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.
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.
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.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.