Yes, yes. Orgasms. Before we get semi-surface-level-knee-deep into this thing, let me just say that, if there are two times in life when the same response is probably annoying as hell to the people who personally can't relate, it would have to be when it comes to being in loveand having an orgasm. And what reply am I referring to specifically? It's when someone asks, "So, how do you know when it's actually happened?" and those who've been through it, pause, reflect, exhale and then say, "Girl, you just…know."
On the climax tip, I get that, if you've never truly been to the mountaintop before, hearing that answer isn't really offering up much help (although there is a ton of truth in that statement). And so, whether you've never had sex before and you're curious (if that's you, please check out "Here's How Your First Time Having Sex Can Still Affect You") or you've had a fair share of sexual experiences but things are still unclear as far as whether you've had as much fun as everyone else, I'm gonna try and break down how you can know that you've had an orgasm before. Get your glass of wine and sit back.
So, Really—What Is an Orgasm?
I'm not really sure how I can truly be "'bout it" when it comes to this kind of topic without divulging some of my own past sexual journey. When it came to my first healthy orgasm (I was sexually molested as a child and teenager, which is why I phrase it that way; we'll have to dive into the layers of that another time), I was in college—and it was with myself. My first boyfriend also came into my life my freshman year. He was younger than I was (I didn't know that until we got arrested together for his cousin having a gun in my car; also another story for another time), so neither one of us really knew what we were doing. We continued to talk off and on throughout the years and, honestly, looking back, I think a part of what kept us holding on, is we both wanted a sexual do-over. He ain't ugly (by any stretch) and neither am I. Sometimes, you just…wonder.
Anyway, it wasn't until a professor in college said, "How can you get a man to please you when you don't even know how to please yourself?" (he was saying this to a table of college freshman which is kinda creepy in hindsight) that I said, "Yeah…" and entered into the world of masturbation (another topic that I'll have to share my personal take on at another time). And when I compared that to the intercourse I was experiencing with my boyfriend, yes—I definitely knew when I had my first orgasm and he definitely wasn't in the picture. I then started experiencing orgasms via oral sex with my second sexual partner and lawd—talk about cuing in Peobo Bryson and Regina Belle's "A Whole New World" (with a DeVante Swing remix to it)! Ever since my early college years and experiencing sexual instances when I truly felt like my body was gonna explode, I know, without question, that I've had an orgasm before. At this point in my life, many times over too.
And What Exactly Does an Orgasm Feel Like?
I think the best way to describe it, without it looking like a science paper, is to say that an orgasm is the pinnacle of sexual tension that comes as the result of rhythmic contractions that occur within your uterus, pelvic floor and vagina—all at the same time.
It typically transpires in three phases:
Excitement: Which is when you're aroused (typically during foreplay) and then blood starts to rush to your genital region. It's also when there is an increase of testosterone, dopamine and serotonin in your system which makes you feel warm and stimulated.
Plateau: This is when sexual tension builds, right up to the point where you feel a mixture of thinking you might have to pee (that's the best way to describe it, I think) and you having very little control over yourself. When you hear people on movies doing all of the yelling 'n stuff? It's usually right at this point.
Orgasm: This is when the contractions come. They aren't painful (like when a woman is giving birth). They feel really good—and a bit overwhelming. The warmth that you started to feel during the excitement phase then spreads all throughout your body, a huge release transpires and you finally are able to catch your breath and start to resume a regular breathing pattern. As far as how long orgasms last, the average is somewhere between 18-51 seconds a piece (I say, "a piece" because some people can have multiple orgasms).
OK, so now that you know what an orgasm is, let me just briefly go (back) over what some of the signs are that you've had one:
- Increased heart rate and breathing
- Warm feelings, starting in your genital region
- Multiple vaginal contractions
- Hyper-sensitivity immediately following (especially in your vaginal region)
- An immediate feeling of calm and serenity after
There Are Multiple Kinds of Orgasms. Vaginal Being the Most Challenging.
