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Obscene telephone calls are anonymous telephone calls in which the caller obtains sexual arousal or gratification by making or listening to sexual remarks. The obscene telephone caller is almost always a man who calls women. Most often, the caller randomly chooses phone numbers from the telephone book, primarily looking for women's names.

There are three types of obscene telephone calls. In the most common type, the caller may breathe heavily or describe sexual activities, particularly his masturbatory action, in explicit detail. The second type of obscene call is one in which the caller threatens the listener and instructs her to undress, masturbate, or engage in some form of sexual behavior. One such case involved a Philadelphia-area man who was convicted of making hundreds of threatening obscene calls to women. He told each woman that he was holding her husband hostage, and to guarantee her husband's safety, she must engage in sex with her children so the caller could listen. In the third type of obscene call, the caller tries to convince the listener to reveal intimate details of her sexual behaviors, often stating that he is conducting a survey of sexual practices for an institute or university.

The obscene telephone caller enjoys the startled or frightened response of the listener. It is common for the caller to masturbate during or shortly after the call. Obscene telephone calling may or may not be the individual's primary mode of sexual arousal or gratification. Some callers, particularly adolescents, call only as an occasional or a onetime prank. The pattern of repeated or compulsive obscene telephone calling is termed telephone scatalogia or telephonicophilia. It is often reported that the obscene telephone caller has doubts about his gender identity, and the calls provide him with confirmation of his masculine role.

Recipients of obscene telephone calls may feel revolted, victimized, manipulated, or violated. When someone receives an obscene telephone call, it is best to hang up immediately—not saying anything, not slamming down the receiver. The caller is usually aroused if the recipient expresses fright, shock, or anger. If the caller does not think that the recipient is annoyed, then he may not call again. The recipient should never give her name, address, or any information about herself. Sometimes it is difficult for a person who receives an obscene call for the first time to know to hang up. Often, before using sexual language, the caller may sound friendly or recognizable, manipulating the recipient into responding or carrying on a conversation. If calls persist, the recipient should inform the telephone company and the police.

There are several options that may be helpful in stopping obscene callers. The recipient may change her telephone number and obtain an unlisted number. An unlisted number is inaccessible to callers who chose randomly from the telephone book. Telephone companies can provide Caller ID, a device that attaches to the telephone and instantly displays a local caller's telephone number. This system allows the recipient to screen local calls and report suspect numbers to the police. Call Trace allows the date, time, and phone number of the caller to be recorded by the telephone company. Following the call, the recipient must enter a code into the telephone to activate the trace and notify the phone company to take action with the police. Most state laws provide for a minimum fine of $500 and imprisonment of up to 30 days for obscene telephone calls. Federal law provides fines up to $500 and imprisonment of up to six months for interstate or foreign obscene telephone calls.

The term of "obscene telephone calls" does not encompass sexually explicit phone conversations that are consensual or not anonymous. For example, people who are involved in a sexual relationship may call each other to engage in a sexually arousing conversation over the telephone. Also, in another form of consensual "phone sex," a caller may dial an advertised number to hear sexual talk from someone who is hired to provide that service. The customer pays with a credit card and is usually charged by the minute. This is not an obscene telephone call, since it is completely consensual.


Masters, W.H., V.E. Johnson, and R.C. Kolodny. Masters and Johnson on Sex and Human Loving. Boston: Little, Brown, 1982.

Money, J. Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition in Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Irvington, 1986.

Obscene Calls Held the Victims Hostage. Philadelphia Inquirer, 2 July 1991.

Sheffield, C.J. The Invisible Intruder: Women's Experience with Obscene Phone Calls. Gender and Society, Vol. 3 (Dec. 1989), pp. 483-88.

Warner, P.K. Aural Assault: Obscene Telephone Calls. Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 11 (Winter 1988), pp. 302-18.

Sari Locker


Historically, "onanism" has often been used interchangeably with "masturbation" and artificial "birth control." Onanism is taken from the biblical story of Onan. Onan was the son of Judah and an unnamed Canaanite woman. He had an older brother, Er, and a younger brother, Shelah. Judah chose a wife for his firstborn, Er, and her name was Tamar. The story of Onan is as follows:

For his first son Er, Judah got a wife whose name was Tamar. Er's conduct was evil, and it displeased the Lord, so the Lord killed him. Then Judah said to Er's brother Onan, "Go and sleep with your brother's widow. Fulfill your obligation to her as her husband's brother, so that your brother may have descendants." But Onan knew that the children would not belong to him, so when he had intercourse with his brother's widow, he let the semen spill on the ground, so that there would be no children for his brother. What he did displeased the Lord and the Lord killed him also. (Gen. 38:6-10)
This story has often been proposed as a divine prohibition against masturbation, birth control, and any "wasting" of male sperm. One cannot know the meaning of this story without understanding the concept of the levirate marriage (levir = husband's brother) in the Hebrew law. The law was intended to preserve the dead husband's name and his children's right to his inheritance, as well as to ensure the welfare of the widow. The levirate marriage law is as follows:
If two brothers live on the same property and one of them dies, leaving no son, then his widow is not to be married to someone outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her. The first son that they have will be considered the son of the dead man, so that his family line will continue in Israel. But if the dead man's brother does not want to marry her, she is to go before the town leaders and say, "My husband's brother will not do his duty; he refuses to give his brother a descendant among the people of Israel." Then the town leaders are to summon him and speak to him. If he still refuses to marry her, his brother's widow is to go up to him in the presence of the town leaders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face, and say, "This is what happens to the man who refuses to give his brother a descendant." His family will be known in Israel as "the family of the man who had his sandal pulled off." (Deut. 25:5-10)
Thus, the levirate marriage was based primarily on economics, the homogeneity of the family, and justice. By not performing his levirate obligation and willfully preventing his brother's wife, Tamar, from conceiving, Onan intended to get his dead brother's inheritance. He was slain for his selfishness and disobedience to the law. Most biblical scholars today agree that the story of Onan had nothing to do with condemning masturbation, contraception, or any other deliberate "wasting" of sperm.

It was not until 1724, in Boston, that a treatise or sermon by an unknown English author was published called Onania; or the Heinous Sin of Self-Polution, and all its Frightful Confequences, in both Sexes, Confidered. With Spiritual and Physical Advice to Thofe, who have already injur'd themselves by this Abominable Practice. And Seafonable Admonition to the Youth (of both SEXES) and thofe whofe Tuition they are under, whether Parents, Guardians, Mafters, or Miftreffes. To which is Added, A Letter from a Lady Concerning the Ufe and Abufe of the Marriage-Bed. With the Author's Anfwer thereto. This treatise linked onanism to masturbation. It also stated that the practice caused many of the major illnesses, such as "palsies, distempers, consumptions, gleets, fluxes, ulcers, fits, madness, childlessness" —all the syndromes of the day were included, even death itself.

