Men have about three orgasms for every one a woman has in a long term relationship. This is not because women’s anatomy is more complicated! It turns out that the kind of sex most people are having is not what will bring most women to orgasm. Studies and surveys reveal that only 4-5% can have orgasms through intercourse alone.
The solution? Closing the orgasm gap requires learning about clitoral anatomy and how to use it. In her new book, Dr. Laurie Mintz shares the intricate anatomy of the clitoris and how to create new kinds of sexual scripts that will lead you to female orgasm and beyond. She encourages more time for full body warm-up, lots of clitoral stimulation and new alternatives and additions to intercourse so you can expand your sexual repertoire. The book goes way beyond the clitoris and shares essential techniques for communication and conversation that will be equally transformative to your sex life.
We’ve been holding women back by looking for the ultimate orgasm instead of getting to know their own body and how to have orgasms in the way their body likes best ~ Dr. Laurie Mintz on becoming more orgasmic.
In this episode, we explore the orgasm gap and how it impacts men and women alike.
- The orgasm gap and why it matters
- The most reliable way to generate female orgasms
- The orgasm hierarchy
- The true anatomy of the clitoris and how to stimulate it
- The vast variety of ways to create clitoral stimulation
- The kind of intercourse we ALL should be having
- The orgasm paradox
- Mindful sex and how it helps you experience more orgasms
Get to know your own body and learn to express it’s needs to your partner. There is no one right way to have sex. Whatever your body wants and needs is the right way to have sex. Get rid of all the cultural “shoulds” when it comes to what you need for pleasure and orgasms. ~ Dr. Laurie Mintz
All Bodies Welcome Here!
When we talk about the clitoris we may talk about women as a general category of people who have a clitoris – but some people who have a clitoris identify as men and some people who identify as women don’t have a clitoris – so while our language is limited our intention is inclusive and everyone who has a human body will gain valuable wisdom and insight from this conversation.
About Dr. Laurie Mintz, author of Becoming Cliterate
Dr. Laurie Mintz is a tenured Professor at the University of Florida, where she teaches the Psychology of Human Sexuality to hundreds of undergraduate students each year. Dr. Mintz has published over 50 research articles in academic journals and six chapters in academic books. She also writes a popular blog and has a small private therapy practice. Her professional goal is to provide scientifically-accurate, sex-positive information to enhance female pleasure. Dr. Mintz first book was A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship and in this episode we dive into her new book Becoming Cliterate : Why Orgasm Equality Matters—And How to Get It.
Find out more about Dr. Laurie Mintz here
To master the skills of clitoral stimulation, check out our Foreplay Mastery Course for stroke by stroke video guidance!
Transcript of Becoming Cliterate Interview with Dr. Laurie Mintz
Note: This is a transcript auto-generated from the audio recording of this interview. It has been lightly edited with human love, but is provided not as a polished written piece but rather as a supplement to the audio and a service to anyone who could use a text version of this valuable information! Thanks!
Chris Maxwell Rose (CMR): Hi, welcome to Speaking of Sex with the Pleasure Mechanics. I’m Chris, and on today’s episode, I have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Laurie Mintz. Before we dive in, let me remind you to come on over to PleasureMechanics.com for our complete podcast archive and go to PleasureMechanics.com/free to sign up for the Erotic Essentials, our free mini course delivered straight to your inbox. When you’re ready to master new erotic skills including those we will speak about on this episode, check out our mastery courses and use the code “speaking of sex” for 20% off the course of your choice. So today we welcome Dr. Laurie Mintz. She’s a tenured professor at the University of Florida where she teaches the psychology of human sexuality to hundreds of undergraduate students each year. Dr. Mintz has published over 50 research articles in academic journals and six chapters in academic books. She also writes a popular blog and has a small private therapy practice. Her professional goal is to provide scientifically accurate sex positive information to enhance female pleasure. Dr. Mintz’s first book was A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex: Reclaim Your Desire and Reignite Your Relationship, and today we’re going to dive into her new book Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How To Get It. Dr. Laurie Mintz, welcome to Speaking of Sex!
