Good sex can come down to good communication — how well you and your partner can articulate your needs and desires. Often, however, women just don’t have the words to describe what they enjoy, or don’t have enough experience to suggest other techniques. In order to facilitate sexual intimacy dialogue, a study published April 14, 2021, in PLoS One reported on a national survey conducted by the University of Indiana in concert with the OMGYES Research Group/For Goodness Sake that looked at the sexual experiences of thousands of American women to find out what made vaginal penetration more pleasurable for them.
Four Ways to Achieve Heightened Sexual Arousal
After analyzing the results from an international qualitative study, the researchers, Devon J. Hensel, PhD, an associate research professor at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and Christiana von Hippel, ScD, an OMGYES research scientist, found a recurring pattern of four specific techniques that never really had words to describe them before. The team then looked closer into these four techniques using a cross-sectional, online, national probability survey of 3,017 American women ages 18–93.
“We took this deeper dive into the patterns to find out the percentage of women who used each technique during vaginal penetration and then looked at how those specific techniques impacted their pleasure,” says Dr. von Hippel. In other words, they looked at the specific sexual moves and methods that turned them on.
The researchers gave terms for each of these sexual methods to help women identify and communicate what feels best to them.
- Angling Rotating, raising, or lowering pelvis and hips during penetration to adjust where inside the vagina the toy or penis rubs; 87 percent of respondents used this method.
- Pairing A woman or her partner stimulates her clitoris with a finger or sex toy simultaneously with penetration. (69 percent)
- Rocking The base of a penis or sex toy rubs against the clitoris constantly during penetration by staying all the way inside the vagina rather than thrusting in and out. Usually used when the woman is on top. One of the respondents explained its allure: “We had to ‘unlearn’ the fast-pumping motions we had seen in porn. And we’re both much happier with our new ways.” (76 percent)
- Shallowing Penetrative touch just inside the entrance of the vagina. Another respondent said, “I think this area is really underrated. I can have really amazing sex with penetration just going in an inch and never further.” (84 percent)
Using Language for Sexual Techniques Is Powerful
“I think naming pleasure and pleasure techniques are specifically empowering and usable, so women can feel comfortable and confident using them with partners. They are also important for when women discuss their sex lives with friends, such as ‘I like this, why don’t you try that?’ To be able to specifically describe what they like and to be able to ask for it is incredibly empowering and helps women to feel like their voices are heard. There is also a normalizing effect as well when they realize that what they like is a pattern that’s shared by lots of women,” says von Hippel.
Dr. von Hippel adds that having language also allows women to be flexible and describe what they want at the moment. “What you enjoy can change in the middle of a sexual experience, and it can change over your life. Having this large menu or repertoire of words and techniques that you can pull from is great, because then it’s also not a question of “I am a woman who likes x.’ It might be ‘I am a woman who loves pairing in this context and shallowing in this context and angling at this age.’ Women can feel confident to communicate and mix and match.”
A Step Forward in Sexual Pleasure Education for Women
When Lou Paget, an American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists certified sex educator, heard of this new study her first response was, “Finally! It’s about time!”
Paget went on to explain, “I have been hearing women describe this stuff in my seminars for years but there really hasn’t been any guidance on how you do it. The main reason for that is because so much of the research work has always focused on the penile, vaginal, and men’s response.”
Partners Can Learn About Pleasuring Others, Too
Paget also points out that the top question most men ask her is: How can he make things more pleasurable for his partner? “Men are so hungry for what they can do to make a partner feel good. They enjoy it more if she enjoys it more. Having language that can quickly describe what she likes is empowering to them as well,” says Paget, who is also the author of five books on sexuality, including Orgasms.
Clitoral Stimulation Is Key
Paget notes that all four techniques are connected to stimulating the clitoris at the same time. “This should not be any shock to any woman. For most, it isn’t the vaginal penetration that’s the most satisfying. That may feel good for feeling filled and connected to a partner. But it’s the shallowing, the rocking; those are all things that women have been doing for forever, that really bring women extreme pleasure,” she points out.
Again, this is important for men to know as well. “They have been fed misinformation from society at large and from watching unrealistic porn, where the women are usually deriving all their pleasure from penetration. Men need to learn the importance of clitoral stimulation as well,” she adds.
Experiment With Sex Toys That Work With Specific Techniques
When you figure out what you like, sex toys can help you get there either alone or with a partner. Tatyana Dyachenko, a sex coach with the online sex shop Peaches and Screams, reveals what types of toys work best with each technique.
For angling Sex swings allow the woman to rotate, raise, or lower her pelvis on the penetration item to allow for maximum pleasure.
For pairing A silicone mini finger vibrator stimulates your clitoris during penetration; a strap-on face dildo allows your partner to penetrate you while also using their tongue to stimulate the clitoris.
For rocking A raised ribbed “cock” sleeve with a clitoral stimulator and vibrator works for both parties: It helps thicken and support the penis for more firm erections, and the female partner can rub herself against the clitoral stimulator while being penetrated. Or, a vibrating clitoral stimulator delivers direct stimulation.
For shallowing Vibrating balls or eggs are inserted just inside the vagina without the need for deep penetration.