Every fall semester, I stand at the podium with over 150 college students staring at me and introduce myself and the course content for The Psychology of Human Sexuality. I tell my students that one of my qualifications for teaching this course is that I’ve been having orgasms longer than they’ve been alive. Amidst my students’ surprised laughter, I continue on, using words like “penis” and “clitoris” matter-of-factly, as if introducing content for a math class and telling students they need to purchase a calculator.

What I’m actually doing is laying the groundwork for the simple but often ignored solution to sexual problems: the ability to talk about sexuality. This ability is absolutely essential when it comes to (no pun intended) closing the orgasm gap (the finding that women are having way fewer orgasms than men). Research shows that among women who tell their partners how they like to be touched, the vast majority have orgasms.

Conversely, when women fake orgasms (which research shows about 70 percent of women do), they are training partners to do precisely what doesn't work for them. Most women fake orgasms during intercourse, based on the false belief this is how they "should" orgasm. Yet, one recent study found that only about 18 percent of women orgasm from penile thrusting alone. In polls I've conducted with over 500 of my students (and detail in my recent book), even fewer (about 5 percent) say that thrusting alone is their "most reliable route to orgasm." The other 95 percent say their most reliable route involves clitoral stimulation, either alone (e.g., oral sex) or coupled with intercourse (e.g., using a vibrator during intercourse).

If you're one of the 95 percent, below you'll find some tips for communicating with your partner about the clitoral stimulation you need, both in and outside of the bedroom. I've also included some pep-talks along the way, especially for those showing new partner's what they want, as many women report feeling especially awkward about this.

During a sexual encounter, you can:

When not having a sexual encounter, you can:

In sum, the vast majority of women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm. This is a fact we need to start talking about, both generally and with our partners in specific, be that a new or a long-term partner. When my students tell me that they'd find it awkward to talk about sex, I semi-jokingly ask them if it's more awkward than having bad or unsatisfying sex. Or, I quote the opening line of the communication chapter in Becoming Cliterate, taken from blogger Corey Silverberg: "Communication isn't always about talking, but I can promise you that one of the keys to great sex is an ability to talk about it. I can also promise that it's easier to learn to talk about sex than it is to learn to read minds."