Dr. Laurie Mintz (LM): Thank you. I’m excited to be here.
CMR: Mhm, We have so much to talk about I’m so excited! Before we start, I do want to say that we’re going to be talking a lot about the clitoris and a female body and I want to acknowledge that while we talk about women as a general category of people who have a clitoris, some people who have a clitoris identify as men and some people who identify as women don’t have a clitoris and there’s lots of genderqueer people in between. So while our language is limited, our intention is inclusive and everyone who has a human body will gain valuable wisdom and insight from this conversation. So Dr. Mintz, what is the “orgasm gap,” and why did it motivate you to write this book?
LM: Well the orgasm gap is the fact- and- first of all, let me- can back up and say how glad that I am that you are giving that introduction about language because that’s something I really struggled with when I wrote the book and I really do want this to be inclusive for everyone, so thank you for saying that and bringing that up. In terms of the “orgasm gap,” is the finding in multiple studies that women are having far fewer orgasms than our men and in relationship sex for example, the average is that a man will have three orgasms to every female orgasm, and if that weren’t bad enough, when we talk about casual sex, or hookup sex, things get even worse. In multiple years of my Psychology of Human Sexuality Class I take surveys, anonymous surveys, with- it’s called iClicker technology- and basically what I find is when I ask my students, “How often do you orgasm during first time hook up sex (during- including activities in which you could orgasm, since the term “hookup” is very vague) this is staggering to me, 55% of the men say yes, versus 4% of the women.
So there’s just a huge gap and that was my motivation for writing Becoming Cliterate is to give people the information to close that gap and make orgasms an equal opportunity event.
CMR: Yeah, and so anecdotally we know that women’s orgasms are harder to come by, and is this just because women’s bodies are oh-so-complicated, or is there something wrong with how we’re thinking about sex in the first place that culturally creates this orgasm gap?
LM: I believe it is cultural and that’s why my book is a combination of cultural analysis and self-help to examine why do we have this problem and then how can we solve this problem.
CMR: Mm. So how are we thinking about sex wrong?
LM: Well it’s a very male centered way of thinking about sex. Even the word “sex,” let’s start there -When we think- when we hear the word “sex” in our culture it is used synonymous with “intercourse” and that is how women think they should orgasm because if- especially if they’re getting their Sex Ed from mainstream movies or porn, what you see is women having fast and fabulous orgasms from intercourse alone, and that is a lie. I call that in the book “the number one lie about getting laid” that most women- the vast majority do NOT orgasm from thrusting alone. So that’s the basis of the lie, but then there’s so many other cultural factors that are also relevant, our lack of Sex Ed that includes pleasure. We don’t learn about the clitoris which is the primary sex orgasm organ in women, in any of our Sex Ed. Women are socialized to sort of, be more concerned about how they look and appear than how they feel, no one teaches Sex Communication… so there’s so, so, so, many cultural reasons that are uh, the culprit in the orgasm gap and it’s not because women are so complicated. Certainly, I think you know, what every woman needs to orgasm is different, because every woman’s genital nerves are positioned differently, but if you know what you need and you have communication skills it makes it not that complex and you know, lesbian women are not having- or women who have sex with women don’t have the orgasm gap, so to me that speaks volumes to “this is a cultural issue.”
CMR: Mm, so are you saying women who have sex with women have more orgasms than women who have sex with men?
LM: Yes, significantly more. There’s not a- when women have sex with women, they pretty much, you know, over 90% orgasm, same with when women… um, pleasure themselves about 94% orgasm, but when we add a penis in the equation, that number plummets.
CMR: OK, but I do want to say, so this isn’t an attack on men. It’s an attack on our culture that denies us all more pleasure because men are put under a lot of pressure too from this equation of thinking that they have to last longer in bed, that it’s all about their penis size… There’s so much suffering on both sides of this equation, right?
