Do orgasms help cramps

From one vagina owner to another, let me say that there’s nothing more relaxing, healthy, and amazing-feeling than masturbating. Mix that with being on your period, and the outcome is even better!

So let’s get the taboos surrounding masturbation and menstruation straight: people are often horrified when they hear the word “period,” “menstruation,” or “blood,” but are even more disturbed when people say “masturbate” in a normal conversation. We get that not everybody likes to openly discuss these topics, but it’s also important to know that masturbating and being on your period are two completely NORMAL and HEALTHY things. So, before we dive into why masturbating on your period is totally beneficial for you, remember that there’s no shame in having a period (it’s literally the essence of your existence), and it’s most definitely not dirty or disgraceful to pleasure yourself (ever heard of an orgasm? Those things are magical).

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets talk about masturbating on your period, shall we? As long as you’re comfortable with getting a little blood on your fingers or sex toy (we’ve been loving Dame vibrators lately), then you’re definitely in for a treat!

Here are a few reasons why masturbating on your period is totally A-OKAY.

Contents

Orgasms may alleviate menstrual cramps

Yes. It’s true. While being on your period can sometimes feel like a drag, there are so many ways to alleviate your cramps without taking painkillers. Just masturbate! It’s pretty simple, when you masturbate, it eventually leads to an orgasm, and when you orgasm, you’re improving blood flow to the genitals. Crazy right? This increase in blood flow can ease your menstrual cramps and get rid of that throbbing headache.

Stronger and longer orgasms

During your period, your vagina might be a little swollen and more sensitive than usual. Like we said above, it all comes down to blood flow – and hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone play an important role in the intensity of your orgasm. During menstruation, your estrogen levels rise and progesterone levels decrease, causing the rise of testosterone (testosterone isn’t only for people with a penis!). The rise of testosterone regulates the sex drive, which is probably why you’re feeling extra horny during this time and your orgasms feel more intense.

Self-love is self-care and that’s important

We are such advocates for self-love and care. We get that being on your period can mean binge watching your favorite tv show and eating that entire bucket of ice cream, but sometimes we need a little more. Go ahead and grab your favorite sex toy, rub yourself (whatever gets the job done), and make sure you’re relaxed! Listening to your body is especially important during your menstrual cycle.

Fall asleep faster

Not only is masturbating fun, but it will help you sleep better! If you’re one of those people who can’t sleep well due to your period, then you might want to start masturbating before bed. Releasing some endorphins before bed (aka having an orgasm) will knock you right out. If you’re already skipping the gym this week due to your period, consider some “you” time in the comfort of your own bed or wherever you like to pleasure yourself!

Gain self-confidence

Happiness and confidence are the answers to feeling good, right? Unfortunately, being on your period can make you feel the complete opposite of that. One way to boost your confidence during your menstrual cycle is to… yep, you guessed it – MASTURBATE! Masturbating relaxes your brain and releases the good stuff such as endorphins, dopamine, and the love hormone; oxytocin, which are all linked to making you feel happy and more in touch with yourself. By bringing pleasure to your body, you are also boosting your confidence!

Masturbating while on your period doesn’t have to be messy
Who said masturbating on your period had to be messy? If you’re like us, then you know how life-saving using a menstrual cup can be! Not everybody uses their fingers or inserts other objects to reach an orgasm, so whether you “O” with a simple rub or use a vibrator for some clitoral stimulation, you can count on Lunette Menstrual Cup to provide a total mess-free experience.

Go on, do it. (Picture: Dave Anderson/metro.co.uk)

The idea of looking down and seeing your hands covered in blood might not be the sexiest thing on the planet.

But if that alone is putting you off masturbating while you’re on your period, that’s a real shame – because a period self-love sesh can be bloody (sorry) magical.

It might be a little tricky to get past the initial ick reaction, but once you actually try it out (and realise it’s rarely as messy as you’d think) you’ll want to do it all the time. Promise.

Here’s why you should masturbate when you’re on your period. If you want, obviously. No one’s making you.

1. It really won’t be as messy as you’re imagining

Yes, you might get some blood and other fluids on your hands. But you can wash them immediately afterwards, you know.

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Plus you’re actually releasing a lot less blood than you might be imagining. You tend to release around 30ml to 40ml of blood throughout the course of menstruation.

In the half an hour that you’re getting off, there’s hardly any blood actually being released. So stop imagining getting puddles of blood up to your shoulder.

2. Period blood isn’t ‘gross’ or ‘dirty’

It’s just a natural shedding of the uterine lining.

