Female Orgasm May Be Tied to 'Rule of Thumb'

First came the G-spot, then multiple climax and spiritual tantric sex. The modern woman is not only expected to be a good mother and a professional success, but some believe she needs to behave like a porn star in the bedroom.

So if a simple device could reveal whether a woman is capable of a vaginal orgasm, would it take the pressure off heterosexual women to perform?

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New research suggests that a simple measurement -- a "rule of thumb" -- might be the key to the pleasures of sexual intercourse.

About 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone -- that is without the extra help of sex toys, hands or tongue. And 10 to 15 percent never climax under any circumstances.

The Internet is rife with non-orgasmic women who say they are missing out, and statistics suggest that they are a significant group.

"Maybe my boyfriend and I aren't doing it right or something," one woman wrote on WebMD.com. "I don't understand. I feel like less of a woman because I can't have an orgasm and I want to so bad. I feel incomplete sometimes after sex."

"I enjoy sex, my partners enjoy the sex," said another on EmpowHER.com. "The guy I'm with right now is frustrated because he's never had a problem making a women happy until now, and it's frustrating for me because I just don't understand."

"What's wrong with me?" asks another on Steadyhealth.com. "I never told anyone this before, but I feel like this is my only option as I am too shy to go to the doctor's."

But it might not be all in their heads, according to Kim Wallen, professor of behavioral neuroendocrinology at Emory University.

He wants to determine if a woman's ability to have an orgasm with penile stimulation alone depends on how far her clitoris lies from her vagina -- the so-called "C-V distance."

Wallen said understanding more about a woman's anatomy might enhance her sex life.

"I suspect that for a large proportion of women, orgasm from intercourse alone is just never going to happen and knowing that might give women some solace."

Female Orgasm Elusive, Say Scientists

Wallen is testing data that was gathered nearly a century ago by the great-grand niece of Napoleon Bonaparte, who suffered from what was then called "frigidity."

Princess Marie Bonaparte, a French psychoanalyst, discovered that the optimal C-V distance is 2.5 centimeters, about an inch, or the space between the fingertip and the thumb.

After collecting data and publishing a report in 1927, her story did not end well. She underwent two experimental surgeries to remedy her own situation, attempting to bring her clitoris closer to her vagina.

She ended up scarred and abandoned finding a physical cure for non-climactic women.

"It was kind of sad," said Wallen. "It's a very interesting metaphoric story. She ended up being a Freudian and totally denied the physical explanation of orgasm. The psychological explanation being if you didn't achieve orgasm it was because you had not grown up."

Despite her travails, he said the data is "highly suggestive, but not demonstrative" that Bonaparte was right.

"Just as there are physical attributes that would prevent some people from ever becoming a concert violinist, or run the 100 meters in 10 seconds, there are attributes that make it unlikely that some women will ever experience orgasm from intercourse alone," he said.

Though what he coined the "rule of thumb" oversimplifies the biological question, it could be a "boon to women."

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