In the history of female sexuality research, there has been a lot of discussion about clitoral and vaginal orgasms resulting in controversy within the medical, therapeutic and sexological fields of study.

A theory was proposed in 1905 by Sigmund Freud indicating a difference between an immature and a mature orgasm.  An adolescent orgasm, as he called it, was derived from clitoral stimulation whereas the orgasm of a mature woman transferred to the vaginal canal.  Psychiatrists at that time were influenced by the ideas of Freud and perpetuated this theory by diagnosing their female patients, who were only able to achieve orgasm by clitoral stimulation, as having early childhood conflicts which resulted in an inability to mature properly and achieve vaginal orgasm.

It was suggested that women should learn to masturbate properly and receive regular psychoanalysis so that early childhood issues could be resolved and a mature, vaginal orgasm could be reached.

In 1966, sex researchers Masters and Johnson published their research, Human Sexual Response.   They argued that the clitoris is the origination point of all female orgasm and that by stimulating the clitoris vaginal orgasm can be achieved.

A radical feminist, Anne Koedt, published an important work called The Myth of the Female Orgasm in 1970 at the dawn of the sexual revolution.  She highlighted the importance of all types of orgasms in women, wrote on female sexual anatomy and the findings of Masters and Johnson and argued that Freud used his work to depict women as inferior to men because of his diagnosis of “frigidity” or unexpressed sexual desire.  

We now know that the clitoris is just the “tip of the iceberg” and that it is but a small, yet highly sensitive, portion of arousal tissue that descends into the vaginal canal.  The clitoris is made up of many parts including the crus, or the legs of the clitoris which swell during arousal and are able to be stimulated inside the vaginal canal.  Masters and Johnson were right, all orgasms are clitoral as the clitoris is the female sex organ and can be reached in a variety of ways. If a woman is not able to achieve “vaginal orgasm” by having her clitoris internally stimulated but can achieve “clitoral orgasm” by having her clitoris externally stimulated, we know understand that this is a perfectly fine, acceptable and wonderful orgasm and has nothing to do with the maturity of a woman.

Women can spend a lifetime exploring their arousal tissue and finding new ways to orgasm. Some women orgasm simply through squeezing and contracting the pelvic floor, many oorgasm through G-spot stimulation, most orgasm with clitoral stimulation and some women are just beginning their orgasmic journey and are exploring what ways feels good to them.

There is still a lot of controversy around female orgasm.  This will continue to be a hot topic as women are finding their sexual expression, couples are taking sex education classes, more and more people are entering into the sexuality education field and human beings are simply curious. While there is not much debate about male orgasm, female orgasm, female ejaculation, the existence of various glands and where things come from and what parts do what continues to be a topic of research, discussion and debate.

Categories: Sex Education

Dr. Anya

Dr. Anya is a sexuality expert with over 25 years experience working with individuals, couples, and groups. Dr. Anya has a Doctor of Human Sexuality degree and is a certified sex educator and certified sexologist. Dr. Anya has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area working with individuals and couples and invites straight and LGBTQ people into her practice.


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