Really, y'all. At this point, who hasn't heard that 70-75 percent of women are unable to experience a vaginal orgasm? What I wanna know is how many women are able to "see the mountaintop", each and every time they have sex, period? That's the real story. Because I'm here to tell you that even though I do happily and gratefully fall into the "other 25 percent", it has been super fascinating to me how I've been able to orgasm (not just vaginally but any kind) quickly and easily AF on some days while then wondering if I made it all up in my head on others—and most times, this self-evaluating would happen with the same partner—well, partners.
2020 took a lot from us and 2021 is already showing its ass. If there's one area where I think it's time that we took even more of our power back, it's as it relates to consistently climaxing. If you've read, even a little of my content on here, you know that I'm a firm believer that pondering the right questions is what can help us to get to the solution of almost any problem. And when it comes to this particular query, I really do believe that the (honest) answers to the following five questions can get you off of the orgasm-roller-coaster ride so that each and every time can be…just what you want it to be.
1.Are You into Him Enough?
There is someone on Twitter, who has a pretty big following, and who professes to be a sex therapist. Yet the more I read her content, I'm not so sure because she is extremely focused on the physical side of only. Case in point—something that she thinks is utterly ridiculous is soul ties. Listen, even if you don't personally believe that the sex you have with folks creates a spiritual and emotional connection with them (check out "Soul Ties Are A Thing: Is Your Sexual Past 'Haunting' You?"), I'm not sure how anyone can debate the scientific proof that oxytocin (a natural hormone in our body that sends various messages to our brain) is triggered during sexual acts and makes us feel closer to the ones we're having sex with. Automatically so. That's how it earned the nickname "the love hormone". Plus, both men and women alike will admit that sex is so much better when they actually have some sort of bond with the person who they're engaging with.
With all of that being said, let's start here. When you think back on the times when you have had an orgasm, how did you feel about your partner at the time? And when you weren't, how did you feel about them then? There are plenty of wives out here who will tell you that when they are in sync with their hubby, it's super easy to hang from the chandeliers; oh, but when he has totally pissed her off, there's a disconnect that even the best sex techniques aren't able to fix.
Feeling close to, safe with, and cherished by your partner is a foundational part of having orgasms more consistently. If you aren't, reflect on if this is how you (currently) feel in their space—both in and out of the bedroom.
2.Do You Feel Safe Enough?
Speaking of safe, still to this day, the person I've had the most vaginal orgasms with is someone I was absolutely not the most physically attracted to. Not by a long shot. So, how did he earn that coveted title? I adored him on a friendship level which caused me to trust him enough to not physically tense up or mentally overthink. And when a woman feels safe with a man, there really is no limit to what she is willing to do for—or with him.
It's kind of sad that the only thing a lot of us qualify as being "safe" is whether or not someone will put us in physical danger. Believe you me, as someone who has felt neglected and emotionally abused (both in my family and with certain so-called friendships and relationships), being in the company of those who make you feel emotionally secure feels like nothing else can. So, on the sexual tip, if you're not always seeing fireworks with your partner, this is something else that you should get down to the bottom of. Does he make you feel protected? Does he make you feel like you are more than enough (secure)? Does he make you feel like you can totally get your guard down? Does he make you feel like he can handle your vulnerabilities and insecurities? Does he make you feel like what happens between the two of you remains there and that you are not being compared to anyone else or judged?
Some women don't even think this deeply about their sexual experiences. Oh, but they should. Because the reality is there would probably be a lot more orgasms going on if emotional safety was treated with the utmost importance that it deserves.
3.Are You Wet Enough?
It's no secret that we cum more when there is direct clitoral stimulation. Well, in order for that to happen, we've gotta be willing to open up. Literally. Sometimes, the reason why we are able to have an outstanding night one day and a yawner the next is because we are more adventurous on some days than others.
If you've automatically decided to only do missionary in the dark before things even get started or that trying a position that you've never done before is totally out of the question, this could be yet another reason why you're not having orgasms as often as you want them to.
For the almost three years that I've been writing consistent for this platform, I've touched on orgasms and sex hacks quite a bit (check out "What Is A Super Orgasm & How Can I Have One?", "How About Having A 'Mindful Orgasm' Tonight?", "15 Sex Hacks To Take Your Bedroom Action To The Next Level", "10 Hacks To Help You Climax More Consistently" and "How To Have Mind-Blowing Multiple Orgasms. Tonight, Chile."). A part of the reason is that I'm all about people having the best sex ever. Another reason is that, no matter how much any of us may think that we already know about coitus, there is clearly more to learn. Being open about trying new things can also help you to orgasm more consistently because it loosens you the heck up. An open mind and open well, you know, are the perfect combo for climaxing more consistently. How open are you, chile?
4.Are You Relaxed Enough?
There's no way to get around the fact that when it comes to having a vaginal orgasm, some of it has to do with the way you were born. What I mean by that is it's true that the closer a woman's clitoris is to her vaginal opening, the easier it is for her to climax via intercourse. Yet do you know what else really gets things going along? Lubrication. I don't care if it's naturally from your va-jay-jay or you need a little help in the lube department, the wetter you are, the better sex is gonna be for you. The main reason why is because, especially during intercourse, there is a lot of friction going on. Too much of that, without some "wetness" to take some of the stress off of your vaginal walls, can result in discomfort rather than sheer pleasure.
