Pleasure Activist

The Clitoris Part IV: Are Vaginal Orgasms Just Another Form of Clitoral Orgasm?

Remember that tidbit about Princess Mari Bonaparte? She was a wealthy contemporary of Sigmund Freud whose wealth contributed to the popularity of psychoanalysis and was also a psychoanalyst in her own right. Unfortunately, she was also a Freudian. That is, she bought into his theory that vaginal orgasms signify sexual and psychological maturity while clitoral orgasms are an inferior, immature, and masculine developmental precursor. Thus, she was obsessed with her own inability to reach vaginal orgasm and devoted most of her research to this cause.

Based on her surveys and measurements of a limited sample of women, she concluded that the distance between the clitoris and the vaginal opening was related to whether a woman experienced vaginal orgasms or not—specifically, the closer the distance = the higher the likelihood. As a result, she underwent two surgeries to reposition her clitoris. The surgeries did not have the desired effect, and instead she was left with—what I imagine was—a scarred hot mess.

Intuitively, we may be tempted to believe that the obvious meaning behind it all is that the closer the clitoris is to the vaginal opening, the more likely it is for the shaft of the penis (or dildo) to directly rub against the clitoral glands and therefore more likely to stimulate an orgasm.

Researchers Kim Wallen and Elisabeth A. Loyd who compiled, analyzed, and published Bonaparte’s data (along with the data from similar research conducted fifteen years later) in Female sexual arousal: Genital anatomy and orgasm in intercourse, acknowledge that there are other possibilities:

“In this regard, smaller CUMD [distance between the clitoris and urethral meatus that is located right above the vaginal opening] may both represent a shorter distance between the clitoral glands and the vagina, but may also reflect that the bulbs and bodies of the clitoris are packed into a smaller volume pressing closer to the vagina. This compact spatial arrangement could result, for example, in more direct contact between the anterior vaginal wall and the erotically sensitive bulbs or bodies of the clitoris.”

Yes, the clitoris extends into the deeper surrounding tissues. So, in other words, it is still an orgasm via clitoral stimulation, but perhaps just a different part of the clitoris. It makes one wonder why Bonaparte continued to believe in Freud’s theory of the superior vaginal orgasm when, based on her own research, it had more to do with physical anatomy rather than psychological maturity.

It seems that really there is no end to theories, judgments, and debates regarding female sexuality and the right, normal, and/or real way to experience orgasm. While I find a lot of sexual research to be very interesting, there is no amount of research or any scientific method that will ever supersede an individual’s lived subjective experience when it comes to understanding his or her own pleasure. If I experience orgasms through tickling my nose, it really doesn’t matter that 70 to 80 percent of women experience orgasm exclusively via direct clitoral stimulation or that vaginal orgasms may still actually be misidentified clitoral orgasms, and therefore 100 percent of female orgasms are clitoral orgasms. Perhaps “nose” orgasms are an outlier, or perhaps the research is faulty, but if nose orgasms is what I experience that’s my own truth and I would be better served to embrace that. (I don’t actually know anyone who experiences nose orgasms—unless sneezing counts.)

Sadly, Bonaparte is not alone when it comes to harshly judging our own bodies and the way our bodies work based on comparing ourselves with others or accepting theories that pathologize us. To one degree or another, this is true of all genders. Anything based on our sexuality can be particularly angstful because of the shroud of secrecy that still keeps many people floundering. Accepting and embracing the way we experience pleasure does not mean we cannot strive for other or new ways of experiencing pleasure or achieving orgasms. However, it does mean that when we do try these things, it is in the spirit of exploration with the emphasis and enjoyment on the entire sexual process, rather than a result-oriented effort based on a feeling of lack that may or may not lead to disappointment.

There are many reasons why some would like to have an orgasm during vaginal penetration. It could be the particular feeling of intimacy of having an orgasm while pressed against your lover’s body, or the desire to have simultaneous orgasms, or the desire to climax with the feeling of being “filled”, etc. But if direct clitoral stimulation is required to achieve an orgasm- which is the case for the overwhelming majority of clitoris owners- a Hollywood-style missionary position sex scene just won’t cut it. That said, there are plenty of positions and techniques that can be quite effective. Again, embark on these in the spirit of exploration- a way of discovering new things to add to your sex play. Not out of a sense of lack- the mindset that penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) is the “right” way to have an orgasm.

