As the title suggests, this paper covers the importance and purpose of the female orgasm. Since the female orgasm is not essential for conception, this paper attempts to shed light on why it regarded as so significant, not only by women but by men as well. This paper lays stress upon the fact that achieving a vaginal orgasm is not an easy ordeal for women. At this point the paper distinguishes between vaginal and clitoral female orgasms, while explaining why the latter orgasm is easier to achieve while the other one is not. Although this paper points out the lack of studies regarding why vaginal orgasms are so important, but this paper still attempts to draw from whatever research is available in order to indicate that women certainly enjoy and consider the vaginal orgasm “ideal.” This paper also highlights the negative feelings and emotions of women associated with the inability to achieve vaginal orgasms. According to the data and research that this paper draws from also indicates that physical and psychological factors that influence a woman’s ability to achieve vaginal orgasms, and the variations in the duration and frequency of vaginal orgasms from one woman to another. The final port of this paper switches over to develop a relationship between the female orgasm and the field of midwifery. At this point the paper takes a look at the role of midwives in the past and in the present in playing some kind of a role in helping women achieve orgasms. The conclusion that this paper reaches is that there is still a need for further research in order to evaluate female orgasms, in particular, in greater detail.
Keywords: female orgasm, vaginal orgasm, clitoral orgasm, midwifery
One of the most delightful characteristics of a woman’s life is the female orgasm that a woman is able achieve through intercourse, however, the female orgasm has not been as comprehensively perceived as it should be. This shortfall of aware has given rise to a flood of new research. Despite the usefulness of this research, it has also given rise to numerous questions that have not yet been resolved.
Vaginal female orgasms, as their name suggests result from penile-vaginal intercourse, are different from the other type of orgasm that a woman is able to achieve by directly and manually stimulating her clitoral area. Even though clitoral orgasms tend to be more “intense” (Clifford, 1978), women tend to feel more satisfied if they are able to achieve a vaginal orgasm during intercourse, and the pent up tension is released at a much greater level. It is true that both clitoral and vaginal orgasms tend to be pleasant and are positive experience, but among a majority of women, apparently vaginal orgasms are preferred more over clitoral orgasms.
Back in 1905, Sigmund Freud believed that in terms of development, vaginal orgasms were more “mature” than clitoral orgasms, which he referred to as “infantile” (Angier, 2000), and so, they were relatively superior. Initially, researchers extensively believed that Freud’s theory was true; however, his theory began to be challenged in the late 1900s. In 1966, the research team of William Masters and Virginia Johnson presented the argument that all female orgasms were physiologically the same, regardless of how they were achieved. However, according to recent research, a much greater number of organs take part for a women to experience a vaginal orgasm in comparison to those involved when a clitoral orgasms is achieved (Levin 2006). The series of nerves that carry impulses from those organs to the brain tend to vary for vaginal and clitoral orgasms. Furthermore, the amount of prolactin that is released as a result of an orgasm achieved through intercourse is 400 times greater than that released when a woman orgasms after masturbating (Brody & Kruger, 2006). The relief from pent up tension and the satisfaction that women experience after they orgasm is due to the prolactin that is released, perhaps this is why the experience of having a vaginal orgasm tends to be far more positive.
There have not been many studies regarding the importance of vaginal orgasms, but as mentioned, a majority of women regard them as “ideal” and hope to achieve multiple orgasms during intercourse (Lavie-Ajayi & Joffe, 2009). Perhaps women enjoy vaginal orgasms even more because the intercourse is equally pleasurable for their male partner as it is for them. In other words, women probably see the mutual act of intercourse as more elegant and involving less effort for achieving both male and female orgasms. However, even though manually stimulating the clitoris may not seem like a romantic thing and they may even feel awkward about it, but achieving a clitoral orgasm is much easier for women than achieving a vaginal orgasm. Even in media, i.e. in movie and television sex scenes with the exclusion of pornography, women are rarely depicted manually, stimulating her clitoris when having intercourse with a male partner.
It is unfortunate that many women are not able to achieve vaginal orgasms, which makes women feel inadequate (Nicolson & Burr, 2003). The media and peers put constant pressure on woman to achieve vaginal orgasms, which generates negative feelings within them. As a result, women may think of themselves as inferior and feel shameful (Nicolson & Burr, 2003). Women feel insecure and worry that the fact that they are not able to have a vaginal orgasm may bother their partner. In fact, a woman’s inability to achieve a vaginal orgasm is even regarded as a sexual disorder and many women with this problem even seek sexual treatment.
Apart from the media and peer pressure, the negative feelings that woman associate with their inability to achieve a vaginal orgasm is because men believe that it is their responsibility to make their female partner climax as a result of sexual performance, i.e. give women orgasms. Due to this mentality, women are placed in a passive role, where their ability to orgasm depends on their male partner and his performance in bed. As a result of this, achieving vaginal orgasms becomes even more difficult for women because men often do not know what is going on in a woman's mind and women often hesitate from directing their male partner on how to please them. Many men believe that if their female partner is not able to achieve an orgasm when they are having intercourse, it is because of their own incompetence (Ellis 1998). Such negative thinking of men further places women under even more pressure to achieve vaginal orgasms because they start believing that their ability to have an orgasm is not only important to them but to their partner as well.
Many women feel curious about how frequently and how many orgasms women they know tend to have. Many women want to know to find out whether or not their experience in terms of achieving orgasms is normal. It is unfortunate that there are not enough estimates regarding how frequently women tend to achieve vaginal orgasm during intercourse (Wallin, 1960). As mentioned above, many people, both men and women, give great importance to the link between the female orgasm and intercourse, where intercourse is regarded as a complicated social interaction in which a wide range of emotional and physical stimulation is involved. When it comes to the quantitative measurement of the frequency of female orgasms, the questions asked in these studies do not allow the participants to provide a wider range of responses. For instance, in a study, female participants were asked whether they experience orgasms when having intercourse with their husbands. This question only provided them with the option to answer either that they always have orgasms, they usually have orgasms, or they never have orgasms (Wallin, 1960).
