In 1964, William Masters and Virginia Johnson, on the cutting edge of science put out an ad for people who were willing (and able) to have an orgasm in a laboratory setting. Upon observation of the women who participated in their study they were able to document what happens when a woman has an orgasm.
First she is excited and her heart rate increases, her labia and clitoris begin to swell along with her breasts as her vagina lengthens and lubricates. Reaching plateau, the entrance of her vagina lubricates and her inner labia have almost doubled in size and she begins to experience involuntary muscle spasms.
All of this leading to the moment of …
All of her sphincters in her pelvic floor begin to contract and she experiences rapid breath, heartbeat, and increased blood pressure, her body releasing the tension that had accumulated in her muscles.
After orgasm, she reaches resolution and returns to baseline.
This is what’s called the four phase model of sexual response and it became the standard for understanding women’s orgasmic experiences becoming the basis for defining sexual health and sexual problems for women.
In the 1970’s this model of women’s orgasm was modified to include one thing that was missing in the Masters + Johnson model: desire. Instead of four phases of orgasm, sex therapist Helen Singer Kaplan developed a triphasic model of orgasm which began with desire, then arousal and then orgasm. Recognizing that not all women could orgasm in a laboratory setting, but given the right setting and desire she could and if not that indicated a problem with desire, arousal or orgasm not just orgasm. (1)
In her book, “Come As You Are”, Emily Nagoski outlines the above two models and suggests a third missing piece which are: brakes, meaning the nervous system’s determination of "sexy context”
Some situations are sexy and are accelerators for women's desire and some situations are not so sexy and will put the brakes on desire. Further to this, women all have varying degrees of sensitivity when it comes to brakes and accelerators.
Emily’s book frees women from the idea that there is a sexual “norm” around orgasmic experience and suggests that all women’s experiences are normal, “whatever you’re experiencing in your sexuality – whether it’s challenges with arousal, desire, orgasm, pain, no sexual sensation – is the result of your sexual response mechanism functioning appropriately… in an inappropriate world. You are normal, it is the world around you that’s broken”(2)
In the book, Emily describes what an orgasm is not, and it is from her description that I want to offer you an expanded understanding of orgasm to follow.
An orgasm is not:
1. A genital response (it’s a brain response)
2. A pinnacle of pleasure (all orgasms are different, some great some not so great)
3. Hierarchical (there is no “right” or “better” kind of orgasm just different ways to have them) (3)
Which leads me to a new definition of orgasm as taught to me by my teacher, Layla Martin.
Orgasm is a mind shift.
It begins with feeling pleasure, then moving through an unencumbered expansion of that pleasure until a mind shift occurs, which is often felt as a state of surrender.
The combined understanding that orgasmic experiences are not always what we think (and sometimes what we think) can profoundly shift the way a woman feels about her sexuality, and in particular her feelings of “normalcy” when it comes to orgasm.
Having an expanded understanding of orgasm allows us to shift away from “goal based” sex to “pleasure expanding” sex alone or with a partner which opens the door for full body, multi orgasmic states to happen alongside or instead of the four phase orgasm model Masters + Johnson observed in 1964.
For women who are pre orgasmic, there can be a lot of pain around feeling adequate sexually. Having been one of those women for most of my adult life, I can attest to the frustration, sadness, and fear I felt around thinking that I may never get to experience an orgasmic state. It’s been a long journey to become orgasmic, especially because I have incredibly sensitive brakes, and can lose my focus easily once aroused.
I’ve found that as I work more and more with this expanded definition of orgasm, I am also teaching my body the pathway it needs to fully surrender and allow energy to flow freely in an orgasmic way.
There have been plenty of practices that have been profoundly impactful when it comes to awakening my orgasmic capacity but without a doubt, the jade egg has been the most powerful. Having a tool that requires me to focus on sensation, breath, movement, and sound has freed my body in ways I never thought was possible.
I’m not going to lead you on and say everything is blissfully, easily orgasmic. It still takes time, and it’s still not what I would call easy for me to drop into full surrender, especially with a partner. What I will say is that I am feeling more sensation, more waves of blissful, ecstatic full body pleasure, and more orgasmic than I’ve ever been and it keeps getting better!
Learning how to move energy, creating a free flow of pleasure filled sensation through my body has been nothing short of magical and it’s exactly why I so passionately promote the Jade Egg practice to pretty much every single woman I meet.
This passion is also the foundation for my Wild + Divine Tantric Sex Coaching and online Jade Egg practices.
This week I’m sharing a practice online that offers the opportunity to embody and experience the above mentioned expanded definition of orgasm.
Jade Energy is a combination of self seduction, breathwork, yoga, touch, and sound that will bring you into a full bodied orgasmic state. I can’t wait to share this powerful practice that is perfect for women who desire to experience something new and different in their orgasm and for pre orgasmic women to experience their orgasmic potential without any pressure or expectation to conform to a particular model of what an orgasm should look and feel like. Jade Energy can be done with or without a Jade Egg.
Are you ready to expand your orgasmic potential? We meet live on Zoom this Friday night at 8pm. The cost for the class is $10 and you’ll have access to the replay for one week following the class. You can register below:
(1) (2) (3) Nagoski, Emily “Come As You Are” , Simon and Shuster, 2015