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Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

Silent Scream: When Orgasms Don't Make Any Noise

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I’ve performed oral sex on many women. All but a few have reached climax. Normally they will buck and squirm, and I feel contractions in their vagina and anus. Often there are moans, heavy breathing and perhaps screaming.

One woman I’ve been with confuses me. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if she was having an orgasm. She becomes very quiet and still, and her thighs will then squeeze together against my head, almost to the point where it is painful and suffocating. This will last for almost a minute, much longer than the usual orgasm. Is this a normal way of climaxing? I try to ask her about it, but she is very shy and refuses to talk about it.

I recently received two questions from men with female partners that were, in essence, the same question: Their partners were having orgasms that, for some reason, did not match up to their expectations. The first question is above; I’ll answer the second in an upcoming column. I want to start my response out by noting that this type of confusion and/or concern is not uncommon at all for men of all ages and experience levels.

There is a huge range in what can be considered “normal” in female sexual response. In its most basic, stripped-down form, an orgasm (for people of all genders) involves increased blood flow and muscle tension in the genitals and pelvis, followed by the release of this tension through involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles. These contractions typically last less than a minute. Anything beyond this is icing on the cupcake—and that icing can take many, many different forms. Some people’s orgasms are accompanied by involuntary movements and vocalizations, and some are not. Some take just a few seconds, while other folks would describe their orgasms as lasting quite a while—especially if they define orgasm as a holistic, whole-body experience.

For this particular woman, her squeezing-and-silence response may be perfectly normal. Not everyone bucks, squirms and moans when they have an orgasm, although we have been taught by mainstream movies and pornography that this is what all orgasms “look” like. This may make for a better cinematic performance, but it doesn’t mean that a noisier orgasm is superior to a quieter one. In fact, people who are faking an orgasm are more likely to go the buck-squirm-moan route!

The important thing is that your partner is having a pleasurable sexual experience that is authentic to her, and that she does not feel pressure to respond or “perform” sexually in a certain way. It sounds to me like her responses are well within the wide range of what’s normal.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. During her time off to focus on Tool Shed, the Shepherd Express will be running the best of her advice columns from previous years.