Happy National Orgasm Day! How should we celebrate?

// 31 July 2008

There’ll be those of you who think the allocation of just one official day a year to celebrate the almighty O is not enough, and I’m inclined to agree. However, the delineation of 24-hours to commemorate the exquisite delight of getting-off perhaps signifies a movement towards the normalisation of candid discussions about sex and masturbation away from the prudishness that traditionally characterises British society.

Probably not. But, let’s hope so anyway, and if nothing else it’s provided a perfect opportunity to talk about the need for women to become attuned to the sexual needs of their bodies (should they feel the inclination) through some good old hearty flicking of the bean. According to the 2008 Orgasm Survey nearly half of all women are not orgasaming, with 46 per cent of those questioned rarely or never experiencing a vaginal orgasm through penetrative sex. It’s frustrating, no? And the results of this survey, which is ongoing and can be completed online, are very interesting. But there was also some good news: 85 per cent of ladies claimed to come regularly through self-stimulation, with one woman’s comments confirming the benefits of onanism:

Until I bought a vibrator I had never had an orgasm of any kind. At the grand old age of 43 it came as quite a shock!

Lovely stuff. I’ve read advice espoused by well-known sexologist Tracey Cox, actively encouraging women to forage around in their nether regions, with those who do so once a day apparently heightening their sensitivity to such an extent that they will be more likely to come during sex. However, here’s the warning, she also claims that playing with yourself three or more times a day can actually have the opposite affect, meaning that it’s less likely sex will be as pleasurable as it could be. So, the message is simple: be kind to your clit, but don’t smother her. But it’s hard to get a balance, no? Especially since it is a universally acknowledged fact that the more you do it (sex included), the more you want it. Like gorging on chocolate, I guess, but without getting the fillings. Sadly.

But, confession time: I don’t own any sex toys. I’ve just never bought one, despite all the good press they get, the bashful part of me flushes red at the thought of rolling into a store on the high-street and leaving with a big fluorescent vibe in hand. It’s childish, I guess, and probably also tantamount to self-abuse, since I’d probably put a rabbit to some seriously good use. But, what’s the general consensus? Do you own any sex toys? Where do you buy them from? Can you ever have enough? And what toys would you recommend to help a woman get off? What’s your favourite? Any tips for making that first purchase a successful one would be very welcome!

Let’s try and make every day National Orgasm Day. Here’s hoping you have a good one. Happy coming, everyone. Ohhh Yeeesssssss……….

Comments From You

Renee // Posted 31 July 2008 at 3:48 pm

I love the fact that you have a day dedicated to orgasms. I had my first one when I was 26. Since then I attempt either alone or with my partner to have at least one a day. It is essential to my well being. I currently do use any sex toys but I do have one planned for my first purchase. It seems small and discreet enough to do the trick.

Kath // Posted 31 July 2008 at 4:11 pm

Hey Abby, you can buy sex toys on-line. No need to go into a shop – and much more choice. I would recommend http://www.lovehoney.co.uk or http://www.sextoys.co.uk. Have fun!!

Sabre // Posted 31 July 2008 at 4:16 pm

Hi Abby, good topic for discussion, I’ve been thinking about these things since filling in your Women in London survey. Try internet shopping. Lovehoney is good, it’s discreet and they give user reviews! I also got a free toy for spending over £25 (oh how I struggled to find enough to buy!) I had a rabbit once and it pissed me off immensely – guess it’s not for me. Silicon vibrators are nice as I don’t like that cold rubbery feel. I find flesh coloured and pink sex toys weird, so my vibrator is a lovely bright blue dolphin!

I had my first orgasm at 17, but didn’t realise what it was for a long time! How dense can you be? lol

Shev // Posted 31 July 2008 at 4:30 pm

I do, although they’re all for more than one person ;0) And I love them all.

May I whole-heartedly suggest Nua in Brighton? The couple who run it, Katherine and Jeremy are two of the nicest people you will meet, and will happily offer you tea, coffee, whatever, and screeds of helpful advice. Katherine actually helpfully showed me girlfrind the place way to wear a harness by putting it on in the middle of the shop. They also give back to the community that gives them their livelihood (v v gay friendly), by fund-raising for Pride.

There’s also one in Brum, but I’ve not been there yet…

Zenobia // Posted 31 July 2008 at 4:37 pm

Like gorging on chocolate, I guess, but without getting the fillings. Sadly.