LM: Absolutely. And I was very, very, adamant and careful in the book to not do any male blaming or male bashing and I don’t blame men… um, and I specifically say this is- men are subject to the same pressures and in fact, Becoming Cliterate benefits men because they can take that pressure away from the falsehood of “lasting long, thrusting hard,” and I actually have a chapter in the book for men called You Don’t Have to Have a Clitoris to be Cliterate, where I actually do talk to them about the benefits of Cliteracy for them.
CMR: Mm, and I really love how you emphasize what we find too is that men who are in relationships with women want nothing more than to give pleasure and to see their women happy and they’re not these selfish monsters we make them out to be- it’s just about finding the strategies for both giving and receiving pleasure.
LM: Exactly, I couldn’t have said it any better. That’s exactly how I feel and what I believe.
CMR: So one of the features of this book that I love is really going into the anatomy of the clitoris and that it’s not just the tip of the iceberg we see but there’s a deep internal structure and how we can stimulate all parts of the clitoris.
I want to get your opinion on this because I’ve been fiddling with this idea because we talk about women “want direct clitoral stimulation,” but that doesn’t always mean direct on the glans of the clitoris on the very head where it’s most sensitive, right?
LM: Exactly, and in fact what we really we should be talking about: clitoral-vulva stimulation. CMR: Yes, yes
LM: But you know and in fact there’s a point in the book where I say that’s what I mean. Because basically every woman, as I said, their nerves are positioned differently: for some women, touching the hood of clitoris even to stimulate the glans below is too intense and they need stimulation say, through their panties, or the inner lips actually attached to the clitoral glans and hood in two places and stimulating the inner lips which are actually chock-full of nerves and analogous to the head of the man’s penis. You know, that stimulates the clitoris so… Some people even say we should be calling all of women’s genital anatomy the clitoris because it’s all interconnected, and exactly – that doesn’t mean just going for the glans or the hood. Absolutely.
CMR: I wrote in the notes of my book, “advanced Cliteracy,” like knowing where all of the parts of your clitoris are and being able to say specifically like “I like when you stimulate my clitoris through the labia,” and having that language is so important.
LM: Absolutely and that’s really another place where the orgasm gap is fueled is in our language because you know in Sex Ed, all that people learn about is the vagina. That is it. And we call all of women’s anatomy the vagina which you know, I’m not saying that intercourse is not pleasurable, but it is just not how most women reach orgasm, so even our language and our lack of language really obscures women’s orgasmic capacity in pleasure.
CMR: Do you get upset as I do when you hear people call their entire genitals the vagina?
LM: Oh I get really upset about that. I get upset when I hear that, I get upset when I hear people talking about like, articles that give the best sex position for her orgasm and don’t even mention the clitoris and are just talking about orgasm, intercourse… I get so upset about all of it. Once you see this language it’s so all around you it’s so hard not to get upset.
CMR: One of the things I love about the book is you give new scripts for pleasure.
You kind of point out that so many of us have a script that’s you know, kissing, a little bit of foreplay, going right into intercourse – and how this formula doesn’t allow many women, many people with clitorises to have the pleasure that they seek and you give different kind of play by play ideas for how to restructure, reformulate the sex act.
I think that’s brilliant. One of the things that I noticed is you start each script with about 20 minutes of fooling around. Why is that phase important?
LM: Well that phase is important because that warm up- but I’m talking about not even that’s before we even get into touching genitals and I’m not saying that it has to happen every time. I mean, sometimes that will be less than 20 minutes, sometimes more, but it takes women time to get aroused, and that’s full body arousal and to lubricate and just get into the idea “oh this is going to be really arousing and fun,” and sadly, research shows that in encounters between men and women the average amount of time spent on any kind of warm up before it’s right to touching genitals, (which might even not be wet at that point) for women is five minutes… and so I really wanted to emphasize that that warm up is very, very, important.
