By: Dr. Trina Read
“I have come to think of orgasms as the things that I have really quickly while the guy gets up to look in the refrigerator for something to drink.” Merrill Markoe
For over a hundred years, sex researchers, feminists and pop-culture have been enmeshed in an ongoing debate as to which is superior: the vaginal or clitoral orgasm. Regrettably, their high-brow ponderings have left the average gal in their wake wondering whether her orgasm is either real or even the best one.
In case you don’t know the difference between a vaginal or clitoral orgasm a small tutorial is in order. The clitoral orgasm is achieved by direct stimulation of the clitoris, which has between 6,000 to 8,000 nerve endings. This dense cluster of nerves is triggered by direct, localized stimulation via fingers, tongue, sex toys, or by masturbation. Clitoral orgasms are typically described as “higher” and “intense”. Sometimes, post-orgasm, the clitoris feels as if it has been over stimulated.
A vaginal orgasm, on the other hand, is achieved via stimulation of the vaginal canal. Hot spots include: the G-Spot, the lower interior vaginal walls and the cervix. Because the surface area is bigger, vaginal orgasms are usually described as “deep” and “relaxing” and are usually followed by a profound sense of calm.
It was Sigmund Freud who started this debilitating to women orgasm debate. Grudgingly, I have to give Freud credit for popularizing the fact that there were two types of orgasms. However, with this, he also theorized that an orgasm experienced through clitoral stimulation was the precursor of a deeper, more satisfying orgasm experienced in the vaginal canal during penetration.
According to Freud, the vaginal orgasm was a feminine and more mature sexual response, while the clitoral orgasm was masculine, immature and inferior. And a married woman who truly loved her husband could easily and naturally “transfer” the pleasurable feelings she had from her clitoris to her vagina during penile penetration.
It was of no consequence that Freud did not have any scientific proof—this whole idea was concocted by his powers of supposition.
Freud and his disciples took the vaginal orgasm idea and wrote many academic papers on the topic, making it “scientifically” sound. Soon, the hard-to-win-over scientific and medical communities embraced the theory that vaginal orgasm as superior.
Now let’s get back to the average woman and witness how Freud’s ideas have impacted her sexuality. For more than half a century, women tried unsuccessfully to be good lovers by transferring their inferior clitoral orgasm to the mature vagina. Surprise! A great number of women ended up in therapy with Freud or his disciples and given the label of “sexual dysfunction”.
It wasn’t until the 1940s when sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey risked all to take thousands of men and women’s sex histories. Through his interviews, Kinsey concluded that a huge percentage of women were not having and could not have vaginal orgasms. Kinsey lashed out against Freud’s unproven theory. However, to this day, Kinsey’s research is controversial and the medical community was in no way swayed.
Then in the 1960s, sex researchers Masters and Johnson (M & J) decided to test Kinsey’s findings in the laboratory. M & J concluded that the majority of their female subjects could only achieve clitoral orgasm while a small minority achieved vaginal orgasm.
Brilliantly, M & J’s findings coincided with the feminist movement. To put it mildly, feminists were furious that Freud, one man, could have messed up women’s minds, orgasms and sex lives for so many generations. Feminists went on a zealous campaign to gain back rightful respect for the clitoral orgasm.
The fight was not an easy one. Dr. Mary Jane Sherfey, a Freudian psychiatrist, published The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality in 1966. Bravely, her book questioned, dismantled and then disproved Freud’s orgasm theory. The hostility from the scientific community was immense.
Thanks to those few feminists who made a big noise, most women today feel comfortable having a clitoral orgasm. Yet there is still a lot of confusion and misunderstanding surrounding whether they are missing out on the bigger vaginal orgasm experience.
Part of it is triggered by pop culture’s latest craze of promoting the G-Spot orgasm as superior to a clitoral orgasm. As well, romance novels and movies often depict woman being completely orgasmic with no foreplay and only penile penetration.
I have spoken to many women who wonder what is wrong with them because they cannot have a G-Spot orgasm or cannot get turned-on by simple penile thrusting. I assure these women that they are perfectly normal and that the majority of gals are only able to orgasm via stimulation of the clitoris.
The question remains: is there a best kind of orgasm? The answer would have to be: absolutely not. An orgasm is an orgasm is an orgasm, regardless of how it manifests itself. All that matters is she enjoys herself in the process. Orgasm debate over.
Relationship and sexual health expert, Dr. Trina Read, is the founder of sexual health resource www.VivaXO.com and www.TrinaRead.com/SensualTastes. She is host and producer www.EatDrinkLoveTV.com, Recipes for Love TV and a CBC radio relationship columnist.