Studies show that a startling 75% of all women have never had an orgasm.
I am not part of that 75%.
I’ve been masturbating since I was a child. (Very) blissfully ignorant of what I was doing exactly besides stumbling upon something that felt real good - since I was in single digits. I lost my virginity at the average age of 16 years old and had my first orgasms (that I was conscious of) shortly thereafter.
By 17 I was in a relationship that would span the course of the next six years and I tallied up hundreds upon hundreds of O moments with a partner that I loved deeply. I felt safe and cared for as I got to know my body more intimately by way of our partnership, through some crucial developmental years as a young woman. Every time we had sex - I came. We’d connect and I knew my needs would be met without effort. It was almost mathematical really. Just like 1+1 = 2, Stef + J = you’re getting off tonight, sister.
It wasn’t until long after that relationship ended that I learned that not all sexual encounters result in waves crashing and gospel choirs rejoicing as your pleasure peaks. Well...that’s a bummer.
Over the next handful of years, I remained single but not necessarily celebrate (read: whatever is the exact opposite of celibate - not a slutty phase) (it was definitely a slutty phase). And it was in this season that the essential pieces of the puzzle that were this now elusive orgasm began to come together and they were two fold:
1. a genuine connection with my partner (easier imagined than found)
2. the ability to be fully present to the exchange - dropping out of the mind and into my body (easier said than done)
Now, just because I’d identified some key factors doesn’t mean I was now an orgasm factory. Every time I had sex I was fully swept up in the chatter of the monkey mind. And man, once you’re in that swirling vortex of cognitive activity, you step further and further away from the very thing you’re working so hard to achieve. I knew that I had to let go somehow, but I’d become so obsessed with the outcome that I wasn’t even remotely engaged in the actual experience most of the time. Sure, there were a handful of moments where there was enough stimulus to get me there but overall I knew intuitively that I was really missing the point. It would also be another couple of years before I’d enter another loving partnership and could soften into something like surrender (in the context I could understand that, then) during sex.
Then, the fact that there were women that I knew, who fell into that devastating 75% bracket came to light. Actually, the very fact that there was a bracket at all was news to me. There were women who’d never had an orgasm before - at least not through intercourse. Woof. I went on to watch a few documentaries on the subject and that’s about when my brain actually exploded (and wept). If I think about it too much I can still feel the fumes start to rise from my ears. Never. Had. An. Orgasm. - with a partner. After many, many attempts to reach the mountaintop, so many women are throwing up their hands and surrendering to the "truth" that they’d never see the summit.
What. The. Fuck.
Something is wrong here. At this point, I’d only experienced clitoral orgasms, but even they were eluding me with the partners I was sharing my body with. Still - I knew it was possible and I knew how divine that moment of sweet release could be when shared. The truth that so, so many women had never known the deliciousness their own bodies could receive sat heavy on my heart.
Then came the end of 2016, and I was ready to lean into the truth that I was being called to expand at this potent inflection point in my life. My most significant spiritual awakening was dawning, and as such, sexuality became an important factor in my ascending consciousness. After ending my second committed partnership, and then a very brief (but VERY intense third) I was more ready than ever to know my own pleasure potential - and it was clear that being alone was the path to that rising.
Fast forward to summer of this year in a dimly lit room at a dear friend Kim’s yoga studio, lying on the floor in a circle surrounded by five friends - not exclusively women- as we ready to be led in something called Transformational Breath that Kim says is as healing as it gets - by an incredibly gifted healer/friend named Bella. At this point, you might be starting to wonder “What the hell does a breath work session have to do with this story about orgasms?”
Here, my friends, is the parallel. Inside this room, in a circle of my friends, fully clothed and lying comfortably alone on a pillow and blanket, I experienced my first honest-to-goodness, reality shattering, full body orgasm - with none other than my very own breath.
I shit you not.
Transformational Breath utilizes a full, relaxed breath that originates in the lower abdomen and rises into the heart as you continuously inhale and exhale with the mouth open wide. After some time, your concept of time and space is completely loosened throughout the hour-long session. The breath becomes automatic and you are no longer consciously encouraging your inhales and exhales.
I can’t tell you how long it was before I was…somewhere else. Time and space ceased to be of any relevance as I transcended this realm and traveled so, so far beyond anything I’ve ever known while still being very much IN the room. I know who is next to me. I know I can feel the sweat starting to bead on my chest. I know I’m starting to feel what I can only describe as a completely unbounded sense of joy start to swell in the very center of my being.
At some point, Bella comes around to me and places one hand on my heart and one hand on my pubic bone. “Breathe into my hands.” she says, as I send the deepest breaths into my pelvic bowl and up into my chest, and down again in waves. With my eyes still closed, I hear her say “It’s safe to be in my body. I love my body. I love my life.” It dawns on me that I have never been so fully landed IN my body, AND, I am simultaneously on another plane entirely. Bodyless. Formless. Limitless.
Sometime shortly after, I hear myself laugh out loud once. And then again. And again. And all of a sudden this explosive feeling of bliss rises up from my deepest roots, and crash lands in my heart. I laugh some more. Tears streamed down my cheeks.
Did I just have an orgasm?! Holy shit I just had an orgasm. In a room full of people.
Suddenly the truth of what orgasm really is was fully integrated into the scope of my reality. For years I’d been operating within a specific and - I now know - narrow structure of belief around the big O. Orgasm is transcending the limitations of our human container to embody the bliss that is our nature. During orgasm, the body is no longer felt as matter, as this material thing. You come home to the truth of your existence as pure energy, a vibration as Divine and holy as the sound of rolling OM’s, as Spirit and Source itself.
What I felt was completely different than any other orgasm I’d had before, and yet I knew unquestionably that I was having one. Being one. A magnificent beast both new and ancient all at once. Unlike genital orgasm, this full-body energetic experience was an all encompassing rush of ecstasy that obliterated the confines of my humanity. Any identification I had as my body was instantly dissolved as the purest and most explosive joy and happiness became the only conceivable truth. And the fact that I was not alone for this incredible, intimate and sacred moment held no shame. Quite the contrary, being next to people I love so deeply only served to enhance that joy.
Breath. Miraculous, perfect breath. The vehicle for a kind of transcendence I’d never known I could touch. What I walked away with that night was a whole new set of beliefs around sexuality and orgasm. I knew all along that I didn’t need a partner to make my toes curl, but what I know now is that every encounter - alone or otherwise - is about coming back home to Self. What I need is to feel safe in my body, to love this perfect vessel as the container for cosmic bliss. What’s more is that I know that I can release my attachment to the idea that Divine sexual exchanges can only be shared in the context of a “significant connection”. EVERY connection is sacred because they offer me the opportunity to step into my most authentic state. They allow me to meet myself more fully. Ascending further and further in the recognition of every being as a polar experience of my own spirit.
Does this mean I have the answer on how to shift into the “other” 25%? I’m inclined to humbly say no, but I do have a theory.
Perhaps the path to healing these heartbreaking metrics lies in ceasing to allow them to hold weight. It’s a matter of realigning our perceptions entirely and shifting into a new paradigm of belief. There is no 75/25. There is just bliss, period, and that is available in unlimited supply to every single sentient being. It is your right by way of the breath in your lungs. So in light of our collective healing, perhaps (as I’d be inclined to offer in the scope of just about everything) step one is to breathe and believe.