Thursday, September 11, 2008

Female Orgasm: You Thought You Knew The Story

OK, at least I thought I knew the story about female orgasm.

I thought it went something like this:

Starting with Freud, there was this general idea out there that a woman could have an orgasm in two different ways: via the clitoris, and via the penis-in-the-vagina -- a "vaginal" orgams.

Then, it turned out that most women had orgasms from clitoral stimulation. Indeed, further research - I thought - showed that the clitoris is the basic organ of the female orgasm: sure, a girl can come from having a "p" in her "v" but it's only because the p -- or some other body part -- is indirectly stimulating her clitoris that she has an orgasm.

This, I thought, modulo some confusing stuff about ejactulation and the g-spot, was the basic story, and I took it to debunk the old theory that there were "inferior" and "superior" orgasms.

I felt comfortable, that is, shaking my head in disappointment when some ill-informed young man would write into an advice columnist, as they often do, to say, Hey, my girlfriend doesn't come just from intercourse . . . what's wrong with her? Should she see a doctor? All the girls in porn come that way.

Then the other day Jezebel had two posts (here and here) about an actual research article whose title is

"A Woman’s History of Vaginal Orgasm is Discernible from Her Walk"

The title really says it all - or, rather, most of it. Sex researchers guessed right most of the time whether a woman had a self-reported history of vaginal orgasm from wathing her walk. I haven't had the patience to read through the whole thing but they tested 30 girls.

The thing is, this story cites as known fact all that stuff I thought was false. Here's a characteristic passage:

"Compared to women who have had vaginal orgasm (triggered solely by penile–vaginal stimulation), vaginally anorgasmic women display more use of immature psychological defense mechanisms[1], are less satisfied with their relationships, mental health, and life in general [8,9], and are more likely to suffer from global sexual dysfunction [10]."

Whoa! Really? If you want to chase down those footnotes, the article is in J Sex Med 2008;5:2119–2124, that is, the Journal of Sexual Medicine. You'll have to be on a subscribing computer. Or you can email me for the pdf.

One of the references - the last - is to Fugl-Meyer KS, Oberg K, Lundberg PO, Lewin B, Fugl-Meyer A. "On orgasm, sexual techniques, and erotic perceptions in 18- to 74-year-old Swedish women." J Sex Med 2006;3:56–68.

Which sounds more like a Monty Python skit than an academic paper, but whatever.

I really don't know what is going on here.

No comments: