Ask Professor Foxy: More Than One Kind of Orgasm?

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.

Professor Foxy:
Before I ever was sexually active, I was pretty in tune with my sexuality and my body through masturbation. I habitually masturbated to orgasm for five or so years before I started having sex with my current boyfriend. At first, I couldn’t orgasm during sex, and it was frustrating but understandable. Now, though, we have been together for ten months, and he has learned what I like and don’t like. Now, during sex, I feel like I get to some sort of high point, where I can’t really control some of my body movements, facial expressions, or the sounds that come out of my mouth. Sounds like orgasm, right? Strangely, while these episodes feel really good, they don’t feel the same as the orgasms I have when I masturbate. The sensations of pleasure I feel in my genitals are different.
Is it possible that orgasms might feel different, depending on whether I am exclusively stimulating my clitoris through masturbation or my boyfriend is doing it while we are having vaginal sex? I know Freud theorized about a difference between vaginal and clitoral orgasms, but, despite the Freud’s misogyny, that seems to be a similar concept to what I am experiencing. Do you, or anyone of Feministings commenters, have any insight into this?

Hi Pondering –
Ahhhh Freud and his lovely little misogynistic theories on women’s orgasms. For those not familiar, Freud theorized that there were two types of female orgasm: vaginal and clitoral. He then ranked them. . . vaginal, of course, being the higher, “truer” orgasm since it depended on assumed male penetration. Women have been dealing with the fall out ever since.
I do not think there are two types of orgasms. I think there are a thousand types of orgasms. There are not even two places where orgasms come from. For some people, it is clitoral and vaginal. For others, orgasms come from anal stimulation, nipple play, or even just their thoughts.
You were in tune with your sexuality by yourself and then successfully adapted that with your current boyfriend. It took a little while, but I am glad you two worked it out. It sounds like you were a good instructor and he was willing to learn. That does not mean that your orgasms with him are like your orgasms with yourself.
However, there really are a lot of different types of orgasms in their depth, intensity, what shakes, after feelings etc. The orgasms you have while masturbating are ones honed through five years of touching yourself. You are super comfortable, know your exact spots and have instantaneous feedback. These orgasms are going to be intense. Your orgasms or orgasmic feelings with your boyfriend don’t have all of those elements. They are going to be different and feel different.
Orgasms are like music. Sometimes you may want hip-hop, other days classical, other days folk. Each is beautiful and invokes different feelings and sensations. I would focus less on comparing the two then in enjoying the way that each is different and lovely.
Professor Foxy
If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

Join the Conversation

  • gudbuytjane

    Mary Roach had a great talk on orgasms, and the science of orgasms at TED:
    Short version: Dr. Foxy’s right, there are many, many kinds of orgasms. None are better than the other, and old, misogynist models like Freud are not useful to describe female sexualities.

  • ghostorchid

    My drenching-wet, psychologically-aroused orgasms tend to be lesser in quality than my dry, boredom-motivated orgasms. In the former, the orgasm itself lasts only a split second – in the latter, I have enough focus and agility to make that peak last for a good three or four seconds before it crests. They feel like different beasts entirely, even though they’re both clitoral.

  • marie123

    Oh yeah, I have lots of different types of orgasms. It depends on what I use to masturbate, how quickly I go, and what I’m fantasizing about. If I’m with a partner it depends on whether they’re using their hands, mouth etc. and the position we’re in. Once I came just from fantasizing (look mom, no hands) which was so different from anything I had experienced before.
    A clitoris is not just a little nub on the vulva; it extends inside and can be stimulated during vaginal sex. So freud is full of shit because vaginal orgasms are probably actually clitoral orgasms anyway. It makes sense that being stimulated in a different position would give you different sensations. Perhaps because vaginal sex is less direct the OP is experiencing a slower build-up to orgasm making it more sustained (just a guess). Anyway, have fun exploring your new orgasms!

  • anteup

    Yeah, my masturbation induced vs. partner induced orgasms are entirely different as well. From self stimulation my orgasms are longer and more intense. However, the ones I have from partnered sex are more satisfying. I generally use this analogy when talking about masturbation when I want partnered sex: “It’s like having a salad and trying to be okay with just that when all you want is a sirloin.” I think the satisfaction for me personally comes from the amount of energy used. I like feeling exhausted afterward.

