Monday 23 April 2018

Dear Mary: What can I do to experience 'full' orgasms?

Mary O'Conor

Relationship counsellor and psychosexual therapist Mary O'Conor offers relationship advice in her weekly column.

Question: I'm 37, in a happy and loving relationship with a man I feel very comfortable with and who, thankfully, loves me as much as I love him. However, I don't believe I've reached my potential when it comes to orgasm. I've spoken with female friends and it seems I'm not unique in this.

While I can enjoy multiple mini-peaks from clitoral stimulation with my partner (a man who is just as interested in my sexual enjoyment as I am myself), I can't seem to reach full orgasm - of the sort that movies would lead me to believe I should be having.

Is the clitoris the beginning and end of the world of the orgasm or does the G-spot exist? Sometimes the feeling I get when I have the mini-peaks is very close to the sensation of urinating and when I get to the stage of feeling like I might actually have a proper orgasm, I sometimes get the feeling of wanting to poo.

I really want to enjoy sex with my partner. And I'm a little jealous of the seemingly straightforward process he enjoys, while for me it depends on the time of the month, the position, and all these other sensations that are getting in the way of reaching a climax.

I would be very grateful for your insight.

Mary replies: I often wonder if Meg Ryan was acting or using her own experiences in that famous 'I'll have whatever she's having' scene in Sleepless in Seattle. Certainly cinematic orgasms have fuelled the false expectations of many. In all the films I've seen I have only once seen any reference to any sexual dysfunction, and all orgasms portrayed have been mind-blowing.

As you rightly observe, there are an awful lot of contributory factors that go into a woman's arousal and orgasm - not the least of which are her hormone levels. No two women are alike and neither are their orgasms. I have heard such varied descriptions as "mine is over in a second, like a sneeze" and "I make so much noise that I'm sure the people in the next apartment can hear me," but also "is that all there is?"

But orgasms are always followed by a sense of relief, wanting to stop the sexual activity for a while and feelings of great relaxation - so if this is happening then, you have had an orgasm.

The clitoral vs vaginal orgasm debate dates back to Freud, who said the clitoral orgasm was immature and inferior to the vaginal one, which was a mature sexual response. However, he had no scientific proof for this. In later years Masters and Johnson found that only a small number of women were having vaginal orgasms and the majority were through clitoral stimulation. However, it is important not to get too technical - an orgasm is an orgasm, it doesn't matter how it is achieved.

There are many different schools of thought on the G-spot. I have spoken with women who definitely have experienced exquisite sensations when the area is touched and many others who felt nothing at all. Perhaps the area, which is two to three inches inside the front wall of the vagina, is more sensitive for some women than for others.

Orgasm is all about letting go, and the best way to find out just how responsive you are is through self-exploration by way of masturbation. So when a woman masturbates, free of any fears or anxieties, she should get a good indication of what sort of orgasms she can expect when with a partner. So you will have to be guided by your masturbatory experiences in estimating whether you have achieved your full potential or not.

A small percentage of women experience female ejaculation during orgasm, but lots of women report feeling as if they want to pee when getting close to orgasm. Defecation during or after orgasm has been reported in the literature, but I have never had any clients tell me about it. I don't know whether your fears are well founded or not and perhaps it is something you could discuss with your doctor if you feel comfortable enough.

For those readers interested in further pursuing their quest for orgasms the revised edition of Becoming Orgasmic: A Sexual and Personal Growth Programme for Women by Julia Heiman and Joseph Lo Picollo is a good resource. I am also looking forward to reading 'Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life' by Emily Nagoski, which has been getting great reviews.

I am really happy that you are in such a good relationship, and I hope you have success in reaching a satisfying orgasm.

My parents feel I'm rushing my wedding

Question: I need your help. My fiancée and I have been in love for over a year now. She's my best friend and she knows everything about me. I trust her so much - and she trusts me with her whole heart. She's the most beautiful woman I know on this planet.

My parents feel that I'm rushing into things - but they had no option but to support my plan of marrying her before July next year.

They always seem to get along with her, although I suppose they have their reservations. Right now I'm far away from my love, but we're both planning to come together soon and work out our plans. We are also far from our parents.

Recently, an issue came up where my fiancée spoke with my mother on the phone. She later told me that she had had a dispute with someone over me but wouldn't discuss it further. When I asked how her conversation with my mother had gone she refused to reply, and still hasn't. I called her a number of times but she ignored my calls.

She later sent me a message reassuring me of her love for me. However, I sense that the nice and welcoming relationship she was having with my mother is becoming something else. I really don't know how to handle this. I need to do what's right. I love my fiancée so much and for me, no one, not even my Mum should or will come between us. Please help.

Mary replies: You haven't given me the essential piece of information in all of this, and that is your age. Your letter reads like it is from a young person in the throes of his very first love - and even though that is always a wonderful time in anybody's life, I really have to urge caution.

Your parents have been around for a long time and will have seen a lot of life in their time, so you should really listen carefully to their thoughts and ideas. After all, as your parents, they will only ever want the best for you.

It is also difficult to deal with problems like this long-distance. It is so much easier when you are face-to-face with your parents giving your point of view - as well as listening to theirs.

A very big advantage is that they get on well with your fiancée. And the fact that they like her leads me to believe that they would like you to spend more time together before you go ahead and marry.

If on the other hand you are in your 30s and have lived life to the full up until now with lots of different romances and experiences, then that's different - you should know yourself pretty well by now in that case. Well enough to go with your instincts, marry the girl of your dreams and live happily ever after.

Life doesn't always turn out that way - but you are entitled to dream.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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