Why is it that women differ in their responses to sexual arousal? Why does a lover’s approach work on one woman and not another? Exploring the answers to these questions could enhance your erotic experience and open up new levels of sexual intimacy and pleasure with your lover, since the real differences are predominantly physiological.

Every woman’s pelvic nerve complex is wired quite uniquely; personal preferences and styles are influenced by these nuanced differences, but essentially this wiring is why women respond differently from one another sexually. From arousal through to orgasm, what works for one woman doesn’t necessarily work for another.

Since all women have multiple pleasure mechanisms, we have a wide range of pleasure available to us if we seek to discover these pathways ourselves. We are physiologically designed to have a variety of orgasmic experiences and have the potential to orgasm without end, even entering altered states of consciousness through extended erotic play.

A woman’s pelvic nerve is a complex network of nerves that connects at the base of the spine to the spinal cord, creating an electrical energy circuit with the brain. In her influential book, Vagina, Naomi Wolf explains that the erectile tissue of the vagina is infused with nerves that run through the pelvis and trace through the column of the spine to connect with the brain. This network branches throughout the pelvis: one originating in the clitoris, one in the walls of the vagina, and one in the cervix. The perineum and anus are connected to another network of nerves.

Wolf goes on to explain that this delicate pelvic neural network splits and connects to the clitoris and vagina along different branches like an incredibly intricate root system. This complex arrangement of nerves allows women to orgasm from multiple areas in the pelvis. Depending on how each woman’s individual pelvic nerve is structured, she may respond more strongly to clitoral stimulation, cervical stimulation or stimulation of the perineum and anus. Some may respond to any possible combination of the above and with practice women can experience a range of orgasms.

This brain-vagina connection, exclusive to women, processes and influences feelings of pleasure, pain and intensity of sensation in the pelvis. This would explain, to some extent, why our vaginas have a consciousness independent to the rest of our bodies; wisdom, power and an inner knowing that guides us toward greater levels of pleasure and connection with discernment and sensitivity.

Unlike the nerve matrix of the male body, which is somewhat simpler and practically symmetrical for all men, each woman’s vagina is innervated uniquely. This difference between men and women, in neural complexity comes down to the fact that women have both sexual and reproductive organs – cervix and uterus, which men don’t have.

This means that some women have more nerves in the clitoris (which has more than 8000 nerve endings and biologically designed for pleasure only), some have more nerves in the G-Spot and some have more around the cervix.

“The vulva, clitoris, and vagina are actually best understood as the surface on an ocean that is shot through with vibrant networks of underwater lightning – intricate and fragile, individually varied neural pathways. All these networks are continually sending their impulses to the spinal cord and brain, which then send new impulses back down through other fibres in the same nerves to produce various effects.” – Naomi Wolf, Vagina

Looking a little deeper through this lens, having awareness of the distinctive difference between male and female arousal trajectories is essential to having more satisfying sexual experiences. A woman’s response to arousal and orgasm is biochemically different to that of a man’s. Her arousal cycle is complex and has multiple layers. Its movement is radial, moving from the outside inwards; from context and surroundings through the different erogenous zones towards the centre, the vagina, and can take between 35 – 45 mins to build. In contrast a man’s arousal trajectory is shorter and moves in an up-down direction, from the penis outwards.

This is important for both women and men to understand, especially considering the culture we’ve been raised in, where women’s sexuality, erotic consciousness and experiences have not been honoured. Instead, women have been shamed for following their pleasure, especially when expressing it and wanting it in less ‘conventional’ ways.

The way you experience pleasure, pain or any sensory stimulation in your pelvic area, is unique to you. This means that even though your anatomy looks the same as other women’s, it’s up to you to explore and get intimate with your body so that you can discover what arouses you authentically rather than what you expect yourself to be turned on, or by what’s being prescribed on social media.

Large numbers of women experience issues around their sexuality based on misinformed beliefs, body issues, cultural taboos, and a lack of real anatomical and loving experiential knowledge about their own body. Trauma also plays a significant role in interfering with a woman’s connection to her body, pleasure and sexuality, increasing sexual discomfort and dissatisfaction.

When considering these differences in each woman, there should be no embarrassment or shame felt for wanting say, ‘more’ oral sex, or asking to be stimulated in both vagina and anus simultaneously whilst having sex, or wanting only deep vaginal stimulation or only clitoral. Perhaps your arousal is fired up by kinkier or harder play, or what turns you on is more energetic and subtle.

Essentially, whatever you desire or need sexually may be due to your physical wiring and not necessarily your conditioning. This understanding gives you freedom to explore your body and experience your sexuality as an uncharted erotic landscape while revealing deeper sensual pleasure, both for yourself and your lover.



Artwork by Yuriko Kawase, @poooooint.y