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Perhaps you have heard it – women lamenting that they don’t enjoy sex as men do? Many women wish they could come ‘like a man’ – a few quick thrusts and you reach a guaranteed orgasm. According to experts, women already come like men, only that they don’t realise it. Male and female orgasms are identical – they both involve between five to eight quick muscle contractions, and there is the same genital influx of hormonal chemicals and blood. The male orgasm leads to ejaculation while the female doesn’t, but there is a similar sensation of release.

These similarities are not usually recognised in everyday sexual experiences and couples often don’t discuss sex openly to find out each other’s feelings. It is often the couple’s desire to make sex enjoyable all the time, or most of the time, but this is usually not the case. You can make your relationship sexually fulfilling by understanding and appreciating different stages of arousal and orgasm in men and women, and working towards closing or narrowing the gap so you can both be sexually in-tune.

During sex, the average woman needs seven to eight minutes of direct clitoral stimulation to get an orgasm, while men take a mere 90 seconds. These incompatibilities often create resentment in a relationship where couples are not in-tune sexually. A man may not like having to ‘hold it in’ while he waits for his partner to come, and she may resent having her build-up cut short, when a man comes too quickly.

For men, orgasm depends almost entirely on the stimulation of the penis and is usually, though not always, accompanied by ejaculation of seminal fluid. For women, clitoral stimulation and movement of the penis within the vagina, prolonged through skill and experience, produce these intense feelings though they can reach orgasm in other ways too – by manual or oral stimulation of the clitoris or deep vaginal thrusting, for instance.

Some women experience the emission of fluid from the urethra with orgasm but this is not ejaculation. Orgasms in both men and women vary depending on mood, level of energy or fatigue, amount and type of foreplay, the level of mutual trust, and what is happening in their lives. Not every sexual experience ends in orgasm; there are times when orgasms are a natural outcome of sexual activities, and others where lovers will have orgasms only if they really work at them.

While men and women were made to fit together and have sex naturally and enjoy it, their bodies are different and there is no guarantee of reaching orgasm together as they behave and react differently during sex. It is less easy to assess psychosexual triggers for women than for men, because the physiological signs of female arousal are more subtle. A slight moistening of the vagina presents a much more difficult gauge of arousal than a male erection.

Men come more quickly because they are excited more quickly, often by visual triggers, like watching a woman undress or a steamy sex scene in a movie. For women, the process of arousal is a little more sophisticated. Most women are not as susceptible to visual triggers as men. Female arousal involves a longer psychological build-up. What’s more, women are more likely to be distracted during the build-up to orgasm. For instance, if the baby starts crying in the next room or there is a knock on the door, a woman will find it very difficult to keep her mind ‘on track’ and reach a quick and easy orgasm. Every day worries or ‘not being in the mood for sex’ can have a similar effect.

However, when a woman is orgasmic, she has greater control of her orgasm than a man. Many women love being able to hold off an orgasm and savour the build-up. If a woman can muster the ability to focus sexually, she can become really orgasmic. Women who have masturbated often find it easier to come than those who have never. In bed, they don’t get distracted as quickly as women who have grown up thinking of sex as dangerous and chaotic.

If a woman has mustered her arousal response, she has an orgasmic advantage over her partner. Women have the physical ability to come several times in quick succession, while men require a longer recovery period between orgasms. In theory, women can go backwards and forwards between the orgasm stage of sexual response and the ‘plateau’ (heightened excitement) stage until they are exhausted. Men, by contrast, have to re-tread the entire arousal process before they can come again. And that can take time, especially as a man gets older.

So if women’s orgasms are psychologically based, does this mean they can’t be helped to a better orgasm by physical stimulants such as vibrators and Viagra? While Viagra has been shown in trials to be effective on women as well, it is unlikely that women can be helped to better orgasms by use of physical stimulants like men. Viagra works by increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the genital area, allowing more blood to reach the penis or clitoris. The result in men is an erection; in women the clitoris becomes engorged allowing it to be ‘tugged’ more easily during sex.

