betty dodson masturbation

The Dodson Method for Helping Women Orgasm

Gwyneth Paltrow has been on a mission to bring taboo wellness trends to the mainstream via her brand Goop. From vampire facials to vagina-scented candles to jade vaginal eggs, Gwenyth and the Goop team are some of the top wellness trend forecasters.

The stand-out episode from the Netflix series has the team learning about pleasure with feminist sex educator Betty Dodson. Dodson has passed away at the age of 91 since the episode was filmed, but her legacy of enhancing female intimacy lives on. 

Pleasure revolution

There’s more conversation around female sexuality than ever before, thanks in large part to pioneers like Dodson. Born in 1929, Dodson became active in the sex-positive movement of the 1960s.

She organized her infamous “Bodysex workshops,” where she encouraged women to connect with their bodies and erogenous zones while healing shame and promoting self-love. Her somewhat controversial workshops involved encouraging women to masturbate, often in groups. 

Dodson saw the gaps in knowledge that so many women had about their bodies and the female sexual response model, which inspired her educational material and published works.

The orgasm gap

One of the driving forces behind Dodson’s work was the orgasm gap, which examines the differences in female and male orgasm during sex. Researchers found that in one sample of Americans ages 18 to 59, over 90% of men reported having an orgasm during their most recent sexual encounter, compared to only 65% of women. Other studies estimate that 5-10% of women have never had an orgasm, solo or with a partner.

While hosting orgies in the 1960s, she realized just how many women were faking pleasure. Once dubbed the “godmother of masturbation,” Dodson saw pleasure as a key tool in the fourth wave of feminism and advancing gender equality. 

Up close and personal

Dodson’s sessions often started with an anatomy lesson featuring a handheld mirror so that clients could get familiar with their vulvas. In group workshops, this turned into a “genital show-and-tell,” helping normalize vulvas of all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Just identifying the vulva, clitoris, and vagina is an important step for many people. Especially considering that one study on U.S. college students found that 80% of men and 73% of women were unable to correctly locate the vagina. 

The vagina is the internal canal, while the vulva is everything you see on the outside, including the labia majora, labia minora and clitoris. 

How To Do the Dodson Method

The Dodson method uses a weighted dildo, lube, and a wand clitoral vibrator. Facilitators then guided participants through Dodson’s “Rock ‘n Roll” orgasm technique. 

Dodson Method Steps

  1. Lie on your back with your legs bent hip distance apart. Make sure you’re comfortable, using a pillow under your head.
  2. Start rocking your pelvis forward toward your belly button while alternating squeezing and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles and rolling your pelvis back to the ground.
  3. Inhaling as you rock your pelvis forward and squeeze, exhaling as you move your pelvis back to the ground and release your pelvic floor muscles.
  4. Once you get the hang of the motion combined with the breathing and squeezing techniques, you can start to add vaginal penetration using the weighted dildo and clitoral stimulation using the wand. 


Betty claimed that getting oxygen into the bloodstream with the breathing technique is essential for clitoral engorgement, encouraging participants to inhale through their nose and exhale through their mouth. She said to avoid tensing up, instead rolling your hips like you’re dancing while lying down. This is about having fun and feeling good.

Researchers who tested the Dodson method on anorgasmic women found that of 465 patients, 93% experienced an orgasm during therapy. This is impressive considering that 25% of participants had never had an orgasm, and all participants experienced chronic anorgasmia for an average of 12 years. 

Her legacy lives on

Although Betty Dodson is no longer on this planet, her business partner Carlin Ross continues to lead workshops using Dodson’s signature method.

There are many ways to experience pleasure, but considering Dodson started her work in the 1960s, her method was truly ahead of the times.