The sex positivity movement may have been around for years, but there’s still a lot of misconceptions and mystique surrounding the female orgasm.
For a start, the orgasm gap still exists: studies show that heterosexual men are far more likely to orgasm during sex than heterosexual women; while lesbian and bisexual women are also known to orgasm more than straight women.
So what’s going on? “There are people that still believe that it’s harder for people with vulvas to achieve orgasm, or that women have to have some sort of crazy emotional, psychological connection in order to achieve orgasm,” according to Portia Brown, a New York-based sex educator, who joined us on HuffPost UK Life’s Am I Making You Uncomfortable? podcast to talk orgasms.
In heterosexual relationships, Brown believes a penis-centric approach and lack of appreciation (or respect) for the clitoris could explain a lot. “It’s the only organ in the human body of any gender, of any sex, that is solely made for pleasure, yet the way we primarily have sex never touches it, never addresses it. And it’s also this big joke that the clitoris can’t be found. It’s staring right at you, it’s in the same spot as the penis, it’s just smaller.”
Porn and unrealistic portrayals of women climaxing in film and TV don’t help – nor do bizarre products like Gwyneth Paltrow’s “orgasm candle” for Goop, which only contributes to the narrative that the female orgasm is something mysterious and elusive, rather than a normal part of everyday life.
So, to lift the lid on what the female orgasm is really like, we asked women to share their most memorable orgasm experiences on the podcast. Below are just a handful of their no-holds-barred stories – you’ll hear more in the episode, alongside wisdom from Portia Brown and intimacy coach Charlene Douglas.
Masturbating with a difference
“My most memorable orgasm has to be after binge-watching Sex Education. I watched series one and two back to back and there’s a relationship with two women and they actually discover that masturbating on their front is a way of having a fantastic orgasm.
“I’d never thought about it before, so I went away, had a little moment, had a little rendezvous session with me, myself and I and it was the most memorable orgasm I’ve ever had. I recommend it, ladies.” – Rachel*, 29, East Sussex
“Everyone warns you if you’re trans, post-op you might never orgasm again. You might even lose all your feeling all together down there. [There’s] tension, when you try for that first post-op orgasm and you’ve got different geometry, you’re scared you’re going to do yourself harm and the slightest distraction and the mood has gone.
“But, I got there, after many tries and the purchase of a mains-powered vibrator and compared to before, it’s totally amazing. And, in case you didn’t know, it turns out trans women do lubricate, which was an immense relief.” – Jane, 60, Hertfordshire
A breakthrough moment
“I’ve always really struggled to orgasm, particularly when I’m busy or I’m stressed. I started seeing this guy and we had been dating for about 10 weeks and we decided spontaneously to go on holiday together. We went away and it was super hot, we’d had some really nice food and really nice wine and I finally felt completely relaxed.
“He went down on me and it was just really magical, where the orgasm completely takes over your body and nothing else really matters in the moment. I’m with him four years later, so it really worked out.” – Claire*, 28, Brighton
Bath time fun
“My most memorable orgasm was about 15 years ago, I was about 18 and it was in the bath. It was this long, slow, gentle build up, I knew when it hit that it was going to be intense and powerful. And it genuinely really was, I nearly blacked out! I saw stars, it was amazing – and definitely one of the best I’ve ever had.
“But at the same time, I got such a bad cramp in my foot that it completely ruined the aftermath of what was just this amazing experience.” – Alys, 36, London
An LSD experience
“The best orgasm I ever had was when I was on a lot of LSD and it was really intense sex. The way I can describe it is when you have an orgasm, it’s like it goes up and up and up and up and then you reach the absolute peak, the climax, but on this particular time, on LSD, it was like it went up and up and up
and then sideways, an absolute mind-bending sensation, transcending space and time.
“Afterwards, I actually passed out for like a minute and yeah, it ways really, really amazing. Afterwards I remember saying it was like I could see poetry as it happened.” – Michelle*, 29, Suffolk
“I have this friend who I was kind of seeing in an open relationship, and he was telling me how his partner used to come from anal and I was literally like: ‘That’s a load of crap, girls don’t do that, whatever.’ I was being a real dick about it.
“Me and my partner are both queer and we were experimenting a little bit with butt stuff, just to see what that was like, which normally really, really hurts but obviously he’s used to doing that with guys. So when we were doing it, we tried the position where I was on top facing him instead and about five minutes in, I had the biggest orgasm ever from my butt.
“This was amazing! But then I had to go to my mate and apologise for basically telling him he was a liar when he was telling me the truth the whole time. So there you go, girls can orgasm from their butt holes, woo-hoo.” – Hannah, 32, London
“When my endometriosis caused me to develop vaginismus, the impact on my emotional wellbeing was devastating, but I decided that this condition couldn’t destroy my sex life. I set out on researching different ways of how to orgasm. Through my research, I taught myself what muscles to relax, where to focus my breathing and my energetic intentions. The result is now that I can literally think myself to an orgasm, completely hands-free. It also means that every time during intercourse, I orgasm. Every single time, ladies, and sometimes more than once.” – Victoria, 35, Birmingham
*Some names have been changed to provide anonymity
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.