You’re reading How To Get Off, our series celebrating bodies, pleasure and fantasy.
Women are always on, but is this stopping us from getting turned on? If we’re not actually doing something we’re thinking about doing it (washing up or filing our tax return or any of those 3,000 things on our to-do list that aren’t sex).
No wonder our minds often wander when we’re actually doing it. But worrying about gas bills that need paying is never going to be conducive to a good time. That’s because mindset is instrumental when it comes to the female orgasm – not only do sex therapists and sexologists believe this, but studies back it up.
One such study, from 2015, found women who regularly reached orgasm tended to focus more on the sensations of sex and how their body felt – basically, sex mindfulness – compared to women who found it harder to orgasm. A separate study found a link between a lack of “erotic thoughts” during sex and less frequent orgasm.
Negative thoughts during sex are also – perhaps unsurprisingly – a barrier. Among women, the most intrusive concerns cited tend to centre around appearance and, to a lesser degree, performance (no, it’s not just men).
Even the words we use to describe orgasm can play a part in making women less likely to come. “I prefer to think of orgasm as an ‘experience’ rather than something to ‘achieve’,” says sexologist Gigi Engle, author of All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide To Sex, Love And Life. “The reason for this is pressure – women face enough pressure in every other area of life, so taking it off of sex is a pivotal component in having fulfilling sexual experiences.”
Some women might feel ashamed that they don’t orgasm as much as they’d like – some struggle to do it full stop (this is known as female orgasmic disorder) – but it’s actually a fairly common experience.
A survey of more than 32,000 women conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital found one in five had...