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I’ve never had another human give me an orgasm despite many attempts, so I asked for expert advice

WORDS BY GENEVIEVE PHELAN

I can’t be the only one?

I have two rather risque log lists on my phone with a combined total I will not disclose here. One is dubbed sex innkeeping and the other sexless innkeeping. The prerequisites for one is romantic pursuits and spending an entire slumber with someone sans doing the deed.

The other is reserved for those I have slept with. Some names on the list incur dread, nostalgia, anger, face-palmery or a laugh. The only common denominator of all these bygone bedfellows is that not one of them has ever given me an orgasm. The sheer gravity of that realisation only hit me the other week.

Really, though, it’s not all their fault. Writing this and releasing it into the ether is already making me tense up. I’m not good at talking about sex, especially before, during and after the act.

I’m rarely reticent with personal anecdotes, opinions and desires. I’m fickle and like what I like and want what I want and most people that are intimate with me in any facet of life know that.

But expressing or even thinking about what I would appreciate during sex sends me into a sweat. I feel held at gunpoint. I am exposed. I am suddenly mute and get agitatedly dismissive when anyone ever asks. 

My go-to response? “I don’t know.” Narrator: But really, she did know. Then if they don’t seem to care, ask or heed attention to achieving mutual orgasms, I (and many women) feel miffed, pissed off and cheated. That’s not fucking fair, we think. Why didn’t they do that? After I did all of that

For all of the post-bedroom grotesqueries inflicted on females (read: UTIs, thrush, recently a girlfriend even recounted a wince-worthy vaginal tear), it seems baffling that a lot of us don’t expect to have our deepest desires fulfilled between the sheets. The amount of friends I’ve had lengthy chats with about ‘faking it’ or feeling like sex is one-sided astounds me.

It’s common knowledge that climax is harder for women to reach in heterosexual encounters than it is for men. Biology, chemistry and other out-of-our-control shit come into play big time here, but it got me thinking about selfish lovers, how to navigate them, and how our own insecurities might make us selfish, too.

Are we settling for less than to simply feel human touch? Should we be expecting orgasm equality in fleeting encounters? When we’re with the right person, is the endgame really that important?

My time on the battlefront has left me confused and disenchanted and I most definitely do not have these answers, so I summoned a sexpert for the job. Georgia Grace is an open oracle on all things intimacy, pleasure and sexuality, and she’s here to get real on the grizzly stuff in a way I wish more of us felt we could.

What’re the biggest barriers to achieving an orgasm?

Lack of education, lack of practice and limited embodied awareness. When I challenge clients or workshop participants to point to the clitoris on a diagram, more than three-quarters of the room can’t find it. Why is this? That more than 75 per cent of us can’t point out the only organ in the human body that is specifically designed for pleasure. This lack of awareness isn’t just on the individual, it’s fueled by our sex ed system and mainstream ideas of sex. Sex education ignores the clitoris, teaching only about internal, reproductive organs. So we essentially say there is a blurred space from the belly-button down and in this censored area are some pretty important organs. 

Teaching basic sex education and coaching seems so simple, but I see it changing people when it’s truly believed and embodied. Study after study show: sexual pleasure, self-esteem and satisfaction have profound impacts on our physical and mental wellbeing. It is a natural and vital part of our health and happiness. Open conversations and useful information will support you in learning about your body, your pleasure potential and allow you to experience sexual satisfaction, happiness and wellbeing throughout your life. Sexuality is a source of self-knowledge and having open, real conversations about pleasure will be a driving force in this sexual revolution. 

When orgasms aren’t mutual, what do we do? 

The stats about the orgasm gap are truly mind-boggling. It’s also put a lot of pressure on people to cum, and pressure to achieve anything during sex is so far from sexy. If you notice one person is cumming more frequently on average, it’ll be useful to speak about it. Why? Is it the way you’re having sex? Is it the amount of time? Is there something getting in the way between you and feeling pleasure? Good communication can solve most relational issues.

When it comes to casual sex or FWB relationships, love and meaningful connection are sometimes missing. What would you tell a defeatist feeling like orgasms and casual sex are mutually exclusive?

Not always the case! Casual sex or FWB arrangements can certainly be meaningful, sexy and fulfilling. If you’re choosing a casual arrangement and you’re not fulfilled, then something needs to change. Even though it’s casual you still need to speak about your wants, needs, desires – it’s just as important to have an open dialogue with a FWB or casual lover as it is with a long term partner. Remember, fulfilling sex is different for everyone so first figure out what it means to you and then find ways to communicate this to the people you’re having sex with.

How would you define a selfish lover? Why would someone be this way? 

This will be different for everyone. Broadly, a selfish lover is someone who is solely concerned with their own body or sexual experience, they give only to receive, or they accept someone saying “I don’t like receiving” rather than inviting them to practice receiving. Having said that, I support SO many people with their hang-ups of being a selfish lover – they don’t want to accept pleasure because they think they’ll be a better lover if they give.

I think it’s really important for people to release and receive more. Everyone is so concerned with ‘performing’ giving someone the best sex they’ve ever had, that when it comes to receiving they freak out when someone spends more than five mins between their legs. The word selfish is loaded and instead it’s important to be clear on the different roles you play during sex. Ask “Who is this for?” and if it’s constantly ‘for’ one person more than the other, something has to change.

I think I’m sleeping with a selfish lover. How can I change this before one-sided sex becomes routine?

Talk to them about it,  voice your desires – tell them exactly what you want. Often people become ‘selfish’ because they have no idea what they’re doing. Tell them! And if it turns out that they don’t care about you or your pleasure – invite them to work on it, get therapy, or move on.

Why is the clitoris such a mysterious beast? Why do I feel like orgasms (with another human) are akin to fairytales and removed from reality?

The narrative of sex begins with erection and ends in ejaculation and many believe that women/people with vulvas climax from penetration alone. But most women need clitoral stimulation. Sex researcher Alfred Kinsey found 95 per cent of women reach orgasm easily and within four minutes during masturbation. Orgasm is possible when women are alone. Another study found that when women masturbate, almost 99 per cent stimulate their clitoris. Why do we still associate sex with penetration?

If sex is penetration, that excludes a whole group of people who don’t have sex in that way or don’t want to have sex in that way. What if you could say you’ve had sex when you’ve had an enthusiastically consensual, highly pleasurable, desired experience, that may or may not involve penetration or end in climax. It’s mysterious because we’re only starting to fully understand the complexity of the clitoris in recent years. We may not have all the answers yet, so it’s important for each person to learn about their clitoris.

It’s common knowledge women have more difficulty achieving orgasm during penetrative intercourse than men. Why? What can we do to reclaim bedroom equality here?

On average, it can take anywhere between 20 to 40 mins to be fully physiologically aroused – that does not mean you can’t cum in 30 seconds, you can – but that’s looking at blood flow, lubrication, engorgement, pain threshold more than doubling. [Female] arousal isn’t as obvious or straight forward as the penis, so we need to stop having sex in a way that only pleasures the penis. Start having sex that involves more than penetration, but includes the clitoris and we will transform sex for not only us, but society.

How can I get out of my head during sex? 

A daily mindfulness practice – great lovers aren’t made in the bedroom. You have to learn to be more mindful and the more present and aware throughout the day, you will then be more equipped to come back to your body during sex. A few practices to try during sex: breathwork, bringing awareness to touch, grounding practices, stopping or slowing down to connect in with your partner.

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