We asked women for their experiences with the big O. Discover their rights and wrongs, ups and downs, and ins and outs.
Masturbating is great. It really taught me my personal ‘hot spots’, although sadly, that didn’t stop me from having some terrible sexual experiences! I’ve been with my partner for almost five years, and I'd say it's only during the past six months that I've been able to talk to him about what I like and be absolutely, totally honest. I used to worry he’d think I was saying he wasn’t good enough, or that he didn’t know what he was doing, and feel judged. It just felt easier to stay quiet and have sex that was OK, but not amazing. Experimenting with different condoms and lubes has helped open up conversations for us and given a natural starting point for constructive and revealing chats. For me, the trick to orgasming with my partner was getting very comfortable with him, and relaxing. The good old missionary position works for me too!
I met a partner who was quite a scientific guy, who did a lot of reading and research – god bless the internet! Ha! He gave me my first orgasm, and prompted me to do more research myself, and find out how my body worked. Knowledge is power! Orgasms are like earthquakes. Sometimes they are just minor tremors that are pleasant but not terribly newsworthy. Others will rip the pictures off the wall, wrack your whole body and make you forget your name for a while!
“I used to think that I'd never orgasm. As a young person I was told that masturbation was dirty, and that women never did it. I believed it for years.
Later in life, I just faked climaxes during sex, it as I thought that's what my partner expected. I became pregnant and had my son, still without ever having orgasmed.
It was only when I was a single parent, in a house of my own, with some privacy, that I got curious and bought my first toy. It was a rabbit vibrator. Using it honestly changed my life!
Nowadays, I know exactly what I like and what gets me off, and I'm no longer ashamed of my feelings towards myself, sex and masturbation.
So: I can only orgasm via penetration. I’ve always felt like a freak, because so many manuals and sex guides emphasise how most girls can’t orgasm without clitoral stimulation. I think it’s so important to highlight that all women are different: there are no absolute rules on what works, so you have to find out what feels good for you.
“First of all, not all women can climax from intercourse. In my opinion, it’s crucial to get the message out there and inform women of this, so they can focus on what will make them climax, which in a lot of cases (though not all) is clitoral stimulation.
When you’re distracted by trying to act sexy, hide your cellulite, have good posture and flattering lighting, give your partner good technique and moan like a porn star, you are not really 'there' in the moment to receive pleasure and let go and climax.”
“For me, having orgasms isn’t as central to good sex than just enjoying the intimacy with someone; I can orgasm once, or not at all, and still have a wonderful experience. I suppose I'm lucky, however, that I have a partner who cares so much about my pleasure that if I have "just one" he considers it a disappointment! On the flipside, sometimes if a man really wants you to climax during intercourse and you can’t, things can end up feeling stressful, even if his intentions are really good.
It's the lack of pressure to orgasm which makes it easier for me. I've had partners in the past who have been so intent on me coming at times that I feel like I have to, which can be hard work. Sometimes it simply does not happen at all for whatever reason – my ability to climax seems to change according to the situation - and I'm okay with that, it doesn't stop me enjoying sex.
(there is an) unhelpful lack of encouragement for women to masturbate and to get to know their own bodies, their likes and dislikes, what contributes to their pleasure and what doesn't work for them personally. A lot of the myths surrounding female pleasure can be damaging.”
“My last partner and I finally discovered a way for us to orgasm together, which was really fantastic. He used to get really turned on by me orgasming, so we'd mutually masturbate - and then once I was starting to climax, that would make him climax. He wasn’t inside me but it was still a shared experience.
My climaxes rely heavily on a perfect balance of things - and sometimes I can 'lose' an orgasm, when I feel like I’m right on the cusp of climaxing and yet maybe I move, or he moves, and then it's lost in a heartbeat!”
I used to find it awkward to openly discuss what I liked with partners, but now I’ve realised that better sex begins with clarity.
How my orgasms feel vary hugely depending on what bits are stimulated, what time of the month it is, or when I’m alone or with a partner. If my orgasm is a big one, my legs will shake, walking will feel difficult and I can just drop off to sleep so peacefully afterwards; it’s like a wave of happiness washes over me.
For me, the key to better sex was learning to have a deeper understanding of my own body. I think that feeling confident and relaxed is a big factor in achieving an orgasm, too.
The best orgasms I’ve had are with a partner and not by myself. I can come fairly quickly on my own, whereas during sex the build-up and enjoyment is prolonged. Simply sharing the pleasure with my partner can make experiencing an orgasm seem much more intense, too. I love the conversational aspects of sex, the laughter and silliness that can happen; it’s not just about climax for me, it’s the whole thing.
The female orgasm is so important. For years women, have been suppressed and not properly taught about their bodies, and even made to feel abnormal for enjoying sex. As a younger person I was told that sex was a dirty thing; losing that guilt that once held me down and exploring myself has been wonderful.a