Feature photo by by Dainis Graveris on SexualAlpha.
I was recently asked a few questions about penetration: What does is mean if I don’t like it? I still like sex, but just don’t love penetration? Can I learn to like it more? What if I just don’t feel much? Does this mean something is wrong with me?
Here are a few thoughts:
You don’t have to enjoy penetration. You may not enjoy penetration for a range of reasons and there are many reasons why sex can be painful including physical changes (e.g. thinning of the vaginal walls, hormonal shifts, dryness, muscle spasms) as well as psychological factors (nerves, performance pressure, anxiety). Some people don’t enjoy penetration because it doesn’t provide enough clitoral stimulation or rubbing and grinding on the outside. Others don’t enjoy penetration, because they find it boring or associate it with seriously unsatisfying experiences.
Sometimes penetration is associated with former trauma, so trauma-informed therapy might be a good option. More on this here.
It’s essential to know that you may not enjoy penetration because it’s simply not your cup of tea. Just as some people love chocolate (or anal penetration), others are indifferent to it and others dislike it, your personal tastes need to justification. You are the expert in your own body and your own individual preferences; you do not have to learn to enjoy any specific sex act in order to align your sex life with (heteronormative) cultural norms.
Most people worry that something is wrong if they’re indifferent to or uninterested in penetration, but in most of the cases I’ve seen (I don’t have data – this is anecdotal), it’s far more likely to be a matter of personal preference.
If you consider the fact that women who have sex with women are more likely to orgasm that women who have sex with men (86% versus 65% usually have orgasms during sex) and they tend to be less focused on penetration, you might conclude that penetration and orgasm are negatively correlated. Of course, there are other variables to consider, but we do have evidence suggesting that vaginal penetration is not a reliable path to orgasm for most women.
Note on painful penetration:
Painful intercourse or dyspareunia can be caused by a number of factors ranging from physical issues (e.g. infection or trauma) to psychological challenges. It affects an estimated 8 to 20 percent of women and involves persistent or recurrent pain in relation to vaginal penetration. Vaginismus, which involves the sudden and painful contraction of the muscles around the vagina upon penetration can be highly distressful. Some women find the tightening sensation so severe that they cannot handle any degree of penetration and others describe a burning sensation that develops as penetration is prolonged or deepened. Though we don’t fully understand the conditions that give rise to vaginismus, it may be linked with inflammation, injury, past trauma, vestibulodynia (hypersensitive nerve endings near the vaginal opening), stress and psychological factors.
Because dyspareunia and vaginismus may be medically-linked, talk to your health practitioner (a pelvic floor physiotherapist if possible) about your specific experiences to pinpoint or rule-out medical causes. If the cause is psychogenic, you may also want to seek counselling from a professional who can support you through a program of improvement/recovery. This type of program might include exercises in breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditation, desensitization, moisturizing, pelvic floor exercises, masturbation and gradual insertions with dilators.
If penetration is painful or uncomfortable a pelvic floor therapist his a good first step, but there are also some practical changes that can help:
- Change up your routine to include more non-penetrative sexual activities. You don’t have to apologize for liking what you like.
- Use a silicone-based lube during sex, but also consider a regular moisturizer to address dryness.
- Add elements that increase your arousal (e.g. massage, erotic stories, fantasy, dirty talk)
- Explore your entire body — don’t just focus on the genitals. You might even discover new paths to pleasure and orgasm.
If you want to enjoy penetration more (and remember that you do not have to!), consider…
1. Including clitoral rubbing — whether you change positions (try the coital alignment technique or CAT position) or wear a toy that vibrates against the clitoris during intercourse, you may find it more enjoyable if you focus on clitoral stimulation.
2. Stimulating different regions of the vagina.
Experiment with the G-Spot: G-Spot orgasms also overlap with clitoral and vaginal orgasms, as the area known as the G-Spot is accessible through the front wall of the vagina and is located in very close proximity to the legs of the clitoris. Both scientific and anecdotal accounts of G-Spot orgasms, however, suggest that they are distinct from other experiences of pleasure. Women often report that a G-Spot orgasm feels different from a clitoral one, as they experience sensations of bearing down or pushing out with their pelvic floor muscles as opposed to tenting effect from clitoral stimulation. Dr. Beverly Whipple and Dr. Barry Komisaruk have also discovered that vaginal, cervical and G-Spot stimulation activates different parts of the brain via four different nerve pathways that innervate the clitoris, vagina and cervix. What is most exceptional about this differentiation is the fact that the Vagus nerve bypasses the spinal cord allowing even those diagnosed with complete spinal cord injury to experience pleasure and orgasm via the cervix. For G-Spot play, check out the We-Vibe Rave and Nova.
Experiment with the Cul-De-Sac: Located opposite the A-Spot on the back wall of the vagina at its deepest point, this sensitive region is associated with dual stimulation of the vagina and the rectum. As the uterus tents upward during sexual response, the Cul-de-Sac may become more responsive to pressure and stimulation.
Try shallow penetration, as you may find that the external portion of the vaginal canal is more sensitive.
3. Stimulating multiple nerve pathways simultaneously.
Play with your nipples, press on your perineum, kiss with passion or engage in any other physical activity that is pleasurable during penetration — you’ll likely find that multi-tasking is exciting and may help you to associate penetration with the experience of pleasure over time.
For next-level nipple and clitoral stimulation, consider the Womanizer Classic and Premium; they use pleasure air technology which creates a unique sensation that I’d describe as a cross between sucking, kissing and vibing.
4. Bring yourself to orgasm before experimenting with penetration so that your pelvic floor slips into a state of relaxation. Your body is most responsive to pleasure and primed for arousal when your endorphin and oxytocin levels are elevated post-orgasm.
Have fun, enjoy the exploration and focus on your own pleasure — however you define it.
If you want to learn a variety of touch (fingers, lips and tongue) techniques that focus on external stimulation, check out our Drive Her Wild with Pleasure video course!