  • fingercrust

    Hurray for orgasms! Hurray for all the different kind of orgasms possible! :D
    I agree that rather than comparing different types of orgasms as one being better than the other, we should appreciate each orgasm for what it is.

  • notexactlybutch

    Well said, Prof! Lots of different orgasms, lots of kinds of pleasure.

  • blue

    Is it possible to orgasm while you are dreaming?

  • Kimberly

    Yes. I’ve woken up orgasming a few times. “Wet dreams” are fun!

  • blue

    I’ve never woken up wet before. Is it possible to orgasm without being wet?

  • magdalune

    Absolutely. I actually dislike those orgasms. They’re unpleasant for me, even though all the physiological reactions are orgasmic.

  • marie123

    You don’t have to be wet to have an orgasm. A lot of things can affect a woman’s vaginal secretions, so just because you may happen to be dry it doesn’t mean your body is not able to orgasm.

  • Dave Paul

    I also experience different orgasms (and I am a guy) I found myself asking the same question a few months back. Self-stimulation vs. partner stimulation is very different for me, and although partner stimulation is often shorter and less-satisfying, I prefer sharing the experience with my girlfriend.

  • mindprovender

    I think the Prof is right on the money here… Everyone I’ve ever had sex with has had different kinds of orgasms every time. I don’t think any one is the same exactly.
    I feel the same as many people here – an orgasm with my partner is more satisfying than the orgasms I give to myself, even if they are more powerful.
    I hope that you have a great time finding even more kinds of orgasms!

  • kave

    I’ve wondered about why women’s types of orgasms seem to be a topic for conversation (is this an orgasm) and not men.
    I’ve been with my husband 10 years or so and I could easily name 5 types from the lazy to the supernova. I guess if given a journal I could subset them off to a dozen more.
    I think the reason is popular culture dictates as long as there is ejaculation it equals orgasm case closed.
    I don’t believe this to be true. I know my husband has ejaculated without great pleasure, and I know he hasn’t ejaculated with great pleasure.
    Women’s orgasms are much more a mystery being that except for a few there is no ejaculation.
    I will go out on a limb without detail to say that my husbands most intense orgasms happen without direct penile stimulation and mine have happened much more in the mind then in the body.

  • Toni

    “or even just their thoughts.”
    This is the type of orgasm I’ve experienced. On a rare occassion I believe I orgasm in my sleep. I have more discharge on these days, more than normal and more than just arousal. I’m not sexually active yet but I do masterbate. But I rarely masterbate until orgasm, still feels good though.

  • magdalune

    Arousal is a natural state during sleep, just as it is for men. When you sleep, your blood tends to travel to your genitals, and under the right circumstances, this can lead to a state of arousal while sleeping.

  • BiggusDickus

    This comment has been deleted.

  • Sehnsucht

    Hmm… I smell a troll.

  • BitchPlease

    There’s no need for the chick to orgasm; idk why we’re talking about it.

  • proudfeminist

    Kegel exercises, enough said.

  • proudfeminist

    Very stiumlating site The only issue I have is that it puts unrealistic expectations in men like you, they can impossibly live up to

  • proudfeminist

    Nah just a guy devestated to see how much bigger other guys are.

  • Amanda Marcotte

    You don’t need to come during vaginal intercourse, or settle for these half-orgasms that feel good, but not good enough. You deserve to have passionate orgasms with a partner. I realize that asking a young man to care about servicing a partner as much as a young woman cares is often hard, so maybe it’s not feasible to get him to read, as he should, “She Comes First”. But you could read it and acclimate yourself to the idea that there’s nothing wrong with putting in the effort to orgasm before the potential for his is even introduced into love-making.
    If it helps, I’d suggest taking vaginal intercourse off the table until he learns to get you to come the way you deserve to come. He could watch you masturbate, eat you out, play with you with the vibrator, preferably all of the above on different occasions until your orgasm—the strong one, not the half-one—is a given just as much as his. And then introduce vaginal penetration. If he starts slipping back into wanting vaginal intercourse without taking the time to make you come the way you come, take it back off the menu.
    Or he could take the shortcut and read the book.

  • Shanti


  • Shanti

    I weep for you deep inside my heart.

