Do your clients believe one type of female orgasm is better than others? This idea is called “orgasm hierarchy” and it’s an important myth to root out when working with clients who are dissatisfied with their sexual experiences. A client may believe they have an orgasm disorder and develop orgasm anxiety as a result, which can make climaxing in any way more difficult. 

As sex coaches, A LOT of the work we do includes education. We hear so many myths, misconceptions, and straight up lies about sex from the people we work with. These incorrect thoughts and beliefs are often at the root of the concerns clients bring to us and some of the time, simple sex education can redirect a client’s mindset and resolve the concern.

One prevalent and sneaky misconception is this idea of an orgasm hierarchy for people with vulvas and clitorises. This belief is perpetuated by the media and internalized by a lot of our clients. The orgasm hierarchy myth suggests that some orgasms are better or more superior to others. 

Here are a few examples of how the orgasm hierarchy can show up:

  • The belief that an orgasm that results from penetration of your partner is more meaningful or special than one resulting from a sex toy used by your partner.
  • The idea that a clitoral orgasm is inferior to a vaginal orgasm.
  • The feeling that using a yoni crystal wand is more “conscious” or enlightened than using a vibrator.

Have you heard any of these statements come up in conversations about sex? Have you thought these very things about your own sexual experiences? Viewing your orgasm as inferior to a different kind of orgasm often leads to shame cycles and feelings of inadequacy in sexual performance.

Where Does the Idea of an Orgasm Hierarchy Come From?

The orgasm hierarchy myth partly comes from Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology. Back in his day, he decided to deem “clitoral orgasms” as “immature” and “vaginal orgasms” as “mature.” His theory was in no way based on evidence or research, and it largely ignores the reality of female anatomy.

The orgasm hierarchy also stems from a culture that lacks adequate and accurate representation of sex. Our clients often grow up with little to no education regarding sex and so their expectations are derived from entertainment that portrays sex as a performance. 

This leads to unrealistic expectations and the orgasm hierarchy belief is born out of feelings of inadequacy. If they aren’t experiencing sex like they see it in porn, they assume something must be wrong with the sex. In reality, it’s their expectations that are off. 

Freud’s strange ideas about sex and the consequences of unrealistic expectations  have crept into our cultural subconscious. Recognizing the presence of this mindset is step one to deconstructing it and eliminating it from our thoughts and sexual goals.

How can we ultimately shift this narrative?

Pleasure Focused vs. Goal-Oriented

We understand now, based on research, that most people with vulvas experience climax via clitoral stimulation. “Most” meaning about 70%. Freud’s model of the female orgasm completely ignores this fact, and perpetuates the idea that orgasms exist within a hierarchy. 

No matter the origin, when we subscribe to this model of the female orgasm, we end up working against our bodies. Often we become perpetually dissatisfied with ourselves because we’re working (and failing) to reach another elusive “goal.” We can develop orgasm anxiety about not achieving what we think we should be striving for.

This kind of sex is not pleasure-focused but goal-focused. 

A goal-oriented model of sexual experiences has us view sex for the sole purpose of reaching a goal, that goal typically being orgasm. And in this, we lose sight of pleasure, which often makes climaxing even more difficult. Truly a vicious cycle!

While there is nothing wrong with a desire to further explore your body, your sexual experiences, your senses, and your orgasms—attempting to force your body to perform in a way that you deem “better” can create a feedback loop of self-dissatisfaction. 

Instead, we can work to explore more avenues of pleasure without applying pressure. In attempting to change your sexual experiences, it’s usually more productive to work with your body, rather than in opposition to it. 

Working with Your Body

A couple explores mindful touch as a way to counter the effects of the orgasm hierarchy myth

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

The trick to breaking this cycle and shifting away from the goal-focused experiences brought on by the orgasm hierarchy can be boiled down to one phrase: focus on pleasure.

One thing I love to remind people is that our bodies don’t like to be told what to do. You can’t force an orgasm, you must allow an orgasm. The following sensation exercise can help your clients practice working with their body:

First, there are many mindfulness practices that can help you get out of your head and drop you more fully into your body. This is key—and after you feel grounded and present, allow all of your senses to open up and expand. 

For this exercise, there will be no sexual contact. You don’t have to completely avoid the genitals but have the predetermined understanding that this activity will not evolve into a sexual experience. 

Wear a blindfold and start with slow (very, very slow) touching with a partner and anchor into the sensations you experience. Explore each other’s bodies with your hands softly and gently. When thoughts of sex inevitably start bubbling up, don’t give them energy. Acknowledge them and then send them on their way.

You’re going into this experience knowing you will not be having sex. This is what will curb the pressure of trying to meet a goal. After about 10-15 minutes of touch, remove the blindfold and check in with how you’re feeling. 

This exercise not only fosters deep intimacy with a partner, but it also gives you a safe container to experience the sensations of your own body. Anchoring into these sensations will help you better access the pleasure of your body in the future. You can invoke memories of this experience when reminding yourself to focus on pleasure during sex with a partner.

I think everybody can agree that orgasms are awesome. So why do so many of us believe the myth of the orgasm hierarchy? It doesn’t matter how a climax happens. And in fact, striving for any type of orgasm is also a goal-oriented approach to sex. The important thing is learning to access and allow the beautiful sensations of pleasure that we get to experience as human beings, however it manifests.

Curious about training to become a Certified Sex Coach? Join the next live Info Session to meet the SCU team and participate in a live Q&A!