About a year ago, a friend of mine confided in me that she had never had an orgasm. I don’t know what was more upsetting to me, the fact that she was 23 and had never climaxed, or that in all our discussions about dating and hooking up I, her alleged friend, had failed to notice. I had to redeem myself. So I did what any good samaritan and feminist would do and bought her a vibrator.

The statistics would suggest that my friend is not alone in her struggle. Women are closer to solving income inequality, making 78 cents on the dollar, than they are to earning their equal rights to sexual satisfaction, with as many as 80% of us having trouble reaching orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone. My friend’s predicament is indicative of a much bigger problem: young women aren’t being taught or encouraged to take responsibility for their own sexual fulfillment, and are left with few options other than to rely on a man for it.

Don’t like the sound of that? Me neither.

Women are closer to solving income inequality, making 78 cents on the dollar, than they are to earning their equal rights to sexual satisfaction

The Clit is King (or Queen)
Vaginas are complicated. Achieving an orgasm can feel a little like putting together Ikea furniture in that way. And more advances in understanding the female anatomy have only seemed to make things even more confusing. The medical establishment is still at odds over the presence of the elusive G-spot, and now there’s the A-spot and U-spot to consider. Pretty soon we’re going to have the whole alphabet covered. But there’s one part of the vagina whose existence and role in sexual pleasure is not up for debate: the clitoris.

“The clit, that’s really where it’s at for most women,” says Claire Cavanah, co-founder of Babeland. “And it’s not just the part you can see; it’s an organ that goes back and has two legs that parallel the vagina,” she explains.

As far as the auxiliary vaginal pleasure zones, Cavanah is quick to point out that “there’s a whole industry around hooking people onto a new toy or drug.” The quest for female sexual satisfaction is as much a genuine problem as it is an “opportunity to make a career.” That’s not to say that the G-spot is the anatomical equivalent of Narnia, (i.e. that it doesn’t exist), but that we shouldn’t limit the exploration of female sexual satisfaction to this one semi-mythical erogenous zone.

So if you’ve never had an orgasm, or you have difficulty getting aroused, “it could be that you need stronger more direct, more consistent stimulation to the clitoris,” says Cavanah. And by stimulation, she means a vibrator. More on that later.

De-stress
“Stress is the enemy of arousal,” says Cavanah. So whatever you need to do to relax, do it. Candles, bath salts (not the flesh-eating kind), whatever works.

Also, don’t think too much about your orgasm. I realize that’s sort of like telling you not to be conscious of your breath, and now that’s all you can think about. (Sorry.) But seriously, “goal orientation can prevent an orgasm from happening,” notes Cavanah. Instead, she suggests “[making] pleasure the goal.”

Woman-in-bed
Go it alone
Whether you’ve never had an orgasm, or you’re just looking to increase the frequency with which you have them, one thing is certain: practice makes perfect. Yes, we’re talking about masturbation. Think of it like going to the gym, but you know, for your vagina.

“Love yourself!” Exclaims Cavanah. But not just on an anatomical level. Take that solo session to “find out what turns you on and what throws on the breaks,” she suggests. “There’s research that shows that neurologically, there are accelerators and decelerators in [the] sexual response system,” Cavanah explains. And in the presence of a partner, it’s easy to get caught up in what turns them on. Too often women “don’t see a lot of being the sexual subject, and instead wind up playing a sexual object,” notes Cavanah. To reclaim their sexual agency, women really need to explore their own arousal. That means “letting [themselves] fantasize about anything. Anything to get your authentic arousal going,” Cavanah says.

Accessorize with toys
Sex toys aren’t just for fun, they’re also for function. That being said, there are a lot of options out there, but as Cavanah notes, “The Hitachi Magic Wand is the gold standard for getting women to orgasm for the first time.” And no, using toys is no reflection on you or your partner’s sexual prowess. Orgasming doesn’t come as intuitively to some as it does to others. The way Cavanah sees it, toys help give “your body an understanding of what [an orgasm] feels like.”

The Hitachi Magic Wand is the gold standard for getting women to orgasm for the first time.

There’s also a new toy that Cavanah is particularly impressed with. “It’s called the Womanizer, unfortunately, but it’s a really great toy and one of our best sellers right now,” she says. The Womanizer combines vibration with suction to simulate the sensation of oral sex. By the way, if you’re looking to enhance the chances of orgasming with your partner, have him go down on you and make you come that way first. Don’t take our word for it, take Cavanah’s: “This should be a law,” she exclaims. We couldn’t agree with her more.

Learn to love lube
People tend to be lube-averse. Maybe it’s because the word “lube” is certifiably gross, or the fact that women don’t like to be made to feel like they’re not able to get wet enough on their own. Don’t be a hero. Unless you want to create enough friction to start a fire in your crotch, all you anti-lubers may be well advised to put your judgements aside. Lubrication is part of the natural process of arousal, so if you’re having trouble getting aroused, a little lube can go a long way.

Life on top is overrated
There’s a prevailing myth that being on top, i.e. cowgirl, is a surefire way to have to orgasm. Please. There is no one-size-comes-all position. Sure, give cowgirl a try, but you should also explore positions to find the one that suits you. “Don’t limit what you’re exploring, and don’t feel like you have to respond any particular way,” notes Cavanah. Preach, girlfriend. Preach.

As for my friend, she’s still on her way to finding her orgasm. But at least now she has the some of the tools (literally) and encouragement to do so.

Julia Reiss is a writer and humorist alive and usually well in New York City. Originally from Los Angeles, she has been known to split her time between print and the stage, performing her signature brand of comedy on both coasts. For show dates and other fun stuff, visit her website: www.iamjuliareiss.com. And for funnies under 140 characters, follow her on Twitter: @thereisspiece.

www.iamjuliareiss.com