Um, “fillings”?

*mental picture*

Oh. I’m sure that’s not what you meant.

magic_at_mungos // Posted 31 July 2008 at 5:32 pm

I third the online shopping. I do have some really nice lube that I bought at Coffee Cake and Kink (who do have a website) and it’s amazing. nothing but a dab and my fingers and I’m away with the fairies :D

Jess // Posted 31 July 2008 at 5:42 pm

According to the 2008 Orgasm Survey nearly half of all women are not orgasaming, with 46 per cent of those questioned rarely or never experiencing a vaginal orgasm through penetrative sex. It’s frustrating, no? And the results of this survey, which is ongoing and can be completed online, are very interesting. But there was also some good news: 85 per cent of ladies claimed to come regularly through self-stimulation, with one woman’s comments confirming the benefits of onanism

Isn’t this a bit contradictory – how can half of women rarely or never orgasm, but 85% get off regularly by masturbating?!! If that’s really how the research is presented, it’s a bit dodgy, because it would imply that orgasms without penetration are not proper orgasms at all!

But, yeah, apart from that, nice idea for a day.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 31 July 2008 at 5:59 pm

Quite correct Jess in fact the correct terminology is 46% of women are not reaching climax/orgasm via penetrative but and it is a big but – 85% of women reach climax/ orgasm via self-stimulation. Ergo – penetrative sex is not ‘real sex’ as male-centered thinking claims. Scarleteen on her website has very accurate information regarding the myth of vaginal orgasm and in fact penetration is not satisfying for most heterosexual women. Ah but these so-called sex surveys still insist ‘real sex is not real sex unless a woman reaches climax via penetration.’ So ignore surveys and remember female sexuality is not a ‘one size fits all.’

Abby O'Reilly // Posted 31 July 2008 at 5:59 pm

Hi Jess and Jennifer. The first claim, regarding half of all women, refers to all women who answered the survey. I assumed the 85 per cent to represent the number of women who claimed to orgasm at all achieve it through masturbation (the other 15 per cent coming during sex). So it’s taken from the results pertaining specifically to the number of women who orgasm, if you see what I mean. That would explain the inconsisency. My fault, I should have been clearer. But that’s how I understood it from the results. On the link to the survey in the post, you can click through and get the original press release if you’re interested x

Kath // Posted 31 July 2008 at 6:24 pm

Have just *briefly* looked at the results (am still at work). 48% of the respondents said they never or sometimes achieve vaginal orgasm through penetrative sex and the figures were pretty much the same for vaginal orgasm through masturbation. For clitoral orgasm 51% say they sometimes or often achieve it through penetrative sex and 82% always or often achieve it through masturbation.

I’m not sure whether there’s a sound basis for these distinctions (between ‘vaginal’ and ‘clitoral’ orgasms) or not.

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 31 July 2008 at 7:24 pm

I had my first orgasm at 17 and it came from penetrative sex. That didn’t happen again for *years* though!

Personally, I find I orgasm more intensely from g-spot orgasms (using a vibrator or through penetrative sex) than I do from clitoral stimulation – although its all good! Is that the same for anyone else?

I can’t come from penetrative sex unless I am in control (usually on top) though…

chem_fem // Posted 31 July 2008 at 7:44 pm

I wonder if rubbing your clitoris during penetrative sex or coital alignment are included as ways of reaching orgasm through penetrative sex. I do both of the above often, but couldn’t orgasm without it.

Kate // Posted 31 July 2008 at 7:47 pm

Yup; own three. All bought for me by the darling man-chick somewhere around the occasion of my 30th birthday.

I can only chip in to second (third, fourth?) the praise for Nua; great shops – really friendly, helpful, & great atmospheres – couldn’t be further from the tat & bad taste of a certain high street sex shop-style retailer!

I think there’s a few of ’em now as they’ve made it as far north as Manchester (& they have a website!)

Mary Tracy9 // Posted 31 July 2008 at 8:37 pm

I don’t know. The idea of a day in which you HAVE to HAVE an orgasm feels like too much pressure to me. It’s like having sex with a man!

