- There's no right way to orgasm: However you orgasm is completely normal!
- To show the range of orgasmic process, we hear from six sexuality professionals on the myriad ways they bring themselves to climax.
- Those ways involve vibrators, fingers, tongues penetration—all over the map.
Only about a quarter of people with vulvas consistently orgasm through intercourse: It’s a statistic I’ve heard many times over the course of the six years I’ve spent writing about sex. Yet a few months ago, when I participated in a discussion about orgasms led by Zhana Vrangalova, a sex researcher, consultant, and adjunct professor at NYU, through her Uncensored series, I was still surprised when she told the group that she needs to touch her clit in order to orgasm during intercourse.
Part of me had believed that perhaps I hadn’t figured out how to orgasm through penetration myself because I was lacking in knowledge, practice, or maturity. Hearing from an expert that she was the same way as me completely changed my perspective: I was normal. I want other people with vulvas to understand that they’re normal, too, if they don’t orgasm like a porn star (or, more accurately, the way porn stars appear to orgasm). It’s not because they’re sexually ignorant or immature. It’s because that’s how their vulvas work.
So, I asked sexuality professionals to share how exactly they bring themselves to orgasm. Here, we have answers from Vrangalova along with sexologist, educator, and author Carol Queen, PhD; Chelsea Downs, founder of the New York Toy Collective; sex educator Samia Burton; Jennifer Rahner, sexuality educator and director of operations at the Sexual Health Alliance; and sexologist/sexual strategist Marla Renee Stewart, MA.
If you thought you were abnormal in the way that you orgasm (or don’t), think again — as their answers show, a lot of people who might feel lacking are actually in good company.
What is the most reliable way for you to orgasm?
Queen: “Magic Wand vibe.”
Burton: “Clitoral orgasm, usually with air pulse technology.”
Rahner: “My Hitachi Magic Wand. I’ve gone through about one a decade since my twenties. I don't use it directly on the exposed glans of my clit, but just above, vibrating the hood, clitoral shaft, and pubic bone. I press down toward the glans and thrust up with my hips to tease with contact against the glans. I also typically play with my nipples concurrently, with varying degrees of intensity. I like a little pain at times.”
Vrangalova: “Laying on my stomach with my hands touching my clit, either masturbating or combined with penetration.”
Stewart: “Through masturbation, of course!”
How else do you orgasm?
Queen: “Solo hand, other toys, and partner sex — especially oral.”
Downs: “Oral sex.”
Burton: “Vaginal (deeper clitoral orgasm), anal, and nipple. Also, in my sleep and during workouts.”
Rahner: “Cunnilingus, particularly if I'm on top in the 69 position. Or with a vibrator and anal stimulation. Once, I squirted while being fingered anally — that was a surprise and felt amazing! I can reliably ejaculate with the nJoy Pure Wand and my Magic Wand. Doing Betty Dodson's Rock 'n Roll method. Riding a Sybian. Fingering myself and hitting the internal clitoral bulbs and legs from the inside. Occasionally with penetration alone, but that orgasm has a different quality to it. Sometimes, with my fingers alone — I call my method the tripod method: two fingers under the clitoral glans and my thumb above it, sort of pinching and rubbing the clitoral shaft, but rarely making contact with the exposed glans.”
Vrangalova: “From fingering (self or partner), rarely from oral sex, occasionally vibrators and suction toys, and regularly during penetration in different positions (on my stomach, me on top, missionary, side by side) — but only if combined with clitoral stimulation.”
Stewart: “Oral sex, penetration.”
Do you ever orgasm through penetration alone? And if so, how often?
Queen: “Used to! I’m post-menopause now and choosing no hormone replacement therapy, so my penetration experience has changed.”
Burton: “I can orgasm through penetration almost every time when proper foreplay is given. Dick shouldn’t go in a cold oven.”
Rahner: “Yes and more often recently. Something shifted within the last six years or so (I'm 51). It most often occurs after I've already had a clitoral orgasm, and once I have one to kick it off, I can cum multiple times thereafter.”
Vrangalova: “Rarely, like 1-2 percent of the time (unless the penetration involves rubbing my clit in some way).”
Stewart: “Yes, about 75 percent of the time.”
Do you ever orgasm through penetration combined with clitoral stimulation?
Queen: “Yes — I used to all the time. We should all feel free to reach down and touch our clit as desired during partner sex. This should not be a drama; it should be a completely normalized activity. This one thing can help close the orgasm gap.”
Burton: “Absolutely. I can orgasm with my partner penetrating me while I apply a stimulator toy, alone with a two-part toy such as the Womanizer Duo, or with my partner using a glass dildo on me as I use the stimulator.”
Rahner: “Yep! With my vibrator, or less often, with my fingers.”
Vrangalova: “Yes, every time, typically multiple times per session. I have my hand on my clit at all times regardless of the position. Sometimes, it happens in missionary if there's a lot of grinding.”
Stewart: “No. Whenever I try that, I have had a lovely UTI, so I stick to oral stimulation first and then moving to penetration.”
The takeaway from all these sexperts’ experiences? It’s normal to orgasm in a bunch of different and exciting ways, and it’s also very normal not to orgasm in all ways. And if you don’t orgasm in all the ways some people can (or don’t orgasm at all), there are still endless ways to enjoy sex.