I hope this is no longer true, but for a good long while, the most common problem heterosexual couples brought to sex therapy clinics was the woman’s inability to have an orgasm while the couple was having sexual intercourse.
I mean, give me a break! Rather, let’s all give these poor couples a break. For one thing, only 20-percent of the more than 19,000 women surveyed for a study done for the book Doing It Down Under, said their last orgasm came during penetration. According to its author, Dr. Juliet Richters, “Most younger women want their partners to slow down and use their hands and mouths more.” But many women are afraid to admit that to their partners, for fear that their partners’ egos will suffer a major blow, and for such silly, but alas, all-too-real, reasons too. One particularly damaging reason is believing in the myth, “If he were a real man, he wouldn’t need his tongue or finger to bring me to orgasm, his penis alone could do it.”
This is one of the few times in my life when I actually feel worse for men than I do for women. Like expecting men to be the only breadwinners in their families, expecting their penises to be the only valid deliverers of orgasm is just too much of a burden to place on one gender. And what is especially painful is that it is that men expect the same things from themselves. A man who thinks his penis “should be enough” to bring a woman to orgasm will, understandably, not be the kind to spend too much time on foreplay. If the woman is honest and says she didn’t reach an orgasm, there will come a time, usually after he has done all he can to get her to have an orgasm, that he will be resentful and, perhaps, even blame her. Let’s face it. Men are human too and thus find it much easier to blame others when finding themselves in situations they don’t like. For example, realizing their partner doesn’t come when they make love.
A woman who feels the same as he—that his penis is all she should need to get an orgasm—will also be affected, usually because she feels she has to lie to protect his ego. And her constant lying just to make him feel better will lead to her equally constant experience of not coming when they make love. While I have yet to meet a woman who resents lovemaking simply because she doesn’t get an orgasm, I have met many who resent the lying they do, “simply to protect his ego,” unaware that they were the original authors of this particular misfortune.
What to do? The best is to be honest with each other, which can be especially tricky if the woman has been lying for far too long to her partner. And yet, if courageous enough to do so, she may discover her partner’s relief because now he can be honest too. And yes, each was lying to the other, but now that neither faults the other for their lovemaking, each can be more generous and take more risks both in and out of bed.
One act of generosity is to take responsibility for one’s own pleasure in bed. For example, instead of lying there like a lump on a log, each can be more proactive or even just more responsive to what their partner is doing. Women are usually accused of this. “Parang bato” (like a stone) is never used to describe a man, for example. And yet, in reality, some men are like this too, especially men who feel making money—tremendous amounts of money—is enough of an aphrodisiac for their partners and it is now their turn to “return the favor.”
Another thing one can do is explore the possibility that a man’s penis may just not be enough to make a woman come. And after accepting that, maybe to explore other ways to achieve female orgasm. Believe me, this sort of exploration is much more fun, “mas magaang,” because then there is no one goal that must be achieved in sex. The only “goal”, if one can call it that, is to have the other all to oneself, skin to skin, and, when one is truly blessed, also soul to soul. And it is in this playful, relaxed, trusting atmosphere, that ironically enough, perhaps, just perhaps, one can actually experience orgasm for both partners during penetration.
Remember Richters’ study for her book, Doing It Down Under? She said that out of more than 19,000 respondents, only one in five had orgasms during vaginal intercourse. But there is good news! The “average” average is a little higher than that at 25-percent. And “average” average comes not from just one study, but from the “average” of results from a majority of the studies done in the field. For example, the 25-percent “average” average we have is from a comprehensive analysis of 33 studies over the past 80 years by Elisabeth Lloyd in her fascinating book The Case of the Female Orgasm (Harvard University Press).Thus, anything that can increase the percentage of women actually having orgasms during penetration would be considered worth trying, not only for couples who think this is important but also for those with a sense of adventure.
One sexual position that seems to do exactly that is the clitoral alignment technique. Another name for it is the coital alignment technique. Either way, its acronym is CAT, which is just as well, because that is the name by which sex therapists know it. The CAT is a sexual position “designed” to greatly improve a woman’s chance of orgasm with genital intercourse. This position was first formulated by American researcher and psychotherapist Edward Eichel in the 1980s. Eichel’s studies found that about three-quarters of women are able to have no-hands orgasms with the CAT technique which, you’ve got to admit, compares exceptionally well to the accepted average of 25-percent. It is a type of missionary position, but with a difference (several differences, in fact).
But that’s not the only thing it’s good for. What the CAT also does is increase a woman’s chances not during foreplay, not during after-play, but while the man is actually inside her. Plus, if research in the field is accurate (and I don’t see why it shouldn’t be) the CAT increases the probability of an orgasm during genital intercourse by as much as 50-percent. Yup. Fifty percent. Not a percentage to be sneezed at. This figure is based on a meta analysis of studies (conclusions drawn from as many methodologically sound studies on the same topic as can be gotten hold of). In this case, it was a meta analysis of studies done on the prevalence of female orgasm. The accepted average is that 25% of women get orgasms during their sexual encounters, whereas CAT ups the probability of that to 75!
So, what’s not to love? Several things, as a matter of fact:
1. The CAT does not come instinctively.
Men instinctively pump and thrust while making love. Up down, up down. With CAT, men glide…forward-backward, forward-backward.
