Let's redefine sex

Kanisa George -
Kanisa George -


Some things we don’t talk about, we’d rather do without, yet we hold a smile. Maybe we’re embarrassed, or perhaps it’s our inability to face those uncomfortable truths. Whatever the reason, we continue to ignore the obvious, hoping that it’ll somehow resolve itself. When it comes to sex, why are we afraid to talk about the discomforts?

Sex on TV, social media and in books has always been presented through rose-tinted glasses. We are taught “must- try” sex positions through pornography, and romantic comedies overly romanticise sexual encounters. Instead of presenting an accurate image of sex, like the negative experiences women sometimes face, mainstream media only highlights the blissful side of coitus.

In recent years, efforts have been made to address several misguided views surrounding sex, equality and those principles governed by misogyny and long-standing patriarchal views. Still, more needs to be done to develop healthy thinking surrounding sex, more so from a woman’s perspective.

Anything that hampers a man’s ability in bed, rest assured you could find a long list of literature, ongoing studies, scientific explanations and drug treatments. But, for a woman, well, that’s an entirely different story. Try searching premature ejaculation, and you’ll immediately be directed to articles that provide information on diagnosis and treatment, as well as homoeopathic remedies. On the flip side, some women cower in silence at the thought of premature orgasms, with only a few willing to admit its existence and others simply unaware of the term.

A study conducted by S Carvalho and P Pimentel found that around 40 per cent of sexually active women have occasional episodes of premature orgasms. Of those, 14 per cent had them frequently, and 3.3 per cent had them all the time, which according to researchers is a chronic problem and was in no way linked to relationship satisfaction. While profound, the authors emphasised that the results were merely preliminary and more diverse and comprehensive research was needed.

In 2016, a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that 3.9 per cent of women ages 16 - 21 struggled with premature orgasms in the previous year, which significantly impacted their relationships. Unsurprisingly, research suggests that premature orgasms in women are seldom studied because its occurrence is extremely rare. Conversely, there is no shortage of literature or ongoing research on premature ejaculation. In fact, premature ejaculation is an official sexual dysfunction listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health. Unfortunately, for women, there is no such fuss.

Most women reported that premature orgasms led to feelings of distress and frustrations, which deeply impacted their sexual experiences. Sexologist Carol Queen proffers that many women face the tough decision of ending a sexual encounter because of premature orgasms. She believes that this can lead to mental dismay or physical discomfort. According to Queen, this is because the clitoris can get super-sensitive at orgasm, and if sex continues, it can be very intense, even painful.

Researchers have shown that various factors, including geography, climate, socio-economic condition, education, other psychological, sexual problems and anxiety, correlate to the prevalence of premature ejaculation in men. And while no studies are yet to pinpoint the cause in women, it’s more than likely that some if not all of these variables impact a woman’s experience. But if very few studies are conducted, and the literature is all but non-existent, how can we be sure that premature orgasms affect only a small number of women? For those women who have this experience, you may feel a sense of shame, confusion or some form of sexual discomfort. Here are a few things you could try:

Sexologists recommend sexual play or masturbation to become more familiar with your arousal patterns and how your body responds in the moments leading up to the big bang. Change your pace, and this way, you’ll follow your arousal process and learn the signs that you’re getting close.

Also, observe how your body responds when adopting a particular position to determine if this triggers premature orgasms and that way, you’ll be able to switch things up and make the experience last longer.

One wellness and relationship coach recommend edging – engaging in the sexual act to the point just before climax, stop for as long as you can, then resume again after a few minutes. This has the effect of breaking the high and could delay your orgasm.

When it comes to sex, it takes two to tango. Yet our understanding of sex still follows a patriarchal, heteronormative, reproductive-focused definition that leaves no room for nuances and those uncomfortable grey areas. Isn’t it time we break free from these limitations? Isn’t it time for us to redefine sex?


"Let's redefine sex"

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