What Happened When My Sons Asked Me If Girls Have Orgasms

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Family, Sex

My sons and I were in the car driving home from Target, when my oldest, then 12, asked, "Hey mom, do girls actually have orgasms?"

I felt my throat constrict. The question was so casual, as if he were asking whether fish had bones or bugs had feelings. Where the hell did he come up with that question?

Both of my sons entered puberty at a young age, and we didn't want them to be embarrassed or concerned if they experienced ejaculation, so we made it a point to explain the mechanism of male orgasm to them early on.

My husband took to explaining all the details, including how to wash up if they experienced a nocturnal emission. I was totally OK with not being present during that conversation.

But it had never once occurred to me that they would wonder about women having orgasms. My son's question made me realize how little information I'd given them about female sexuality.

Even if the topic felt uncomfortable for me, I knew that honesty would only help both of my sons as they grew into young men. I didn't want to raise proto-typical cavemen who didn't know a thing about women by the time they reached adulthood.

But, in all honesty, it didn't mean I was jumping at the bit to discuss sex and orgasms with my children.

"Yes, girls definitely have orgasms, too," I told them both. I could see from the rearview mirror that this was completely new information.

"So, like, they have semen?" my 11-year-old asked.

"No, not semen," I answered, trying not to laugh. "Orgasm isn't the same thing as ejaculation. Orgasm is the pleasurable feelings you get when reach the peak of sexual pleasure."

I could see their faces glaze over. I was speaking too much like an adult and needed to find a way to say it in a way they could understand.

"OK, I know this is embarrassing, but have you guys had an orgasm before?" I asked. We were in uncharted territory. While my husband and I had never made a mention of masturbation or sex being wrong or dirty, we also didn't ever ask our sons if they had tripped the lights fantastic, either.

Everyone's cheeks reddened. I saw my sons glance nervously at each other before my oldest bravely answered, "Uh, yeah." My youngest didn't answer, opting instead to laugh while looking at his hands. I took that as a yes.

"Here's the thing: girls have similar feelings as boys when they orgasm. They just don't have semen at the end." Now, this is about as far as I was willing to go. I'm no Rozalin Focker, willing to get grossly explicit about sexual intercourse with my kids.

I was positive that our awkward quota had been met for the day. But, of course, I was wrong.

"How do they have one then?" my oldest asked.

This conversation had reached epic uncomfortable proportions. I coughed and changed the radio station, trying to buy me time before I answered.

"Well, I suppose it's a build-up of friction, the same as for men," I finally answered.

My youngest had stopped staring at his lap and was fully engaged in the conversation.

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"Are we allowed to ask you anything?" he said.

"Sure, always," I replied. What I was thinking was more along the lines of "Please don't ask any more questions about sex!"

"OK," he said, "I know you've only had sex two times, but has dad only had sex two times, too?"

"Two times?" I asked. That totally threw me for a loop. "What do you mean?"

"You know, once to make Junior and once to make me," he answered.

"Nope, just twice," I lied. My sons seemed satisfied with that answer. I know, I know. Lying is wrong. But here's the thing: I liked that my sons were still innocent enough to think that people only had sex to make babies. There was plenty of time for them to find out the truth later.

"I knew it!" cried my youngest. He smiled at my oldest and said, "Now you owe me five bucks. I totally won that bet."

I couldn't help but smile.