HomeIntellectual aspects of sexualityHow orgasm is achievedSimilarities between men and women’s responses

Similarities between men and women’s responses

Orgasm is a basic physiological response of the human body. Just as the same mechanism causes men and women to sneeze, so we also orgasm in the same way. Regardless of gender and orientation, both the anatomy and the trigger are the same. We massage the tumescent phallus and focus our minds on explicit aspects of eroticism. Orgasm techniques are similar whether we are male or female, alone or with a lover, gay or heterosexual.

It is inconceivable that men and women would have evolved a response as fundamental as orgasm through different evolutionary routes. This is where the anatomical precedent comes in. The phallus (penis or clitoris) is always involved in orgasm. The penis and clitoris (only the glans is visible) may not look very similar but they develop from the same anatomy in every foetus (regardless of sex). Whereas the vagina develops from female reproductive glands that every embryo has initially but that wither away in a male foetus.

The penis acts both as a sex organ and a reproductive organ. So men enjoy orgasm (which triggers ejaculation) as part of their reproductive role in intercourse. But for women, intercourse has a purely reproductive function. A woman has separate anatomy for reproductive function (the vagina) and orgasm (the clitoris). Women’s reproductive anatomy (the vagina) complements male responsiveness (orgasm ability). Female responsiveness mirrors (or parallels) the male instinct to thrust to orgasm during intercourse.

Masturbation is based on an instinctive thrusting behaviour. This thrusting action is not consciously determined by the individual. It happens because the individual does what comes naturally when they are mentally aroused. Build-up to orgasm involves rhythmic movements of the whole body, focused on the pelvis. The hips are thrust forward, the thigh and buttocks muscles are flexed. This is an instinctive behaviour that puts pressure on the internal sex organ (penis or clitoris). The sex organ (clitoris or penis) is stimulated simultaneously from behind (or within) as well as from the front (by rubbing the loose skin over the shaft of the penis or the body of clitoris).

Sexual activity that is aimed at orgasm is not accompanied by a dialogue. Anyone who wants to orgasm needs to concentrate on the mental turn-ons that cause arousal. During masturbation alone we always need some form of fantasy to achieve arousal. These fantasies need to be explicitly erotic and include aspects of sex that are sufficiently arousing for us to achieve orgasm. Fantasies are based on the personal erotic preferences of the individual.

A woman can enjoy vaginal intercourse but this enjoyment arises from the emotional reward of feeling desired and appreciated for providing a lover with the pleasures of penetration. This is why women vehemently object to the same stimulation with a stranger. The sensations of being penetrated and receiving a man’s ejaculate do not cause orgasm. Gay men may offer a lover an opportunity for anal penetration. Stimulation of the prostate gland can cause ejaculation but orgasm usually relies on massaging the erectile organ.

Sociable activity with a lover does not allow a woman the focus on fantasy that she needs to be able to achieve orgasm. Neither can she align herself psychologically with the thrusting role. The position a responsive woman needs to assume is incompatible with intercourse. A woman masturbates by lying face down with her hands on her vulva. This position allows for the thrusting motion and the clenching of the buttocks that is critical to achieving orgasm. Although men are much more flexible in the position in which they can orgasm, they often prefer a position that is above a lover or facing down.

If we want to understand responsiveness, a good place to start is male sexuality. When men engage in intercourse or masturbation, they stimulate their penis rhythmically up until orgasm. It only appears as if men are intent on the goal of orgasm. In fact, men are responding to an instinct to thrust into the vagina (or other body orifice). This thrusting action inevitably ends in orgasm, which ends a man’s ability to engage in sexual activity. No one can predict the exact timing of an orgasm. But intercourse stimulates a woman’s vagina only while a man has an erection (until ejaculation). No one (not even a man) can orgasm within limits set by another person’s responses. Neither can we orgasm with exactly the same frequency as another person.

The idea that women (but not men of course) need a lover with specialised stimulation skills to make them orgasm or give them an orgasm is a fallacy. Orgasm is a specific erotic phenomenon that occurs relatively predictably given the appropriate psychological and physical stimuli. But physical stimulation (regardless of who provides it) is a secondary issue. Mental arousal is much more crucial and must be achieved before physical stimulation can be effective (lead reliably to orgasm). When we become responsive in adolescence (all men but very few women), we discover orgasm by ourselves. Orgasm occurs in the brain as a response to erotic stimuli.

A responsive woman may enjoy resting her hands on her vulva before going to sleep or when she is relaxing alone. There is no sense of sexual arousal, just a feeling of comfort. Men also enjoy resting a hand on their penis even when flaccid. Unresponsive women are often unaware that cursory genital contact cannot cause orgasm. Achieving orgasm involves specific stimulation and a degree of privacy to focus on turn-ons. Mental arousal causes tumescence so that the erectile organ becomes sensitive to stimulation. This sensitivity is considerably heightened for a man. Even when aroused, a responsive woman obtains relatively little pleasure from clitoral stimulation.

The basic physiology of sexual response is essentially the same among females and males. (Alfred Kinsey)

Excerpt from Learn About Sexuality (ISBN 978-0956-894748)