It’s not toxic, dirty, or in any way damaging to get on your hands or a sex toy.

3. And the idea that it’s gross is just another way of criticising women’s bodies

If you think that periods are gross, you’re effectively just saying that you think vaginas are gross. Which they’re not. They’re glorious.

4. It’s easy to clean up afterwards

Make sure to wash and wipe down any toys and you’re set.

5. Orgasms can relieve cramp-related pain

And pain in general, which is handy if you’re someone who gets headaches, back-ache, and every other ache during period time.

6. And they’ll make you feel sexier when you might be feeling rubbish

There are few things that make you feel sexier than, well, doing something sexual.

You don’t need to get anyone else involved to accomplish that. Do it solo.

7. Let’s be real. You’re horny.

Increased period horny-ness is a very real thing and it must be used to its full potential.

8. And you might have even better orgasms than usual

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When you’re extra turned on, orgasms are always more likely. Make the most of it.

This ceramic artist is making glorious vulva vases

9. Masturbating can reduce the length of your periods

The contractions caused by having an orgasm work to shift the uterine lining out more quickly, meaning that masturbating a few times can actually end up reducing your period by a day or two. Sweet.

10. You won’t need any lube

Period blood is a natural lubricant. Nice.

11. It’s a brilliant way to complete your period-related self-care routine

Sweatpants on. Junk food ready. Pile of blankets.

Add in a masturbation sesh and your evening is pretty much perfect.

12. It’s always brilliant to take sexual pleasure into your own hands

It’s empowering to know that you’re able to make yourself feel good whenever you want.

13. It relieves stress

Which is important on a normal day, but absolutely crucial when you’re PMS-ing.

14. There are literally no bad side effects

No risk of pregnancy (which there is when you have period sex with a partner), no risk of STIs, absolutely no bad outcomes apart from potential stains.*

*Which you can avoid by putting down a towel and quickly rinsing any stained stuff with cold water before popping it in the washing machine.

15. It might even be better than period sex

You know what you like better than anyone else.

MORE: 13 reasons you should have sex on your period

MORE: This artist has created a period themed colouring book to start the conversation around menstruation

MORE: Why the #IfMenHadPeriods hashtag has a serious problem

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For whatever reason The Universe decided that women must experience bleeding and cramping for one week a month during her most active years has surely been debated since the first woman turned 13. But if progress has given us any tools over the last several thousand years, perfecting the methods that soothe our monthly woes is nothing short of a victory. While millions of women turn to pain relief pills with gnarly side effects, or take birth control pills to decrease the number of cycles they have each year, or just suffer through the pain needlessly, there are a number of effective measures to reduce and prevent menstrual cramping—including, yes, The Orgasm.

1. Orgasms cause the uterine muscles to contract and release a slew of brain chemicals, including oxytocin, which is the body’s natural pain reliever and can stop menstrual cramps immediately. If having sex seems like an unnatural act when on your cycle, consider using menstrual catchment devices like the Softcup, which you can wear during sexual activity. It fits like a diaphragm and collects menstrual blood at the cervix so your partner won’t even know it’s there.

2. Acupuncture has been used for millennia to ease all sorts of physical ailments, including pain. Certain pressure points on the body can be activated to release pain and other blocks within the body.

3. Calcium and magnesium deficiencies have been linked to menstrual cramping. Eating foods high in calcium and magnesium or taking cal/mag supplements can help to relax the uterus and relieve muscle soreness.

4. Avoid chemicals that produce unnatural estrogens. Many household products from lotions to laundry detergent can contain chemicals that mimic the body’s natural hormones, and they can increase the body’s risk of excessive cramping and even lead to more serious issues like mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

5. Going for a run or taking a yoga class can seem like the very last thing your body wants to do when having cramps, but exercise improves blood flow, which can move the cramping out of you rather quickly.

6. Drinking a glass of wine takes the edge off of most anything. And if you’re experiencing menstrual cramps, it will also thin the blood, which can help reduce your pain.

7. Stay busy! An active mind rarely notices what’s going on in the body, so whether that’s watching a movie, working or spending time with friends or loved ones, resist the urge to curl up in bed and suffer and you’ll probably be glad you did.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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A PHOTOGRAPHER has captured the moments before, during and after a woman orgasms with an incredibly intimate photo series.

Marcos Alberti’s latest work, suitably dubbed “O Project”, aims to present female sexuality as it has never been seen before.