CMR: And so, dipping into your therapy background a little bit, what would you say to women who find it hard to receive touch- who find it hard to stay present in their body, to enjoy stimulation, and kind of want to rush through sex just to get it over with.
LM: Well I would- and I’ve met with many women who have that feeling that “I just want to get this over with and I need to rush through it, I take too long,” and you know what I would find what I often do is sort of a combination of normalizing, providing information, coupled with teaching some skills. So normalizing information that it takes an average woman 20 minutes of vulva and clitoral stimulation to reach an orgasm as much as 45 for some, that is normal. It’s not something to be like, ashamed of or “Oh, I’m taking too long.” So women understand that, but then teaching both mindfulness, which is so important, which is the ability to stay present in one’s body, and sexual communication skills. Those two skills will help a woman relax, enjoy touch, and take the time that she needs to become orgasmic.
CMR: Yes. Yes, and then so after those 20 minutes of full body touch, (we love couples massage as a warm up)
You then go on to lay out all of these options and there’s kind of, pages and pages of options which I was reading in a coffee shop and I was kind of getting delighted by, but one of the things you emphasize is that intercourse doesn’t have to be the punctuation, you can have intercourse first and then move on to other activities, you can do oral sex and finger play first, and then have intercourse. How important is it to- we call it “de-centralized” intercourse in the sex act? Is that a really essential skill for couples for their long term pleasure?
LM: It is absolutely essential and that is really a major point of the book both from the language to those plays you’re talking about which I’m delighted that you enjoyed so much.CMR: Yes.LM: Because they really- we really have like you said, that one cultural script, you know: a little bit of foreplay to get her ready, intercourse, his orgasm, maybe her faked orgasm, sex over. There are so many more ways to play that out that involve intercourse, but don’t make it the main event or that don’t even involve intercourse at all. So I’m really thrilled that you enjoy those plays.
CMR: Gosh it’s just so important I think especially long term relationships because what you enjoy and what your body can do changes, like, I’m just on the other side of a chronic illness and just noticing how much my body changed just from being sick for about a year, and to be resilient in a relationship we have to have that flexibility. As we age, like, there’s so many things that change in our bodies and how we have sex has to be one of them.
LM: Absolutely, well first of all I’m sorry that you’ve dealt with an illness for so long and I wish you healing and recovery.
CMR: Thank you.
LM: Yeah, yeah, I know that’s very hard, but what you say is so important for us cause all of us will be in that place at some point or another… I have a friend who works in the rehab field and says we are all temporarily able bodied-
LM: And that we all have to prepare ourselves for bodily changes and that doesn’t mean that sex- you know, and I’m saying sex broadly, needs to change, but what it requires is an absolute comfort and attunement to your own body, your own needs, and the ability to communicate with your partner and lifelong learning about how your body changes, how your needs change, how your partner’s needs change. So all of that is so important.
CMR: So as we unfurl this as a culture, as women get more Cliterate and start learning how to enjoy orgasms from different kinds of stimulation, there seems to be- and you echoed this in the book so beautifully- that there’s still a strange hierarchy of orgasms- that like, if you have to bring a vibrator into bed it doesn’t count as much or it’s lesser than and that this kind of simultaneous orgasm during intercourse is the ultimate Holy Grail of sex.
What do you say to that belief system?
LM: Bullshit basically. (laughs)
And, you know, there is- it’s this crazy hierarchy if you can have an orgasm from thrusting alone at the same time as your partner, as you say, that’s number one. Thrusting alone, number two, even if it’s not at the same time, and then you know, oral sex. Oh, then of course if you can have it with clitoral stimulation plus intercourse together, they call that like, “assisted intercourse” like there’s something wrong with it, you know? That’s the next best and then, “Oh no, those poor women who need direct vulva-clitoral stimulation” you know, and can’t orgasm with intercourse, or some women I talk to say they find the feeling of a penis in their vagina distracting. You know, they really need just complete focus on themselves and that’s of course, you know, they’re down there in the hierarchy and as you say a vibrator- and to me that is just complete and utter hogwash and it is really one of those notions that truly, truly, goes way back to Freud and differentiating clitoral and vaginal orgasms declaring one immature, and it has been holding women up ever since in terms of looking for the “ultimate orgasm” instead of getting to know their own bodies and having orgasms that way their own body works best.
