Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Home | Erotic Books | Authors Resources | Inside The Erotic Mind | Erotica Gallery
Adult Movies | Sex Toys | Erotic Music | Email Discussion List | Links

'10 Authors Insider Tips

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Have More Good Sex
I Can Do Better ...
Trying to Get the Feeling
Plotting and Planning
Character Profiles
Discovery Draft
Be Bad to Be Good
E-Book Revolution
Naked for Halloween
Sex With Pilgrims

by Louisa Burton
The Music of Words
The Balancing Act
Your Fictional World
Backstory & Foreshadowing

The Fine Art of Submission
by Shanna Germain
Nailing the Query Letter
Banish the Boring Bio
Becoming a Market Master
Become a Market Master, 2
Backstory & Foreshadowing
Enticing An Editor, Part 1
Enticing An Editor, Part 2
Contracts, Money & More

Serious about Smut
by Vincent Diamond
No More Horsing Around
Short Stuff
Selling Short Stories
Editors' Pet Peeves
Settings: Beyond Time & Place
Beating Up Your Scenes
Selling Your Books in Person
Staying in the Saddle

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Broken Rainbows
Talk the Talk
10 Commandments for Writing
Plotting to Avoid
Cover Story

'10 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
St Valentine's Day
Renaming Body Parts
Sex, Cigarettes & Erotic Fiction

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
C. Sanchez-Garcia
Kathleen Bradean
Lucy Felthouse
Neve Black
PS Haven
Tracey Shellito
Tresart L. Sioux

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
Plenty of Miles Left
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Fly the Unfriendly Skies
Coffee Time
Castrated Words
Virtual vs. Actual Romance
The View from Gallows Hill

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
The Fashion Industry
The Same Old Same Old
Writing Porn
About the Closet
... About Spirituality
Making Sense of Religion
Worked Up About Monogamy
What's Next
All Worked Up About Nature
Still All Worked Up...

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Holiday Ghosts
Love and Romance
An "Interracial" Epic
Trying to Make It Go Away
Sexual Etiquette
Sex and Children
People Against Bad Things
Virtual Acceptance
His Cold Eyes, His Granite Jaw
A Flash of Northern Light

The Orgasm Answer Guide

by Barry Komisaruk, Beverly Whipple, and Carlos Beyer-Flores

Book Review by Rob Hardy


Orgasm Answer Guide

In 2006, three academic researchers, Barry Komisaruk, Beverly Whipple, and Carlos Beyer-Flores, brought out The Science of Orgasm, a serious book of physiological and psychological research published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.  That publisher has now issued the authors’ new book (in which they are joined by co-author Sara Nasserzadeh), one that is still strong on science but is aimed at the curious lay reader (and who isn’t curious about orgasms?).  The Orgasm Answer Guide reminded me a little of Dr. David Reuben’s waggish best seller from 1971, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask, in that this book uses the question and answer format (starting off with “What are orgasms?”).  The answers here, however, are grounded in the science displayed in the previous volume, and while there is sympathetic good humor, this is a serious, informative book.  The eighty questions are the sorts of queries a therapist might hear in a session; while a patient might not come in and ask, “What are orgasms?”, Nasserzadeh has said that she gets queries from women who don’t know if they have orgasms or what orgasms “ought” to feel like.  Dr. Reuben may not have added a lot to our cumulative sexual IQ, but here is a book on a specific facet of sexual behavior, backed by the most up-to-date research.

Because the book is based on science, there are a lot of “We don’t know” answers.  That’s OK; sometimes the questions have philosophical underpinnings that cut right to the heart of epistemology.  For instance, “Do men and women have the same sensations during orgasm?”  You can’t feel my orgasm and I can’t feel yours; how would we ever know about equivalence?  So, no, we don’t know the answer, but the interesting part is that we might have evidence pointing in the right direction.  Basic hardware for orgasm includes a penis for a man and a clitoris for a woman, and these organs come from the same tissue in developing embryos, and they are wired by the same nerves, so it isn’t wrong to suspect that sensations would be similar.  In an interesting experiment, students were asked to write descriptions of their own orgasms, and after gender-specific words were made neutral, judges were asked to read each description and declare whether it had come from a man or a woman.  It turned out that the judges were not able to do so accurately. 

