Sex experts estimate that up to 70 percent of women never or rarely achieve orgasm through intercourse. As sex researcher Carol Queen highlights, that means that it's "the norm" for women to feel a little unsatisfied after sessions of intimacy with a partner. For many women, difficulty initiating sex talk with a partner can contribute to sexual encounters that just aren't fulfilling. If you've ever felt as if your friends are having the best sex of all time while you're struggling with difficulty asking your partner for what you want, you're far from alone. Heed this expert advice from sexologists, psychologists, and researchers to help you advocate for the pleasure you deserve.
1. Talk before, after, and during Sex
Sex is about more than just consent and safety. According to sexual health educator Lyba Spring, there's a third component—pleasure. The only way to improve your sex is to communicate, though Spring jokes that some people would rather "visit the dentist" than engage in sex talk with their partners.
Women must learn to communicate with their partners before, during, and after sex. Use the time before you get busy to share how you're feeling and if there's anything new you want to try. Talk during sex to provide feedback, like "That thing you just did felt great. Can you keep going?" Finally, use your cuddle time post-sex to provide feedback on things that worked well for you and factors that weren't quite as enjoyable.
2. Know He Wants to Hear from You
It's estimated that 25 percent of women have never given their partner feedback on his sexual performance, and the majority of people who keep their mouth shut are "afraid of hurting his feelings." However, women need to understand that concerns about hurting their partners' feelings are almost always unfounded. A whopping 97 percent of men specifically want feedback from their partners. There's a clear gap in women's understanding of just how much feedback to provide, which is leading to unsatisfying experiences for couples of all ages.
Surveys of sexually active adults indicate that men are most self-conscious about their ability to last in the bedroom and their size. However, these factors aren't necessarily connected to men's abilities to please their partner. Asking for a massage, longer foreplay, or direct clitoral stimulation during sex typically has no bearing on your partner's sexual confidence and self-esteem. In fact, providing feedback will probably mean your partner is able to please you better, which is a major confidence booster.
3. Stop Faking Your Orgasms—Seriously
If you've ever faked a climax to make your partner feel better about his performance, you're once again in the majority. Approximately 80 percent of women have faked at least one orgasm to boost their partner's confidence. According to sex researchers, women often vocalize not because they're actually turned on, but because it's an effective way to influence their partner. Perhaps most disturbingly, women often fake orgasms if they're feeling time constraints, boredom, or even discomfort.
To be clear, faking an orgasm or sounds of pleasure because sex hurts is not productive. Most men in loving partnerships would be horrified to learn their partners routinely faked an orgasm because sex hurt. However, women often find themselves in a position where they've faked orgasms for years, which sets unreasonable expectations with their partners. If you're in a position where your partner thinks you're routinely climaxing and it's all deception, extricating yourself from the web of white lies you've created can seem uncomfortable or even impossible.
Relationship expert Polly Esther recommends coming clean immediately if you're a long-time orgasm faker. When it comes to sex talk, this is probably one of the hardest conversations you can possibly have with your partner. Admit you faked it to make him feel better and tell him you're embarrassed by the dishonesty. According to Esther, your partner will probably be "upset," and his feelings of disappointment might not fade overnight. However, making a "no faking" commitment and coming clean with your partner is the only way to move toward a sexual relationship that's mutually satisfying and built on honesty.
4. Avoid Worrying about Your Body
Struggling with intrusive thoughts about your body image during sex can inhibit both arousal and achieving orgasm. According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Robert Firestone, these "critical inner voices" interrupt feelings of pleasure and the normal cycle of arousal that allows women to progress toward a really pleasurable experience. Understanding that your inner critic is negatively affecting your experience and that worries about your weight, cleanliness, or even genitals are inhibiting your pleasure is the first step toward resolving this issue.
Taking the time to make yourself clean and beautiful before sex can provide a boost of confidence. Invest in gorgeous lingerie that shows off parts of your body that you love and de-emphasizes your perceived flaws. Additionally, understanding that your partner thinks you're beautiful can minimize worries. Don't be afraid to ask for more verbal communication from your partner during sex, including positive body feedback. For many women, auditory stimulation is a major turn-on. Finally, if your intrusive thoughts are a major issue during sex, it may be worth having a discussion with your physician or therapist.
5. Teach Your Partner
Giving your partner a crash course in providing you pleasure doesn't need to feel clinical or like a college lecture. For the vast majority of women, direct clitoral stimulation is one of the most effective ways to achieve orgasm. There's a good chance your partner could use some pointers on his manual and oral technique. By combining sex talk with teaching your partner, you can make exploring your pleasure a fun experience for both of you. Sex author Dr. Steve Bodansky recommends offering "verbal rewards" throughout exploration and alternating complimenting your partner with directing him in a "soft voice."
All women deserve to have pleasurable sexual encounters with their partners. By realizing that difficulty achieving orgasm is normal and learning to engage in sex talk, you can take steps toward having mutually satisfying experiences. You should never be afraid to give your partner plenty of feedback; after all, he wants you to experience pleasure, too.
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