CMR: And so this is a question we get a lot from women: Is there a difference of clitoral orgasms, and vaginal orgasms, and cervical orgasms, and squirting orgasms, and people are always looking for kind of a taxonomy of orgasms. What does the research show us? What is the biology show us- is an orgasm an orgasm, or are they sourced from different nerves?
LM: Well interestingly, and you know I dedicate about three paragraphs to this in the book, but what I’m summarizing is hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds, of studies in three paragraphs. My answer to that, although, I’d be very interested in your beliefs because you’re you know equally an expert in this, my honest answer is: scientists are still debating. There is one camp that says because the nerves from the vagina and the clitoris go up the spinal cord to the brain by different pathways, and some other reasonings that “yes, these are different,” plus some women say they feel different. There’s other people that are saying, you know, they are not different they’re all clitoral because we should consider the entire network of nerves clitoral. My honest answer is I don’t really see why it matters and I think that that- I mean I think it does matter scientifically and especially medically if you’re trying to help women for example who’ve had spinal cord injuries orgasm, but attention to the question itself is what sets up that hierarchy, and again this is not male bashing, it’s cultural bashing. All this attention is differentiating different types of female orgasms. We don’t talk about for men “well there’s a hand-job orgasm, and a blowjob orgasm and an inner penis, you know, orgasm, and a prostate orgasm,” like there isn’t that attention to this. We really, when we talk about female orgasms we go to this whole difference equals deficit model. Like if there are different ones, then we have to declare one best, so I have a sort of concern with the question itself and the attention it gets in the media.
CMR: Amen. (laughs)
CMR: I wholeheartedly agree and I think again looking at the men and the women together and just looking at the human sexual system what we’ve noticed is that there’s kind of a galaxy of orgasms both in intensity in where you feel them, in how you feel them, and that just becomes a place to play and experiment, and again, if you have a whole repertoire of different ways you can orgasm and climax and enjoy sex, the world opens up and you’re not searching for the Holy Grail you’re bathing in it.
LM: Oh, I love that. I love what you just said that there is a galaxy and you know some feel every orgasm might feel a little bit different and it opens up experimentation and at the same time I would also say if you’re a person who can truly only orgasm with one very unique kind of stimulation, even, you know, no matter how you get that- if it’s this specific vibrator in this specific position if it works every time then that’s OK too. That is A-OK too. However your body works is the best way.
CMR: Yeah. You manage the kind of paradoxes of all of this so well in the book and one thing you really handle well is this idea that orgasms are important but they don’t have to be the goal and that pleasure is really the goal and whatever that looks like too.
Can you talk a little bit about that, like, because I struggle with this too. Orgasms do matter to me, but I don’t want to become so goal-centric. We struggle to have orgasms because the more we try to have them the harder they are to have. It’s a funny loop to get into
LM: It really is especially, you know, that’s why I love the title for you, you’re Pleasure Mechanics, you’re not Orgasm Mechanics. So I think again we’re back to language matters, and it was a paradox I struggled with because so many of my students are so distressed about not being able to orgasm, and so I did want to write this book to provide an analysis of why and solutions, and at the same time anything that puts you in your head when you’re having a sexual encounter rather than in your body, like, “Am I going to come? Am I taking too long to come? My gosh, I gotta come, I gotta come, I gotta come” takes you away from your body and it defeats the purpose, so I do repeatedly say in the book, this is going- I’m doing this to help you orgasm, but any focus on an orgasm in itself is going to be a problem so it is a paradox that we need to just you know, talk about directly, so I’m so glad that you raised that.
CMR: And another thing I love is when you talk about the kind of intercourse we should all be having- meaning conversation.