But penis and clitoris hardware are not essential for orgasms.  Under “Are there really ‘nongenital’ orgasms?”, the authors show a picture of the famous statue by Bernini of St. Teresa in ecstasy, saying that her expression suggests orgasm to some people, but that other people refute any such association.  Whether St. Teresa got off in this way or not, some people do indeed have documented orgasms during meditation or prayer (though it seems unlikely that any mainstream denomination will be claiming this as an advantage).  Epileptic seizures can trigger orgasm, and there was one epileptic woman who had them when she brushed her teeth.  Some people, if they have partners who will stimulate the right body part in just the right way, can have orgasms, and the right part might not be a typical erogenous zone but might be a shoulder or toe.  “Phantom” orgasms can be felt during sleep by people who have had spinal injuries and have no nerve connection to the genitals.

The authors side with researchers who have found that female ejaculation really happens.  It doesn’t happen for every woman, and women who do ejaculate don’t do it for every orgasm.  The ejaculate is not urine, but a chemically different liquid, and there isn’t much of it, typically a teaspoonful.  It’s a normal, not extraordinary, process.  There are many women who want to ejaculate, and many of their men who are interested in helping them, and there are books and websites that purport to give directions, but the authors say, “We are aware of no credible evidence that women can learn to control this process.” 

What good does orgasm do?  Well, it seems that besides being fun and causing a resultant buoying of mood, orgasms are good for us.  It isn’t that they burn calories; a mere orgasm burns just two or three, although something like fifty calories might be burned in all the muscular activity in a coital session.  (It is well known that men get sleepy after an orgasm, but no one knows why.  It isn’t the physical exertion, because joggers can burn up a lot more calories during the time that would be typical for coitus, and they don’t feel sleepy but rather energized.)  Men who had eight or more orgasms per month lived longer than those who had less than one a month (though perhaps men with better health had more sexual gumption).  The more orgasms a man has, the less likely he is to have prostate cancer.  Orgasms, especially those from stimulation of the G spot, can help block pain.  The authors themselves do not find the G spot controversial, but admit that not all researchers concur that such a thing exists.  They caution that no one ought to get frustrated if the G spot cannot be found or does not produce excitement.  As if we need other goals, they describe the even more controversial (and, one assumes, more elusive) U spot and A spot.  Happy hunting.

The authors devote almost a full page to genital piercing names and descriptions, like the “Prince Albert”, and the “Reverse Prince Albert” through a man’s urethral openings, or the “Triangle” that pierces the clitoral sheath and anterior labia minora.  Such piercings are said to increase orgasm rate or intensity, but there is no good documentation that this is so.  Besides the usual warnings that piercings might cause scar tissue that obstructs the urethra or might spread hepatitis, the authors include two risks I had not thought of: “a partner choking on swallowed piercings, and tooth damage.”

This is a short book on a vital subject, a grab bag of facts that are sometimes funny, sometimes strange, sometimes useful, and sometimes all three.  I thought the very best part was in the answer to “Is there too much emphasis on ‘achieving’ orgasm in some cultures?”  Movie and TV depictions of satisfactory sex typically show buildup, mutual orgasm, and relaxation, but this is not a realistic standard.  Indeed, the authors explain that they have been careful though this text on how they have referred to the process of having orgasms.  They explain that many researchers use terms like “generate” or “induce” orgasm, but those are too coldly scientific for a book like this.  Other writers might speak of how to “attain” or “achieve” orgasm, but this gives the impression that orgasm is a goal to be striven for, and that there is some degree of failure if that goal is not met, and perhaps a resultant feeling of frustration or resentment.  Forget about that; the authors here use “experience” orgasm as a thoughtfully-chosen neutral word, even though they admit it might be a bit passive, for you may not want to just lie back and “experience,” you might want to be bouncing yourself around somehow.  It’s a good lesson in the importance of the influence of the choice of words, even if it is paradoxical; after all, sex can certainly be enjoyable before an orgasm happens, or even without an orgasm, but this is not The Orgasmless Answer Guide.

