Are you cliterate?

By Ian Kerner PhD, LMFT

Unsolved Mysteries. America's Most Wanted. Without A Trace. It's the way many of us guys feel about the female orgasm. It belongs right up there on the back of the milk carton. Let's face it: Pleasuring a woman is like an episode of CSI (in this case, Climax Scene Investigation); we're always looking for hard evidence.

Most guys know more about what's under the hood of a car than the hood of a clitoris. Raised on a regimen of porn and locker-room banter, we're woefully "ill-cliterate," which is a shame when you consider that the clitoris, with more than 18 parts, twice as many nerve endings as the penis, and the enviable ability to produce multiple orgasms, is the indisputable powerhouse of the female orgasm.

So guys, get cliterate: stop thinking of the clitoris as a little bump, and start thinking of it as a complex network, a pleasure-dome, the Xanadu at the heart of female sexuality. With over 8,000 nerve fibers, the clitoris has more of them than any other part of the human body and interacts with the 15,000 nerve fibers that service the entire pelvic area. As science-writer Natalie Angier writes of the clitoral network, "Nerves are like wolves or birds: If one starts crying, there goes the neighborhood." Can you say Viva La Vulva?

Ladies First, gentlemen: when it comes to satisfying a woman, a little old-fashioned chivalry goes a long way. Lest you think the importance of such courtesy is over-exaggerated, direct your attention to Lorena Bobbitt who, when questioned by police as to why she cut off her husband's penis, responded, "He always has an orgasm and doesn't wait for me. It's unfair." Need one say more? So take the path of the true gentleman: Postpone your pleasure. As Sir Thomas Wyatt, father of the English sonnet, wrote, "Patience shall be my song."

The simple fact is that the male orgasm typically comes easy. The late Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, famous for interviewing thousands about their sex lives, declared that 75 percent of men ejaculate within two minutes. And a recent study from the American Urological Association reveals that one out of three men suffer from premature ejaculation. Is it any surprise, then, that researchers from the University of Chicago declared that men reach orgasm during intercourse far more consistently than do women, and that three fourths of men, but less than a third of women, always have orgasms? That means more than two out of three women on average are consistently denied their climax. Good reason to start hiding the cutlery.

But studies such as those by Kinsey and Masters & Johnson have concluded that, among women whose partners spent 21 minutes or longer on foreplay, only 7.7% failed to reach orgasm consistently. That's a shift of tectonic proportions, from two out of three women not being able to reach climax to nine out of ten achieving satisfaction. All because of a matter of minutes.

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