Onania caught on and became the basis for hunting down those who practiced masturbation. It was believed that the practice of masturbation would destroy the body itself, unless the sinner stopped the sin. The theory behind the Onania doctrine was based on a mythical science that the loss of sperm in the practice of masturbation was debilitating to the body and led to disease and finally death.

A follower of this school of thought was Simon Andre Tissot (1728–1797), a Swiss physician. He took the concepts from Onania and wrote them in medical theory. Early editions of his work on masturbation were in Latin and French; the first American translation was published in 1832, under the title Treatise on the Diseases Produced by Onanism. This was the beginning of his theory of degeneracy. According to Tissot, the practice of masturbation caused the body to degenerate through "convulsions, paralysis, epilepsy, feeblemindedness, impotence, and bladder disorders." Later, "anti-Onanists" added to Tissot's list of maladies everything from pimples to falling hair, weak eyes, stooped shoulders, gonorrhea, uterine hemorrhage, tuberculosis, schizophrenia, and suicide."

Today, our understanding of sexual anatomy, hormones, and the sexual response cycle completely nullifies all the degeneracy theories that have developed in medicine and religion. Yet onanism is still a concept held by many religious traditions and interpreters of the Bible.

Thus, two great misinterpretations are rooted in one biblical story. First, there is the notion that the sin of Onan had to do with masturbation. No contemporary biblical scholarship would support this assertion. Second, there is the belief that the practice of masturbation and the consequent loss of semen lead to disease and ultimately death, as had happened to Onan, who was killed by the Lord. This view of masturbation is also without any scientific foundation.

Nelson offers three important observations about Onan. First, the story of Onan illustrates the emphasis on procreation. When one is part of a small community of people, it is crucial to see how important procreation is to the survival of the community. That is hardly a problem today, with our increasing population density. Second, there is a profound misunderstanding of biology in the story of Onan. It indicates that the "seed of life" is within the male; thus, when Onan spilled his semen on the ground through the practice of coitus interruptus, he was deliberately destroying human life. There is no concept here that the woman also provides the "seed of life" through eggs and ovulation. This knowledge did not exist in biblical times. Third, the story of Onan has been used to enhance the concept of sexual sin, especially by the male. Throughout Judeo-Christian history, the male, whether in masturbation, homosexuality, or coitus interruptus, has been condemned more vigorously for sexual sin than the female. However, the best biblical scholarship indicates that this story is not about sexual acts, such as masturbation or birth control, but rather is concerned with disobedience to God's commands and greed over inheritance issues. To make this a story of God's view of sex is to misunderstand both the context and the content of the story of Onan.


Haas, K., and A. Haas. Understanding Sexuality. St. Louis: Times Min-or/Mosby, 1987.

Kosnik, A., et al. Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.

Lawrence, RJ. The Poisoning of Eros: Sexual Values in Conflict. New York: Augustine Moore Press, 1989.

Money, J. The Destroying Angel. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1985.

Nelson, J.B. Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1978.

Strong, B., and C. De Vault. Understanding Our Sexuality. 2d ed. St. Paul: West, 1988.

William R. Stayton


Oral-genital sex (sometimes called the genital kiss) is the oral stimulation of the genitals of either a female or a male by a partner of either sex. That is, it may be either a homosexual experience or a heterosexual one. The person performing the action may move from other parts of the body (e.g., orally stimulating the breasts of either the male or female) to the genitals, and after reaching them may incorporate other parts of the immediate area (e.g., thighs, perineum) into the experience. Sometimes, oral stimulation of the anus (anilingus) is also practiced at this time. If the activity is being performed on a woman, it is known as cunnilingus ("to lick the vulva"); if performed on a man, it is fellatio ("to suck").

The frequency of oral-genital sex varies greatly. Some researchers report that 80 percent of single men and women between the ages of 25 and 34, and 90 percent of those married and under 25 years of age, have participated during the preceding year. Other workers say that human oral sex is the one family of sexual practices that is truly universal. The practice does seem to be more prevalent among better educated and younger individuals, although many exceptions to these generalizations occur. Although the statistics are unreliable, it may be said that the practice of oral-genital sex is almost as frequent as masturbation. There is an increasing frequency of the practice among adolescents; actually, they are slightly more likely to practice it than coitus, because they recognize it as a means of sex without fear of pregnancy. Heterosexual couples use it for the same reason. Both homosexual and heterosexual partners may use it as a means of expressing deep, intimate feelings. Oral-genital stimulation may be incorporated in foreplay or afterglow when other techniques are used to achieve orgasm, or it can be employed as the only means of reaching orgasm. Oral-genital sex has been used as a method of sexual interaction when a male has difficulty attaining an erection or if intercourse is painful. It has been successfully used by people with disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries. Heterosexual couples have found it useful during late pregnancy or after childbirth when intercourse might be dangerous or painful.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, warts, yeasts, and syphilis have been shown to be transmitted by oral-genital contact. Opinions vary about the possibility of transmitting HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) by such contact. Some Canadian workers deny that transmission takes place if the mouth and gums are healthy. However, since the virus is transmitted from semen to blood, it is easy to see how it could get into the bloodstream of someone who had a small injury in the mouth. The virus is found in semen, Cowper's fluid, and vaginal secretions. Most workers agree that the risk of transmission is less during oral-genital sex than during anal sex. The use of condoms or dental dams reduces the chance of infection from all STDs.

Attitudes toward oral-genital sex vary greatly. Some people find the idea disgusting because they associate such activity with urine and feces. The view of others is shaped by their attitudes toward the odor, texture, and appearance of the genitals. Still others are concerned with the taste of the genitals or their secretions. All these attitudes may be positive or negative, depending on the individuals involved.

Two major positions are used during oral-genital sex. One is the sixty-nine position (named after the positions of the digits 69), where the participating partners simultaneously stimulate each other's genitals orally. It is thought by some partners that simultaneous orgasm is also desirable. The other position occurs when one partner lies back and is orally stimulated by the other partner. The passive partner may then become the active partner. Consecutive rather than simultaneous orgasms occur when this position is used, and one partner may bring the other to orgasm without obtaining orgasm himself or herself. Some men who identify themselves as heterosexual allow themselves to be fellated by another man in this way because they do not feel as if they are performing a homosexual act. Among homosexual men, this is called "doing trade." The sex of the partners is irrelevant when determining the positions, and the positions may shift often during any particular episode. Masturbation is often also employed.

Cunnilingus is the act of performing oral stimulation on the genitals of a woman by either a man or another woman. The partner gently licks the clitoris or the lips of the vagina and may separate the lips with the hands or tongue. The sides of the clitoris shaft may be massaged with a rapidly flicked tongue. Many women enjoy a slow, steady rhythm, moving backward and forward to the vaginal opening, sometimes with deep insertion of the tongue just before orgasm. Manual stimulation may be employed simultaneously. Gentle biting, sucking, or nibbling actions usually occur. Too much stimulation can be painful. Some women enjoy having their partner blow air into the vagina, but this should be done with great caution because infectious organisms may be introduced into the vagina, uterus, or even the body cavity through the Fallopian tubes.

