It seems that very little of the female population are aware that we all indeed do have a vaginal pulse, as proven by both modern science and the art of Tantra. Those of us that are in the know may only link this ‘hidden heartbeat’ to feelings of sexual arousal, response, frustration or climax, as measured by several recent Western studies. However, we aren’t so well-informed of the importance of our pulse outside of the realm of sex.
Women’s health web forums are littered with confused and even worried women who are casting their nets out into the dark vortex that is the internet and searching for answers as to why their ‘clit is throbbing at random points throughout the day’ or what it means when ‘my vagina thumps without sexual arousal’. It was slightly astounding to find that there is little unhelpful information on offer, and in some cases even NO response. This, in a day and age where you can do your grocery shop and trace your family history online in one sitting?
In what may be the vaginal version of a ‘gut response’, some women have described a ‘throb’ or ‘thump’ felt in the clitoris when various but certain emotions arise. For instance on steadyhealth.com, Kylie writes that when a complete stranger picked up her two-year old son in the park she stormed over to him, feeling ‘extreme anger’. When the stranger proceeded to throw her child up into the air and catch him, she experienced what she termed a ‘clitoral pulse’ that ‘wasn’t sexual’. She wonders openly whether there is a link between this pulse and strong feelings of protectiveness as she recognised it from another time where a loved one had been threatened. In addition, Kylie noted that she would sometimes feel a pulse when she felt horror or fright, in particular during a gory film. In the post, published over a year ago, Kylie asks if we know why this occurs. Kylie is yet to receive a response.
Other forums such as The Nest see anonymous writers possibly confusing a non-sexual clitoral pulse with a sexual one. One woman writes, ‘I don’t know if it’s due to the fact that I’m almost 32, because I’ve heard that when ladies go through their thirties they hit their sexual prime. I’m thinking that’s what it must be.’ This individual in particular worries that she may be becoming addicted to sex and seeks medical advice from her GP. There is a myriad of other expressions of concern and pure bafflement: Am I having an orgasm just sitting there on the couch? Why is it when my legs are crossed or when I’m laying down but never standing? It’s so annoying, why is it happening? There is no pattern to it, why do I feel like this when I’m not even turned on?
In her wonderful book, Vagina, Naomi Wolf ponders our lack of knowledge about the vaginal pulse. Wolf notes that no one she spoke to during her surveys had ever heard of it and admits that nor had she before she started her research for the book. She asked women to identify their own ‘thump’, when and where it occurred. Many felt a ‘stronger than usual beat’ when their husbands or partners displayed sensitivity, emotional openness, protectiveness or what they considered to be masculine skill, for instance when one’s husband was teaching her son to fix his bike. Another felt a pulse when she ‘heard him sing for the first time‘. And a personal favourite, ‘when we were camping and I realised my pillow smelt mouldy. My husband gave me his pillow, so he didn’t have one; he used his coat. I felt it then.’ It must be mentioned that Wolf expresses regret over not having had the opportunity to receive feedback from women who were lesbian or bisexual, as it would help determine whether different things may trigger the pulse in different sexualities.
What Wolf found surprising in her surveys was that some women reported feeling the beat of their vaginal pulse in ‘entirely nonsexual and non-relationship contexts’. It was a response for some to encountering aesthetic beauty or a being in a situation in which they were feeling creative. One felt her own pulse whilst enjoying the ‘cascading notes’ of Mozart’s “Requiem”. Another details her account: ‘I felt it beat one night when I was filling my car at a gas station. I was facing a state park mountain range, and I noticed a mass of fog coming in over the tops of the mountains. I felt the thump when I realised how beautiful and majestic the scene was.’ Finally, it was found that the vaginal beat was even prevalent in the context of competition, power or ego-validation:
‘I felt the pulse when a coworker who had done something unethical was found out. I felt powerful.’
‘I felt the pulse at my first art show when I listened to people praising my work.’
This research shows that a woman’s vaginal pulse is not only a way to distinguish sexual arousal, but to show us who we are and how we feel on a number of other levels. The findings also suggest that the female response to her own mind, physical being and surrounding environment is first and foremost, erotic. In an age when there seems to be an answer for everything, the complexities of the female anatomy still stir query, question and theory among science. What endearing, resilient, intuitive phenomena we continually prove ourselves to be.
By Brodi Snook
Artwork by Georgia Flowers