22 A new photo series captures women’s orgasm facesCredit: Marcos Alberti

To capture the climatic moment of twenty women, he paired up with sex toy company Smile Makers, who believe that being sexually satisfied is the key to being beautiful.

Marcos asked each of his subjects to sit on a stool in front of him and pleasure themselves with one of the brand’s products.

He then captured the build up to climax and the moments afterwards.

The resulting photos chart each woman’s facial changes – and the speed at which her expression changed.

22 The photo series was made in collaboration with sex toy brand Smile MakersCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 Marcos Alberti photographed women of different ages as they climaxed using a sex toyCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 The intimate portraits capture a range of emotionsCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This woman’s face twitches after she has orgasmedCredit: Marcos Alberti

The photographer has a track record for expertly capturing women in vulnerable and private moments.

Last year he was responsible for ‘3 Glasses’, a series which featured his friends of both sexes being pictured after three glasses of wine.

He said of that project: ““There is a saying about wine that I really like.

“It’s something like this, ‘The first glass of wine is all about the food, the second glass is about love and the third glass is about mayhem’.

“I really wanted to see for myself if that affirmation was in fact true.”

22 This lady;s expression barely changes through her climax processCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This lady can’t stop smilingCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This lady clearly delighted in being in the photo seriesCredit: Marcos Alberti

BED IDEAS The worst things you can do during sex – from saying ‘I love you’ for the first time to insulting someone’s genitals

22 The photographer’s work is similar to his ‘3 Glasses’ project from last yearCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 Marcos is renowned for capturing intimate portraitsCredit: Marcos Alberti

Those familiar with that work will recognise that the orgasm photos were taken in the same four-way style.

See the rest of the women’s ‘O Faces’ below…

22 This lady pushes her hair out of her face after orgasmingCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 Marcos Alberti photographed twenty different women for his photo seriesCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 Each of the photos shows women going through the orgasm process in their own wayCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This woman’s huge smile at the end says it allCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 Women of all ages were invited to take part in the photosCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 The sex toy brand behind the series claim that being sexually satisfied makes women more attractiveCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 The photos also look at how long it takes for women’s expressions to changeCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 The photos give strangers the chance to see women as normally only a lover wouldCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This lady seemed shy at the start of the process, but was beaming at the endCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This lady’s huge smile is exactly what Smile Makers want to achieve with their productsCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 This lady sits back with a grin on her face by the endCredit: Marcos Alberti 22 The images are intimate but not pervyCredit: Marcos Alberti

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7 Reasons To Have Sex on Your Period, Because The Health Benefits Certainly Outweigh Any Mess

Sure, period sex can sometimes be a messy situation. Although you may not find yourself covered head-to-toe in blood as if you’ve just bathed in an entire vat of it, the activity can still wreak some heavy-duty havoc if you don’t take precautions to keep the collateral damage to a minimum. (You know, like towels.) But as we learned back in September, when Maureen O’Connor wrote about the topic for New York Magazine, period sex is a thing that people are doing. And a lot of dudes are into it — like, really into it. And I say good for them! But why are people still so hesitant to have sex on their periods?

“Some people are hesitant to have sex on their period, but believe it or not, having your period can make sex even better,” Lauren Schulte Wang, CEO of The Flex Company, tells Bustle. “There are many reasons to enjoy sex whenever you feel it’s right for you. Your period is completely natural and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

While it might not for the squeamish, there are some surprising pros to having sex while you’re in the midst of menstruating. (And no, not getting pregnant is not one of them, because you can totally get preggers while on your period.) So, whatever you do, don’t rule it out, and don’t let yourself feel ashamed of it.

Here are seven reasons to get it on when you have your period.

1. It Helps Alleviate Cramps

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Obviously, this one also goes for when you’re PMS-ing. If you suffer major cramps during your period, then an orgasm can help nip those in the bud. When we orgasm, the body releases oxytocin and dopamine, along with other endorphins that can ease any period-related pains.

“Period sex can be messy but, there are significant benefits to having sex while on your period,” reproductive endocrinologist and founder of Generation Next Fertility Dr. Janelle Luk tells Bustle. “Sex can significantly lessen menstrual cramps and pelvic pain by releasing endorphins that work as pain and stress relief.”

You may think popping ibuprofen or your favorite over-the-counter pain reliever will do the trick, and it can to a degree, but nothing is quite as powerful as an orgasm when it comes to alleviating pain.