Rob Hardy
May-June 2010

The Orgasm Answer Guide
(Johns Hopkins University Press, November 2009; ISBN-10: 0801893968)
Available at: Amazon | Amazon UK

© 2010 Rob Hardy. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

About the Reviewer:†
Rob Hardy is a psychiatrist who lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife, two terriers, five cats, and goldfish.

He reviews nonfiction for The Times of Acadiana, but has been reviewing books as a hobby for years before that.
WebBio: Rob Hardy

  E-mail this page

Search ERWA Website:

Copyright 1996 and on, Erotica Readers Association, Inc.
All Rights Reserved World Wide. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or
medium without express written permission is prohibited.

'10 Book Reviews


Apocalypse Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Bare Souls
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica 2010
Review by Jean Roberta

canít help the way that i feel
Review by Ashley Lister

Coming Together...C. Sanchez-Garcia
Review by Ashley Lister

Coming Together...M Christian
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Coming Together...Remittance Girl
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Erotic Brits
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Fairy Tale Lust
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Like a God's Kiss
Review by Kristina Wright

Like a Sacred Desire
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Like a Veil
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Making the Hook-Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Kristina Wright

Peep Show
Review by Kristina Wright

Please, Ma'am
Review by Ashley Lister

Spark My Moment
Review by Ashley Lister

Three In One Blow
Review by Shanna Germain

Review by Ashley Lister

Erotic Novels

Backstage Passes
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Review by Ashley Lister

Fire in the Blood
Review by Jean Roberta

Freak Parade
Review by Jean Roberta

I Came Up Stairs
Review by Jean Roberta

Marianne! A Journey...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Marketplace
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Memorial Garden
Review by Lisabet Sarai

On Demand
Review by Ashley Lister

Once Bitten
Review by Shanna Germain

Rock My Socks Off
Review by Ashley Lister

The Tower and the Tears
Review by Lynne Connolly

Sensual Romance

Coin Operated
Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

I Spy a Wicked Sin
Review by Harriet Klausner

Libertine's Kiss
Review by Lynne Connolly

The Master & the Muses
Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Lynne Connolly

Tangled Web (MM Romance)
Review by Vincent Diamond

Tucker's Sin
Review by Lynne Connolly

Review by Harriet Klausner

Gay Erotica

Best Gay Erotica '10
Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance 2010
Review by Vincent Diamond

Biker Boys
Review by Jay Lygon

Necessary Madness
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Personal Demons
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Royal Treatment
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Silver Foxes
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Jay Lygon

Special Forces
Review by Vincent Diamond

A Sticky End
Review by Jean Roberta

Wired Hard 4
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Roamnce 2010
Review by Jean Roberta

Fast Girls
Review by Ashley Lister

Girl Crush
Review by Jean Roberta

Sometimes She Lets Me
Review by Jean Roberta


Best Sex Writing 2010
Review by Ashley Lister

A Brief History of Nakedness
Review by Rob Hardy

Condom Nation
Review by Rob Hardy

Dictionary of Semenyms
Review by Donna G Storey

Doctor of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Floridaís Purge of Gay & Lesbian...
Review by Rob Hardy

John Holmes
Review by Rob Hardy

How Sex Works
Review by Rob Hardy

The Orgasm Answer Guide
Review by Rob Hardy

Screening Sex
Review by Rob Hardy

Sex at Dawn
Review by Rob Hardy

Whip Smart
Review by Rob Hardy