ConservaTorygirl // Posted 31 July 2008 at 9:06 pm

What’s wrong with being prudish? To the best of my understanding I have not had or experienced anything that sounds like descriptions of orgasm and can’t help thinking it’s a lot of fuss about nothing. Certainly I don’t think it deserves a national *day*. That’s ridiculous.

Molly // Posted 31 July 2008 at 9:53 pm

I do agree that we could stand to focus a little less on orgasm specifically—but, OTOH, it’s an extremely useful metric about sexual pleasure. If half of women can’t orgasm from what our culture considers “sex” (PIV intercourse), we need to redefine “sex.”

Personally, I have a dildo I love but have yet to find a vibrator that’s as good as (::is mildly embarrassed::) one of those Oral-B “Pulsar” toothbrushes. It actually, you know, pulses! Much better than mere vibration. But, I should probably try some more toys before I give up.

Treat yourself! I like to make sure I’m not getting “addicted” to the battery-operated orgasms such that I can’t come from basic (lesbian) “sex,” but when I want a quick, top-notch orgasm, I’ll take a vibe over my fingers any day of the week.

Laura // Posted 31 July 2008 at 10:32 pm

ConservaToryGirl – a lot of fuss over nothing?! I don’t think you’d be saying that if you’d had a seriously good mulitple. Words cannot describe the feeling…

Abby – Shh! shopping have an excellent online store. Unfortunately I’m too poor to buy anything at the moment. And, as a student, it’s pretty tricky to sneak the stuff I do have between so many homes without parental related embarrassing situations!

Funnily enough, although I love sex (and do have orgasms through penetration, thank you very much those who say they’re a myth) I just have no interest in masturbating. Squeeze in the ol’ muscles for a quick shiver, yes, but I just don’t turn myself on – sex is something I do with others – so I really have no desire to get down with myself. *shrugs* Having said that. I’d be interested in trying out one of those pretty lelo vibes (again, if I had any pennies), but those hideous rabbit type contraptions ain’t going no where near my downstairs.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 31 July 2008 at 10:35 pm

I took a look at the survey itself and discovered this ‘survey’ is not really a survey. Because it is designed in such a way the originators are able to interpret the answers in whatever way they wish. Note how respondents can only answer one of the boxes. This is called closed questions because it does not allow respondents to say why they selected a particular answer. So if for example someone says ‘no’ to a particular question we do not learn why that person has selected no instead we make the assumption they didn’t like the product or whatever. Whereas in fact the person answering ‘no’ could do so for a variety of reasons, such as they weren’t interested. Clever is it not closed questions because they are manipulated to favour what those who design these surveys want to claim and/or promote.

Not until we reach the end of the survey are comments invited but by then it is too late. I also see this ‘survey’ is associated with a number of commercial companies whose aim as always is to sell products to consumers. So, this survey is not in fact objective but its aim is to sell products.

Emma // Posted 31 July 2008 at 11:49 pm

I own a vibrator. I bought it from Anne Summers about a year and a half ago and I’ve never regreted it. I remember going to buy her, looking at all the crazy stuff they had and thinking ‘like hell I’m letting that near my vagina!’. One of the shop assistants came up and asked if I wanted help and I just kind of went red and mumbled at her. I picked mine because it was pretty and it was simple. A nice non-intimidating, bread and butter vibrator. I also remember coming out of the shop and getting a call from a friend to ask if I wanted to go into town, then sitting in weatherspoons all evening with it hidden shamefully in my bad just wishing I could go home and try it out.

Renee // Posted 1 August 2008 at 12:10 am

What’s wrong with being prudish? To the best of my understanding I have not had or experienced anything that sounds like descriptions of orgasm and can’t help thinking it’s a lot of fuss about nothing. Certainly I don’t think it deserves a national *day*. That’s ridiculous.

if you are ever able to bring yourself to orgasm you will understand how wonderful that they are. As far as I am concerned we spend to much time investing our energy in things that are harmful, why not celebrate pleasure for a change?

BenSix // Posted 1 August 2008 at 1:08 am

“Certainly I don’t think it deserves a national *day*. That’s ridiculous.”

Whereas days devoted to Christian Saints, old Pagan rituals and soldiers of Diocletian are perfectly sensible.