2. It takes time to learn CAT.
There’s a joke that goes, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.” Like a musician who finally becomes good enough to play at Carnegie Hall, a man who wants his partner to come most of the time, has to “practice, practice, practice” and this usually takes time and patience.
3. Failure the first few times is almost guaranteed.
As with trying out most new things, failure (or perhaps, the better-sounding and more accurate, “not succeeding the first time” one tries it) is almost guaranteed. Again, not exactly an experience men relish.
Why do I say that? Because as mentioned earlier, the CAT is not how men generally make love, both from a physical standpoint and from an almost philosophical one. You see, the CAT is not aggressive in the “Me-Tarzan, You-Jane” style. Instead, it can almost be called gentle, in a “How’re you doing? Tell me if this feels good, ok?” sense.
In fact, authors Em and Lo of the 2006 book Rec Sex: An A-Z Guide to Hooking Up describe the CAT as “almost, by definition, so gentle, some describe it as an almost “feminine” approach to sex. Think small subtle movement, full-body contact with a focus on the clitoris and the pelvic mounds and a Buddhist-like repetition of steps that may very well get her closer to Zen (i.e. orgasm) better than any other hands-free intercourse position out there.”
Google CAT and you will marvel at the many tips and steps —some more clearly and/or poetically expressed than others—people, “sex wellness” clinics, and a few recognizably reliable institutions on how to achieve it. I find Em and Lo’s the most comprehensive, though perhaps a tad confusing in the directions given. Thus, I have paraphrased their template to what I hope are clearer and more reader-friendly steps below:
Let’s start with what almost all of us are familiar with: the missionary position. Once you are ready for penetration, have your partner lie on her back, but this time, with her legs just outside yours. That way, you will be inside her with your legs close together.
To make penetration easier, raise your upper body so that your pelvis will not be right above your partner’s pelvis (vagina) but lower. Thus your pelvis, unlike in the ordinary missionary position, will literally be further down her body, between her legs.
Now, here’s what makes the difference: Cup her shoulders with your arms under her armpits so that you’re resting on her. It’s a good idea to put some of your weight on your forearms so that she’s more comfortable, but be sure to maintain as much body contact and pressure as you can. If it’s any consolation, this too, gets much easier as you do the CAT more often.
While keeping your penis inside her, pull your body up along hers, toward her head, so that your pelvises are aligned (with yours directly on top of hers). Ideally, your legs are still straight and together, and her ankles are resting on your calves. Her legs should also be straight as possible, while wrapped around your lower legs. In this position, your head is beside hers, to one side of her face.
Your penile head should still be inserted, though much of the shaft will now be outside of the vaginal canal, pressing up against the top half of her external genitalia. Both spines should be as straight as possible. Your upper body should be relaxed; and as with most things the CAT asks of you, this becomes easier the more times you do it.
Do you now see why I say this is not instinctive love making?
While in position number two, as you’re pushing up along her body, ask her to tip her pelvis away from you, down into the bed. That way, your penis comes almost all the way out and she can feel its base pressing against her clitoris.
Next, push your pelvis down so your whole body moves lower down her body and your penis enters her fully. If she tilts her hips up, it feels a whole lot better for you. While you’re still lying on her, put some of your weight on your forearms or she will be too squished to enjoy orgasm at all—which is what this exercise is all about, yes?
This might be a good time to remind yourself of the Promised Land: Sex where your woman comes almost as a matter of course, considerably more times than not. Why might that be? Because by this time, most men are starting to ask themselves: “Why the hell should I try something new? The old pump and thrust has been working all right for ages. Why start something new now, with a half-assed position where I could, literally, fall off my partner?”
Why? Because even if the unlikely happens—that is, that CAT doesn’t work—the mere fact that you were/are willing to try something new just for her will make her feel all squidgy, loving and good inside. Believe me, if having a woman willing to do anything to make you feel good turns you on, doing the CAT just for your woman, rather than for any side benefits like karmic points, will make her feel just as loved in return.
But enough of the pep talk, let us go back to step four. Please try to maintain as much full body contact as possible. Remember that your legs are still as straight as possible, hers still wrapped around your lower legs (or as low as possible in this position). That is because, as much as possible, she keeps her upper thighs and knees close together rather than bent, as in more traditional positions.
Now, you simply repeat this hip-rocking movement over and over again: Move up as she tips down; move down as she tilts up, and so on. Do not speed up. The goal is to maintain constant pressure and rubbing against the area from her pubic bone down to her vaginal opening (with the clitoris in between, of course) with your penile shaft and your own pubic bone.
Of course, you can also do the “reverse” Cat, with the woman on top, but how about you try that after you’ve mastered the “missionary” CAT? Maybe you can even share your experiences here.
One invaluable tip: It helps to have a headboard with vertical slats that you can hold on to as you slide up and down and learn to keep your balance.
Some of you may already be asking, if the CAT is so difficult that the presence of a headboard might be important, why make all that effort? I feel it’s because of what its founder/discoverer Dr. Edward Eichel felt it would help achieve: Making intercourse great. “Any time. Any place. Any circumstance.”