Men often have mixed feelings when performing cunnilingus. They may become very sexually excited by the view of the genitals and feel that the vagina opens like a flower, with the taste of the secretions being like nectar. Other men like it sometimes but may feel obligated to perform because it is the macho thing to do. Some men will not perform it at all. It is usually conceded that men who perform cunnilingus are more goal oriented and usually do it as a prelude to intercourse and for their own pleasure; they do not prolong the sensations as an end to themselves.

Women who perform cunnilingus (most often lesbians) are usually more effective in giving pleasure to another woman; that is, a woman knows what feels good to another woman. They approach the activity with less haste than men do and prolong it for its own value. Cunnilingus is the preferred method for reaching orgasm for most lesbians.

Fellatio is the oral stimulation of the male genitals by a woman or another man. Attitudes toward the activity vary, ranging from the idea that every man's dream is to be sucked off by a woman to revulsion. Some men express the fear that if they ejaculate in a woman's mouth, they will choke her; others believe that ejaculating into a woman's mouth and having her swallow is something special.

The attitudes of women vary, from the idea that the activity is dirty and perverted to the view that it is normal and pleasurable. Some women prefer it to coitus because there is no fear of unwanted pregnancy. It is the most requested act by the customers of prostitutes and the act that the prostitutes prefer to perform, since they do not have to undress or rent a room, and they can turn more customers in an evening at lower cost.

The glans penis is the primary focus of fellatio, although the shaft, frenulum, perineum, scrotum, testicles, and sometimes the anus receive attention. These areas are usually nibbled, licked, or sucked (the common name "blow job" is inappropriate because there is rarely any "blowing" performed). The penis may be inserted into the mouth to the depth of the glans, or it may be "deep throated" to the base of the shaft.

The gag reflex is usually activated when the penis hits the back of the throat. This problem may be overcome by grasping the base of the penis with the hand and controlling the depth of penetration, or by reconditioning the reflex by practicing slowly taking the penis deeper and deeper into the throat. The gag reflex may also be stimulated by ejaculation into the mouth, either because of aversion to the practice, because of fear of the consequences of swallowing the semen, or because of the taste of the semen. The taste of the semen varies from individual to individual and with the diet of the individual. For example, asparagus gives semen a strong, bitter flavor. Healthy semen is safe to swallow, and it contains only about 5 calories per ejaculation.

Fellatio is probably the most common sexual activity practiced by homosexual men (some workers insist it is anal intercourse). Homosexual men usually approach the activity with less haste than a woman does (although there are many exceptions), and because they know what makes a man feel good, they usually are considered to be able to give more pleasure than a woman who performs fellatio. Most homosexual men swallow the semen; most women do not.

Oral-genital sexual activity has a history dating to antiquity, and its acceptance or rejection varied (and still varies) from culture to culture. The rejection of the practice usually centered around the idea that it was nonprocreative and an "unnatural" act. The ancient Romans practiced a type of fellatio in which the penetrating partner remained relatively motionless and the receptive partner did most of the work; irrumation occurred, with the penetrator engaged in vigorous buccal or laryngeal thrusts.

Some religions tolerated the practice and others actually incorporated oral-genital contact into their rituals. Hinduism regarded oral-genital contact as a sin that could not be expiated in fewer than 100 reincarnations. However, in erotic manuals of the same period, there is an eight-step set of directions to be used by eunuchs when performing the activity. Eunuchs performed cunnilingus in those cultures in which men maintained harems, and, of course, the women participated in the activity with each other.

Ritual fellatio is reported by studies of the Sambia of New Guinea. The Sambia believe that a boy is born with an internal organ that will eventually produce both semen and growth, but it must be supplied with semen from older men before it can do so. Various rules determine who the semen donor will be (e.g., the sister's husband is desirable; the father is not acceptable). The boy, from about the age of ten, tries to accept semen every day by performing fellatio on a proper donor. After six to eight years as an acceptor, he becomes a donor.

The practice of oral-genital sex is well documented in other ancient cultures as well as in modern ones. It is becoming more widely accepted among young and better educated individuals.


Allgeier, E.R., and A.R. Allgeier. Sexual Interactions. Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1991.

Bullough, V.L. Sexual Variance in Society and History. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1976.

Katchadourian, H.A. Fundamentals of Human Sexuality. 5th ed. Fort Worth: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1990.

Marmor, J., ed., Homosexual Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal. New York: Basic Books, 1980.

Masters, W.H., V.E. Johnson, and R.C. Kolodny. Human Sexuality. 3d ed. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1988.

Reinisch, J.M. The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1990.

James D. Haynes


Organized sex research began in the last part of the 19th century, and although the researchers from various disciplines knew of the work of others, it was only gradually that they realized there was a need to. share information across disciplines. Germany and German-speaking areas served as the focal point for many of these interdisciplinary investigators, and the key organizing figure for much of the early development was Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935).

Though Hirschfeld originally became involved in sex research through his studies and political activity on behalf of homosexuals, he became convinced, largely through the effort of Iwan Bloch (1872-1922), that the study of sexuality involved the collaborative efforts of various disciplines and professions. This led to his attempt to found the Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft in 1908. Though only published for a year, it included articles by such individuals as Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Paolo Mantgazza, Cesare Lombroso, Wilhelm Stekel, and others. In the next year, the journal was combined with a more popular journal Sexual Probleme, and issued under the tide of Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft und Sexual Politik, and it was more educational and political than scholarly.

As the number of researchers grew, Hirschfeld joined with Albert Eulenburg in 1913 to establish the Physicians for Sexual Science and Eugenics, the first professional society devoted to sex research. In that same year, Albert Moll established the International Society for Sexual Research. Each organization struggled to consolidate itself by organizing an international congress, efforts which were handicapped by the outbreak of World War I. It was not until 1921 that Hirschfeld and his allies managed to hold the first international sexological congress in Berlin, the International Congress for Sexual Reform on a Sexological Basis. The organizing committee included scientists from Tokyo, Beijing, Moscow, Copenhagen, London, Rome, and San Francisco as well as various cities in Germany. The Congress included 28 papers in four major areas, but the only clear research area was sexual endocrinology. The three other areas—sex and the law, birth control, and sex education—emphasized the political aspects of sex research. This explains why the congress ended with a call for legal and social reform. Though the reforms urged (e.g., dissemination of contraceptives, freedom to divorce, change in marriage laws regarding women, effective sex education) seem modest today, it was the congress's polemical call for action that led to criticism.

One of the major opponents was Albert Moll (1862-1939), who in 1926 organized the International Congress for Sex Research, in Berlin, and to which Hirschfeld was not invited. It was a larger and somewhat more diverse meeting than the first Hirschfeld congress. Hirschfeld countered with a congress in 1928, in Copenhagen, and out of this came the World League for Sexual Reform, with Hirschfeld, August Forel, and Havelock Ellis as copresidents. This organization seemed as much political as sexological and sponsored the next three congresses, in London in 1929, in Vienna in 1930, and in Brno, Czechoslovakia, in 1932.

