Orgasm is elusive for millions
of women. Many
studies, including a 2001 global study of 27,000 participants from 30 countries
on sexual behavior revealed that orgasmic dysfunction is the norm rather than
the exception. One third of all women have never experienced an orgasm and the
second third rarely experience orgasm. Orgasmic dysfunction is not just a
woman’s story; equal numbers of men suffer from a range of issues that hinder
their ability to experience orgasm.
Orgasm is a natural biological
response that is built into our bodies, yet often gets buried with time and
cultural conditioning. The American rate of anorgasmic women is three times
higher than anorgasmic women in Europe; a finding that is both mysterious and
revealing when you consider the very different cultural view and education that
sex is given in different countries. For many women the lack of education about
sexual functioning and the rampant misinformation and negative cultural
connotations of sexuality blocked normal sexual curiosity and exploration.
Orgasms are as unique as each
individual who experiences them. The wide variety of intensity, location and
stimulus that contribute to and creates orgasm plays a big part in the mystery
that many women experience in identifying what their own orgasm feels
like. Interestingly, studies have found that the confusion about experiencing
orgasm goes both ways- some women claim having an orgasm and show no bodily
response, while other women who do have classic response like vaginal
contractions and heart racing believe that nothing has happened. The modern
mythology and (dare I say it; pornography) of orgasm looms so large that many
women are not even sure how to identify their own.
Of all the coveted human
experiences, what makes orgasm so elusive is that it cannot be forced. Even
many methods of cajoling seem to backfire. Orgasm is not under our conscious
control, which actually is the quality that may make it difficult for so many
people to find. Betty Dodson, the famous sex therapist that used to hold
masturbation sessions for women once said that “orgasm is where the body takes
over.” This makes sense because the experience of orgasm often feels like a
burst of pleasure, bliss, and emotional and physical release. In fact, the
moment of orgasm creates such a complete release that the brain center that
controls anxiety and fear is switched off.
Giving yourself over to
orgasm is a leap. Some people describe it as the same feeling you get when you
slide down the top of a large roller coaster hill. Taking the dive requires the
ability to be completely in the present moment and to feel entirely safe. It
isn’t that surprising then, that statistically, your chances of having an orgasm
are much better on your own than with a partner.
Letting go of your judgments
about sexuality, and digging deep into the fears and insecurities that most of
us carry about our sexual history, preferences and behaviors is a challenge that
many relationships face. Many people spend their lives married to people with
whom they can’t even say the word “masturbate,” let alone imagine sharing the
act. Not being able to disclose or trust our sexuality holds our orgasm hostage.
Finding a language to explore
this exciting experience of letting go and having the courage to change your
thinking and habits to discover this elusive place is the subject of
Vivienne Cass’s “The Elusive Orgasm.” In a therapeutic workbook style, which
guides the student to rethink her relationship to her own sexuality and make the
changes to experience it, this book is a great introduction to uncovering the
sexual pleasure that is our birthright.
The good news is that the more
orgasms you have, the more orgasms you’re likely to have in the future.
Learning about your own sexual response and developing your orgasmic potential
will bring both immediate gratification and long-term satisfaction. As with any
skill based human motor function, all bodies come equipped with the tools for
orgasm, yet without the proper education and opportunity to practice, many
people never successfully achieve the synergy of mind, body and spirit to
release this very unique and revelatory experience. It is a quest worthy or our
time and attention.