“While taking medication can help alleviate menstrual cramps, having an orgasm is a more natural way to relieve pain from menstruation,” Dr. Anna Klepchukova, MD, chief science officer at Flo Health, tells Bustle. “This happens because endorphins. Dopamine and serotonin are released during sex and can change pain sensitivity, providing some relief from cramping.”

Whether it’s sex with a partner or sex with yourself, that orgasm is going to deliver.

2. There’s Less Need For Lube

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If your vagina is on the dry side, or have a difficult time producing enough lubrication naturally, then period sex will likely be a welcome break from needing lube. But before you start thinking the whole “ew, blood” thing again, think about this: Yes, you’re bleeding when you menstruate, but most of what you’re seeing is actually the shedding of your uterine lining.

“The hormonal fluctuations that occur during the period cycle can cause women to have a higher sex drive and many women find period sex more enjoyable because there is no need for additional lubricant,” Dr. Luk says. “Even though lubrication may not be needed during period sex, women should still use protection because there is still a chance that you could become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease while on your period.”

On average, women lose between two to three tablespoons of blood each month. But not all of what you see is blood, as there are other fluids in there as well. Because of what an overpowering color red is, it looks like there’s far more blood than there actually is. If you can rationalize just how minimal the blood is and focus on the positive — the extra lube — you may find it more enjoyable.

3. You Probably Won’t Actually Find It Gross

Ashley Batz for Bustle

A 2012 study proved what anyone who’s been in the heat of the moment during their period already knows: Everything besides having sex becomes secondary. Researchers in the Netherlands found that sexual arousal overrides the natural disgust response, which means that once you get started, the fact that you’re on your period may not even enter your mind.

“Your hormone levels are perfectly suited for a high sex drive during your period,” Schulte Wang says. “Progesterone is known to lower libido, and since that hormone is the lowest at the beginning of your cycle, you may feel more in the mood compared to other times of the month.”

Between a heightened sense of tolerance for things that you’d usually find pretty gross and an increased libido, it’s safe to say that the whole blood factor just might be very far from your mind. Especially once you add in the fact that sex during your period is amazing for cramps — far better than any pill — and the lubrication factor. For women who experience painful sex, either due to friction or not being fully aroused, the extra slickness that comes with having sex while menstruating can make intercourse more enjoyable than it would be otherwise.

And after a few minutes, you’ll be too busy enjoying yourself and too aroused to even care that blood is part of the equation.

4. It Can Shorten The Length Of Your Period

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“During orgasm, the uterus contracts, and therefore blood may just get pushed out faster and the flow may seem a little bit different,” Dr. Alyssa Dweck, OB/GYN, Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and author of V is for Vagina, tells Bustle. “And prostaglandins may have a role; they are secreted chemical compounds responsible for menstrual cramps.”

What this also means is that you don’t have to have sex with another person to shorten the length of your period. Masturbation, one of the best ways to kill time and enjoy yourself, can also contribute to shorten your period — as long as you orgasm, of course.

But not only will sex and masturbation, thanks to orgasms, shorten the length of your period, but it will also flush out the compounds within the uterus that are causing all that cramping and pressure in the first place. Granted, it’s not a guaranteed way to shorten your period, just like there’s no guaranteed way to make your period come faster. But it for sure doesn’t hurt and there are those remarkable natural pain relievers that come with it, no matter what, so that’s something worth considering.

5. It Can Create Greater Intimacy

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Although a January 2019 consumer study by The Flex Company found that 85% of women are less likely to be intimate during their period, it doesn’t have to be that way. When you’re willing to open up the floodgates and have sex on your period, you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability, even if it’s something you’re not 100% comfortable with, can make relationships stronger.

“It can bring up a lot of fear and anxiety to be open and vulnerable with your partner…,” licensed psychologist, Jaclyn Witmer Lopez, tells Bustle. “Vulnerability is a huge contributor to intimacy and connection so one must fight the urge to shut it down.”

In other words, having sex on your period is also opening the doors to deeper intimacy between you and your partner. The more intimacy in a relationship, the better the connection and communication. Having period sex is basically saying, “I wouldn’t let just anyone be this wrapped up in my blood and I can’t imagine you’d do this with just anyone either.”

6. It Will Break You Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you’re a missionary-in-bed-only type of sex-haver, period sex may change that. You may decide to try new positions, or opt against intercourse in favor of other sex-related activities. According to Dr. Dweck, sex in the shower is an option that some of her patients choose when a partner is menstruating. Not just because it can save a beloved set of 1000-count Egyptian sheets, but spare a possible mess, although likely minimal, as well.

