According to Nagoski, the female experience of orgasm as much more of a mystery than most women realize. From anatomy to arousal, she states that women (as well as their partners) need to relearn how to accommodate their bodies to recreate what sex and sexuality mean to them. One new way to explore sexual response is to see it in terms of two control mechanisms: the accelerator, or gas pedal, and the break.

“The accelerator responds to all the sexually relevant information in the environment — everything you see, hear, touch, smell, taste, or imagine that your brain codes as sexually relevant and it sends the ‘turn on’ signal. The brake, at the same time that that’s happening, is noticing all the very good reasons not to be turned on right now — everything…that’s a potential threat, and it sends a signal that says ‘turn off.’ So, arousal is not just the process of turning on the ons, it’s also turning off the offs.”

For everyone, women and men alike, what is normal for both sexual sensitivity and the sensitivity to threats can be very different on the bell curve. However, we can learn to be more in tune with what arouses us, while generating a safe environment in which to let go of the stressors and worries of daily life. For some women, a good place to start is getting out of one’s habitual environment and also taking the time to pay a visit to her lady parts. Many women lack experience with connecting to their clitoris and vulva as well as the entire masturbation experience. Nagoski urges us to get to know ourselves – then we can share what we’ve learned with our partners.

Check out this interview: