Don’t Wait for Female Viagra

All women are hardwired for pleasure

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Sex & Sexuality

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom
by Dr. Christiane Northrup

Women’s Anatomy of Arousal
by Sheri Winston

Women have as much or more erotic erectile tissue in their bodies than do men.

Although many pharmaceutical companies have tried to make a female Viagra, they have been unsuccessful in getting their drugs passed by the FDA. The whole truth is that women’s bodies are hard-wired for pleasure—they don’t need a female Viagra. According to the criteria currently used, about 50 percent of women have so-called FSD (female sexual dysfunction). But only 12 percent are concerned about it.

Here’s what’s true. Women have as much or more erotic erectile tissue in their bodies than do men. But it’s all inside. And it has been “disappeared” even from medical texts. That’s right. When I was updating the most recent edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, I asked medical illustrator Scott Leighton, the chief medical illustrator for the venerable New England Journal of Medicine, to please render a drawing for my book showing all the female erotic anatomy. So he consulted the Harvard anatomical library and the usual sources. Not there! That’s right. Disappeared.

Okay—I won’t go into why. Instead the important thing to know is that all women have the capacity to experience great pleasure—including orgasm just from thoughts. Sheri Winston, CNM, author of Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasure (Mango Garden Press, 2010), uses the term “orgasmic abundance” for women’s pleasure potential. Sounds good, right? I don’t think there’s any such thing as female sexual dysfunction as it’s currently defined. Instead, I believe that we’ve all been talked out of our orgasmic abundance. And now it’s time to reclaim it!

What Turns You On?

The number one reason that sexual dysfunction exists in women is a lack of desire. Therefore, the first step in enhancing your sexuality is determining what turns you on—to life. So not only should you think about what you like about sex, you also need to figure out what you like to wear, the environment you like to live in, your interests, what satisfies you at work (whether that’s as a volunteer, a stay-at-home-mom, a high-powered executive, or anything in between), and so forth. When you are happy with your life, particularly what you do every day, you’re more likely to increase your own life force.

Often at midlife (and other times of transition), we don’t know what turns us on! Experiment. Be joyous. I took up dancing Argentine Tango a few years ago and love it. A colleague (who is a breast surgeon) took up beekeeping this year. She refers to the vibrational buzz of bees as “Reiki on steroids.” I love that! If you’re wondering what turns you on sensually, check out some romance novels, how-to books or DVDs, and romantic or erotic movies. Expose yourself to ideas about sensuality and pleasure. I’m not referring to pornography, because I believe that’s denigrating. I’m talking about finding out which techniques and situations make you feel like a sexual goddess.

If what you’ve been doing doesn’t make you feel good physically or emotionally, then it makes sense to revamp your sex life and update your sexual interests. There are so many options that do feel good. This will require some experimentation, with or without a partner. Get to know your body, including where your erogenous areas are and how you like to be touched. I highly recommend reading the Chapter “Reclaiming the Erotic” in the revised edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdomand also Women’s Anatomy of Arousal: Secret Maps to Buried Pleasureby Sheri Winston, CNM. Knowing your erotic anatomy is key to maximum sensual pleasure. Remember, energy follows awareness. So simply being aware of your erotic anatomy helps enormously.

Performance Oriented

Most women do not reach orgasm in the missionary position (male on top with no stimulation of the woman’s clitoris). So it doesn’t make sense to label yourself “anorgasmic” if you are one of them. In fact, judging or labeling yourself can actually sabotage your ability to feel pleasure. So can setting goals. Many women compare themselves to others, wondering what’s wrong with them that they can’t achieve multiple orgasms in ten minutes or less. Of course I’m exaggerating, but you get the point. The bedroom isn’t a place for someone else’s statistics or for goal setting. Your only objective is to appreciate every stroke and feel sensual pleasure.

True Obstacles to Sensual Pleasure

Although I know in my heart that all women are capable of turning themselves on to life and sex, I’m also completely aware that some women face real challenges.

