I learned about sex under the geodesic monkey bars at A. Brian Merry Elementary School in the first grade. My friend Brandy* stood amid a rapt group of girls, telling us what she’s read in a book she found in her parents’ bedroom. I was shocked. Surely no one would ever do that. Surely my parents would never do that. Ew ew ew.
I got over it relatively quickly. In middle school an article in Glamour led me to my first, accidental orgasm, and, once I got over the initial shock (because, really, who is prepared for that first one?), I was a fan. No need to go into details here–I sorted out what worked for me and happily took things from there.
As I got older, articles about women that were unable to achieve orgasm would cross my path occasionally and I’d wonder who these poor people were, thinking fondly of my bedtime triple from the previous night. Even the fumblings of inexperienced boys could usually get me where I wanted to be. In college I joked that if you looked at me funny I would come. It was that easy and remained so for a long, long time.
|I used to have what she’s having.
Several years into my MS diagnosis, something changed. Orgasms were elusive and could be coaxed out of me only with toy-based assistance. That was a bummer, but, hey, you do what you gotta do, right? I’d read enough women’s magazines to know that vibrator-dependence was normal for lots of women. I’d just be one of those women now. Sigh.
My sex life was humming (get it?) along just fine until one day the unthinkable happened: I peed. Mid-orgasm. I PEED. I was embarrassed, but maybe this was a one-time thing? Nope. It happened again. And again. I asked my urologist if anything could be done, and he shrugged, saying “Try not to eat asparagus before sex?” So I bought a protective cover for our mattress and worked towel placement to the foreplay. I tried to be grateful to still be amongst the orgasm-havers, but this undesired new kink shook me. As I inched closer to climax, my brain would beg my bladder to get ahold of itself to no avail. The afterglow is less glowy when experienced from a puddle.
As mentioned in previous blogs, my bladder has long been problematic, and the switch to self-catheterization was traumatic but helpful. It had an unexpected upside: those little tubes allowed me to fully empty my bladder whenever I wanted, so, not only could I sit through an entire movie, I also had fewer mid-orgasm surprises. Hurrah!
Then I had fewer orgasms. Way fewer. My brain and body would be in the zone. So close . . . so very, very close . . . and then . . . then . . . nothing. Again, I must acknowledge that lots of women have difficulty achieving orgasms or don’t have them at all, but I WAS NOT LOTS OF WOMEN. Now sex could end in tears, and not the oh-my-god-that-was-amazing kind of tears. These were fuck-you-body-how-many-more-things-can-you-take-from-me tears. I mentioned my troubles to a new, less humorous urologist who swiped a cotton swab along my lady-bits and said, “Your clitoral reflexes** are fine. You probably need a stronger vibrator. Get a Lelo.”
So I got a Lelo, which helped some. Sometimes sex still ends in tears of frustration. Sometimes it ends in a tiny little orgasm after lots of build up. Sometimes, rarely, I surprise myself, climaxing with the speed and intensity of a pre-MS me. And sometimes I just have sex for the sake of having sex, orgasms be damned. That mindset has been tough to embrace, but it’s gone a long way to improving my happiness in the bedroom.
I realize you, gentle reader, may not have MS, but should you face any sexual frustrations like mine, here are a few tips:
- Get yourself an understanding partner. I’ve tried to keep Neal out of this post as much as possible, but it must be acknowledged that he has weathered my evolving sexual self brilliantly. I’m very grateful.
- Communicate frankly with that partner.
- Figure out what works for you. Read some erotica (and if you find any good stuff, send it my way). Splurge on a fancy toy. Hell, try something kinky. Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.***
- Try to get out of your head. Nothing makes you less likely to have an orgasm than thinking “I hope I have an orgasm!” on a loop.
- Remember: orgasm-free sex is still sex, and sex is awesome.
*Fun fact: Earlier that year I told my parents I’d made a new friend whose name I couldn’t remember but I knew it was a type of alcohol. Brandy was that friend.
**Clitoral Reflexes would be a great girl punk band.
***This is, of course, from Auntie Mame and is good advice in and out of the bedroom.