Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.
Would it surprise you to know that people can achieve orgasm when they are brain dead, or that you don't necessarily need genitals to orgasm? Mary Roach's TED talk, "10 Things You Didn't Know About Orgasm" isn't just an eye opener, it's also really funny. As I continue to research and interview professionals about sex, sexual response and the things our bodies are capable of, I never cease to be amazed. According to Roach, when it comes to how you achieve orgasm, the world is your oyster and the sky is the limit. Roach even discusses how one woman could think herself to orgasm.
Our school-district-approved sex-ed class in junior high never taught me about orgasm; it's usually something we discover along our own sexual journey or even completely by accident. My sex education as a student in junior high lectured me about my menstrual cycle, how one becomes pregnant with a sterile diagram of internal organs and that sexually transmitted infections were waiting to use me as a host. There was never a point where anyone taught me the how and why of how my body worked when it came to sexual pleasure or that it was even an option.
Orgasm is something that is so unique to each person, it is a process of trial and error for countless women to figure out exactly how that works for them. Beyond that, due to the shaming that frequently happens with sexuality, women will go without an orgasm because they are too embarrassed to seek out advice or information. Then, there are other situations; Roach discusses one case study of a woman who orgasmed every time she brushed her teeth. Due to this, the woman believed she was possessed by demons and switched to mouthwash to avoid climaxing while brushing.
Beyond the strangely interesting facts I learned about and the humor in Roach's TED talk, what I like and respect is that she is a woman who has spent her time educating herself on all of the ins and outs (no pun intended) of orgasm, orgasm response and how it relates to a number of things that happen with our bodies involving procreation and more.
If we go back in history, orgasms used to be something women were prescribed by doctors. In the 1800s through early 1900s, women were thought to have hysterical disorders that could be cured by simply having an orgasm. A woman suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, arousal or any number of ailments would be treated with an orgasm; doctors administered female patients orgasms using their hands and archaic vibrators. As time went on, physicians began to treat stress and anxiety with therapy and now, antidepressants.
What this reveals is that the act of experiencing an orgasm is not only a literal 'feel good' action; it is something that our bodies seem to benefit from. We are a society needing far better sex education -- not just the mechanics, but the benefits, along with the science of our bodies sexual responses. Learning how your body works, feeling comfortable with what you like and what feels good ultimately is something that takes time. Roach's TED talk gave me hope that there are those who are giving sexual research, education and experimentation the validity that it deserves.
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