off, I want to admit that I’m no expert on the biological
aspects of sexual activity, especially when it comes to
the female side of the equation. I can only hope that
what I write here has some relevance to the readers who
don’t share my gender. Over the years I’ve
asked women to guest write a column, but I’ve never
had any takers.
The historical research I’m doing brings me into
contact with a great number of topics, sources and references.
This week, for instance, I’m reading Dr. Alfred
Kinsey’s biography by Wardell B. Pomeroy, one of
his associates: “One must remember that our Judaeo-Christian
culture was, and is, as inhibited and restrained about
sex as any known culture in the world,” writes Pomeroy.
It was Kinsey’s unabashed approach to research,
much of which he conducted in Chicago, that lead him to
findings that challenged, and eventually influenced, the
sexual mores of America.
In considering orgasms, it’s probably necessary
to debunk the mythologies by which each of us lives. I
remember, for instance, that Brett, two years my senior
when I was in high school, once told me that my body held
only so much sperm and that I needed to conserve my ejaculations
for when I was married. I’m sure that information
falls into the same category as “Masturbation causes
We can laugh about nuns telling us their sexual horror
stories but it is more important to know what horror stories
we tell ourselves. What “old tapes” play over
and over again as we consider our sexual identities?
Not everyone, of course, suffers from sexual dissatisfaction.
Chances are that most of us are rather well adjusted,
falling into that amorphous category of “normal.”
And, yes, I believe that homosexuality is normal.
On the other hand, I’m enough of a pessimist, (or
is it realist?) to know that what is considered normal
is probably not all that satisfactory. I don’t know
from whence the figures come, but rumors that the average
married man has sex only 6 or seven times a month or that
women seldom have orgasms says to me that things could
Now I’m projecting. Since reaching adulthood, I
have never found myself having less than five orgasms
a week, either self-induced or with a partner. By the
way, the last time I looked there wasn’t any hair
growing on my palms.
What I have found is lots of people think my sex life
is special. Thanks to Michael, Lynn, Patrick, et. al.,
it certainly is. I think the fact that my sex life is
remarkable is what’s most remarkable. It would be
much better if an fulfilling, high-quality sex life were
Quality sexual activity takes planning, time, and effort.
It is a holistic experience, relying on a wide range of
factors to bring true fulfillment.
I’m not going to dwell on some of the more important
aspects of attaining a great orgasm. Physical, social,
and romantic considerations are of the utmost importance.
You’re not going to have great sex without getting
all your bases covered, so to speak. Please bear with
me, then, even as I limit my discussion to the orgasm
Somewhere we’ve come to associate great sexual activity
with having an ejaculation. For some reason, the biological
fact that the penis emits semen or the female’s
genitalia oozes fluid has become very important. I know,
for instance, that sometimes Michael doesn’t think
I’ve had a good time unless I’ve let loose
a stream of jism.
I’m serious when I say there have been times when
the fact that I didn’t shoot caused difficulties,
if only in the short term, in our relationship. More than
one discussion has brought us to an understanding of each
other’s needs and a recognition that neither our
love nor our fun is contingent upon one sexual event.
Now don’t get me wrong. Anyone who has seen me shoot
will tell you that I enjoy it immensely. What I’ve
learned, though, is that there is more to exemplary sex
than one biological event.
As a matter of fact, I often stop myself from ejaculating
when the time and circumstances permit it. You see, I’ve
been lucky enough to learn how to have multiple orgasms.
Ah, there’s a concept worth exploring.
My medical dictionary (Mayo Clinic Family Health Book)
defines orgasm as “Climax of sexual intercourse
or stimulation of sexual organs. In the man, it occurs
when semen is ejaculated, and in the woman when contractions
of the vagina occur.”
That definition leaves me puzzled. What should I call
orgasmic feelings that aren’t accompanied by a spurt
of semen? You see, even the doctors “who wrote the
book” don’t account for the possibility that
sexual activity is more than what we normally expect.
Likewise, it may be “less” than we expect.
A case in point is the play that engaged Michael and I
on Thursday night. His e-mail to me the next day (we communicate
with each other more than several times a day in several
different ways) called it “great” and it was.
What the message failed to note was that although we were
rambunctious as could be and spent an exhausting, prolonged,
and thoroughly fulfilling time having sex, I didn’t
By the time we stopped, though, I was fully sated and
very content. Therein lies the secret of good sex: Expectations
are significant determinants of a “good time.”
Only when we align our feelings with reality can we hope
to improve our sex life.
The first step, as usual, is to know yourself and your
partner. You’ve read over and over again that knowing
yourself is crucial. Learn why you act the way you do.
Understand what makes you “tick”. Explore
new methods of sexual play. Discuss your feelings with
someone competent to help you understand them, accept
them, and if necessary change them.
Do some research into ways to improve your techniques,
both those that arouse your partner and those that arouse
you. Learn where each of you have erogenous zones and
learn what to do with them.
Most importantly make sex a time to relax, to play, to
enjoy. Let go of the shoulds, oughts, and have-tos that
plague each of us. Self-acceptance is especially important.
For instance, I used to get into trouble with Michael
when I fell asleep before coming. The next day he’d
be upset with me, filled with anxiety and guilt that he
wasn’t good enough for me or that I was growing
bored with him. I thought that was nonsense and told him
so, but his feelings were still real and very important.
Only when we could fully discuss the issues and understand
that ejaculations don’t measure love did the situation
improve. We also found ways to accommodate each other
as well. I refrained from sex during the twelve hours
before I was to be with Michael, so as to increase my
sexual drive. I cut down on the amount of alcohol I had
at dinner, so I wouldn’t fall asleep on him. If
perchance I didn’t come on a given night, I made
it a point to come the next morning.
As a result, we both grew more comfortable about the “ejaculation
problem”. Relaxing, as I said, is most important.
More often than not, the main problem is anxiety. Get
over that and you’ll not need advice from me.
1997 by Jack Rinella. This material may not be copied in
any manner. For permission to reproduce this essay, contact
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