Now that you know what an orgasm is from a technical standpoint, it's important that I reiterate that orgasms don't only happen via intercourse. I've already shared that my first ones came from masturbation and receiving oral sex. The two things that both of these acts have in common is the focus is put on stimulating my clitoris (including my clitoral hood).
The clitoris is amazing because there is no scientific reason for why it exists other than sexual stimulation. So, the chances of you having an orgasm increase, astronomically so, if the focus is put onto your clitoris, along with your erogenous zones. In fact, this is why a lot of medical and sex experts believe that there are (at least) 11 different types of orgasms a woman can have including a clitoral, anal, nipple, blended and vaginal one.
So, the first thing to keep in mind—and it truly can't be stated enough—is it's important to know the difference between an orgasm and a vaginal orgasm. If you've experienced many of the things that I've described, then there's still a good chance that you've had one before. However, it's the vaginal one that can give women a bit of trouble; around 70 percent of women, to be exact.
Why is that? A lot of medical and sex experts believe that, physically, it may be tied into the fact that the closer a woman's clitoris is to her vaginal opening, the easier it is for her to experience a vaginal orgasm. That makes sense if you think about the fact that it's our clit, not our vagina, that stimulates us the most. So basically, this means that probably the main reason why a lot of women don't have vaginal orgasms is due to how their body is naturally designed (if their clitoris is able to be directly stimulated during intercourse)—not because anything is necessarily "wrong" with them.
Yet what if you're one of those kinds of people who doesn't like being told "no", in any area and so, you're simply not content with accepting that maybe you should shift your focus on having orgasms period and not just a vaginal one? In walks my final point for today.
What Can You Do to Increase Your Chances of Experiencing a Vaginal Orgasm?
I write about orgasms a lot. That's how much I dig 'em (check out "What Is A Super Orgasm & How Can I Have One?", "Want A More Intense Orgasm? These Tips Are Sure To Make You Cream", "10 Weird & Random Things That Can Prevent An Orgasm"). I really do think that striving for an orgasm period, should be the greater goal, but if you want to give having a vaginal orgasm a more intentional shot, here are five things that you can do.
Try some orgasmic meditation. Stress is the enemy of, just about everything. And the reality is that one of the main reasons why a lot of us have a hard time climaxing is because we have a really difficult time relaxing. If you can relate, something that can help is something that is known as orgasmic meditation. In short, it's when you and your partner practice a form of "mindful touching". You get quiet, you deep breathe and he intentionally focuses on stroking your clitoris as a form of an erotic build-up. Think of it as meditative edging. It's erotic AF while also extremely calming at the same time. You can read more about it by checking out "What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?".
Bring more foreplay into the mix. On average, men can climax within five minutes while it takes us somewhere between 15-20. A lot of that time has very little to do with the orgasm itself; it's all about getting to the excitement part that we talked about earlier. What helps that to happen is foreplay. One of the reasons why I wrote the articles, "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight.", "8 Men & 8 Women Told Me What They Wish Their Partner Would STOP Doing In Bed" and even "Are You Ready To Apply Your Love Language To Your Sex Life?" is because, if there's one thing that all of those posts have in common, it's driving home the point of how important communication is.
Real talk, a lot of people aren't "sexually incompatible", so much as they are not being truly open and honest about their sexual wants and needs. Trust me, if the foreplay is on point, it is so much easier to have an orgasm—any kind but especially a vaginal one.
Get into the right/best positions. All sexual positions serve a purpose, but certain ones can accomplish certain goals quicker than others. When it comes to trying to have a vaginal orgasm, some of the positions that can help you to best achieve your goal include the reverse cowgirl (it's a great way for your partner's penis to stimulate your clitoris during penetration); being on your side (he can rub your clitoris during penetration); what I call the "cat position" (it's just like doggy style but you're on your stomach rather than on your knees; deeper penetration can happen that way); the chest bump (which is when you're in the missionary position but your arch your back while being thrusted; it angles your clitoris to touch his shaft) and, when your legs are over his shoulders (again…deeper penetration).
