21 days to better orgasms
Write erotic stories. Take deep breaths. And don’t make climaxing your goal. Does this 21-day programme hold the secrets to better orgasms? Daisy Buchanan puts it to the test
Daisy Buchanan explores whether you can truly banish your pleasure inhibitions in a new three-week plan
My orgasms are currently a bit like crosscountry car journeys. Sometimes I zoom to the destination and wish I’d given myself a bit more time to look out of the window; occasionally the mental traffic is so bad that I feel like giving up the trip altogether.
On a good week, my husband and I might have sex four times, but when we’re busy we might go for a month where we don’t manage more than a goodnight cuddle. In one way, our sex life is better than ever because we know each other’s bodies so well, but now we’ve been together for five years, I miss the intensity it had at the beginning. I have to make more of an effort to initiate sex because it doesn’t just
happen in the way it used to. Part of me accepts that’s how relationships evolve, but I would love our sex life to be as hot and urgent as it was at the start.
That’s why I’m turning to Dr Andrea Pennington, an orgasm expert and ‘sex educator’. Her theory? When we don’t orgasm we miss out on the chance to develop a good relationship with our partner and with ourselves. “The orgasm is an indicator of empowerment, self-acceptance and self-love, as well as an affirmation of a woman’s right to enjoy pleasure…” Pennington writes. In The Orgasm
Prescription For Women, she recommends we have three a week, and promises to teach me how to “consistently achieve full-body, mind-blowing, soul-stirring orgasms”.
I know I’m lucky to orgasm from clitoral stimulation and intercourse – as many as 80% of women have difficulty orgasming from penetrative sex* – but I’d love to have more control over my orgasms, and I’m hoping to learn how to make them more intense. Plus, Pennington believes, “The benefits [of orgasm] are numerous – stress relief from depression and anxiety, and it’s a pain reliever.”
So, determined to get out of my head and more in touch with my body, I decide to give her programme a go.
WEEK ONE Daily affirmations, deep breathing and savouring pleasure
None of the exercises in the 21-day programme require a partner and the first week focuses on the mind, ‘selfawareness and affirming your right to pleasure’. I need to commit an hour a day, which seems excessive, but I begin with five deep breaths, ‘setting an intention for the day’. (I’m not totally sure what this means. Do I want more orgasms? Better orgasms?) I end the ritual by saying one of the affirmations aloud: “Today I deserve pleasure. I will give myself pleasure.” I feel a bit silly. But, while I usually shower in the morning, I put pleasure first and soak in the tub with my Le Labo oil, which smells of wood smoke and patchouli, and reminds me of kissing at festivals.
The next day there’s more deep breathing, focusing on ‘gratitude’ for how my lungs work. Pennington wants me to ‘eat something delicious, to savour slowly’ with no distractions. I make a brownie last for 20 minutes and
notice the flavours. Unusually, I don’t feel guilty or bloated when I finish. Pennington believes orgasms happen in the brain, so this is about savouring a sensation and noticing the flow of pleasure between body and brain.
Later in the week I have to spend 15 minutes reading erotic literature (I pick Anaïs Nin’s Delta Of Venus) and then, as instructed, touch my body without worrying about having an orgasm. I enjoy stroking my neck and the backs of my thighs, but tense up when I touch my stomach. It’s a “In The Orgasm Prescription For Women, Pennington recommends we have THREE a WEEK” part of my body I feel insecure about and that distracts me. I’m looking at myself with critical eyes instead of thinking about what feels good. Still, that night I sleep deeply.
The next morning I feel calmer and excited enough to initiate sex with my husband (a rare thing on a weekday morning). I’m not sure my orgasm is more intense, but I don’t stop smiling all day and my husband doesn’t seem to mind being late for work for a change.
WEEK TWO The Sensual Full Body Touch ritual
While I’m now thinking about and initiating sex more, I thought my orgasms might be stronger and longer. I’m worried I’m failing somehow. It doesn’t help that today I have to write about what my life would be like if I were ‘fully embracing my right to self-expression’ and the exercise makes me anxious.
I turn a corner on day 12 with the affirmation ‘I know when to take it easy’. The words remind me to relax and focus on being in my body in the moment, not trying to get an A* at the end.
One of my single friends recently complained she hasn’t had an orgasm in months, partly because masturbation feels like one more thing ‘to do’. Our talk makes me think about how sex is sold to us as one more thing to achieve, so I decide to put less pressure on myself.
That day, the ritual is Sensual Full Body Touch – 15 minutes of reading Delta Of Venus, then as much time as I like to touch my body ‘with no goal of reaching orgasm’. Inspired by the erotic literature, I experiment with pressure: instead of touching my breasts like I’m playing James Bond doing a shower scene, I pinch my nipples hard. I find a spot right behind my left knee, and as I stroke it my breaths become short and shallow. I start to touch myself between my legs and even though I wasn’t intending to climax, I do.
I’ve never been so turned on when I’ve been by myself. I’m shocked. This is the orgasm I wanted. I wonder whether the programme has performed its magic or just basic reverse psychology; perhaps the most freeing route to orgasm is being told you don’t need to have one. Ultimately, Pennington makes masturbation seem just as important as sex with a partner – I’m starting to think she might be right.
The next day I tell my husband I want to try not coming, to focus on the way everything else feels. He looks panicked but agrees to try. Every time I come close, he stops and does something else, until I get so turned on that I leap on top of him and climax so loudly I now have to take the stairs every time I see my neighbours in the lift.
WEEK THREE Exploring my erotic fantasies
The programme insists I try writing an erotic story, which would have been daunting two weeks ago, but now I’m inspired to give it a go. I start by writing 500 words about when my husband and I had a carriage to ourselves on the overnight train from Paris to Venice. Pennington talks about the power of fantasy, so my next story is a bit wilder – I’m surprised by a stranger when I’m touching myself in the park.
Thanks to her instructions, my sex drive has rocketed, which is exciting and frustrating – my husband is stunned to find I now want twice as much sex as he does. I think my orgasms are getting longer – when I feel them coming I try to hold back. And the experience has acted as a relationship MOT: my husband and I aren’t just having more sex, but talking more about it and it’s bringing us closer.
The main problem is the programme dominates your day. I don’t know how most women would manage. Pennington says “90% of the orgasm happens in the mind”, but I would have liked more tips about how to explore my body.
Still, thanks to Pennington, I’m making time to masturbate and feel much happier for it. Most importantly? I’ve realised this programme isn’t just about orgasms – it’s about making sure we value ourselves enough to prioritise them. That’s a lesson worth learning.
The Orgasm Prescription For Women by Andrea Pennington (Make Your Mark Global, £13.67)