  • Sexual Abuse. When a woman has experienced rape or incest, she is less likely to establish a pleasurable sexual relationship. She is also more likely to see sex as an abusive, painful experience as opposed to the pleasurable, supportive experience it really is. If you are one of these women, I recommend you consider counseling. Also take baby steps by figuring out what turns you on in life. Start with non-sexual ways at first, gradually establishing an understanding of what your own desires are today. Don’t be afraid to tell your partner that certain things are off-limits because of your past trauma. In Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, I tell the story of a woman who was able to do this with her husband, and it greatly improved their sexual relationship.
  • Vaginal Dryness. There are many women who have vaginal dryness. Sex is painful when the tissues are dry. Period. Why suffer through it or allow yourself to become completely turned off to sex when there are many good vaginal lubricants on the market? Again, experiment with them, giving yourself time to try some different varieties. For example, one of the warming lubricants may be perfectfor you. They increase blood flow to the area, which enhances arousal as well making your experience more pleasurable.

    At menopause, estrogen levels drop, and this often causes the vaginal tissues to become drier and thinner, and less likely for you to produce your own natural lubrication. In this case, I often recommend estrogen cream given vaginally. Estriol or estradiol are ideal estrogens. You can see great improvement after a few weeks. Talk with your health practitioner about whether this is right for you.

  • Anatomical Concerns. Arousal causes the upper vagina to balloon up, lifting the uterus and cervix. If this doesn’t occur, intercourse is likely to be painful. Often, all that’s needed is more foreplay before intercourse! A little bit more goes a long way.

    Women often have scar tissue (adhesions) from gynecological surgeries and endometriosis. Sex can also be very painful for these women. Larry and Belinda Wurn, authors of Miracle Moms, Better Sex, Less Pain, have a clinic in Gainesville, Florida, where they have successfully treated thousands of women for adhesions. These women often seek the Wurn’s help because of fertility problems and leave the clinic able to experience much more sexual pleasure. (Read “Triumph Over Pelvic Pain“.)

    Your body is infinitely adaptable. It’s entirely possible to return to full pelvic health even if your vaginal tissues are thinned, you have pelvic scar tissue, or another kind of anatomical problem with your vagina, uterus, or cervix.

Your Partner’s Part in all This

Help your partner become a good lover. Most men (and women) love to please their partner. It turns them on to turn you on! This is why it’s important to know what gives you the most pleasure. Then all you need to do is share it with them.

Women aren’t the only people who have changes in their sexuality. There are a lot of men who are shut down sexually, too. Some are reluctant to have sex after prostate treatment. Some are resistant if they can’t get a fully erect penis. Gently remind them that there are so many other ways to please each other—some even more erotic and enjoyable than “sex the old fashioned way.”

One of the most important things to do is to relax and take your time. Let go of your need to perform or achieve anything. Maintaining a curious and playful attitude allows for self-awakening, joy, and newfound intimacy with your partner. And that’s what it’s really all about, after all.

Learn More — Additional Resources

Last Updated: June 16, 2010

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

Comments

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  1. happy
    1 year ago

    Dr. N.
    Can the Amata Vaginal Moisturizer be used on my partner penis to help provide less painful (slight) intercourse? I use this product and the menopausal capsules which are wonderful. We need a little extra moisture during the course of night. Thank you

  2. Felicia
    2 years ago

    Dear Dr Northrup,
    I haven’t had a period in 4 years so I am probably over Menopause. Yet, I have terrible vaginal dryness and cannot have intercourse as a result. I have tried all the lubrications, estradiol vaginal cream, over the counter HRT cream. Yet, nothing helps. Any ideas? Thank you!

  3. Ela
    2 years ago

    Hi Dr. Northrup,

    I was listening to your rebroadcast on HayHouse radio while I was at the gym. It was pretty amazing. You were talking about eating a root that can help for skin dryness as well as increasing esterogen. Would you give me the name of that root and how should I use it please?
    Thank you so much.

    1. Christiane L NOrthrup
      2 years ago

      I was talking about the tuber of the herb Pueraria mirifica. It contains a very potent phytoestrogen called miroestrol. I have been so impressed with the properties of this herb that I started my own company to bring it to the attention of women ( and men) everywhere. Check out http://www.amatalife.com Or a-ma-ta.com ( we’re updating the url). Read the testimonials. And also- for more research– go to http://www.puresterol.com I take the capsules daily. There is also a vaginal moisturizer that restores the vaginal lining. Hope this helps. And thanks for asking.

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