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Can’t Orgasm Vaginally? It’s in Your Anatomy, My Dear

Can’t Orgasm Vaginally? It’s in Your Anatomy, My Dear

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

A study just came out in the journal Clinical Anatomy. The study reviewed the scientific literature regarding male and female anatomy with regard to sexual performance. While no new stones were unturned, the study has perhaps confirmed a few things we already suspected.

Shop Arousal and Sensation Products Most of us (gasp!) don’t orgasm with vaginal penetration alone, even though we may have tried mightily, maybe wondered what was wrong with us, and maybe pulled off a few (or more than a few) fakes. Something like 70 percent of us rarely orgasm with penetration alone and 10 percent of us don’t orgasm at all. Most of us need a little additional help in the form of clitoral stimulation.

However, this new study does add some anatomical clarity to what we’ve suspected all along. Turns out, the distance between our urinary opening and the clitoris is the critical anatomical feature determining whether we orgasm easily—or at all. And that feature, like our eye or hair color, was determined in utero, before we were born.

By the Numbers

The critical number for orgasm with penetration is 2.5 centimeters—that distance still allows the clitoris to be stimulated by vaginal penetration. If the clitoris is farther from the urethra than that, orgasm without additional stimulation is difficult or impossible.

“It's so strong a correlation that if you give us a woman who has a distance of 3 centimeters, we can very reliably predict she won't have orgasm with intercourse,” said Elisabeth Lloyd, an affiliated faculty scholar with the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University-Bloomington in this article.

(You and your partner can do the measurement yourselves to figure out how to finesse your style.)

So all that performance anxiety—and maybe those faked orgasms—had nothing to do with your sexual skill or appetite and everything to do with your anatomy.  Which is something you can’t change, but you can work with.

The Clitoris Is Critical

Bottom line for women—for all women the clitoris is the critical organ when it comes to orgasm. The closer it is anatomically to the vaginal action, the more likely you’ll orgasm. If it’s farther away, you may want to switch up your moves.

Position Matters

You can't change your anatomy, but you can work with it.The best sexual positions to stimulate that little hot button are the good old missionary and the “cowgirl” with you on top. Maybe you’ve already discovered that some positions, notable the “doggy” style (rear entry) doesn’t work so well because it tends to stimulate the rear wall of the vagina and leaves the action far from the clitoris. If you can grind a little on his bones, you’re nicely positioned for direct stimulation. Either you or your partner can also include a little extra hand, mouth, or sex toy action if necessary—or nice.

So—get nicely lubed; don’t neglect the languorous foreplay; and practice positions that strategically stimulate the clitoris. And drop the worry about that elusive vaginal orgasm-with-penetration. There might not be such a thing. “To put this banner of healthiness [about] having orgasm with intercourse kind of stacks the deck against these women who, because of their anatomy, cannot have orgasm with intercourse,” Lloyd said.




  • I have been having orgasms since the age of 5 by masturbating. I have only had one orgasm with one man by oral in my life and I’ve had 12 partners. Intercourse does nothing for me frankly and I don’t really see how a vaginal orgasm (if they even exist) can feel as good as one by masturbation as having a penis inside you dampens the contractions. (Yes, I’ve tried to masturbate with a vibratory dildo but it’s not pleasurable)

    Melissa on

  • I feel the same way about my breasts! I’ve never talked to anyone else about this who had the same feeling about it. You’re not alone. It kills my mood when my nipples are being messed with. I wish I wasn’t like this but I am. I also cannot “finish” from the inside. I’m 37.

    Sasha on

  • I have not been able to have a vaginal organism for years. I thought there was something wrong with me or I was over thinking it too much. Luckily, I have a very supportive husband and for me, it’s only been oral for years. But, glad I read this. I will definitely try these suggested positions and see how it goes.

    Miri on

  • Sally G I feel the exact way you do! I can’t process penetration and stimulate clitoris at the same time. I can only orgasm with clitoral stimulation and without penetration. Makes me weird and uncomfortable to ask my partner to wait while I get myself off.

    Carla on

  • This helped me and my wife A LOT, we adore this blog :D

    Coach Glod on

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