But even if they are using a physical trigger, women still need to be ‘in the mood’ – they remain dependent on the psychology of arousal. The use of a physical trigger, won’t make a woman come, but may speed up the process. This is why women may welcome a drug that has the potential to make them ‘come like men’ – quickly, efficiently, and every time. But the trick towards closing the gap between a man’s quick arousal and reaching orgasm and a woman’s slow arousal and reaching (or not reaching at all) orgasm, lies in the couple working in partnership to ensure sex is mutually pleasing to both. This, to a great extent, removes the discontent that may arise in a relationship where sexual fulfillment is not mutual.

Reaching a woman’s pleasure zones

It is important for the couple to know how to help the woman reach orgasm as closely as possible to the man. Some women say that the clitoris is a woman’s orgasm epicenter; others claim that since the vagina houses the sensitive G-spot, penetration is the key to orgasm. Orgasms in women are neither vaginal nor clitoral – they can be both and more. Some women are more sensitive to clitoral stimulation than others, but every orgasm involves the entire genital area. Your vaginal muscles contract rapidly and your clitoris becomes engorged with blood.

Every orgasm is different. Sensations can differ according to where you put the pressure. If a man penetrates a woman very deeply, the vaginal contractions will feel strong. If penetration is shallow, but he is stimulating the clitoris firmly, that’s where it feels more intense. The angle of penetration can also help you climax faster. This is why its important for couples to experiment with different lovemaking positions to find out which can help them close the arousal gap. The whole idea is to help the man delay his orgasm while the woman speeds up hers.

Sex positions to help speed up a woman’s orgasm

Rear entry. The man lies on his back and the woman also on her back but on top of the man. The woman parts her legs to allow the man enter her from behind. With rear entry position, penetration is deep and this quickens a woman’s arousal and intensifies her vaginal contractions. Her enlarged clitoris pokes from its hood because she is stretched out. Both have easy access to the clitoris with hands if extra clitoral stimulation is required.

Woman on top. The woman should lean forward for extra clitoral friction and faster orgasm, and lean back for greater pleasure on the sensitive front wall of her vagina.

Missionary position. Penetration can be deep and the clitoris is rubbed through the man’s pubis when you are in the missionary position.

Straddling a man backwards on a chair. A man should sit on a chair and a woman takes a comfortable sitting position on his lap. The man should enter her from the rear. The woman should press down for deeper penetration and ask the man to hold her breasts for an added buzz.

4 Techniques for delaying male orgasm

Vary the thrusting pattern. Alternate deep thrusting during intercourse with shallow ones. Periodically stop thrusting altogether and remain still within your partner for several seconds or longer.

The perineum press. Practiced in China for thousands of years, this technique is simple. Before the point of ejaculatory inevitability, use three curved fingers to apply pressure to the perineum, the area between the scrotum and the anus. Practice on your own first because finding the exact spot and getting the pressure just right is a little tricky.

Flex your PC muscles. This technique requires strong pubococcygeal (PC) muscles, which you can get by doing Kegels strengthening exercises. When ejaculation is imminent, stop thrusting. Pull back to approximately one inch of penetration, but do not entirely withdraw. Flex the PC muscles and hold to a count of nine. Resume thrusting with shallow strokes.

Alternating stimuli. If you are highly aroused but not on the verge of ejaculation, stop thrusting and make love to your partner manually with your fingers, for example. By alternating intercourse with other forms of lovemaking, most men can delay orgasm.

4 Tips to help a woman experience orgasm

Change the attitudes that inhibit orgasm. These include expectations that a man should give you an orgasm, not being open about what you would like him to do to you, thinking that pleasing him is more important than pleasing yourself, and feeling that it’s taking you too long to come and he is getting tired so the need for you to hurry sex by faking an orgasm.

Experiment with positions to find the ones most effective for you. Many women find the female superior position (rear entry) most conducive to orgasm because they can control the angle and depth of penetration and the degree of thrusting. For added clitoral friction, try lowering your torso against his, tightening your legs, and rocking your pelvis against his.

Use your PC muscles. Use your vaginal muscles and the PC muscle to increase physical tension. Flexing those muscles can encourage and strengthen orgasms, too.

Provide additional clitoral stimulation. Have your partner use his hand or use your own hand to stimulate the clitoris during intercourse.

Published in February 2012