Studies suggest that the “pleasure gap” is even wider than the wage gap. With their new campaign, ASTROGLIDE hopes to bring equality to the bedroom.
New York City, New York February 1st, 2019
If you’re strolling through the heart of SoHo next week you might notice something looming large on Watts St. between Thompson and 6th. At 16’W x 3’H, the “orgasm” in ASTROGLIDE’s new billboard encouraging passersby to “Fake Fur, Not Orgasms”, is one of the biggest that New York City has ever seen — and that’s exactly what the popular lube brand is going for.
With their new campaign, ASTROGLIDE is tackling the issue of orgasm equality head-on. The goal is to empower women — and the people who love them — to have frank and open conversations about female pleasure and what it takes for a woman to climax in bed. “The world would be a better place if pleasure were equal, and that’s our audacious goal with this campaign: more orgasms,” explains Havner.
As a female-led company (both the CEO and head of marketing are women), ASTROGLIDE aims to lead the conversations around women’s pleasure. However, establishing true orgasm equality will involve more than just awareness and better communication. It will take a greater understanding of the factors that help women find their climax — and ASTROGLIDE has that covered, as well.
“Studies have shown that increased lubrication can help women experience more pleasure and satisfaction in bed,” says Angela Jones, a board certified OBGYN and ASTROGLIDE’s Resident Health Advisor. “I see it all the time in my practice — the use of a personal lubricant helps many of my female patients find intercourse more enjoyable and orgasms easier to achieve.”
In order to further explore the issue of pleasure inequality, ASTROGLIDE has launched OwnYourO.org with a short survey. The goal of this survey is to round out the data on the “orgasm gap”. To say thank you for doing the survey, all participants will be sent a free sample of lube!
Women deserve to be treated as equals in their relationships, in the workplace, and in the bedroom — and the time to have these “let’s get real” conversations is now. As ASTROGLIDE’s new campaign boldly declares, “Life Is Too Short To Fake It.”
We’ve all seen the meme of the piece of salmon trying to make a statement about the amount of times a vagina is penetrated. The first slice of fish has had zero partners and the hole in the fillet is small. The second has had sex and the hole is bigger. And then the third piece of fish—comparing itself to a “slut”—has a gaping hole. While this meme gained popularity recently, its message has been around for as long as women have been having sex. The vagina of a person who has a ton of sex will become loose over time.
Oddly, this analogy only exists only for women who are not in monogamous relationships. Because apparently the vagina of a single woman who’s had sex with a hundred people will look different than one belonging to someone who’s had sex with her husband a hundred times. Funny how that works, huh? It almost seems as if this “fact” about vaginas doesn’t make any sense… and it’s just another way our society shames the sexual autonomy of women by saying our morals, values, and worth plummet each time we have sex.
That’s why our journeys home from a sexual encounter is called a “walk of shame,” and this same journey made by a man is called… a walk.
I’m here to tell you what’s up once and for all: Sex can’t cause a vagina to become loose. Let’s say you’ve fallen prey to this line of thinking and believe vaginas that have a lot of sex result in it becoming loose. You would only fuck girls with super tight vaginas, right? Okay, now imagine this: Someone tells you that when you stick your dick into that super tight vagina, it squishes a little because your partner is so tight. But watch out: Because the more sex you have with that tight vagina, you’ll keep squishing your dick. That’s right: Imagine working against a stigma that the more sex you have with a vagina, the smaller your penis will become. “But a vagina could never permanently change my penis!” you’d claim. You’re right. It can’t. And the opposite scenario is also 100 percent true.
Soon after sex is over, the vagina—once able to accommodate a penis because of arousal—returns to its natural pre-dicked-down size and shape.
When I asked Angela Jones, an obgyn and Astroglide’s resident sexual health advisor about this, she laughed out loud. “Vaginas were built to accommodate. Babies pass through vaginas for crying out loud. [This is the] obvious reason penises, no matter how many, can’t ‘loosen’ a vagina,” Jones explains. “A penis in the vagina, no matter how many, is like dropping a pebble in a pond. You see the effects initially, then there are no after effects.”
Hear that? Soon after sex is over, the vagina—once able to accommodate a penis because of arousal—returns to its natural pre-dicked-down size and shape.
Vaginal atrophy does exist, Jones tells me, but it has to do with age and hormones. Menopause, post-pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause decreased levels of estrogen in the vagina, which results in it losing its ability to lubricate and accommodate a penis due to loss of tissue folds. The tissue also becomes thinner and paler. But it’s still not flopping around like a drunk Muppet, ya idiot.
“But sometimes I can feel my partner squeezing me!” you may be thinking to yourself. That, my friend, is your partner engaging their pelvic floor—something that is not part of the vagina. It’s a muscle that lies under the uterus, bladder and rectum. In fact, you have one, too! Ever pee and then try to stop the flow of urine? That’s your pelvic floor working. Pelvic floor exercises are used to help with things like managing incontinence (involuntary urination when you cough/sneeze/etc) and making pushing out a baby easier.
