One of the most common myths about sexual interactions is that someone “made me cum.” While we obviously connect our orgasms with the person(s) that was engaged with us during sex, the reality is that we actually own our orgasms. Another person does not give you an orgasm. An orgasm is a complex response to sexual stimulation. You see, our bodies respond to sexual stimulation by shutting down the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which decreases fear, anxiety, and pain while turning on remote brain regions that are involved with orgasms. In those remote brain regions we have the thalamus, which is related to sexual memory, fantasy, and touch and the hypothalamus which produces oxytocin. When our body reacts to sexual stimulation, the brain releases neurochemicals, like dopamine, which is responsible for the experience of pleasure, and oxytocin, which provides a sense of affection toward the person(s) with which we are sexually engaged. Oxytocin is also released during breastfeeding to promote bonding between mother and child. This is not to imply that the experience of breastfeeding and orgasm are the same or that breastfeeding is sexual, but just to indicate a sense of bonding. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for that feeling of satisfaction that we feel with the orgasm.
We tend to connect the neurochemical response of orgasm with the sexual stimulus occurring with our genitals. Our brains, in essence, map the experience as pleasurable with the genital stimulation taking place. But it is essential to understand that this is not always the case. For example, there are abundant data that describe the “orgasm” physical response to unwanted sexual stimulation as a unpleasurable experience. This can be very confusing and disturbing for people who have this biological response to unwanted sexual stimulation. Such an experience may warrant therapeutic support to understand that the body reacted naturally and that the unwanted experience was not the survivor’s fault. Simply put, the body responds to stimulation and the orgasm itself is an interpretation of pleasure in response to the chemicals released in the brain.
It is also important to know that individuals who may have reduced or unavailable sexual functioning in the genitals may “remap” the orgasm experience with other parts of the body. For example, a person with lower body paralysis may experience orgasm through stimulation of the nipples or another responsive part of the body. The body and brain, therefore, work in tandem to create a biological response to sexual stimulation that we interpret as an orgasm.
Okay, so that’s a lot of scientific information. It’s good to know this, however, in order to take ownership of our orgasms, we need to first understand that: 1) our bodies naturally respond to sexual stimulation whether we want it to or not; and 2) the other person(s) who may be engaging with us sexually are not responsible for our orgasms. The other person(s) are only supporting our orgasms by creating stimulation. So the idea that “someone made me cum” is probably better stated as “someone helped me cum.” Your body did the rest. So, dear reader, you now can take back ownership of your orgasms. This is particularly an issue for women who have been disadvantaged in the orgasm ownership category throughout time because men have been given power over the sexuality of women. By taking back ownership of your orgasm, you are empowered to experience orgasms on your own terms. Here are three tips for you to take ownership of your orgasm and enhance the pleasure experience with your partner(s).
Tip #1: Use your toys!
We have heard so often that women are not comfortable using toys during sex, particularly with men, because they do not want to offend their male partner. Why? The answer is that when men own the sexuality of women under the myth that they “give women orgasms” and that using a toys is emasculating. This is patently false. If you’re responsible for your own orgasm, then you have the right and responsibility to use toys or other sexually stimulating devices, food, or objects that bring you pleasure. The male penis does a terrible job of directly stimulating the external part of the clitoris. The clitoris is essential in stimulating the majority of female orgasms. To meet the need to stimulate the clitoris, we encourage use of toys, such as a vibrator, or your fingers (or whatever else might be safely used) to stimulate the clitoris during sexual intercourse. Becoming comfortable with using toys during sexual intercourse will enhance your ownership and opportunity for orgasms. Men that are intimidated or feel emasculated by the use of toys need to recognize that sexual activity is a two-way (or threeway…or moreway) experience. The male penis is typically fully engaged in sexual intercourse, which includes the sensitive tissue just under the tip of the penis (this is the equivalent to the female clitoris). So, if it’s good for the male, then it is good female in terms of fully engaging the clitoris. Remember, the release of oxytocin enhances the “bonding” experience with our sexual partner(s). So if you are a male who is unsure about your female partner’s use of toys, you are definitely rewarded when your partner experiences orgasm because of the chemical response to the orgasm in which you played a part.
Tip #2: Go solo
Masturbation is a tremendous way to learn what you like and dislike when being sexually stimulated. You can explore your fantasies and “map” the sensations with the parts of your body that enjoy sexual stimulation. You can also use your toys so that you know exactly which ones you want to use during sexual intercourse. The more you know yourself, the more you can own your orgasms. Explore. Enjoy.
Tip #3: Let your partner(s) watch/join
Sadly, we have been taught that masturbation is a “private matter” not to be observed by others. We cannot disagree enough with this notion when it comes to your intimate partner(s). If you have dedicated the time needed to explore with your toys and know what helps you achieve orgasm, then it is time to teach your partner(s). Why? Because you own your orgasms. Let them watch. Show them what you like. You may also want them to use toys with you so they can learn how the toys work for you. Just do not be surprised if, at some point during this process, your partner(s) become so aroused that they may need to enjoy their own orgasms with you.