These techniques and positions apply to PVI, including strap-on dildo sex:

Coital alignment technique (aka “grinding the corn”):

The woman lays on her back, and the penetrative partner is on top and inserts their penis (or dildo) and then stops. The partner on top then shifts their body forward (toward the direction of their heads) so that penis is now pointing downward and the base of their shaft and pubic bone is making more contact with the clitoris. Instead of thrusting in and out, they will rock their body back down with the intention on rubbing the clitoris with the base of the penis. And then they rock back up. At the same time, the partner on the bottom is shifting and angling her hips up and down. While the penetrative partner focuses on stimulating the clitoris during the down stroke, the partner on the bottom has most of the leverage on the upstroke and so focuses on rubbing her clit while she is rocking her hips back down. The penis/dildo stays inserted the entire time.

This technique takes coordination and some practice and is actually pretty difficult to describe. However, the internet is an amazing place and you can do some more research there. You may find yourself on some “Christian-friendly” sexuality sites. We can’t let them have all the fun, though, right? ;) Sadly, there are no explicit videos demonstrating this technique. The trick is to embody these moves with the intention of stimulating the clitoris, rather that perform a set of instructions while hoping for the best.

Modified coital alignment technique:

Begin the same way as above, but before beginning the rocking motions, the woman on the bottom closes her legs together while the partner on top has their legs on the outside. The motions for this technique involve more thrusting rather than rocking. Not only is this a clitoris friendly position, but it also creates a firmer grasp on the penis, which could be fun.

Woman (or non dildo wearing partner) on top (aka “cowgirl”):

The partner on top is usually the active partner that determines the sexual motions. With the woman on top, she is more likely to angle and grind her pelvis in a way that optimally stimulates her sweet spots (in this case, the clitoris). However, this is only true if that is the intention. If the intention is to give her lover on the bottom the ride of their life, they may or may not be ignoring their own clitoral stimulation. I’m discussing intention here. However, the reality is that if you writhe and grind your vulva on top of your lover in a way that feels good to you, they will most likely still have the ride of their life.

Rear entry (aka “doggy- style”):

Doggy style sex is great for g-spot stimulation because the angle of the pelvis in relation to the trajectory of the penis or dildo is more likely to create contact along the front of the vaginal wall. Of course, as usual, you may have to tweak the position around a bit to get it just right for you. However, it’s also a great position or clitoral stimulation because it leaves plenty of room to stimulate the clitoris with your hand or vibrator without getting in the way. Folding up a regular pillow or using a wedge pillow that was designed for this purpose, allows you to lie down while keeping your hips up. Place a Magic Wand on this pillow aligned with your clitoris and now you got some hand’s free fun!

Vibrating C-Rings or other wearable vibrators:

Vibrating cock rings are placed at the base of the penis or dildo. When fully inserted into the vaginal canal, the clitoris make¬s contact with the vibrator. It works especially well during deep grinding because the clitoris makes constant contact with the vibrator that way. Depending on your level of sensitivity, vending machine level cock ring vibes are not usually strong enough to cut it. In fact, except for the few high quality models out there, many are relatively weak novelties that are a lot of fun to change things up for a night or two, but are not necessarily strong enough stimulation for many women. So if you’ve had a pretty mild experience with one of these, it may be worth upgrading to see if that makes an effective difference.

Other random things:

What does that mean? Well, I know one woman who loves having sex with men who have large beer bellies because the bottom of their belly seems to stimulate her clitoris just right every time. For other people, a penis or dildo with a lot of girth stimulates their clit. Maybe you have your own special pelvic dance that you perform that works wonders for you? So basically, “other random things” includes everything else that may work for someone. I certainly have not heard it all!

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her milling around her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St. Contact the shop at 777-9434 or

About The Author

Ally Booker

Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics...
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