Female sexuality has been, according to the historical periods, characterized by various and often extravagant interpretations. Defined as complicated, threatening, shameful, irrepressible, demonic. Mature if lived in certain ways or on the contrary infantile, repressed, hierarchically inferior to the male one. To be released, to be claimed or respected.
From the 1960s onwards, mainly thanks to the work of the research couple Masters and Johnson, scientific information on sexuality began to be obtained. Especially on female sexuality and female orgasm , until that moment almost totally ignored at the medical level.
The stages of the female sexual response
The two researchers identified the fundamental phases of the sexual response, identical in the male and female, and carefully studied the medical and physiological details. Pleasure, which unfolds between the four phases of desire / arousal, plateau, orgasm and resolution, accompanies, supports and colors the sexual response cycle in an erotic sense. The phase of female orgasm represents the culminating point of pleasure in the imagination and thanks to the observations of Masters and Johnson we can know its exact physiology.
The preliminary stages to female orgasm
During the arousal and plateau phases the sexual response begins and nurtures. The anatomical structures that surround the vagina and clitoris are supplied with more blood. The lubrication of the vaginal walls increases. The labia minora stretch out, the vagina stretches inwards and the whole body responds to stimulation. We arrive at the stage of the real female orgasm .
The woman’s orgasm
This subjective experience of great pleasure, which can come after an extremely variable time of the previous phases, can last around 20 seconds. An initial spasm of the muscles surrounding the outer third of the vagina (the “orgasmic platform”) follows the moment of orgasm by a few seconds.
After this they begin a series of contractions, usually between 5 and 8, at the rate of one every 0.8 seconds, which represent the quintessence of the experience of orgasm . These are accompanied in some women by contractions of the perianal muscles and the uterus. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, neuromuscular hyperexcitability occurs. Hyperventilation occurs shortly before orgasm and redness of the skin of the trunk may occur.
The intensity of the sensations due to these modifications can vary greatly from case to case, even in the same subject. In the quieter forms the person can maintain total control of himself, in the more intense ones a virtual loss of consciousness can occur, with a numbing of the senses that lasts a few seconds.
The post-orgasmic phase
After orgasm, all physiological components quickly return to pre-excitatory levels, reaching what Masters and Johnson have called the resolution phase . It is characterized by a feeling of relaxation and progressive tension release. If the orgasm is not reached, however, the state of neurophysiological arousal decreases much more slowly and the congestion of the sexual organs can be annoying even for hours.
The multiple female orgasms
Masters and Johnson also found an extraordinary (hitherto unknown) characteristic of female sexual response. In fact, some subjects were able to experience multiple consecutive orgasms. Among the various orgasms of the woman there is no resolution phase (in which the stimulation does not produce any reaction or even discomfort), contrary to what happens on average in the male. It is possible that this condition is connected to the degree of arousal of the person, rather than to a personal predisposition, and to the ability to let go, following emotions and desires.
Human sexuality, in fact, is inextricably linked to cognitions and emotions. All four phases of sexual response correspond to a physical stimulation as well as an emotional and thinking component. Beyond physiology, therefore, there is a very personal world and way of experiencing sexuality and its expression at the climax of female orgasm .
What prevents orgasm in women
Erroneous beliefs, lack of confidence with one’s own body, relationship problems, prejudices or insufficient sexual education can, as much as exclusively physiological problems, affect the quality of pleasure.
A fortiori female sexuality, where the experience of orgasmic pleasure does not have an immediately obvious function as in the male, has often been the object of informative discrimination and neglected education. A satisfying sexuality and the ability to reach orgasms derive in fact from the awareness of the functioning of our body . It is necessary to know how physical reactions are inextricably linked to emotional and cognitive experiences, to be familiar with one’s personal dimension of erotic pleasure.
Disorders of female orgasm
According to recent data in the Italian population, about 9% of women rarely or never reach orgasm. In the United States, the percentage of the general population reaches 11%.
Some women also report having no problems reaching orgasm during masturbation but not being able to reach it with their partner.
It is also interesting to note that about 22.7% of Italian women sometimes pretend to reach orgasm , triggering a vicious circle of unspoken that tends to make the disorders related to sexuality and orgasm become chronic. When this happens, attention is paid to the question of reaching orgasm in an insistent way. This generates unpleasant experiences and prevents us from simply focusing on pleasure, inevitable and natural, which spontaneously leads to its climax.
How to promote a woman’s orgasm
In order to fully understand our own problems related to reaching orgasm , we can first ask ourselves if in the previous phases (desire / excitement and plateau) everything works well for us. If the desire is present, the arousal comes and remains and if the pleasure gradually increases it is useful to ask ourselves what prevents the achievement of orgasm.
There may be difficulties regarding emotions or thoughts about your own body, that of man or about certain situations of intimacy. In this case it is useful to gradually become familiar with your body and your nakedness. It is also necessary to initially expose oneself to one’s naked body alone, perhaps observing one’s genitals. In this way, we gain more and more confidence with that body that, in fact, we carry around on a daily basis.
The same expository principle applies to the partner ‘s body , if that is the problem. In fact, one gradually acquires familiarity with the part or parts that can be somehow unpleasant. In addition, it may be helpful to exercise one’s ability to reach orgasm with self-eroticism, accompanied by sexual fantasies. This is to be able to communicate also to the partner what their preferences are and how it can help us reach orgasm.
When professional help is needed
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, both individually and as a couple, can help address the problems underlying sexual dysfunction , including issues related to orgasm ( anorgasmia ). In therapy, the aforementioned dysfunctional beliefs are addressed, as well as relational or personal problems. Behavioral techniques are used or simply psychoeducational information on female sexuality is provided. This can greatly enhance the fundamental human experience of erotic pleasure and facilitate the achievement of female orgasm .