The League had a rather stormy history, mainly because of disputes among its members over sexual reform in the Soviet Union, with the split centered around the question of whether it was necessary to reform society before sexual reform could take place or whether it was worthwhile to agitate for sexual reform even in an unreformed society. In the 1930s, one of the League's presidents, J.H. Leunbach, insisted that it affiliate with the revolutionary workers' movement, whereas the other president, Norman Haire of England, was determined to keep all revolutionary activity out of the League by emphasizing the need to concentrate on education. It was not the disputes, however, that tolled the death knell of the international organization but the rise of the Nazis and their destruction of the German sexological movement.

Norman Haire attempted, through his writings and organizational skills, to keep his wing of the society alive. Two British organizations emerged, the Sex Education Society and the British Society for the Study of Sexual Psychology. Haire also edited a journal associated with the first group, the Journal of Sex Education, but with his death in 1952 the journal ended. Also working to keep some international cooperation going was the Indian sex researcher A.P. Pillay, who edited the International Journal of Sexology from 1947 to 1955, a successor to an earlier journal he had started entitled Marriage Hygiene. Various birth control organizations, both national and international, continued to exist, as well as a few organizations of homosexuals that tried to disseminate information about homosexuality and lesbianism as well as serve as social organizations.

The next major organizing effort came from the Americans. In one sense, the first organization was the National Council of Family Relations, organized in 1939, which began publishing a journal, Living, later known as the Journal of Marriage and the Family. Since courtship and sex within marriage were regarded as significant to the study of the family, some aspects of sexual behavior were discussed at society meetings, and studies were published in the journals. Sex research itself had been a major interest of the Rockefeller Foundation, which financed studies by the National Research Council from the 1920s to the 1950s, but most of the scientists involved had preferred to work within their own disciplines and specialties and had discouraged the development of any interdisciplinary group.

The person who took the initial step to organize the disparate groups doing research was Albert Ellis, who formulated the name the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (SSSS) in 1950, but his efforts to organize a society failed, in part due to the opposition of Alfred Kinsey. Whether Kinsey was fearful that such an organization might compete for funds with his own research institute, as some have said, or whether, having studied the history of the European groups, he was fearful of having sex researchers involved in campaigning for sexual reforms and thus endangering his funds, is not clear.

Picking up the effort of Albert Ellis was Hans Lehfeldt, who had been encouraged by his friend Norman Haire, shortly before Haire's death, to contact Albert Ellis and Henry Guze about the establishment of some sort of sexological group in the United States. In 1957, the three of them joined with Robert Sherwin, a lawyer, and Hugo Beigel, a psychologist, to lay the groundwork for a society. Harry Benjamin lent his support to the group but did not take an active role in planning programs. Ultimately, some 47 professionals were found willing to be listed as charter members, and the society held its first conference on Saturday, November 8,1958. It was not until 1960, however, that the Society got around to electing officers, with Albert Ellis as first president, and it was not until 1965 that the SSSS was formally incorporated in New York State. Still, the group dates its official organization from 1958. In 1965, the same year it was incorporated, the Society began publishing the Journal for Sex Research, which remains the oldest existing publication of any group of organized sexual professionals. It was under the leadership of the SSSS, particularly during the tenure of Jack Lippes in the early 1970s, that the groundwork was laid for the revival of the kind of international sexological conferences held in the 1920s and early 1930s. The World Congress of Sexology met in Paris in 1974, and this was followed by a second meeting, in Montreal, in 1976. Out of this came the World Association of Sexology.

Members of the SSSS were also instrumental in founding the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States in 1964. The organization grew out of informational discussions between Lester Kirkendall and Mary Calderone about the need to disseminate information on sex education more effectively. Both organizations continue to cooperate.

Differing fundamentally from the SSSS in its mission was the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), organized in 1967, largely through the effort of Pat Schiller. Giving impetus to it was the growing field of sex therapy, growing out of the research of William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Many individuals claimed to be sex therapists, but since there was little state regulation, almost anyone could set himself or herself up in business. AASECT offered certification to those sex therapists who met the standards it set, and it helped raise the level of sex therapy in the country. The SSSS, after considerable debate, had decided not to offer certification, and this meant that for many years AASECT was the only certifying body. Other organizations also emerged, including the American College of Sexologists, which offered certification, and for a time there was considerable rivalry between the groups; SSSS and AASECT often work together, however, as does the American College. AASECT began publishing the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy in 1974.

Still another journal appeared in 1971, the Archives of Sexual Behavior, published by Plenum Press, and it has become the journal of the International Academy of Sex Research, an interdisciplinary research group founded at about the same time.

There are also separate organizations of sexologists in Canada, Great Britain, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and many other countries, organizations which are affiliated with the World Congress; many of them publish journals. There are also many specialized sexological organizations, such as Sex Therapy and Research (STAR), as well as subsections of sex researchers within such groups as the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Psychological Association. There are also a number of regional organizations which have no affiliation with any national groups.

Many of the groups and organizations have different agendas, and though there is some cooperation between SSSS, SIECUS, AASECT, and STAR, many of the others operate independently. There are also special interest groups, such as those studying AIDS, homosexuality, gender dysphoria, and so forth.


Bullough, V.L. The Society for the Scientific Study of Sex: A Brief History. Mt. Vernon, Iowa: SSSS, 1989.

Vern L. Bullough


Alfred Kinsey and his associates defined sexual climax, or orgasm, as an explosive discharge of neuromuscular tensions at the peak of sexual response. Most authorities attribute it to a reflex, but some focus on the subjective perception of activity in specific genital muscles and organs. After conducting extensive interviews with researchers studying the physiological components of orgasm, Gallager indicated that the consensus focuses on the involuntary response. The stimulus is usually thought to be physical, although recent research demonstrates that imagery is an adequate eliciting stimulus.

On the basis of the results of the research of others as well as their own findings, Komisaruk and Whipple have defined orgasm as the peak intensity of excitation generated by stimulation from visceral and somatic sensory receptors and cognitive processes, followed by a release and resolution of excitation. Under this definition, orgasm is characteristic of, but not restricted to the genital system.

There was little research concerning the physiology of orgasm until the pioneering work of Masters and Johnson, published in the 1960s. They reported that two major alterations in the genital organs—vasocongestion (engorgement with blood) and myotonia (muscle tension)—were the cause of orgasm. The response to these stimuli was specifically focused in the pelvic area, but there was also a total body response.