But, it should be noted that shower sex works better in theory than in practice. Without the right footing, sex in the shower can be downright dangerous. For those who don’t want to risk shower sex, The Flex Company makes a disposable menstrual disc that works similar to a period cup in that it collects menstrual fluid, but it’s worn at the base of the cervix, leaving your vagina open for business.

7. Because You Know You Want To

Ashley Batz for Bustle

People with periods tend to be pretty damn horny both right before and during their period. The reason for this is that the pelvic area and genitals get really swollen, building arousal.

“There are some women who love to have sex during their period, and no wonder, our estrogen is usually at its lowest at the beginning of our period,” sex educator and intimacy coach, Elle Chase, tells Bustle. “During our flow our estrogen AND our testosterone rises making us feel more sexed up. Plus, increases in blood flow can make our vulva and vagina more sensitive while we’re menstruating… so there’s that. A heightened horniness and pleasure can become associated with period sex, intensifying sexual desire.”

But not only is there the desire, but with it comes pleasure. Lots of it. For some people, there’s a deep urge to have sex while they’re menstruating and to indulge in that deep urge makes sex even better. It’s like finally giving in and scratching that annoying mosquito bite: it feels like absolute heaven.

“Many women experience more pleasurable sex during their period because of changes in libido that occur naturally throughout the menstrual cycle,” Dr. Klepchukova says.

So if you have the desire to have sex, then why on earth let a little blood stand in your way? After all, it’s not like you let your period stop you from doing anything else.

This post was originally published on January 15, 2015. It was updated on June 24, 2019.

When your period is around the corner and your cramps gradually start to kick in, the first things you reach for are ibuprofen and a hot water bottle (and maybe some dark chocolate). One PMS remedy you may have never considered, though, is having sex. Before you cringe and back away, hear us out. Medical professionals say that having an orgasm can actually help relieve your menstrual cramps.

POPSUGAR spoke to Jennifer Wider, MD, a renowned women’s health expert and author, who explained the connection between sex and menstrual cramps. First of all, she confirmed that it is, in fact, true. Sex can help you beat your cramps.

“The reason that having an orgasm can help ease menstrual cramps is because when a woman climaxes, more blood rushes to the uterus, which can help with cramps,” Dr. Wider said. “At the same time, her body releases chemicals that function as pain killers.” Essentially, your orgasms are performing a double service for you, which will make your period a lot easier to deal with.

Having sex isn’t the only way to relieve your menstrual cramps, so don’t feel like you have to participate in the activity if you don’t want to. You can always stick with your trusty over-the-counter pain medication and hot water bottle if that’s your favourite way to unwind. Don’t forget, though, that flying solo between the sheets can provide you with just as much relief as having sex with a partner.

In case you were wondering, yes, Dr. Wider has heard from plenty of people that orgasms have worked for their cramps. “Many women attest to this,” she told POPSUGAR. “I would recommend it as long as women practice safe sex.”

What do you have to lose? Give it a shot and see if that orgasm helps you conquer PMS.

Image Source: Unsplash / Pablo Heimplatz

4 Non-Sexual Things That Can Make You Orgasm

From vibrators to masturbation, there are plenty of ways to make climaxing outside of intercourse itself just a little bit easier-or more fun. But, there are also some non-sexual ways that may do the trick too. From sleeping, to working out, to even just thinking, check out these surprising ways you may be able to reach an orgasm outside the bedroom.

Plus, find out what’s going on in your head when you orgasm-and how it affects your health.

Sleeping

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During the REM stage of sleep, it’s not uncommon for female genitals to become engorged and lubricated, which can lead to an orgasm. “These orgasms often accompany erotic dreams, but they also may occur during dreams of a nonerotic nature,” Barbara Bartlik, M.D., a New York-based psychiatrist and sex therapist tells Woman’s Day. See? Wet dreams aren’t just for horny teeange boys.

Working Out

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A topic which continues to be researched is the “coregasm,” or exercise-induced orgasm. According to a landmark study conducted a few years ago, abdominal exercises (hence coregasm), climbing, and lifting weights were among the most common exercises to induce orgasm. SoulCycle addicts will be happy to know that exercise-induced sexual pleasure was also reported during biking/spinning. If an orgasm during your next exercise class isn’t optimal, here are some other workout-induced pleasures backed by research.

Thinking

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There may not be much science behind this one, but New York-based sex coach Barbara Carrellas insists you can actually think yourself to an orgasm, or “think off,” through deep breathing and Kegels. Check out one Salon writer’s experience with the technique here.

