HomeSexual responseMisconceptionsWomen orgasm from clitoral stimulation (cunnilingus)

Women orgasm from clitoral stimulation (cunnilingus)

Sexologists assume (as we all do) that women should orgasm in all the same scenarios that men do. These are (1) masturbation alone (the female anatomy and stimulation technique are never specified) (2) vaginal intercourse (3) manual stimulation of the clitoral glans with a lover (by herself or her lover) and (4) cunnilingus (oral stimulation of the clitoral glans).

For men, all of these activities (intercourse, fellatio and masturbation) involve stimulating the penis. The stimulation technique is consistent. The shaft of the penis is massaged in a continuous, rhythmic motion. For women, the anatomy varies in each scenario. In intercourse, women are assumed to orgasm from being on the receiving end of male thrusting (women assume a receiving role). A woman is assumed to obtain the necessary stimulation for orgasm from the penis thrusting into her vagina. In foreplay activities, the clitoris is stimulated as if it was a penis. Cunnilingus involves a woman assuming a penetrator role. But women clearly enjoy only sensual pleasure because they talk of hours rather than minutes. [i]

Fellatio involves massaging the corpora cavernosa within the shaft of the penis. Cunnilingus stimulates the glans (the only visible part of the clitoral organ). But the corpora cavernosa are within the shaft of the clitoral organ (inside a woman’s body) – not within the glans. Fellatio mimics the male role in intercourse, where the penis penetrates a warm and wet environment. But the glans of the clitoris was never designed to penetrate a vagina.

Once in my twenties, my partner gave me great oral sex. The feelings were good and I thought that maybe I had had an orgasm. Years later I realised I was wrong. I always knew that it was nothing like an orgasm I have from masturbation. For a start, I felt no erotic arousal. But also there was no sense of sexual release. There was no increase in breathing or sense of relaxation afterwards. So why did I think it was an orgasm? Since teenage years, I had read erotic fiction that promoted the fantasy that women routinely orgasm with a lover through intercourse and cunnilingus. So as soon as I felt the slightest twinge, I thought that maybe it was one of the orgasms everyone talks about. This may explain how women mistake orgasm with a lover, especially women who never discover orgasm by masturbating.

Only around 40% of the more than 3,000 women in Shere Hite’s sample said that clitoral stimulation (manual or oral) caused orgasm with a lover. Hite could not explain why clitoral stimulation was much less reliable with a lover than when women were alone. Hite, in common with other researchers, ignored the issue of how women achieve psychological arousal.

[i] I wish I could be told sometimes in the middle of the day or in bed at night, “Lie down, relax, enjoy; I’m going to give you head for an hour.” (Shere Hite)

Excerpt from Understanding Sexual Response (ISBN 978-0956-894762)