In addition, current literature only presents a limited amount of the data. The data regarding the frequency of vaginal orgasms that is typically reported by studies is mostly ranges between occasionally and usually. For instance, more than 30% of women have reported having vaginal orgasms only sometimes, or among over 80 female participants, 60% of them women achieve orgasms as a result of intercourse. One reason that the procedures employed to measure the frequency of vaginal orgasms has not been precise enough is because the only thing that researchers have been paying attention to is whether or not orgasms occur as a result of a sexual encounter. However, even when women are able to easily achieve clitoral orgasms they still consider the frequency of having vaginal orgasms as valuable, and thus, it should be apparent that vaginal orgasms are not the same as clitoral orgasms. Additionally, evolutionary psychology has given rise to certain evidence that suggests that vaginal orgasms may also play a role in evolution and reproduction (Angier, 2000), which makes it apparent that the frequency of vaginal orgasms needs to be measured more precisely.
A variety of different methodologies have been used in order to investigate the relationship between the duration of intercourse and the frequency of vaginal orgasms, unfortunately the pattern of findings that have been produced have never been consistent. Although according to a couple of studies, the ability of a woman to achieve orgasm during intercourse somewhat depends on how long has been having intercourse, however, findings that contradict this have been revealed by other research (Terman, 1951). Researchers have employed a variety of methods to investigate how the duration of intercourse affects the various aspects of the female vaginal orgasm.
The first method revolves around the investigation of the satisfaction experienced as a result of achieving orgasm during the typical duration of intercourse. In one particular sample of participants of a study, it was estimated that nearly 50% of women thought that their male partners climaxed too soon, i.e. before they themselves were able to achieve an orgasm (Hamilton, 1928). In the same way, the actual amount of time that women spend having intercourse with their male partner is apparently not the same as their ideal duration of intercourse. Based on reports, on average, women desire to at least have intercourse that lasts for 14 minutes, but their typical intercourse apparently does not last more than 7 minutes (Miller and Byers, 2004). However, it is not apparent whether or not a considerable increase in the duration of intercourse would actually have an effect on them being able to frequently achieve vaginal orgasms.
It is also a fact that a woman may not be able to achieve vaginal orgasms if there are problems with her physical and psychological health. However, it is not necessary that women are going to have vaginal orgasms more frequently if they do not suffer from any physical and/or psychological problems. According to research, a woman’s ability to function sexually, including her arousal, desire to have intercourse, and her ability to orgasm as a result, is affected by her physical health. The problem is that research in the past has only concerned the fact of more severe medical problems, such as heart disease and spinal cord injury, on a woman’s sexual functioning, rather than the effects of mild or moderate problems with physical health. However, it cannot be ignored that a woman’s body type, her general health, and her physical fitness can affect how easily she may be able to achieve vaginal orgasms during intercourse.
Similarly, as mentioned earlier, women may not be able to achieve vaginal orgasms during intercourse if they mind is full of negative emotions and/or they are suffering from psychological problems, especially if problems like these are also having a detrimental effect on their physical health as well. Women may experience negative sexual effects if they are psychologically distressed. Moreover, there is also a link between psychological problems among women and their suffering from sexual dysfunctions like delayed orgasms or the inability to achieve orgasms. Intercourse may not result in orgasm for women if they are depressed or are suffering from anxiety. Similarly, women may not even get sexually excited due to depression, let alone be able to achieve an orgasm. Physical and psychological problems can also affect the frequency at which women have intercourse, and it may even reduce their own desire to initiate a sexual encounter.
Considering the general idea that achieving something as natural and normal as a vaginal orgasm is not easy for women and many factors are involved, it is interesting that something to do with the female orgasm was also mentioned in “Observationem et Curationem,” a medical compendium published in 1623. In the compendium, the author Alemarianus Petrus Forestus mentions how women who were diagnosed as suffering from hysteria were treated received a treatment from physicians that involved being masturbated to orgasm. Even more surprisingly, midwives actually played a major role in this treatment. In this treatment that was socially acceptable at the women, usually midwives would apply vegetable oil to the genitals of ‘hysteric’ women and press the heel of their hand to press against the woman’s clitoris and use one or two of their fingers to massage her genitals. Those women not only achieved orgasm, probably clitoral orgasms, as a result of this type of massage treatment, but it also provided them relief from their hysteria (Foreest, 1623). Of course, that hysteria could have been something to do with sexual tension.
Another surprising fact that many midwives most likely might be aware of is that some women even experience orgasms while giving birth. It is a well-known fact that childbirth is regarded as an excruciatingly painful experience; however, it is a fact that ecstatic or orgasmic births actually do take place. According to midwives, orgasms have been witnessed in 0.3% of women who have given birth (Postel, 2013). It would be natural to feel awkward and dubious about women feeling pleasure while giving birth, but this apparently has taken place. As for the reason why this happens, the basic idea has got to do with how women find it pleasurable to experience uterine contractions during intercourse, which often lead them to achieving an orgasm. Similarly, childbirth tends to stimulate the birth canal, the cervix, the clitoris, the vagina, and also causes uterine contractions, often resulting in orgasms.
Thus, it can be concluded that the various factors that somewhat affect and influence female vaginal orgasms need to be evaluated in more detail. With such in-depth evaluation, it could become possible to successfully treat women who are not able to achieve vaginal orgasms frequently or at all. One thing that women need to understand is that their ability not to achieve vaginal orgasms is not something unnatural and they should not feel undermined due to this.
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