Ben

Bev // Posted 1 August 2008 at 8:53 am

I’ve been clitorally orgasming since i was 4 (i’m now 33). I was brought up by rather prudish parents but quite rightly, i never felt embarrassed or ashamed – just quite proud that i had this cool thing i could do that made me feel good. I never told anyone untill i was about 17 where i discovered most of my friends had never tried it (or so they said!). I first had sex aged 19 and could only orgasm through oral sex and I had my first (clitoral) penerative orgasm last year!

Sabre // Posted 1 August 2008 at 11:56 am

ConservaTorygirl, there’s nothing woring with being ‘prudish’ if that’s what you want. But I would suggest having a go at making yourself orgasm first and then decide whether or not there’s something to make a fuss about. And remember, the more you do it, the more you’ll probably like it and the better it feels. So whatever’s best for you but don’t deny yourself the pleasure of finding out more first!

As for ways of masturbating, I’m sick of women feeling like they’re being silly because they don’t do it the way women on TV/porn do! So use your electric toothbrushes etc without shame (but do be hygienic)! Don’t use vibrators if you prefer fingers. Do it as often as you want (or as little as you want) When I finally accepted that there’s nothing odd about the way I do it I felt much better and was finally able to show my boyfriend how to do it too. Smiles all round!

sianmarie // Posted 1 August 2008 at 1:02 pm

this has made my day! open discussion about masturbating and sexual pleasure is so necessary! there is nothing wrong with being prudish but there is nothing wrong with celebrating what is lovely and natural!

Jessica // Posted 1 August 2008 at 1:32 pm

I agree with ConservaToryGirl that it is a little silly that the orgasm has its own day — but only because I think most “days” are a little silly. Orgasms are worth celebrating every day.

In my experience good sex takes practice. I have very good sex with my (male) partner, but it took quite a lot of experimenting to get there. You have to work to get your orgasms!

Juliet // Posted 1 August 2008 at 1:43 pm

Depressing that ol’ Freud is still messing up people’s heads with this rubbish about the vaginal versus clitoral orgasm. He only ever studied one woman and that was his long suffering wiff, so please let’s have no more nonsense about it! An orgasm is an orgasm, however it’s got.

Anna // Posted 1 August 2008 at 2:20 pm

Personally, I have a dildo I love but have yet to find a vibrator that’s as good as (::is mildly embarrassed::) one of those Oral-B “Pulsar” toothbrushes. It actually, you know, pulses! Much better than mere vibration. But, I should probably try some more toys before I give up.

^absolutely. and there was I thinking I was the only girl who had two toothbrushes..

lucy // Posted 1 August 2008 at 4:42 pm

that survey appears to exist purely to convince women that they need pelvic floor trainers :(

Iola // Posted 2 August 2008 at 4:41 pm

Re toys: I own toys – but rarely use them because I prefer hands.

Re “real orgasms” Oddly I’ve never seen a discussion about “If a man orgasms when his penis is not in a vagina then it’s not a ‘real’ orgasm”. I figure your nerve endings land up whereever they landed up when your body was formed – doesn’t make it right or wrong/better/”how it should be” – just the way you are.

Laura // Posted 2 August 2008 at 6:46 pm

“Personally, I have a dildo I love but have yet to find a vibrator that’s as good as (::is mildly embarrassed::) one of those Oral-B “Pulsar” toothbrushes. It actually, you know, pulses! Much better than mere vibration. But, I should probably try some more toys before I give up.”

Molly – try this from Shh! Women’s Erotic Emporium (I don’t work for them, honest – just a big fan!)

Aimee // Posted 3 August 2008 at 1:30 pm

I have one.. a rabbit… my friend, who owns lots bought it for me as a birthday present and i’ve got to admit, although i’ve used it once or twice… and they are.. good… every single time is laced with an innate embarassment! Can the neighbours hear? Will the boyfriend return at any moment? Will the buzzing subliminally effect my baby in the next room? I resent this, but… there it is. Even in my own company, i’m embarassed about my own sexuality. Which says something about the nature of socialisation, really.

… I definitely won’t use it now, ever since my dad helped me move house, and discovered a disconcertingly vibrating bag in the back of his car, which he gingerly handed to me, whilst I tried to claim that ‘it wasn’t mine, i’m just looking after it for a friend’… Gah.

gracie // Posted 26 July 2009 at 7:48 pm

i don’t have any toys i use, but god, a long candle kinda carved into a round tip, feels so good. i come daily, normally by rubbing my clit, and have never come from penetration alone.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds