I never knew what it meant to prime a pump until I watched a plumber work on one at my cottage. To prime a pump means to pour a little water into its fill cap to create suction and, with luck, to pressurize the thing so it draws water rather than spurting air.
The hydraulics metaphor may be more appropriate for men, but I’m betting that some of your orgasmic pressure has leaked out over the years, too. Or, maybe it wasn’t very dependable to begin with. According to some studies, from 25 to 50 percent of women have trouble achieving orgasm.
There are, however, ways to repressurize your orgasmic system—techniques that may help get the sexual juices flowing again. It’s not magic—there is still no pink Viagra that guarantees an orgasm, given that the female sexual response cycle is a lot more complicated than a water pump.
If your orgasmic mechanism needs a little priming, here some holistic ways to repressurize.
- Exercise. (I heard that groan.) Good orgasms require good circulation to keep all that oxygenated blood flowing to your genitals. Aging does a number on the blood flow and nerve endings in the genital area, making them sluggish and less responsive. Exercise helps maintain good circulation. It also keeps blood circulating nicely to the brain, which, as we’ve said, is really your biggest sex organ.
- Kegels. C’mon. These are easy and painless (there are tools available), and they do you a lot of good. Kegels tone and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles; those muscles keep you from leaking urine when you sneeze as well as holding your internal organs in place. Strong pelvic floor muscles also create a firm “vaginal embrace,” which is nice for your man, but also gives you a more powerful orgasm.
- Check your medications. Several categories of drugs are libido killers, including some antidepressants, but also some drugs that reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure. If you suspect that your meds may be messing with your sex drive, talk to your doctor.
- Masturbate. You need good circulation down there, right? Self-pleasuring helps. It also helps you identify what you like and how to “do it” the way you like it—so you can tell your partner.
- Get a vibrator and other sex toys. There are all sorts of physical reasons to use a vibrator. (See #4 above.) Toys may help you release some inhibitions and learn to play.
- Drink a little (not a lot.) Sharing a little pre-sex cocktail can create a cozy sense of intimacy and also help lower your inhibitions. Drinking too much is a libido-killer. Share a glass of wine in front of the fireplace and move the action to the bedroom—or keep it by the fireplace.
- Fantasize. Think of it as your personal romance novel. You can sleep with anyone you want and do anything you want. You’re only limited by your imagination. Fantasy helps some women “get into their heads.” Try it.
- Positions. If you’ve been using your vibrator, you know where your sweet spots are, and the missionary position often misses them. Try the back entry “doggie-style” position which is good for hitting the G-spot, although not so good for the clitoris, or try sitting on his lap, which is good for all kinds of things.
- Foreplay. If you take seriously Esther Perel’s statement that, for erotic couples, “foreplay pretty much starts at the end of the previous orgasm,” you may extrapolate that good sex arises from consciously introducing sensuality into your relationship in a sustained way. Touch. Snuggle. Sextext. Write love notes. Introduce beauty and sensuality into your life that might leach into lovemaking as well.
- Have sex. This cannot be repeated too often. The more you have it, the more you want it, and the better at it you become. As one happily married husband said: “Practice, practice, practice.”
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.