Orgasm for the male included contractions, beginning with the testes and continuing through the epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles, prostate gland, urethra, penis, and anal sphincter; three or four powerful ejaculatory contractions at 0.8-second intervals, followed by two to four slower contractions; testes at their maximum elevation; sex flush at its peak; heart and respiratory rates at a maximum; general loss of voluntary muscle or motor control; and, in some instances, vocalization. For the female, strong muscle contraction started in the outer third of the vaginal barrel, with the first contraction lasting for two to four seconds and later contractions occurring at 0.8-second intervals; slight expansion of the inner two-thirds of the vagina; contraction of the uterus; peak intensity and distribution of the sex flush; frequently strong muscular contractions in many parts of the body; possible doubling of respiratory rate and heart rate; blood-pressure elevation to as much as a third above normal; and vocalization in some instances.

Masters and Johnson concluded that there were two major differences between the sexual responses of men and women: only men could ejaculate, and only women could have a series of orgasms in a short period. Subsequent findings by Hartman and Fithian have shown that men are capable of multiple orgasms, and research by Beverly Whipple and others has indicated that some women ejaculate a fluid from their urethra at orgasm. However, for the most part, later research has supported and expanded the findings of Masters and Johnson.

According to Mould, the clonic contractions of pelvic and abdominal muscle groups that characterize orgasm are initiated by a spinal reflex. Sherfey has proposed that the orgasmic response is initiated by the firing of stretch receptors in the pelvic muscles. Pelvic engorgement stretches the receptors, which, when reaching a certain point, initiate the spinal reflex.

Hartman and Fithian question the necessity of myotonia (muscle tension). They found that though myotonia was involved in the majority of their subjects, some individuals easily had orgasm without any signs of myotonia.

In a study of the orgasmic response among 751 volunteer research subjects, Hartman and Fithian found that male and female orgasmic patterns are undifferentiated within the orgasmic parameters measured. However, response patterns in individual subjects were individualized. Everyone had their own pattern. In a group of records that included several of the same subject, the records could be pulled out without looking at the name. Of all the parameters studied, the widest variation between people occurred in the cardiovascular functions.

Orgasm in both men and women consists of rhythmic muscular contractions that affect all the sexual organs and the whole body. A few people report spastic contractions of the voluntary muscles of the hands and feet. The respiratory rate may increase to 40 per minute, and pulse rates may increase to 110 to 180 beats per minute. The systolic blood pressure may be elevated 30 to 80 mm Hg. A sex flush, which parallels the intensity of orgasm, is present in about 75 percent of women and 25 percent of men. Extra heart beats and skipped beats are not uncommon in the sexual-response cycle of healthy people during sexual arousal or response. They are much more extensive in those who are not in good physical condition.

The length of an orgasm is variable. Male orgasm usually lasts about 10 to 13 seconds. Bohlen reported muscle contractions during female orgasm lasting between 13 and 51 seconds, although the same women reported their subjective perceptions that orgasm lasted between 7 and 107 seconds.

Ejaculation in men occurs in two stages, both of which involve contraction of the muscles associated with the internal sex organs. During the first stage of emission, sperm and fluid are expelled from the vas deferens, seminal vesicles, and prostate gland into the base of the urethra near the prostate. As the fluid collects, there is a consciousness of imminent ejaculation. During the ejaculation stage, the seminal fluid is propelled by the muscular contractions of orgasm into the portion of the urethra within the penis and then expelled from the urethra! opening.

Many people cannot tell if their partner is having orgasm, and both men and women have admitted to faking orgasm. Some women expel fluid at orgasm. This is because lubrication may pool in the back of the vagina and be expelled by the contractions at orgasm, or they may ejaculate from the urethra. In laboratory experiments, some women may need to stimulate themselves for an hour or more before reaching orgasm, but generally, with experience, the time grows shorter. The shortest time for a woman to reach orgasm recorded in the research laboratory is 15 seconds, but this, it should be emphasized, is rare. The average time for most women to reach orgasm in the laboratory is 20 minutes.

Women have reported a variety of orgasmic experiences. Some women have sequential orgasms, a series of orgasms with short breaks in between; others have multiple orgasms with no break in between while stimulation is continued. Women make subjective distinctions between orgasms resulting from stimulation of different areas of their body. A vaginally induced orgasm is described as feeling more internal and deeper than an orgasm resulting from clitoral stimulation. The Singers described three types of female orgasm. They called the orgasm described by Masters and Johnson a vulval orgasm because it was characterized by involuntary rhythmic contractions of the vaginal entrance and was produced by clitoral stimulation. The second kind, the uterine orgasm, results from vaginal stimulation. This type of orgasm appears very similar to the orgasm triggered by stimulation of the Graefenberg spot, a sensitive area felt through the anterior wall of the vagina. The Singers' third type of orgasm, the blended orgasm, is a combination of the vulval and uterine orgasm, usually resulting from stimulation of the clitoris and the vagina.

For most men, orgasm remains concentrated in the genital region. Many men ejaculate rapidly. This is the norm since Kinsey reported that three-quarters of all males reach orgasm within two minutes of the beginning of sexual intercourse. The problem is that this does not give most women enough time to reach orgasm. Men, however, can learn to delay orgasm.

Bohlen found little correlation between perception of orgasm and the physiological parameters measured in the laboratory. The reported intensity of orgasm did not correlate with increases in physiological parameters. This means that pleasure may not be correlated positively with changes in autonomic activity. He monitored women in the laboratory who reported that they experienced orgasms but experienced no contractions. Whipple and colleagues also reported that in their laboratory, some of the women who had orgasm from imagery appeared to be lying still. It may be that these women have isometric skeletal muscular tension during orgasm, or muscle contractions may not be necessary for orgasm to occur.

Similarly, Hartman and Fithian monitored a group of 20 female therapy clients who claimed they were not orgasmic. Three-fourths were found to be undergoing the physiological responses associated with orgasm. Once the women had these changes identified for them as equivalent to an orgasm, all but one were able to identify it for themselves the next time they were monitored. Many had read extensively on orgasm, and they perceived their response to be different from what they believed the literature reported; their preconceived notions about orgasm did not fit the reality.

Orgasm has been reported to occur in response to imagery in the absence of any physical stimulation. Whipple and colleagues compared orgasms from self-induced imagery and from genital self-stimulation. Each generated significant increases over resting control conditions in systolic blood pressure, heart rate, pupil diameter, and pain thresholds. Additionally, the increases in the self-induced-imagery orgasm were comparable in magnitude to those in the genital-self-stimulation-produced orgasm. On the basis of this study, it appears that physical genital stimulation is not necessary to produce a state that is reported to be an orgasm.

Not everyone has an orgasm. It has been estimated that about one-third of women do not have orgasm at all, one-third have orgasm part of the time, and one-third fairly consistently have orgasm. Some men who can have an orgasm through masturbation have difficulty in heterosexual intercourse. One reason might be that they use heavy pressure in masturbating, far stronger than the pressure of vaginal intercourse. Until they learn to have orgasm with lighter pressure, they typically have problems in ejaculating or having orgasm during coitus.

