The Ins & Outs: Demystifying the female orgasm

Some women say that an orgasm is like fireworks going off all over your body. Others experience a warm wash or glow that spreads through the body. But some — and usually not for lack of trying — have no idea what an orgasm feels like.

According to Planned Parenthood, 15 percent of women have difficulty reaching orgasm — the muscular contraction that releases sexual tension — while 10 percent have never had one at all. And those who do orgasm only do so 50 to 70 percent of the time.

So why the problems? Sexologist Betty Dodson thinks it’s all pressure.

“Do not think about orgasm! Just enjoy the feelings you are getting and leave it at that,” Dodson says on her blog “Striving or trying to have the Big O can work against you. So for now, forget about orgasms. Stretch and breathe and enjoy your body as it moves. … Just enjoy your life in general. Pushing, striving and driving yourself to come is the opposite of pleasure. It’s more like a job. Time to take a vacation!”

Men orgasm nearly every time they have sex, and it’s pretty obvious when it happens. Women have a much bigger challenge. With a series of internal cues from muscle spasms to a sensitive clitoris, it’s just not as easy to tell when a woman has achieved orgasm. Sometimes, she might not even know it.

Dodson suggests in her blog that some women may be ignoring the natural sensations of orgasm due to the fact that they are expecting to feel something different. “(T)his sounds like you are having an orgasm. But you are unable to identify the release due to your expectations of what you ‘think’ an orgasm will feel like. … Poor body! It comes and then your cruel brain denies it. Get out of your head and trust your body,” she says.

As Dodson says, you might be thwarting your own orgasm by considering it the goal of sex. If you’re a woman who is experiencing problems with achieving an orgasm, you might want to rethink your expectations of sex. It’s possible to have a positive and extremely pleasurable sexual experience without an orgasm.

Plus, the journey is the fun part.

“If you’re reluctant to embark on a sexual experience unless satisfaction is guaranteed, you’re cheating yourself out of the joys of the unexpected. New toys and techniques may not set you on a tried-and-true path to orgasm, but they will open up entirely new horizons of sensation,” according to “The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex” by Cathy Winks and Anne Seamans.

So take a few deep breaths, clear your mind, grab some toys (and maybe a partner or two) and go at it!