Labias vary in size, shape, and color. Just like balls. Are balls bad for being a certain size or shape? No. They’re just balls.
So when someone’s screwing me and tells me I’m “so tight,” do I laugh internally? Sure. Because every single person with a vagina has heard this. And then I kegel on their dick some more. Not for their pleasure but because it helps me orgasm quicker and more intensely.
“But what about vaginas that look ‘sloppy?'” you ask next. First of all, rude. Second of all, you’ve been swindled by the dumbest rumour ever created: that women with large labia are loose. The two sets of labia, or the “lips” surrounding the vagina like a pair of parentheses, come in all shapes and sizes. Just like we equate toned stomachs or round butts with “perfection,” we are taught that small, flat labia are “pretty.” Labias vary in size, shape and colour. Just like balls. Are balls bad for being a certain size or shape? No. They’re just balls. Labias are just labias. Essentially, the vagina has a pair of curtains framing it that can come in a hundred different combinations of length, fabrics and designs. But those curtains don’t change the size of the window.
In the end, the “loose vagina” myth is just another way we tell people with vaginas who have sex often that they’re damaged goods, severely tarnished by their decision to sleep with whoever they want. (One day, I wish men could feel this shame women have to actively work against every day—even when it’s purely subconscious, internalized, and we logically know it’s wrong.) Don’t compare anyone’s vagina to a piece of salmon. Equating it with an object is just that: objectifying it. So know just as your dick doesn’t change shape no matter how much sex you have, neither will a vagina.
12 things that happen in your brain when you have an orgasm
Having an orgasm can have some surprising effects on your brain.
The release of hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin is the reason a person might feel happy and sleepy after having an orgasm.
The logical part of your brain basically shuts down during sex but other spatially remote parts of your brain are activated.
Though you don't need to have an orgasm to find sex pleasurable, it's definitely a great bonus.
In order to figure out what's going on our brains when we climax, researchers use fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Machines or a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans. These devices can measure the blood flow and neuron activity in the brain.
By studying the brain activity of people having orgasms in these machines, scientists have learned some pretty amazing stuff. INSIDER consulted with experts to find out exactly what happens in your brain when you have an orgasm.
The logical part of your brain basically shuts down during sex.
There's a reason why people tend to feel bolder and less inhibited during sex — the part of your brain in charge of your logical reasoning skills temporarily goes on vacation.
"The lateral orbitofrontal cortex becomes less active during sex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for reason, decision making, and value judgments. The deactivation of this part of the brain is also associated with decreases in fear and anxiety," clinical psychologist Daniel Sher told INSIDER.
This shutdown of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex actually makes sense, as fear and anxiety can interrupt arousal and lead to problems like performance anxiety.
Multiple spatially remote parts of your brain are involved in having an orgasm.
Medical imaging tests suggest there are multiple spatially remote brain regions that are involved in sexual response.
"Researchers have found that genital sensory cortex, motor areas, hypothalamus, thalamus, and substantia nigra all light up during the big O," cognitive psychologist Kayt Sukel explained to INSIDER.
The thalamus helps integrate information about touch, movement, and any sexual memories or fantasies that someone might call upon to help them reach orgasm. Meanwhile, the hypothalamus is busy producing oxytocin and may help coordinate arousal.
"Motor areas are also involved because the body is (hopefully) moving during the act, and the genital sensory cortex is registering touches to the body's nether regions," Sukel added.
When you orgasm, your brain releases a surge of dopamine.
During orgasm, your brain is working overtime to produce a slew of different hormones and neurochemicals. One of these is dopamine, a hormone that is responsible for feelings of pleasure, desire, and motivation.
As Sher explained, dopamine is formed in a part of the brain called the ventral segmental area and released into other parts such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.
"Some refer to dopamine as a 'pleasure' chemical - though research has shown it offers us much more than just a good time. It's really more of a learning chemical, helping to take notice of rewards like food and sex, and figure out how to get more of them," said Sukel.
Oxytocin is released during both orgasm and breastfeeding.
Another hormone that the brain makes during orgasm is oxytocin. Secreted by the pituitary gland and released in the hypothalamus, this hormone makes us feel close to others and promotes affection.
"Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormone because it's also released during breastfeeding and is known to facilitate a sense of love and attachment," said Sher.
Prolactin is also released during orgasm and is responsible for that feeling of satisfaction that accompanies orgasm. It's also the main hormone responsible for milk production following pregnancy.
Of course, the release of oxytocin and prolactin during both sex and breastfeeding doesn't mean a person experiences the same sensations in both situations. These hormones can play different roles in our bodies and are part of the brain's way of strengthening our social connections.