There are other factors related to a lack of orgasm. Some of these are stress, anxiety, anger, fear of loss of control, medication, fatigue, and time pressure. Anger in some individuals can result in such strong emotional feelings against their partners that it inhibits orgasm, while in others it can provide the stimulation that produces arousal. This is why some couples fight and then have sex. For them, the fighting acts as an erotic stimulus. If they seek therapy to end the fighting, they may end their marriage unless they develop other methods of erotic stimuli to replace the fighting they have given up.

Erotic stimulation, in various forms, including overall body stroking, caressing, and fondling, is an important part of lovemaking activity. It produces the engorgement in the vascular tissue of the vagina and the penis. This results in erection in the male and the sweating effect that produces vaginal lubrication in the female. The engorgement also often masks areas that are painful or uncomfortable in the vagina. Where there is insufficient engorgement and lubrication, there may be abrasion from the penile thrusting, pain, or discomfort where the stimulation is of areas that are uncomfortable in an unengorged state.

Large numbers of women who have orgasm do so with manual or oral stimulation or masturbation. Many couples do not have intercourse with sufficient frequency, or do not take enough time, for the women to learn to have orgasm through intercourse.

Orgasm, in a sense, is a learned behavior, and it is learned by trying different activities. Masturbation is the easiest way to learn. Orgasm with intercourse does not feel the same as it does with masturbation, since different areas are usually being stimulated. Actually, orgasm can be elicited from various parts of the body and even by imagery alone. Such orgasms can also produce a pelvic response. The most nerve endings tend Co exist in the clitoris in women and the penis in males, although about 10 percent of women have more nerve endings in the labia than in the clitoris. Subjects have been seen to have orgasm in a back caress, as well as through stimulation of other parts of their body. That is why it is suggested that a total body caress be done as a part of erotic stimulation to enhance the probability of response.

There is a hormonal connection between the vagina and breast in the female. Oxytocin (the hormone that triggers the breast milk reflex in women) is released at orgasm. If she is a nursing mother, she may exude milk from her nipples, while even nonnursing mothers may see a drop of fluid on their nipples. Nursing itself has been reported to give genital sensations of pleasure and even orgasm in some women.

When asked to describe an orgasm, most people will smile and say it's like an expulsion, like paradise, like a release, like a volcano, or like a big shiver. People can describe what an orgasm is like, but they cannot say what it is. The scientific explanations for orgasm have clarified the process somewhat, and contemporary researchers are studying the neurophysiology of orgasm and the role of hormones in orgasm, as well as determining the areas of the brain involved in orgasm. Perhaps in future editions we will be able to answer further the question as to what orgasm is.


Alzate, H., and B. Useche. Heart Rate Change as Evidence for Vaginally Elicited Orgasm and Orgasm Intensity. Annual Review of Sex Research, Vol. 2 (1991), pp. 345-57.

Barback, L. For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality. New York: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1976.

Bohlen, J.G. State of the Science of Sexual Physiology Research. In C.M. Davis, ed., Challenge in Sexual Science. Philadelphia: SSSS, 1983.

Fisher, S. The Female Orgasm. New York: Basic Books, 1973.

Fox, C.A., H.S. Wolff, and J.A. Baker. Measurement of Intra-Vaginal Intra-Uterine Pressure During Human Coitus by Radio Telemetry. Journal of Reproductive Fertility, Vol. 22 (1970), pp. 243-51.

Gallager, W. The Etiology of Orgasm. Discover (1986), pp. 51-59.

Graber, B. Circumvaginal Musculature and Orgasm: Concluding Remarks. In B. Graber, ed., Circumvaginal Musculature and Sexual Function. New York: Karger, 1982.

Heiman, J., L. LoPiccolo, and J. LoPiccolo. Becoming Orgasmic: A Sexual Program for Women. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1976.

Komisaruk, B.R., and B. Whipple. Physiological Perceptual Correlates of Orgasm Produced by Genital and Non-Genital Stimulation. In P. Kothari, ed., Proceedings of the First International Conference on Orgasm. Bombay, India: VRP, 1991.

Ladas, A.K., B. Whipple, and J.D. Perry. The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1982.

Lowry, T.P., and T.S. Lowry. The Clitoris. St. Louis: Green, 1976.

Masters, W.H., and V.E. Johnson. Human Sexual Response. Boston: Little, Brown, 1966.

Mould, D. Neuromuscular Aspects of Women's Orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 16 (1980), pp. 193-201.

Perry, J.D., and B. Whipple. Pelvic Muscle Strength of Female Ejaculators: Evidence in Support of a New Theory of Orgasm. Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 17 (1981), pp. 22-39.

Sherfey, M.J. The Nature and Evolution of Female Sexuality. New York: Random House, 1972.

Singer, J., and I. Singer. Types of Female Orgasm. In J. LoPiccolo and L. LoPiccolo, eds., Handbook of Sex Therapy. New York: Plenum Press, 1978.

Vance, E.B., and N.N. Wagner. Written Descriptions of Orgasm: A Study of Sex Differences. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 5 (1976), pp. 87-98.

Whipple, B., G. Ogden, and B.R. Komisaruk. Physiological Correlates of Imagery Induced Orgasm in Women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 21 (1992), pp. 121-33.

Beverly Whipple
William E. Hartman
Marilyn A. Fithian



Multiple female orgasms
Strengthening vaginal muscles, tightening the vagina
Erectile problems

There are ways to obtain increased sexual gratification that seem to be best known in some non-Western cultures. During health-related research in Africa, especially after the onset of the AIDS pandemic, it was found that very many people still resisted the use of condoms because it reduces the enjoyment of sex to such an extent that they choose to take the risk of infection rather than diminish the enjoyment of sexual intercourse. It was then possible to record aspects of their sexual practices insufficiently treated in sex manuals or more scientific books on sex.

Pompoirhow a woman can increase sexual gratification for a man.

The author of the sex manual The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort, complains that no one has explained the technique called “pompoir” (i.e., “pumping”; others call it “suction”, “sucking”, or “milking”; it is pronounced pompwahr), although several authors have mentioned that it is the greatest sex technique of them all – for men. He writes: By means of this technique, a woman “can bring the man off with her vaginal muscles alone while keeping the rest of her still… How exactly they learn this has never been written down, unfortunately, and the first person to teach this properly to women who don’t have a natural knack will make a fortune… The best … accomplishment, the full pompoir … unfortunately isn’t taught in the texts…”

This technique has been (orally) described by many people in Ethiopia, where it is widespread in the western province of Gojjam, which is near the main tributary of the Nile. Whether the technique came to Ethiopia from Egypt, or it went in the other direction (there have been close ties between these countries for millennia), or if it was discovered in both countries independently of each other, is not known. There is agreement among those who know it, or have experienced it, that this greatly enhances the enjoyment of sex, but only for men.

