Luckily, you can stop faking it and greatly improve your odds of truly reaching the pinnacle of sexual pleasure—without the side effects and uncertainties of pharmaceuticals—by trying some orgasm tips from a leading sex expert. And it's not just about pleasure; studies have found that there are many ways that sex benefits health, too.
THE DETAILS: In the small study, British researchers interviewed 71 women between the ages of 18 and 48, asking them about vocalizations (moaning/groaning, screaming/shrieking/squealing, using words like "yes" and "more," along with "instructional commands"). They found that more than a quarter of women rely on manufacturing these sounds to fake orgasm. Four out of five women faked it by using vocalizations about 50 percent of the times they were unable to climax, the researchers found.
WHAT IT MEANS: So why do women do it? While it might seem sinister to trick your partner into thinking he or she is bestowing the ultimate pleasure onto you, the British researchers found the motives were generally not mean-spirited. In fact, 92 percent of the participants admitted that they faked orgasms to boost their partner's self-esteem, make the partner feel desirable, and to make him feel confident about sexual performance. "Other women fake because their partner is prone to blaming himself and it's easier to fake than to explain why it's difficult for them to orgasm," explains Debby Herbenick, PhD, research scientist at Indiana University–Bloomington and author of Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction (Rodale, 2009). "There's no right answer. I just generally feel that, if you want an orgasm, it's better to gently and positively work toward that rather than to fake."
Faker or not, try these orgasm tips to seek greater pleasure:
• Get a mirror. Spend time looking in the mirror at your body and, in particular, at your genitals. Women should spend time "becoming familiar with the parts that they enjoy about themselves, that their partner likely enjoys, and how and where they like to be touched," explains Herbenick, who has conducted research at Indiana University finding that positive genital self-image is linked to easier orgasm, especially while receiving oral sex. "It makes sense: If you feel more positive and comfortable with how your body looks, you're more likely to relax and enjoy the experience, which can ease orgasm," she says.
• Start with self-pleasure. Herbenick suggests indulging in self-pleasuring from time to time, using your fingers or a vibrator. When you learn what types of stimulation feel good to you (vaginal? clitoral? G spot? At what pace?), you'll have a better chance at learning to orgasm alone or with a partner. "You can then take what you learn from your moments self-pleasuring and teach your partner how to touch you or how to move during intercourse," suggests Herbenick. "Self-pleasuring also has the added benefit of being something you do alone, without the stress or pressure of feeling like you have to orgasm or please anyone other than yourself."
• Buy a (green) vibrator. Don't feel as if taking the plunge and buying a vibrator means you're giving up on having an orgasm from oral sex, intercourse, or other types of sex play, says Herbenick. "However, while you're learning to orgasm from other sources, why not let a vibrator help you along the way? Orgasm can take a long time to achieve and vibrators can provide a pleasurable shortcut for many women, given their intensity," she says. "It's not much different from enjoying store-bought tomato sauce while you wait for the tomatoes in your garden to ripen. Both taste great, one just takes a little longer to come to fruition."
Since some vibrators contain harmful substances like plasticizing chemicals called phthalates, use our green foreplay guide to find one that will help you orgasm without harming the health of you or the environment.
Embrace your inner eroticism. A woman can know all about her partner, have a giving, pleasure-focused partner and a high-end vibrator, and still not orgasm. Why? "Often, it's because her mind isn't focused on sex," notes Herbenick. "It's difficult to orgasm if you're not feeling in the mood or are distracted with thoughts about work, school, family, or laundry." Try wearing lingerie, reading erotica, watching sexually explicit films, or taking turns with sensual massage help to get you into a sexual state of mind, she suggests.
• Address pain. For some women, trouble reaching orgasm is a physical thing. About 10 to 15 percent of women experience vulvovaginal pain. Some only experience the pain during sex, and find they can orgasm from oral sex or masturbation, explains Herbenick. "Some doctors are even exploring ways that vibration of the vulva—actually applying vibrators to women's genitals—may be a helpful form of treatment for some genital pain issues."
Women who experience genital pain should address that before worrying about orgasm, suggests Herbenick. The National Vulvodynia Association is a good place to find more information.