Have an emotional connection. If you go to your favorite search engine and you put "married sex is best" in the search field, you'll see quite a few links to articles on why sex is best when you're in a long-term and fully committed relationship. A big part of why is because you can fully trust your partner with your desires, your fantasies, your vulnerabilities, what has worked (and has not) worked in the past. Listen, you can have good mechanical sex with a whole lot of people. But even the most sexually active (or sexually cynical) person will vouch for the fact that when there's an emotional connection with the person you're "engaging with", sex really doesn't get much better than that—physically or otherwise.
Don't overthink it. It's kinda crazy that so many of us overthink when, more times than not, all that really does is create problems that don't exist. When it comes to trying to have a vaginal orgasm, please never let it leave your mind that your partner enjoying you as you enjoy them should be the main focal point. If you chill out, relax and let things naturally happen (as your clitoris is getting well taken care of), you've got a far greater chance of having one than if you worry about "getting there" all of the time. Orgasms are wooooooooooonderful. Don't let anyone tell you that they're not. But you are still a sexy, beautiful, amazing woman whether you have one or you don't—vaginal or not. Keep that in mind and watch how many fireworks go off for you. Most likely when you least expect them to…too. #wink
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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How To Have A Successful Hot Girl Summer
Summer is upon us, and you know what that means: It's time for a hot girl summer! The term exploded in popularity a few years back, and it’s all about encouraging women to flirt, have fun, and of course, enjoy some good ol' safe sex. But amidst all the fun, it's essential to have the right tools to protect yourself and your partner.
So, if you’re single and ready to mingle, here are a few helpful tips on how to have the best hot girl summer possible.
Start with self-care.
It's no secret that confidence is key when it comes to having a good time. Before you start swiping on dating apps or heading to the bar scene, take some time to indulge in self-care. Get a new haircut, buy a new outfit, and pamper yourself with a spa day. Having a fresh look and feeling good about yourself will boost your confidence and make you feel unstoppable.
Protect yourself and your partner.
Hot girl summer is all about having fun, but safety must come first. Before engaging in any sexual activity, make sure you and your partner use protection, whether it's a condom or other methods. Keep in mind STDs can still spread even with precautions, so it's important to get regular STD testing, especially if you're seeing multiple partners.
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Set boundaries and don't compromise.
It's common for women to feel pressured to do things they're not comfortable with during casual sex. In a hot girl summer, it's essential to set clear boundaries and not compromise on what makes you comfortable. If your partner doesn't respect your limits, then it's a sign they're not worth your time.
Be open-minded and explore.
If you want to spice up your summer, try exploring new sexual experiences and positions with your partner(s). For inspiration on what sex positions to try, check out articles on our site like this, this, and this. However, it's always important to make sure you're both on the same page and comfortable with what you're doing. Consent is key.
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Date like it's your job.
With summer in full swing, dating becomes easier, and more people are open to meeting new individuals. Take advantage of this opportunity and start swiping on dating apps, or if you're more traditional, head to the bars or local events. It's important to remember that dating isn't about finding someone to settle down with; it's about having fun experiences and meeting new people.
Be honest about what you want.
Be honest with yourself. If you want a serious relationship, seek it out, but if you want to go on a casual date, go on a casual date. Hot girl summers mean doing whatever it is you want to do and not settling. Just be sure to communicate and be honest about who you are and what you’re looking for.
It's all about having fun, enjoying yourself, and exploring your sexuality. But it's crucial to remember that safety comes first. Use protection, get regular STD testing, set boundaries, and don't compromise. Be open-minded and explore new sexual experiences, but never forget to prioritize your comfort level, and don't let anyone pressure you into doing things you're not comfortable with. With these tips and tricks, you'll surely have the best hot girl summer yet.
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