During a recent #TheRootAfterDark Twitter chat on masturbation, there was some discussion about women masturbating because they don’t achieve orgasm with their partners. This is not an uncommon phenomenon, and there are many who believe that bringing a woman to orgasm is some sort of sorcery you have to learn from a magician—but is that really the case?

I spoke with Michelle Hope, a sexologist, author and educator who works with the O School. She told me that the difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasms can be confusing for some because we don’t talk about female pleasure enough.


“We must not look at the clit and vagina as separate,” Hope said. “They are just parts that make up the whole, and, well, the ‘hole’ [vagina] has minimal nerve endings.”

Bianca Laureano, another sexpert, explains the difference between vaginal and clitoral orgasms this way:

Vaginal and clitoral orgasms both occur in the vulva. They require some type of stimulant or attention (some people do experience orgasms without touch) to the vulva. Vaginal orgasms have historically been the ones people (read: men or misogynists) believe are the “true” orgasm experience because the vagina must be penetrated. However, if we view the vagina in a different way, one where it is not passive but consuming, we may have a different relationship to vaginal orgasms.

Clitoral orgasms result when there is focus on the clitoris. This is an external body part that experiences blood flow and becomes erect similar to the blood flow that goes through the penis and nipples when blood flows through them. This process is called vasocongestion.

Clitoral orgasms are historically ranked below vaginal orgasms. However, they are different sensations for each body. The way they feel similarly and differently is based on each person.


Orgasms, whether vaginal or clitoral, are, in fact, elusive for some women.

“Women struggling to orgasm is very common. According to research done by Planned Parenthood, it is estimated that 80 percent of women struggle to have orgasms with just vaginal penetration,” Hop said.


So how do we remedy that? How do we make sure more women are able to achieve the orgasms that they want, need and deserve during sex?

Hope said that the key is the clitoris.

“The best remedy for a lack of orgasm is to rediscover your clitoris,” Hope said. “The power of the clit never ceases to amaze me, and of course, the clit is amazingly powerful in female orgasm because there are around 8,000 sensitive nerve endings there. In fact, the clitoris’s main function is to provide pleasure.”


Stimulating the clitoris during sex can be a big help, she said.

“I recommend that women try to stimulate the clit by playing with it during intercourse or, my personal favorite, using a vibrator during penetration to take your climax to higher heights,” Hope said.


As we discussed before, masturbation is a good way for you to learn about your body and find out just where the spots are that make you reach orgasm. Masturbation can also help increase the likelihood that you will come during sex. Most women who have achieved orgasm through masturbation have also experienced an orgasm with a sexual partner.


So what about those oft-mentioned G-spot orgasms? Or the mythological female-squirting orgasm? Unfortunately, Hope says, they don’t actually exist.

“I hate to burst the bubbles of you or your readers, but ‘squirting’ is urine,” she said.


She explained further: “The G-spot, short for ‘Grafenberg spot,’ is a controversial topic, as most women believe that it is a thing. However, scientific literature from the 1950s to 2011 has failed to provide strong and consistent evidence for the existence of an anatomical site that could be considered or called the G-spot.

“I would say that there needs to be more research done on the distal anterior vagina wall,” Hope added.


In other words, she said that what most people think is their “G-spot” is really just a “trigger zone” in the vagina. For some women, different spots within the vagina may trigger the same kinds of sensations.

Ultimately, female orgasms do not have to be elusive. A little exploration—both personal and with the help of a partner—can lead you to find the X that marks the spot and leads to your ultimate pleasure.


We will be discussing orgasms on our next The Root After Dark Twitter chat, Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. I will take over The Root’s official Twitter account as always, and we will chop it up. Be sure to follow The Root on Twitter and be a part of the discussion using the hashtag #TheRootAfterDark.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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