You might’ve heard of the orgasm gap — the tendency for men in our society to orgasm more than women. You may not have heard, though, that some women — five to 10 percent, according to one meta-analysis — have never had an orgasm. Sex therapist Vanessa Marin’s online course Finishing School is hoping to change that. Through recorded talks, a workbook, and group calls, Marin teaches women who have never orgasmed or have trouble orgasming how to identify and dismantle their orgasmic blockages. 

Since I’ve had the pleasure (no pun intended) of taking the course, I know that one of the biggest blockages Marin addresses is the internalization of myths about the female orgasm. “I want you to recognize that all these things you believe about your orgasm don't belong to you,” she tells her students. “They were put there by an anti-sex, anti-woman society.”

Hopefully, you know that certain ideas about the female orgasm — like that it normally happens through intercourse — are myths, but Marin addresses some lesser-known misconceptions. Here are some that you might find surprising. 


Myth #1: Some women can’t orgasm 

It’s true that some women have not orgasmed yet, but Marin too often sees this fact treated as evidence that some women cannot orgasm. “There has never been evidence that certain women are physically incapable of orgasming,” she says in her course. If you haven’t orgasmed, Marin urges against viewing your body as the problem. It’s more likely that you simply have not yet learned how to orgasm — in fact, you may have been actively discouraged from exploring your body and sexuality. These are problems with our society, not problems with your body. 

Myth #2: Female orgasms are more complicated than male ones 

Along the same lines, the orgasm gap is often attributed to inherent characteristics of the female body — namely, that vulvas are supposedly more complicated and less orgasmic than penises. But the main reason it seems that way is that men have gotten more practice, according to Marin. Due to societal double standards, men typically masturbate earlier and more frequently than women. But it actually takes them a month to a year on average to learn how to orgasm. And once women learn to orgasm, most can get there pretty reliably. Sex researcher Shere Hite reported in The Hite Report that 95% of women she studied who masturbated could orgasm “easily and regularly, whenever they wanted.” Female genitalia is amazing and should be celebrated for what it can do, not denigrated for what it supposedly cannot do. 

Myth #3: You should instinctively know how to orgasm 

One reason so many women haven’t orgasmed is that they’re expected to automatically know how and learn virtually nothing, according to Marin. Then, they feel ashamed for not knowing, which makes them scared to even try. Or, since they haven’t figured it out like everyone else supposedly has, they believe they’re incapable.

But the truth is, while some people experience their first orgasms accidentally or through their own experimentation, many need to learn — and that’s OK! Advice online and in magazines can be frustratingly vague, but courses like Finishing School, sites like OMGYes, books like Laurie Mintz’s Becoming Cliterate, workshops at sex toy shops like Good Vibrations, apps like Lioness, and sessions with a sex therapist can all help you figure it out. 

Myth #4: Female orgasms are always intense 

Based on the screams and ecstatic faces of many porn stars and actresses, you may believe female orgasm is always an out-of-this-world experience. But many of Marin’s clients find that their first orgasms are so subtle, they’re not even sure if they’re orgasming. Some wonder, “Was that it?” The truth is, orgasms exist on a spectrum from giant earthquakes to tiny rumbles, according to Marin. Your first ones especially may be mild. But the fortunate thing is, they get better as time goes on. Besides, orgasms are like chocolate: Even when they’re bad, they’re still good. 

Angry about these destructive messages you’ve been given about your body? Use that anger as motivation to pursue your pleasure unapologetically, no matter what the patriarchy tells you. As Marin tells her students, “I want you to get fired up to prove all of these dumb female orgasm myths wrong.” 

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