Having an orgasm stimulates your brain in the same way as doing drugs or listening to your favorite music.
Surprisingly, the brain doesn't differentiate much between sex and other pleasurable experiences. The parts of your brain that make you feel good after indulging in dessert or winning at poker are the same areas that light up during orgasm.
"Sex is experienced as pleasurable and this is because the reward pathways in our brains are activated during and leading up to orgasm. These are the very same networks that are activated in response to drug use, alcohol consumption, gambling, listening to your favorite song or enjoying a delicious meal," said Sher.
Your brain gives off chemicals that make you less sensitive to pain during sex.
It's not your imagination - the body really is less sensitive to pain during sex.
"As the pituitary gland is activated, the release of endorphins, oxytocin, and vasopressin promote pain reduction, intimacy, and bonding," Jess O'Reilly, , Astroglide's resident sexologist told INSIDER.
This may help explain why things that might make us wince in a non-sexual situation, like smacking or hair-pulling, aren't as painful during sex and can even be pleasurable.
Orgasm and pain actually activate some of the same brain areas.
The reason that some people derive sexual pleasure from experiencing pain might be related to the fact that orgasm and pain actually affect a few of the same areas of the brain.
"Several of the areas of the brain (namely, within the cortex) that are responsible for pain are active during orgasm," revealed Sher.
After an orgasm, the brain releases hormones that can make you feel happy and sleepy.
Once an orgasm has occurred, your brain tends to slow down. But it doesn't go off-duty entirely.
"In both men and women, the orgasm signals the parasympathetic nervous system to start down-regulating (or calming) the body. The prefrontal cortex, which was previously activated leading up to orgasm, also becomes down-regulated - and this is linked to increased levels of oxytocin to facilitate attachment," explained Sher.
Sukel added that the brain also churns out serotonin after an orgasm. This hormone is known to promote good mood and relaxation. In some people, serotonin can also lead to drowsiness and the desire to curl up for a nap.
However, the brains of women tend to keep releasing oxytocin even after orgasm.
All brains experience the release of oxytocin during sex, which is a hormone responsible in part for creating feelings of closeness and bonding. However, the brains of women behave a little differently after orgasm.
"In women, oxytocin tends to continue to be released after orgasm, which may explain the motivation for post-coital cuddles," noted Sher.
In people who are unable to feel genital stimulation, the brain might actually remap itself to allow them to reach orgasm.
Though we usually think of orgasm and sexual pleasure as being dependent on the stimulation of our genitals, that's not entirely true. In some cases, the brain can create new pathways to pleasure that don't involve our sexual organs at all.
"When organs are injured or removed, remapping of the senses may occur allowing us to experience sexual and orgasmic sensations in other body parts," O'Rielly explained.
In people who have suffered lower body paralysis, for example, the brain might actually rewire itself in order to allow a person to achieve orgasm through stimulation of other body parts, such as the skin of the arm or the nipples.
Orgasms might be nature's way of 'tricking' us into reproducing.
Orgasms are undoubtedly a good time, but they also might be the brain's sneaky way of getting us to reproduce.
"If you think about it objectively, the idea of risking your life and health to birth what's basically a parasite living in you for nine months, which you then have to raise for the next decade, is a lot of work. Mother Nature may be 'tricking' us to make sure the species doesn't die out," said Sukel.
Though scientists aren't entirely sure why we have orgasms, Sher pointed out that experiencing a moment or two of pure euphoria effectively rewards us for having sex. It reinforces this behavior and keeps us coming back for more.
Having an orgasm might actually help keep your brain healthy.
Along with enticing us to reproduce, orgasming might also help keep our brains healthy.
"It may also be that, evolutionarily speaking, since this activity increases blood flow across the brain so dramatically, it may have developed in part to help keep the brain healthy, too," explained Sukel.
Research has also suggested that female orgasm may have once played a role in stimulating ovulation, though now ovulation occurs spontaneously and doesn't depend on sexual activity.
Creative shop Vitro's new campaign for Astroglide personal care lubricant wants New York Fashion Week-goers to know that "Life is too short to fake it."
The campaign, despite its sexy (literally) subject matter, is pretty innocuous from a visual perspective — with messages like "Fake lashes, not orgasms" or "Fake diamonds, not orgasms."
Vitro account supervisor Tara Lynch says the campaign is meant to highlight an "orgasm gap" among women.
But getting the ads out into the world hasn't been easy. "Getting people to put the word 'orgasm' on a billboard in New York City was nearly impossible," she says. "We got turned down by tons and tons and tons of out-of-home vendors."
She added that Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram also wouldn't run the ads. I've reached out to all three for comment and nobody responded by this column's deadline.
"It's just been more of a challenge than you would expect talking about something that is pretty common," says Lynch.