WE hear a lot these days about how people can and should make love, but there are virtually no rules for good sex.
It isn't compulsory to have an orgasm. As long as a woman is left feeling satisfied, neither she nor her partner should feel that they have in any way failed because she hasn't had an orgasm.
Sex is for your pleasure, not to pass some test or keep up with the Jones's.
Many women, however, while they enjoy intercourse with their partner, never or rarely reach orgasm, and are left feeling dissatisfied as a result.
Women's problems over orgasm vary. Some women have never experienced an orgasm at all. This is often because they were brought up to think of sex as something not quite nice.
Parents worried about daughters getting pregnant may keep impressing on them that they mustn't get carried away. It is small wonder that, when they have a partner, they can't suddenly undo all those lessons to their sub-conscious.
Before a woman who has never experienced an orgasm can help her partner to help her to climax, she has to learn for herself what pleases her.
Sex is a positive pleasure, and there is nothing wrong with enjoying it, even when you are alone.
Having given yourself permission to enjoy your sexuality, you have to find out what turns you on, explore the effect of different caresses of the genital area.
There is nothing wrong with self-stimulation - in fact it is a basic part of the treatment prescribed by sex therapists.
It's not stimulation of the vagina, by the way, but of the clitoris that leads to orgasm for most women - the clitoris is the little peak you can feel in the front of the vagina.
When you have an orgasm it feels like an internal throbbing. The intensity varies widely. It can be fierce and wild, it may be quiet and sensuous. The common denominator is it certainly should feel pleasurable.
Some women learn how to masturbate, perhaps as teenagers, but find they are unable to reach a climax with their partner, even if he stimulates them in a similar way.
The most likely cause of this is a variation on the inhibited feelings mentioned before. Their sub-conscious will not let them admit to anyone else that they are enjoying sex.
Sharing regular sessions of all-over massage can help a couple start communicating physically and sexually. Use a little cream or oil, massage and stroke one another all over. Say what feels good and what not-so-good.
When the time feels right, you can begin showing one another how to give the most pleasure by stroking and massaging the sexual areas, too. The only rule is that you should both enjoy it.
Modern-style vibrators designed especially to suit women's sexual responses can make a terrific difference.
Check out www.emotionalbliss.co.uk, www.durex.co.uk and www.passion8.co.uk.
Tingletip is a tiny but powerful vibrator for clitoral stimulation only, designed to fit on the head of an electric toothbrush - so great for travelling (www.tingletip.com).
The Vielle range (www.vielle.co.uk), which includes a non-electrical clitoral stimulator, lubricant and stimulating gel, is widely available in pharmacies and Boots.
Some women can climax when masturbating or when stimulated in some similar way by their partner, but cannot reach orgasm during intercourse.
In fact, this is normal, as only a minority of women do climax during intercourse. Most reach orgasm through other stimulation.
Many couples have perfectly happy ways of making love which involve the man stimulating the woman until she climaxes, either before or after intercourse.
It really doesn't matter how or when a woman reaches her climax, as long as she enjoys it, but if a couple feel that they very much would like the woman to climax during intercourse, they may find a change in position will help or he can caress her at the same time.
The vagina has comparatively few nerve endings and the clitoris has many. Basically, few women can possibly climax unless they are receiving some form of clitoral stimulation.
Of course, it is important for the man to be sure that the woman is really aroused before he attempts intercourse, so they must share lots of loving foreplay first.
Also the man has to be able to sustain intercourse for a reasonable length of time, since it is important to keep stimulating a woman right up to and during orgasm.
If premature ejaculation is a problem, however, let me know because I can send you a free leaflet on how to solve the problem.
Reaching a climax needs some muscle tension and you can give this a nudge in the right direction.
You need to have at least half an hour of foreplay to be sure the woman is fully aroused. Then she shouldn't try to relax but tense the pelvic-floor muscle (if you're unsure how to do this, my free leaflet on increasing sexual sensation explains).
If she then arches her back and puts her head back, this gets her body in the right position to reach climax, as long as her partner carries on pleasuring her.
Assuming a couple feel free to experiment with what feels good to them, then they have a good chance of discovering what will lead to the woman achieving full sexual satisfaction pretty frequently, if not every time.
However, some couples experiment with different positions and techniques and still draw a blank. Too much alcohol can dry up the vaginal secretions and reduce the blood flow to the sex organs.
This in turn can make sex more painful and will affect a woman's ability to have an orgasm.
Loss of orgasm can also be linked with major changes in a woman's life such as childbirth or the menopause. Depression can severely damp down sexual feelings.
It could be that she's had a bad sexual experience in the past or that there's some problem in her relationship with her partner, and unaided you can't stop it getting in the way.
For more details about the help available, or if you want a step-by-step explanation of the self-help therapy suggested earlier, do write for my more detailed free leaflet on solving orgasm problems which explains all this and gives contacts for finding expert sex therapy.