rome, if you will.

Vaginal Orgasms Are Actually G-Spot Orgasms

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: The stimulation necessary for G-spot orgasms is very, very unlikely to come from a penis.

The G-spot is actually more of a G-region, as its location, structure, and definition are imprecise and vary so much between women. What most women will tell you, though, is that there is an erogenous zone a couple of inches into the vagina on the frontal wall (belly side) that’s sensitive to pressure. The G-Region — despite being talked about in literature since the 17th century — remains a pretty nebulous object of study: it’s been connected to female ejaculation, the female prostate, and even hypothesized as internal clitoral tissue.

While the G-region remains a bit of a mystery as far as how it works, it’s pretty clear that it does work for a lot of women — if not as a sole provider of orgasms then at least as a participatory element and/or a source of pleasure.

But — and this is a big but — missionary sex as you know it is highly unlikely to stimulate the G-region (it’s an angle thing). There are a few mods to penetrative sex positions that will make it easier to hit but a G-region orgasm is most easily achieved with your fingers. Get to work with the classic “come hither” gesture or grab a curved toy that applies pressure upwards on the vaginal wall, ideally with some vibration. For ideas and best practice, see here.

Being “Great in Bed” Means You Can Make a Woman Come With Just Your Penis

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: the best bedfellows use whatever tools are at their disposal to get the job done.

Your penis isn’t necessarily the best tool for the job, gents. I know that’s like the centre of your whole masculine identity or whatever, and yeah, they can be pretty fun for us too… but they are not the centre of your female partner’s universe when it comes to getting off.

Use your hands. Use your tongue. Use a toy. Use her hands. Hopefully she knows her body (if she doesn’t, no time like the present to learn!), and while there’s something to be said for another person being wholly responsible for your sexual ecstasy, it takes time and a bit of luck to find someone who can do it for you as well as you can do it for yourself. Ask what she likes, and then listen to her words, breath and body language.

She Needs It Hard and Fast to Come

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: SLOW. THE HELL. DOWN.

Look, there’s no golden speed, but as a general rule: whatever you’re about to do, slow it down by at least half. Build that shit up and don’t hit it at 100 miles per hour. Steady rhythm trumps speed any day of the week. Also, play around with circles on her clit. You’re welcome.

It’s All About the Physical

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: “Men are more sexually aroused by visual stimuli, but women are more sexually aroused by concrete, auditory, olfactory, touch and emotionally relevant sexual stimulation.”

In layman’s terms: a guy is likely to get off on what he sees or visualizes while he’s having sex, and a gal is likely to be getting off on what she hears, smells, and feels on her skin. (Whether this is innate or learned or both is up for debate.) Talking — whether dirty, romantic, or whatever — is hot. Silence is not golden.

Plus the more you talk, the more opportunity you have to find out what’s working for her and what isn’t.

I Know She Came, I Heard It

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: Forget what you hear; you’ll feel it when she comes.

As women approach orgasm, the pelvic floor muscles contract, narrowing the vaginal canal — if any part of you is inside her, you’ll feel this start to happen. At climax, our pelvic muscles around the vagina go into involuntary rhythmic contractions. They’re hard to miss from the inside but hard to see from a camera lens ten feet away, which is why sex on screen features women making a lot of noise to indicate to the viewer that she’s coming.

Sound effects can certainly be genuine, but the non-verbal cues don’t lie.

Note to my straight sisters: you’re not getting off (…) the hook. Don’t stay silent when he gives you shitty or nonexistent foreplay and for the love of god, don’t fake it while he’s humping you like a rabbit and pretending your clit doesn’t exist.

It’s Game Over Once The Guy Comes

Stephen Cheetham

Fact: An erect penis is not integral to a woman’s pleasure, so why would you stop?

You came? That’s fantastic. That doesn’t give you a pass to roll over and go to sleep. If you’ve paid any attention so far, you know by now that what makes you come is statistically unlikely to make her come and you know that your hard dick is not a necessary, nor sufficient, part of her orgasm. So if she hasn’t come yet, get to work without your dick. You’ll be rewarded with the seriously great satisfaction of giving someone else crazy pleasure.

Next up, here’s how 19-year-old upcoming designer Maya Reik starts her day.

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