You may have heard that vaginas are confusing, mysterious genitals that require a lot of troubleshooting and magic to elicit an orgasm.
OK, that can definitely be true, but that doesn’t mean that finding out what feels good should be a complete crapshoot either. There just hasn’t been a ton of science on what increases the odds of having a vaginal or clitoral orgasm, which is a damn shame.
But new research of over 2,000 women actually found a lot of similarities when it comes to what feels good and might make you orgasm.
The research was commissioned by OMGyes.com, a new website for exploring different sex techniques. It was created by best friends Lydia Daniller and Rob Perkins, who conducted Skype interviews with 1,000 cisgender women to find out what worked for them sexually. Then they created a survey with sex researcher Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., associate professor at Indiana University Bloomington, and sent that to a nationally representative sample of 1,000 more women ages 18–95 (including women of various sexual orientations and gender identities).
SO here are some ways to touch vulvas and vaginas that might actually feel really awesome.
Obviously this isn’t a guarantee that all of these things will feel good to every person with a vagina, but if anything, it’ll give you something to try, something to discuss, and some new words for talking about it.
1. Edging, or getting super close to orgasm and then backing off.
Over 65% of the women in this survey said it helps build up to stronger orgasms. This is when you repeatedly get thisclose to orgasm and then either change or stop what you’re doing so that you don’t come yet. So that might mean slowing down, moving away from the clitoris, or just pausing completely.
2. Hinting or teasing sensitive areas.
This was described as approaching super-sensitive areas, but then not actually touching them. “Like touching the area outside of the vaginal opening without going in,” explains Herbenick. Or maybe focusing about an inch away from the clitoris, and then passing right by it. Over 71% of women said this increases arousal and leads to better orgasms. Just, you know, as long as you eventually give in and go for the gold.
4. Or sometimes switching up the motions to keep things interesting.
Hey, we warned that not everything works for everyone. Case in point: 78% of women also reported liking unpredictable sensations at certain stages of arousal. “It makes a lot of sense because for years I’ve worked with these sex-toy companies and a lot of vibrators will have five or seven speeds and then there’s always one that’s sort of random,” says Herbenick. “Obviously enough people do like this because they keep making products like that.”
5. Keeping some sort of rhythm or pattern.
Here’s where it helps to actually just go ahead and ask your partner — or yourself — what feels good. Nearly 82% of women said that they have some kind of preferred rhythm that gets them off. Maybe that’s a certain combination of tapping or stroking or pulsating or whatever. But the big takeaway here is that if you find something that works, keep doing it.
6. Changing the technique after the first orgasm to go for a second one.
If you want to help yourself or your partner to a second orgasm, don’t try to mimic exactly what worked for the first one. In their survey, 47% of women reported having multiple orgasms before, and most of these women said the key was changing up the technique that gave them the first orgasm. The reason being that if they kept doing what worked before, it would be too sensitive and almost uncomfortable, says Daniller. “It was often similar but something different, maybe a much lighter touch or slower touch, or sometimes a less direct touch.”
7. Accenting a certain spot or motion with more pressure or speed.
This is when you put extra emphasis on one part of the movement — like changing the pressure or speed when stimulating one side of the clitoris. A little more than a third of women in the survey reported liking this technique. So if you notice (or your partner tells you) that one spot is more sensitive than the others, try to accent that.
8. Drawing continuous circular motions around the clitoris.
A whopping 78% of women said that “orbiting” around the clitoris was awesome — whether that’s little circles, big circles, ovals, figure 8s, whatever. “There were different variations. One person’s circle would be totally different than another’s circle,” says Perkins.
9. Touching the clitoris indirectly.
Over 66% of women said that they preferred indirect clitoral stimulation, which was called “layering” in the survey. According to Herbenick, many people say that it’s oversensitive or uncomfortable when you go straight for the clit, so it’s better to touch the surrounding areas, like the clitoral hood, the sides of the clitoris, or stroking it through underwear/a sheet/towel/etc.
Now, go forth and give/have orgasms!
And for more info on these techniques, you can check out the web episodes on OMGyes, where people talk about and demonstrate them in a surprisingly un-porny way. Like, there’s definitely nudity, but it’s also pretty educational and accessible. “It’s just real women talking about their experiences of pleasure. Maybe it’ll spur some conversations among couples or serve as an example of talking about what you like,” says Herbenick.
There are also touchable videos where you can try the different techniques on your phone to see if you’re doing it right. (Access to all the episodes are available here for $39.)
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