One of the most common sexual difficulties for women is not being able to reach orgasm — all of the time, or some of the time. Perspective is also important here. If you have been led to believe the myth that sexual success means an orgasm with every sexual encounter, then you will believe you have a problem if you fall short of the 100 percent. Anxiety to achieve an orgasm can be self-defeating because the more anxious you are, the less likely you are to get there. This is the female version of performance anxiety.

Sexual technique makes a big difference. It can be embarrassing to admit that you think your sexual skills might need some sharpening. Whenever you bring up the subject of improving sexual technique there are some who criticize the emphasis on performance. Now while I’ll be the first to admit that technique isn’t everything, there is a lot to be said for the elements of sensuality and tactile finesse. While some people are what you’d call ‘naturals’ much of this can be learned or at least improved upon. The ham-fisted jump on, do your thing and go to sleep approach is hardly the formula for a lifetime of mutual sexual bliss. Similarly, people who are sexually inhibited and self-conscious may never be able to relax enough to discover their sexual potential. Sensate focus exercises can help here too. So can some of the reputable sex manuals and self-help videos. It’s been interesting over the last few years to see these move from under the counter of the local bookstore or down in the dark, back corner of the video library to the front shelves. They can show you anything from communication skills to different arousal techniques and intercourse positions you might not have thought to try. Above all, they are often a great way to start conversations between partners about sexuality and give you the opportunity to find out aspects of each other’s attitudes and needs you may never have discussed.

A common theme in many of the letters I receive is the concern that the woman is not able to orgasm during penetration. Now this is perceived by the correspondents as a sexual problem. One typical letter said, ‘My wife and I have been married for nearly a year and we still have a lot to learn about sex. We are both worried that she cannot seem to have an orgasm when I have my penis inside her, no matter how long I can last. I figure I must be doing something wrong.’ Once it is pointed out that this is in fact the normal course of events, that many women usually need something else like stimulation of the genitals with their; partner’s fingers or mouth (before, during, after or instead of intercourse), or the ‘woman on top’ position, then it needn’t be seen as a problem. Mind you, some men find it difficult to accept that a penis is not an essential for a woman to be sexually satisfied.

*129/17/9*

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