Here's the thing about this particular point. The more aroused you are, the greater your chance from getting wetter will be. This means that if you've got a guy who sucks at foreplay, that could hinder your orgasms. Not only that but if your hormones are imbalanced, you are going through menopause (which plays a role in your hormones being all over the place), you are dehydrated (no joke), you're breastfeeding, you smoke, you're on certain medications (ones that treat depression, for example) or you're stressed TF out—this also could prevent the rain from coming down, down below. And a vagina that is like the Sahara is gonna really struggle with having an orgasm.
Out of all of the questions that I'm sharing here, this one has a potential medical component. If you're noticing that your wetness is super inconsistent, it certainly can't hurt to make an appointment with your physician. In the meantime, again, lube is our friend. Shoot, even when there's not an underlying condition, lube can be that. #wink
5.Are You “Open” Enough?
There is not one doctor or sex expert who will disagree with the fact that sex is better for all parties involved with everyone is relaxed. When it comes to us specifically, when we're not chilled out, it can cause us to tense up—not only can that prevent an orgasm, it can actually make sex pretty uncomfortable, if not flat-out painful.
For some of us, relaxing means having a soak in the tub. For others, it could be enjoying an alcoholic beverage (whether it's hot or cold). Some of us would prefer a puff-puff-pass experience. Maybe it's engaging in some orgasmic medication or taking a whiff of an aphrodisiac essential oil. Hell, some of us need to take a damn nap first. The point is, the calmer and more at peace you are, the easier it will be to get aroused and to experience an orgasm. If you're skipping this step, no wonder you're not having as many climaxes as you would like!
Are there other things that could be standing between you and more orgasms? I'm sure there are. I also believe that if you've had them with your current partner before and you simply want it to be more often, getting a five out of five score on this can help to make that a sure thing. So, put some serious thought into all of what I said, OK? Because the only thing better than an orgasm is having one all of the time. Whew, chile.
Join our xoTribe, an exclusive community dedicated to YOU and your stories and all things xoNecole. Be a part of a growing community of women from all over the world who come together to uplift, inspire, and inform each other on all things related to the glow up.
Featured image by Giphy
- How To Have Different Types Of Orgasms - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- My First Vaginal Orgasm Experience, What It Is - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Reasons Why Your Orgasms Are Inconsistent - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Why Can't I Orgasm During Sex? Inconsistent Orgasms - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 11 Different Types Of Orgasms Women Can Have - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
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.”
Director of Content: Jasmine Grant
Campaign Manager: Chantal Gainous
Managing Editor: Sheriden Garrett
Creative Director/Executive Producer: Tracey Woods
Cover Designer: Tierra Taylor
Photographer: Ally Green
Photo Assistant: Avery Mulally
Digital Tech: Kim Tran
Video by Third and Sunset
DP & Editor: Sam Akinyele
2nd Camera: Skylar Smith
Camera Assistant: Charles Belcher
Stylist: Casey Billingsley
Hairstylist: DaVonte Blanton
Makeup Artist: Drini Marie
Production Assistants: Gade De Santana, Apu Gomes
Powered by: European Wax Center
Queen Latifah On Her Journey To Self-Acceptance: 'I've Been Trying To Maintain My Freedom To Be Me'
Actress and rapper Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens is defying societal standards by refusing to be confined in a box regarding her personal and professional life.
Owens, who has been a part of the entertainment industry for over three decades, is widely recognized for her empowering songs and the variety of acting roles she has obtained throughout her career, among other things. The list includes Living Single, Set It Off, Chicago --with which she earned an Oscar nomination-- Just Wright, Girls Trip, and most recently, The Equalizer series on CBS.
Owens is also very tight-lipped about her personal life. However, in 2021, The Last Holiday actress showed appreciation to Eboni Nichols, who is reportedly her partner, and their son Rebel after receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.Since then, Owens has revealed why she doesn't want to be defined as anything but herself and how she maintains her sense of freedom. In a resurfaced video from theGrio Awards, Owens opened up about those topics when she accepted the Television Icon Award for her past contributions
In a clip uploaded on theGrio's Instagram account last week, Owens explained that she often had to fight to be herself because "the world" kept trying to put her in a box based on what society thought a woman should be.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been trying to maintain my freedom to be me. And the world is trying to put these things on me to stop me from being who I am," she said.
Further into the speech, Owens explained that although many would have their own opinion about her from what the media spews out, she would continue to be herself by wearing "beautiful gowns and dresses," playing in the dirt, participating in basketball games with men and loving who she loves because that's what makes her happy.
The Beauty Shop star also added that despite her celebrity status, she would continue to show respect for others because that's who she is as a person and how she was raised.
"So I wear these beautiful gowns and dresses because I want to because that's part of me. I play in the dirt. I play basketball with the boys because that's me,” she stated. "I love who I love because that's me. I love all of you who have supported me. I give you your respect. I don't have to be above you because that's me. I know me."
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Marsland/WireImage