According to Sir Richard Burton, the 19th century explorer, the pompoir is known from a few areas of Africa (Ethiopia and Egypt) and Asia (India), and according to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis, to some extent also in Latin America. Its occurrence seems not to have been (widely) reported (if at all) from Europe or North America. Perhaps this indicates that the technique has been cultivated mostly where women have had less freedom and been most eager (or forced) to please (perhaps in order to keep) their men.

The pompoir can give the man such delight that it borders on pain – depending on the strength of the woman’s inner vaginal constrictor muscles, so that he may howl with pleasure; but it also has the effect that he wants to repeat the sex act soon afterwards. It all depends on the woman’s control of the muscles in her inner vagina and how they grasp the glans, the tip or head of the penis. She can best learn it in cooperation with the man, although in some cultures this knowledge is passed on from woman to woman. He can tell her when she does it right, and thus she can learn the technique to perfection, but it may take some time, perhaps months, before she is in full control of her vaginal muscles.

To make her aware of the muscles that she has to control in order to achieve the pompoir, she can cough, or laugh heartily, or perhaps talk vividly, at the start of, or during, intercourse, and the man will then feel a slight contraction of the relevant muscles. Then she can gradually learn to control and contract these muscles more strongly with an effort of her will – without coughing or laughing or talking – with some guidance from the man: he can tell her what to do and when she does it right. In the end, she learns to contract and relax the muscles in very rapid succession, about twice as fast as the heartbeat – that is why the technique has got the name “pompoir”: it gives the impression that she is “pumping” or “milking” the man.

In this way the woman can also help the man to ejaculate in case he should have difficulties doing so; or she can make him ejaculate exactly when she reaches climax, in case this happens before the man would otherwise do so. Men who tend to climax early should practise retaining ejaculation so that he does not “come” before the woman. In case the man does climax before the woman, she can also then increase his enjoyment of the orgasm by this technique. If they have sex more frequently, it may help him to “stay” longer, until she also is satisfied. There are many reports that women reach climax only in about 30% of the times they have sex. Therefore it is important to find positions that help the man to relax so that he does not use too much energy; otherwise he may not have enough “staying power”.

In a book from the Second World War called A Farewell to France, by Noel Barber, a variation – and another possible use – of this technique is described. It is explained that for generations Jewish women in Alexandria (perhaps inheriting the technique from “native” Egyptian women – or from Ethiopia?) used to be trained to practise the technique of pompoir for the greater pleasure of men by constricting the inner vaginal muscles in rapid succession. (Since so many mighty men were enticed by Cleopatra of Egypt – including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, who both had children by her – it is not unlikely that it was her mastery of this technique that kept them in thrall.) However, it may be inferred from what Barber writes that it is possible to extend the technique so that it can even become a natural means of contraception. She does this by constricting the inner vaginal muscles very strongly over the man’s glans, and keeping the muscles tight when he is about to “come”. By thus squeezing these muscles very closely at the moment of expected ejaculation, the semen can be kept back, so that it does not enter the woman. (As this is a natural and not an artificial method of contraception, it is perhaps a point worth considering also for those who are discouraged from, or who are themselves against, using artificial means of contraception.) It is also possible to tighten the muscles when the man is about to “come” in order to keep the semen back for a while, and then release them soon after and go on to “pump” or “milk” him, thus prolonging his pleasure and letting him “come” in one powerful orgasm.

In chapter 13 of that book, it is told that “Egyptian Jewish girls are very special”, because “from the moment we start to menstruate” they “are taught muscle control in order to please their husbands” by sitting “with my legs as wide apart as I could, and exercise”. (This way of mastering the technique may not be usual elsewhere, probably because in this case virgins are being taught, whereas otherwise a husband or lover teaches the technique to his wife or partner during sex acts.) And “in the end my muscles there were so strong I could control them”. The result was that she could grip the man’s organ at will, and make him “want to scream with the excitement of making it last for ever while at the same time wanting to reach a climax”. This variant way of mastering the pompoir may be harder to achieve than what is described above, which is probably the more common way to learn it.

As this technique is for the special enjoyment of men (“Her husband will then value her above all women”, Sir Richard Burton wrote), it is only fair to mention a technique that can enhance women’s enjoyment considerably – or tremendously. Whereas the technique of pompoir is mentioned by several authors (but not properly explained, at least not how to learn and achieve it), it is almost impossible to find any mention or description in any sex manual of the technique of giving women multiple orgasms. It may be a well-kept secret among a few who may not have wanted to divulge it, so as to make them feel “special”. However, clinical research by the gynaecologist William H. Masters and the psychologist Virginia E. Johnson identified female responses to stimuli that might have led them to insights about this technique, but seemingly that did not happen.

Multiple female orgasms  how a man can increase sexual gratification for a woman.

In no case is it more important to have a relaxed position during intercourse than in what is described here. It all depends on the man’s ability to prolong intercourse for a rather long time without climaxing/ejaculating. One such position is for the man to lie on his left side, with the woman on her back and with the man at her right side, he putting his legs under her right thigh and gently clasping her left thigh between his thighs, or raising his right leg to her hip. This is called the scissors position. Penetration can in this way be deeper than ever; but it is important that he does not “work” too hard, or move too energetically, too fast – he must not create too much friction for his organ. It may be helpful to move slowly and perhaps stop moving completely for a while if the excitement becomes too great for him to control. This slowing down may help him to contain the semen. He should not become too excited too soon. Little by little – but perhaps after quite some time, say 20 or 30 minutes – the glans, the tip of the penis, becomes a bit numb, and he can move more freely without ejaculating. Some women need longer time than others before they climax, and this technique may then be a help for such women to experience orgasm at all. But the point here is multiple female orgasms.

When the woman is nearing her climax, it is tempting for the man to increase the tempo so that both climax simultaneously; and if that is what is wanted (which is mostly the case), well and good. That is, by the way, also the optimal way and time for impregnation, as muscles around the opening to the womb (the cervix) suck in semen (if there is any) when the woman climaxes, and during the most fertile period that also makes the conception of a son most likely, as the seed for males swims faster, whereas semen for females lives longer, and sex a short while prior to the fertile period (and not during this period) is therefore more likely to produce a girl, according to the sexologists William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. To increase the chances of conception, it is recommended to have sex not oftener than every second day during the fertile period, or just before it if the couple aims for a girl; this is to ensure a fuller amount of semen. Otherwise, frequency is irrelevant and should be decided by the preference of the couple.

As women experience much fewer orgasms than men (about 30%, research shows), it may be fine to give them a treat – by the method described below. However, this should not be done every time the partners have sex, as the man may experience a less intense orgasm after prolonged intercourse than he otherwise would, and if the woman demands such long-lasting intercourse each time, he may become exhausted and stop enjoying sex. Once a week – perhaps a weekend treat – should be enough, if the couple has sex a few times a week.

