You very rarely hear women say they can achieve orgasm just from penetration, but like the Loch Ness Monster, the legend sticks around just enough to make those who are more clitorally oriented wonder if it’s worth working toward. In fact, some experts say 70 percent of women rarely or never have orgasms. And yet men put a premium on it for a few obvious reasons: (1) porn and (2) they want to feel like their penis is a sexual hot rod that will make you speak in tongues and throw your vibrator into a volcano.
What’s the big difference between vaginal orgasms and clitoral orgasms? Ob-gyn Heather Bartos explains that vaginal orgasms tend to be deeper and involve more pulsating of the vaginal muscles than clitoral orgasms. “Generally [vaginal orgasms] involve rocking of the entire body and a big release when completed—about 10 to 30 seconds later,” she adds. To make it even better, she says there’s a short refractory period for these types of orgasms as well. In comparison, she says that “clitoral orgasms tend to be lighter and more tingly. The clitoris is super sensitive afterward and a longer refractory period may be necessary.”
How, if it’s even possible for mere mortals, can we have a vaginal orgasm? Ian Kerner, author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, says that if you interpret “vaginal orgasm” as achieving orgasm from penetration alone, it’s pretty damn rare. “Vaginal orgasms don’t happen without some kind of clit stimulation. They can be enhanced with the G-spot, which provides a different sensation, and clitoral orgasm during penetration can give you the feeling of vaginal orgasm.”
So, are vaginal orgasms bullshit? In 2011, a Yale urologist speculated that the G-spot was actually just an extension of the clitoris. “I don’t want to say they’re a myth, because some women do have them. But it’s very rare to take a dildo or a vibrator and have an orgasm simply by thrusting,” Kerner adds.
Bartos agrees. “It is possible to have [a vaginal orgasm], but it’s definitely not the norm. In fact, it may be the sexual unicorn [of orgasms].” Unfortunately, it’s hard to quantify exactly what percentage of people can have vaginal orgasms since, as Bartos points out, orgasms are a complicated business. There are a huge number of factors that play into how each and every orgasm is a little different—anatomy, masturbation or sex technique, and even where you are in your cycle can affect your orgasms. Not to mention your partners, relationship, and trust level often required to really let yourself go.
Sexologist Susan Kaye, PhD, explains that there are no nerve endings in the vagina itself (think about it: childbirth is painful enough) but that the feeling of vaginal orgasm comes from the backside of the clitoris and its nerve endings being stimulated. Just like how an iceberg is, like, 90 percent underwater, so is your clit. The clitoris that you can stimulate and see is just part of it. There are many nerve endings that carry sensation throughout your vagina that you can’t see from the vulva.
Kaye also says that vaginal orgasms tend to be mostly muscle contraction, whereas clitoral orgasms are due to the 8,000 nerve endings sending through the labia and clitoral legs.
In order to best discover your odds of a vaginal orgasm, Kaye suggests using a dildo, vibrator, and/or your own fingers. “Knowing your body, only you can educate a partner on what works best for you,” she explains. “Be your body’s own best friend. ‘Know thyself’ and then inform your partner by taking them on a tour.” After all, they’ll likely appreciate the helping hand.
Emily Morse, a sex expert with a doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, says Kegels will immensely help you out by strengthening your muscles and basically giving you the vaginal equivalent of a six-pack. When the muscles down there are more defined, it’s easier to locate the G-spot. She also suggests a sex toy with a slight curve.
As for sex with a partner, Morse suggests doing it doggy-style to get an angle that best stimulates you internally. “His penis will apply pressure to her G-spot if she starts on all fours and arches her back downward—pushing her belly button toward the floor—while keeping her head up,” she explains. “If she keeps her arms straight and locks her elbows, channeling the cow of cat-cow pose in yoga, she got it right. This way, he can easily lift her hips upward while he thrusts in a downward motion.
If that’s not doing it for you, you also have the option of getting on top, where you can more easily control the pace, depth, and angle. Morse cautions, “It might mean leaning forward or back while adjusting the speed and pressure, but when she’s on top, she can experiment until it’s just right.”
As we’ve learned, sufficient clit stimulation is tantamount to having even a vaginal orgasm. Megan Andelloux, executive director at the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, says most women find the upper left-hand quadrant of their clit the most receptive to stimulation. She also lists the most difficult orgasmic positions for women: 69’ing, standing, and straddling her partner’s face.
So there you have it. Go forth and good luck.