  • ggg_girl

    My orgasms are both longer, more intense and more satisfying with my partner. It’s hard for me to get as turned on alone as I get with him. We often masturbate together as part of sex, so then it’s kind of like partnered and solo at the same time anyway.

  • marie123

    Um where did the OP said that the orgasms she gets from her partner aren’t good enough? They sound pretty good to me. All she said is that they give her different sensations. I actually found your comment a bit offensive, because you’re assuming, based on no information given in the post, that the OP’s boyfriend doesn’t care about her pleasure.

  • AtrociousR

    I’m sorry, and I may catch some flak for this, but As a man I cannot help but disagree with you, and probably for a different reason than you suspect.
    The very first time I was with a woman, I had put a lot of pressure on myself to be able to perform well, to give her pleasure, bring her to orgasm if at all possible… but when I actually got into the bedroom and she simply wanted penetration, I found that I was physically unable to perform because of all the stress I placed on myself. I don’t know if you have an idea how shameful and embarrassing it is for a young, totally inexperienced (virgin) man to utterly fail at his first time. I really did feel like less than a man, then, and from then on I had the same psychological problem the next several opportunities I had for intercourse (I worried about getting it up, that something was wrong with me if I didn’t, and that anxiety made it impossible for me to get it up. Trust me when I say that it’s a terrible feeling).
    I was very lucky later on to find a lover (an older woman) who was incredibly patient with me and helped me get over that… but I still remember how awful it was to feel so emasculated.
    Now, I’m not saying that a man shouldn’t pay attention to his partner’s needs… he absolutely should! But I also think that it’s really important not to put too much stress and unrealistic expectations on him when he’s inexperienced.
    Basically… you need to learn how to walk before you learn to run.
    For the longest time, this trend con

  • AtrociousR

    Ignore those last few words… it was kind of an emotional post for me and I didn’t edit it properly. Sorry.

  • electrictoaster

    If they’ve been together for ten months, he’s probably quite good at walking already. If she’s unhappy with the sex (and I’m not sure she is), I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask him to jog. Also, the kind of pressure you’re talking about is pretty much the norm for young women in our society (see: porn, women’s mags, etc). Not only are we expected to please him, we’re supposed to have no expectations of being pleased in return. (The worst part of a relationship where female orgasm is uncommon is apparently the potential that the man’s feelings will get hurt, so we can’t bring it up. Ever.)

  • kave

    Amanda your post is simply offensive on so many levels.

  • AtrociousR

    I agree with everything you’ve said. I just thought Amanda Marcotte’s post overgeneralized a little too much, and so I wanted to bring up my own personal experience.
    …I also didn’t like that her language seemed to suggest (at least this is how it sounded to me), that men are like dogs who need to have their treats withheld when they misbehave.

  • Lindsay Beyerstein

    Atrocious, are you saying that couples should prioritize female orgasm because your felt inadequate the first time you had sex? If so, that’s ridiculous.
    It sounds to me like the cultural fetish of the First Time did more to psych you out than anything else. It’s unreasonable to expect a novice to be a virtuoso at anything. The chastity movement has built up our expectations around the First Time to ridiculously high levels that nobody can meet.

  • Lindsay Beyerstein

    That first sentence was missing a “not”: Are you saying that couples should not prioritize…

  • AtrociousR

    I apologize if it sounded like that’s what i meant. I believe that the sexual needs of all members of a relationship are equally important.
    But that’s just it, I think that there shouldn’t be any performance expectations placed on either men or women (especially inexperienced men or women) prior to sex.
    Of course, you make a good point about virginity, but for me it was kind of the opposite thing. For a college-age male (as I was), virginity is perhaps the most painfully shameful social disease one can have… and my first time in bed with a woman, I wasn’t even able to admit that I WAS a virgin to her. Eventually being able to admit to my virginity prior to actually having sex was a big part of getting over my own problems.
    …and I’m hijacking this thread. Sorry about that, I won’t comment about this here any more.

  • pondering

    The OP speaking. You’re right Marie. My boyfriend is absolutely dedicated to making sure I enjoy myself during sex. Hence, why I DO reach some sort of orgasm. It’s just a different one. My question was all about if it is an orgasm and if other women experience different types. Not “please tell me why my boyfriend of ten months is a selfish lover.” Not sure how Amanda gleaned that I was unsatisfied from my letter. Just curious…certainly not unsatisfied.