To obtain multiple orgasms for the woman during a single act of intercourse, the man must be able to hold back and not climax when the woman does – she must be allowed to climax, whereas he must hold back. If he is not normally able to contain or control himself, more frequent sex may help; and mental concentration on other things than sex during the intercourse, especially if he gets too excited, may help him to contain or delay his orgasm. He can for example think of her as an instrument he is playing in order to enchant her. He may also stop moving for a time if he gets too excited. The woman must not apply the technique of pompoir during intercourse of this kind, except at the very end of the session, when she is completely satisfied and wants it to end – or when he wants to climax. This is how it works.

A very short time after the woman has experienced orgasm (not more than a few seconds after that has happened), the man should stop moving. Then he will (mostly) feel that the vaginal muscles soon start, somewhat spasmodically, to contract by themselves. This means that they are on their way to a normal relaxed state, as happens after each case of normal intercourse when/if she has climaxed. But after this inside (automatic and involuntary) muscular movement has been going on for a few seconds, the muscles stop moving, and after such a pause of a few seconds (sometimes called the “plateau phase”), they start moving again, and then they reach a state of complete relaxation and rest. If the man then starts moving again (or continues moving without a break after she has climaxed), the woman is likely to experience nothing but pain or irritation (and no second orgasm). It is not advisable – it is, rather, to be discouraged.

However, if the man learns to notice these internal processes and the pause of a few seconds (the plateau phase) in the middle of these contracting vaginal movements, he can start moving as in normal intercourse again a very few – only a couple of – seconds after the beginning of this pause, but before it is over. Then the woman’s vaginal muscular movements will stop (not resume), and instead of them proceeding towards total relaxation, she will experience new excitement and move towards a second orgasm.

This can be repeated many times over, and instead of the man’s one final (postponed) orgasm, she can have (almost?) as many as she wants, as long as the man is able to retain his ejaculation (5, 10, 15, 20 orgasms or more for the woman during one intercourse – practice makes master, and the longer it lasts, the easier it is to go on, due to a slightly increasing numbness of the glans).

One more point may be noted: a woman’s first, third, fifth, seventh, etc. (odd number) orgasm tends to be much stronger than her second, fourth, sixth, etc. (even number). It may therefore be recommended to end the intercourse after her first, third, fifth, etc. orgasm, so as to make her look forward to the next session with greater anticipation. But the precise timing of his own orgasm may not be easy for the man in this case: if the intercourse has gone on for a long time (an hour or more), the glans may have become so numb that the man cannot determine exactly when he wants to climax – he may need some extra time to achieve that; but if the woman applies the technique of pompoir, it may help him to climax, either when she wants him to, or when he says he wants to. If the intercourse lasts very long, the man may even find that his glans has become so numb that he cannot climax at all. In that case, he may wish to repeat the sex act later, but this time it must be simple, straightforward intercourse where he is allowed to go right on to experience orgasm, preferably of course at the same time as the woman, who should now be satisfied even if she this time experiences only one orgasm. The next great exhilaration – a session with multiple orgasms – can wait until another time. A woman may learn to increase male gratification by the technique of pompoir.

It should also be noted that in some women, the vaginal constrictor muscles are so lax or weak that the man feels none of the vaginal contractions. They may even be so lax that he feels so little friction that he has a hard time getting an orgasm at all. Plural orgasms for such women cannot be easily achieved, if at all, and in such cases the man may have none at all, or very seldom.

Strengthening vaginal muscles, tightening the vagina

Some women have such lax vaginal muscles that both the man and the woman feel very little friction during intercourse, in some cases so little that it may be hard for any of them to experience orgasm, not to mention multiple orgasms for the woman, and it may be impossible for her to achieve sufficient control of the vaginal muscles to learn the technique of pompoir for increased male gratification. In the West, some women even undergo surgery to improve their physique in this respect. But other women (for example in eastern Africa) have found natural means to deal with this problem.

If the woman cleans or wipes the inside of her vagina before intercourse, using a cloth or paper tissue (dry or humid), the vaginal muscles will contract so that her vagina becomes tighter – narrower and shorter – and the friction during intercourse will increase. This makes it easier for both partners to climax. The muscles may become so firm that it is now easy, or easier, to notice the contractions after her climax, and therefore it is also possible for her to experience many orgasms during one intercourse, if the man is able to contain his excitement and can stay for quite some time without ejaculating; and she may be able to learn the technique of pompoir.

On the other hand, if the vaginal muscles are already tight and strong, this procedure may make them too tight, and it may be harder for the man to keep his semen, and he may climax earlier than he otherwise would. Then it would also become hard, or impossible, to let the woman experience multiple orgasms. This should therefore not be done by women whose vagina is already normally tight.  Practice may also here help a couple to adapt to each other’s needs or wishes.


Some cultures (for example in eastern Africa) teach their girls or young women a method to increase the size (bulge, swelling) of their labia majora and the pubic area (tumescence) in natural ways. This is done by stimulating and pulling at the labia majora and the pubic hair repeatedly and frequently during puberty, in preparation for marriage. However, this has primarily aesthetic value, although it may be exciting for men, and thus it may be helpful if such stimuli are needed, It should also make it unnecessary to undergo surgery, which some resort to, in order to achieve the same effect.

Some people (for example in present-day Ethiopia and among the mediaeval Maya of Yucatan) have had the custom of stroking and pressing the heads of babies and young children in order to give them the desired and (to them) aesthetically pleasing form. It seems possible to shape heads in this way (the typical flattened forehead of Maya chiefs, known from clay representations, shows this). Whether tumescence can be increased by the method described above on females that are no longer very young is hard to ascertain; but as it has been practised and kept in vogue for generations, experience may have shown that it works.

Erectile problems

It is becoming increasingly common that couples may be separated from each other for periods of a month or more for various reasons (work, sickness, etc.). During this time, a man may have strong unsatisfied sexual desires. However, after a few weeks (up to a month, but often less), the sperm is absorbed by the body, and the desire is reduced. This also gives a signal to the body that the partner is not available. When the couple then comes together again, they may desire each other strongly; but the man may be unable to have sex as normal. The woman may then suspect that he has had other partners in his or her absence. However, the opposite is more likely. If he had been unfaithful, he would have been able to react normally and have sex with his partner. It is the prolonged abstinence – with the absorption of the sperm by the body – that has made intercourse difficult, and he may need extra stimulation by the woman in order to restore normal relations. Otherwise, he may even feel inadequate, and this has the psychological effect that the resumption of normal relations may even be further and unnecessarily delayed. It may even spoil the atmosphere between the two. Proper understanding of the biological processes involved in this, may make it easier for both to react intelligently to situation, and they may be better able to overcome obstacles set by nature.

Another matter altogether is it when a man fails to have an erection at all together with a certain woman (or certain women) he is strongly attached to and in love with, while still being able to have normal sexual responses towards other women. There seems to be little help to be obtained in order to correct such a situation. If this is discovered only after marriage, it is a tragedy.


Reidulf Molvaer, Two Making One: Amor and Eros in tandem, New York 2009

Reidulf Molvaer

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