Ask the Doctors: Prone to the Missionary Position

I can only have orgasms in missionary position. Although they are very intense I would like to be able to reach an orgasm while experimenting with other positions with my boyfriend. Would a vibrating cockring help? — Missionary Girl

While many women haven’t had an orgasm during intercourse at all, it’s pretty common for those who do come that way to have one particular position where it’s most likely. Here’s the reason: orgasm is a reflex response, but the conditions that lead to that reflex being triggered are in a sense learned. Whenever we develop any skill or habitual response that involves our nerves, the nerve pathways grow to support that activity, whether it’s throwing a softball, knitting a sweater, or having an orgasm. That’s why you can get better at something over time (nicer-looking sweaters, more easily-achieved climaexes, etc.). But it also explains why the way you began to have orgasms remains a very strong pattern — for some people, the only pattern that seems to work for them.

Here are some options for you to explore. A vibrating cock ring might indeed help — or you could touch yourself, or hold another kind of vibrator against your clitoris. Many positions besides missionary allow you and your partner better access for clitoral stimulation, so that’s worth a try. (Cock rings can be great, but be aware that some women need the clitoral vibration to stay steady in order to come, while a vibrator worn on a penis will come and go with the thrusts of intercourse.)

It may also be that you can use your accustomed ability to orgasm in the missionary position in your favor. Have sex that way until you’re pretty close to coming, then move into another position from that point of high arousal. This may not work right away, but over time it’s possible that it will. Please be aware that one of the things that can help women be orgasmic in the missionary position is the pressure of your partner’s body against yours, giving you indirect clitoral stimulation. So *do* think about ways to add more clitoral stimulation or pressure; if not via vibrating rings or other toys, at least with a sex pillow like the Liberator (one version, the Axis Vibrating Positioning Pillow, holds a vibrator!) or the Love Bumpers. These make rear-entry positions, especially, easier on you (the pillow holds you up so your arms don’t have to), and adds the possibility of that clitoral pressure or stimulation that regular doggy style, for instance, lacks.

You could also enjoy positions galore leading up to orgasm, but finish off on your back, just because you know that will be the most reliable.

Have fun exploring!

We’re dedicated to getting you the information you need about sex, pleasure and your health. If you have any questions, please email our staff experts, Dr. Carol Queen and Dr. Charlie Glickman, at education@goodvibes.com! For product-related questions, please email or call our customer service staff at customerservice@goodvibes.com.

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Dr. Carol Queen

Carol Queen has a PhD in sexology; she calls herself a "cultural sexologist" because her earlier academic degree is in sociology: while she addresses individual issues and couple's sexual concerns, her overarching interest is in cultural issues (gender, shame, access to education, etc.). Queen has worked at Good Vibrations, the woman-founded sexuality company based in San Francisco that turned 35 years old in 2012, since 1990. Her current position is Staff Sexologist and Good Vibrations Historian; her roles include representing the company to the press and the public; overseeing educational programming for staff and others; and scripting/hosting a line of sex education videos, the Pleasure-Ed series, for GV’s sister company Good Releasing. She also curates the company's Antique Vibrator Museum. She is also the founding director of the Center for Sex & Culture, a non-profit sex ed and arts center San Francisco, and is a frequent lecturer at colleges, universities, and community-based organizations. Her dozen books include a Lambda Literary Award winner, PoMoSexuals, and Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture, which are used as texts in some college classes. She blogs at the Good Vibes Magazine and at SFGate's City Brights bloggers page and contributes to the Boston Dig. For more about her at carolqueen.com.

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