Can all women climax?

PHOTO: The New Paper

Dear Dr. G,

I understand you mainly answer questions about men's health, but I hope you can accommodate my query about female sexual health.

My wife and I have been married for six years and we have frequent intimacy. We now have a beautiful three-year-old daughter.

Like most couples, we do not usually discuss sexual issues openly.

However, my wife started asking me about female sexual satisfaction.

She said that most of the time, the sex has only "benefited" me and does not think she has ever climaxed.

Of course, it hurts as I assumed she was quite satisfied these six years. Now, knowing it was all "not that good", I am determined to make it right.

Is it true that some women never climax at all? Please help.

Regards,

Gordon

"Orgasm" is derived from the Greek word "orgasmos" meaning excitement and swelling. In medical terms, this terminology is used to describe the sudden escalation of sexual excitement resulting in discharge of semen or secretions and an overwhelming feeling of euphoria.

With men, orgasm is usually an outcome of physical sexual stimulation of the penis, typically accompanying ejaculation. However, this is different in women as the stimulation is usually focused on the clitoris.

For both men and women, the orgasmic state can be achieved by self-stimulation, or penetrative and non-penetrative sex with a sex partner. An orgasm can also be achieved without a sexual act, which happens subconsciously during wet dreams.

Benefits of sex

  • People who have more sex feel more at ease, happier and know how to handle stress better.
  • Researchers from Scotland studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations - such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic - and noted their blood pressure response to stress. Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.
  • Good sexual health may mean better physical health.
  • Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections.
  • Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.
  • Sex is exercise that raises heart rate and blood flow. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, researchers found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half.
  • Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in Cambridge, Mass. said: "One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves.
  • Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it."
  • Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us bond and build trust.
  • Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So if you're feeling suddenly more generous toward your partner than usual, credit the love hormone.
  • As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.
  • So the next time your partner has a headache, tell them sex is a sure-fire cure.
  • Researchers say frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life.
  • Sex therapists have long recommended that women do Kegel exercises throughout the day, but also during sex.
  • Not only can the exercises help increase pleasure, they also strengthen the muscles associated with incontinence.
  • Not only does oxytocin increase endorphins and decrease pain, but it can also help put you to sleep.
  • Sex, and feeling loved, decreases stress, which makes worries disappear and allows you to fall into a deep sleep.
  • Eric Braverman, MD, founder of PATH Medical Center in New York City, says having sex releases a hormone called DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).
  • "It can boost the immune system, give you healthier skin and even decrease depression," he says.
  • A study found that frequent intercourse was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in cohabiting participants.
  • Other researchers say there is a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.

The ability to have an orgasm and its intensity in both men and women varies widely. The real control of an orgasm occurs in the central nervous system, hence the true mechanism and the evolutionary purposes of the orgasm are poorly understood. In recent years, there has also been an intensive effort and a lot of research aimed at understanding and unravelling the real mystery behind the orgasm.

Statistics indicate that 70-80 per cent of women can derive an orgasm by direct manipulation against part of the clitoris, and the Mayo Clinic has demonstrated that an orgasm can vary in intensity between women. This means the frequency of orgasms and the amount of stimulation required to trigger it can differ substantially between individuals.

Anatomically, the clitoris has more than eight thousand sensory nerve endings that will contribute to the final climactic experience. It is also notable that although the number of nerve endings is same in the glans of the penis, the reaction to physical stimulation is very different.

Also, evidence has emerged that the labia and vagina play a major role in female orgasms. Recent studies have shown that the labial minora and urethra is particularly sensitive, hence part of achieving a satisfying outcome should involve these two organs.

Additionally, scientific literature supports the fact that 25 per cent of women have reported difficulties in achieving an orgasm and that 10 per cent of women have never had one. This condition is termed "female anorgasmia".

In a 1994 study, researchers found that 74 per cent of men and 29 per cent of women reported were able to achieve orgasm with their regular partners. The same study also revealed that women are much more likely to achieve orgasm through "self-practice" instead of with a partner.

Having said that, many women expressed that their most satisfying sexual experiences entail being connected and loved by the partner, rather than based on achieving sexual orgasm.

On the week leading to Valentine's Day, I am glad to be put on the spot to address this issue of female anorgasmia.

The advice I have for Gordon is that women's sexual health is never easily understood and an orgasm should never be considered the sole achievement of sex. When your partner is open to discussion on any shortcomings, this is the first step towards a satisfying relationship that may even result in happy endings in the future.

On that note, Happy Valentine's Day to all couples out there!

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