LM: Mhm, I loved that- when I first learned that the word “intercourse” actually means communication, I was just delighted with that because that is what is so needed and people have been told to be so afraid to talk about sex and have sexual conversations and you cannot solve any problem without conversation or enhance a relationship without conversation and that just extends into sexual conversations.
CMR: And then you point out that sometimes, actually in the sex act in bed is not the best place to have conversations and you give ideas for kitchen table conversations and long drive conversations, I think that’s really brilliant.
LM: Thank you, yes, I mean I do think that some communication needs to happen in the bed like, you know, “softer/harder there” or “I’d like this, would you like this?” but really long, problem-solving, enhancing talks like, “Hey, I have this fantasy, I’m a little scared to tell you, but what do you think?” or “I’d like us to do this differently.” Those should not- those difficult conversations should happen outside of the bedroom using those really sound communication skills that I wish we taught everyone in school just like I wish we taught them about pleasure, but unfortunately we don’t teach enough of either.
CMR: Yeah. And you dedicate a whole section to the book about how to talk well and how to own your own emotions. I love how the kind of therapy part of you and the sex teacher are part of you all came together in this book.
LM: Oh thank you. Yes I really did. I actually have said to people I feel like this book is the climax of my career. (laughs)
CMR: Well we can have multiple orgasms and we can have multiple climaxes.
LM: Exactly. But I think you’re right, I did try to put the person in me that is very engaged in cultural analysis and the therapist and the researcher and the mother- like, this book is, I feel like this book is, for our daughters, you know, so thank you for saying that it means a lot to me.
CMR: If you could just telepathically broadcast one message to the world to change sex culture for the better, what would it be?
LM: Gosh, that is a great question. I only got one message in one sentence. I really should make it count. I would say: Get to know your own body and then learn to express that need to your partner.
And again, there is no “right” way to have sex or whatever your body wants and needs is the right way, and get rid of all those cultural “shoulds” when it comes to what you need for pleasure and orgasm
CMR: Beautiful, beautiful. So definitely check out the book Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get it. It belongs on your bedside table. Dr. Laurie Mintz, thank you so much.LM: Thank you so much.CMR: We will link up to your website and to the book on the show notes page over at pleasuremechanics.com and we will bring you back to speak more. We could go on for hours I think!
LM: I do think so too, I so enjoyed this, thank you.CMR: Beautiful.
So I hope you have enjoyed our conversation with Dr. Laurie Mintz about Becoming Cliterate. I’d definitely recommend the book- it was a lot of fun to read and I read a lot of books about sex so that’s saying something. And when you are ready to master the physical skills of Cliteracy, all of the different ways of stimulating the clitoris, the entire vulva, the internal structures of the clitoris, putting it all together for maximum pleasure, definitely check out our Foreplay Mastery Course. The video guides on how to touch the female sexual system. It’s just one cornerstone of that course. We also share all of our favorite techniques for touching the penis and the male sexual system and having the skills of fingering and hand jobs definitely opens up a huge range of fulfilling, satisfying, highly orgasmic, pleasurable, ways to touch one another so you don’t become as reliant on intercourse, and so intercourse can become much more orgasmic when you do want to have it. Check out the course at pleasuremechanics.com and to celebrate this episode and to help you all become more Cliterate, and penis literate, (I don’t know what the word for that will be!) We would like to offer you a special discount of 30% off the Foreplay Mastery Course using the promo code “clit.” c-l-i-t. Put that in a check out and you will get 30% off this course and you can start expanding your own sexual horizons by following along with our video guides and listening to the audio guides and taking advantage of the full multimedia resources available to you in that course. It’s our best selling course for a reason. It’s fabulous and phenomenal. I definitely recommend you check it out. Go to pleasuremechanics.com. Check out the Foreplay Mastery Course. Use the code. “clit” c-l-i-t for 30% off discount on this course only, and we will be back with you next week with a new podcast episode. I’m Chris from pleasuremechanics.com wishing you a lifetime of pleasure.