Have you ever experienced orgasm envy? Maybe you’re watching a movie or hearing about a friend or partner’s mind-blowing experience and felt a little, “why not me?”
Orgasms are awesome and there are many ways to invite stronger ones if you desire them, which is a completely valid aim. I think it’s also important to keep in mind that there’s no hierarchy or competition. Shorter and less-intense orgasms aren’t less valuable and really, all Os are unique. If we embrace them, we’ll probably experience more pleasure.
A listener wrote in to Girl Boner Radio, asking for ways to amp up her own orgasmic bliss. As Dr. Megan Fleming pointed out, edging (aka orgasm control) is one great option. The question also got me thinking about orgasm myths, so I dedicated much of the latest episode to the topic.
Autumn Bardot, author of Confessions of a Sheeba Queen, and listener, Kate, joined me to a range of orgasm myths, from “size matters” to “squirting is really just pee.” We also chatted about Autumn’s writing life, her aim to celebrate brave women and how penning erotica has influenced her life and sexuality. Erotica writer and phone sex operator Sammy Rei Schwartz also made a special appearance, which you can learn more about below.
4 Common Orgasm Myths
1 MYTH: Orgasm (or lack thereof) determines the sex of a baby.
“Years ago, I heard from an older lady who told me that the orgasm of a woman is connected to the gender of the baby she conceives,” said Kate. “Which means apparently if the woman orgasms, it’s going to be a boy and if she didn’t it’s a girl—or the other way around.” She couldn’t quite recall which, but we all agreed that more than likely, orgasms meant male, thanks to societal messaging.
After recording this episode, I did a little digging and learned that this notion might derive from a passive in the Talmud, central text of Rabbinic Judaism. According to Leviticus 12:2, “if the woman emits her semen first, she will bear a male, and if the man emits his semen first, she will bear a female.” (There’s no scientific proof or reason to believe that’s true.) From there, the idea was probably passed along like a game of telephone, morphing into even wonkier myths.
Orgasm may play a role in conception, however. For people with a vulva, according to research conducted by Dr. Robert King, experiencing an orgasm during PIV intercourse may increase the odds of pregnancy. King asked six fertile cisgender women to record orgasms brought on by a vibrator and lubricant designed to represent semen several times over the course of a month. He then measured the amount of “semen” in the uterus when they experienced orgasm versus when they didn’t. When a participant climaxed, he discovered, she retained up to 15% more of the artificial semen than when she didn’t. Higher sperm retention makes pregnancy more likely.
So if you’re trying to conceive, prioritize mutual orgasms even higher. If you’re not, don’t let orgasm fervor distract you from birth control measures.
2 MYTH: Only women fake orgasms.
This and many other orgasm myths highlight another common myth: that gender is determined by genitalia. Folks who believe only women fake orgasms are typically referring to people with vulvas. Remember, gender, a felt identity, is in the mind. (Yes, “gender reveal parties” are really genital reveal parties.)
It’s a huge myth that many women fake orgasms to have relationships and men fake romance to have sex. Sexual desire is a very individual thing, also not determined by gender or genitalia. And folks of all genders and orientations are known to fake orgasms. One study indicated that about 25% of cisgender men have faked a Big O at some point. Reasons anyone might do so include insecurity or self-consciousness, wanting to get not-terribly-pleasurable sex over with, wishing to please a partner or aiming to seem “normal.” I believe a lack of comprehensive sex ed plays a major role, too. If we learned more about sex and sexuality from early on, we’d have a lot less fakery.
In reality, pleasurable sex doesn’t require orgasms, any amount of time it takes to experience climax is a-okay and stressing over why one isn’t happening is a common buzzkill. If you tend to fake orgasms, ease up on yourself, know you’re not alone and consider your reasoning. Then challenge yourself to exploring other options. Honesty, authenticity and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in relationships can go so, so far.
3 MYTH: Orgasm is a fixed physiological reflex, triggered by particular motions and repetitive stimulation on a specific spot.
“Like you gotta rub or stroke this magic spot at the perfect angle X-number of times and then, boom: orgasm unlocked!” Sammy Rei Schwartz added. I asked Sammy to debunk an orgasm myth in honor of her story, Boundless, which appears in the new Cleis Press anthology, Best Bondage Erotica of the Year, Vol. 1. Learning about our anatomy and kinds of touch we enjoy is important, she acknowledged, but we don’t pay enough attention to the fact that the brain is the mightiest sex organ.
“This myth can be so discouraging for disabled people who might not be able move in the same way as others, who may lack sensation in the genital region or not get erections,” she explained. “They often get the idea that because they’re missing some ingredient in the recipe, they just can’t have an orgasm, and that’s just not true.”
Many abled people struggle to experience orgasm and plenty of folks reach orgasm without erections or genital play. As Sammy pointed out, hands-free orgasms are a legit thing: “Some people…can even have non-genital orgasms, feeling it somewhere like their feet, or even in a phantom limb after amputation.”
The human brain and nervous system is amazingly plastic, and this is great news for people of every kind,” Sammy said. “Even if you have no trouble achieving orgasm and may have a particular formula worked out that generally gets the job done—like for me it’s that tiny little sweet spot tucked up under my clitoral hood—you still might want to experiment with something different.” Thankfully there are many ways to do so, some of which you can learn about in the episode.
4 MYTH: Erotica is all about orgasms.
Orgasms are a wonderful aspect of erotica, but just like during sex, they aren’t the be-all and end-all they may seem. Autumn’s books feature strong women demonstrating the kind of bravery she feels we can all learn from. Sex and orgasms can symbolize a great deal, beyond pure pleasure (which, of course, matters hugely, too). They can also chip away at ongoing stigma, give us ideas for activities we might want to try or fantasize about and, as Autumn has heard from readers, warm us up for sex with a partner.
“I really feel like [sex and orgasm] can offer the reader more of an idea of what the character is really like, she said. “It can help further the plot along, it can kind of reveal their emotions, what’s going on in the society, how they feel about it, their relationship: who’s on top, who’s on bottom, who’s taking control… When I write, a lot of times, if it was a taboo act, I want to show them breaking a taboo because of their strength or having some kind of spiritual epiphany or enlightenment.”
Who couldn’t use a good dose of spicy strength and enlightenment? And as I explored in the episode with erotica writer Lauren Emily recently, erotica has been linked with heightened empathy and improved mental health. During these precarious times, I say sign us all up.
To learn more about about myths involving orgasms, squirting, arousal, wet dreams and more stream the latest Girl Boner Radio episode up above or on your favorite podcast app.