Whispering

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Although controversial, some claim that the sound of whispering or tapping fingernails can cause pleasurable tingles, or ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response). This tingling sensation can be accompanied by feelings of euphoria and relaxation, leading some to coin the experience a “brain-gasm,” or brain orgasm, Atlantic reports.

  • By Kylie Gilbert @KylieMGilbert

While an explosive climax might be on the list, it’s probably not the only thing. Foreplay, setting, your connection with your partner, and more play a role in determining how you feel about a hookup. Studies suggest that while likelihood of orgasm certainly impacts sexual satisfaction, variables such as communication and conflict with your partner are also hugely important. Other research shows your sexual self-esteem, or your confidence in getting intimate, has a lot to do with how much you enjoy a sexual encounter. Yes, your orgasm should be considered just as important as your partner’s. But having an orgasm doesn’t mean you had great sex, and great sex doesn’t require an orgasm.

5. Women can’t get blue balls.

Blue walls, pink balls, or just an annoyingly throbbing clit: Whatever you want to call it, people with vaginas can and do experience discomfort from unresolved sexual stimulation, Luterman says. So do those with testicles, but they do not get ownership over the sometimes-agonizing feeling of unfulfilled orgasm. Arousal sends blood to the genitals, which can then swell and ache no matter what they look like.

6. You should be having multiple orgasms when you have sex.

Male-bodied people typically require a “refractory period” after orgasm before they can come again. Some female-bodied people, on the other hand, can stay at a heightened level of arousal after orgasm and experience a second (or third or fourth) in rapid succession.

Research suggests, though, that only about 15 percent of female-bodied have experienced multiple orgasms. It’s totally awesome that some people are capable of having them. What’s not awesome is feeling down if you aren’t, because statistically speaking, it’s just not in the cards.

7. It’s worth it to fake orgasms to make your partner feel good.

Please, please do not fake orgasms. Anyone who has faked it must take some responsibility for the phenomenon of straight cis men expecting a few thrusts in missionary will make women see god. Every time some dude says, “My ex used to come all the time from that” — “that” being penetrative sex free of clit stimulation — I want to shout that she probably faked it. Then I curse her, and then I feel bad for cursing a woman who was simply taught to believe her partner’s sexual confidence was more important than her own pleasure.

So let’s just stop faking orgasms. Luterman says she teaches the couples she counsels to consider faking orgasms a form of lying. You are neglecting your own sexual satisfaction when you fake it, plus misleading your partner about their role in that satisfaction. (Think about how hurt they’ll be if they eventually find out.)

8. Everyone has orgasms.

If you can’t or don’t orgasm, you are no less a beautiful goddess capable of a hot, healthy, full sex life. Some 10 to 15 percent of female-bodied people experience anorgasmia, or the inability to come. Anorgasmia may be caused by medication such as antidepressants, a history of trauma, or, frustratingly, for reasons unknown.

It’s a bummer, but having it doesn’t mean you won’t at some point have an orgasm or that you can’t enjoy sex. Some people can’t get off; some people can only get off with a vibrator or from sitting on cakes. We all have our own individual quirks, preferences, and abilities in the bedroom, and that’s more than okay. As long as the sex you’re having is consensual and safe, you’re doing it right.

9. Sex is over when the partner with a penis comes.

Hell no. Sex is over when all parties are satisfied and ready to call it quits. If the yoga instructor I’m having sex with has already finished, he is absolutely going to rub my clit or go down on me until I’ve come, too, because guess what? My pleasure matters just as much as his. (Life tip: Have sex with a yoga instructor at least once — they’re flexible and great with instructions.)

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At long last, the world is beginning to embrace the female orgasm. Women are singing about masturbation, scientists are studying what happens to women’s brains when they orgasm, and the internet is full of advice on having better orgasms. Which is great—but all this talk can make you feel left out if you’ve never even had an orgasm yet.

You’re not alone, though. Around 5 to 10% of women say they have yet to experience the series of pelvic contractions known as orgasm. But don’t fear; simply consider yourself preorgasmic. Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, sex therapist, and author of Becoming Cliterate, says she has never worked with a preorgasmic woman who didn’t eventually learn to orgasm (except one whose libido was affected by antidepressants—even then, there’s help). The odds are in your favor.

“So many women feel broken when it comes to orgasm,” says sex therapist Vanessa Marin, who teaches women how to orgasm through her course Finishing School and her video series The Female Orgasm Revolution. “I always say that orgasm is a skill, and like any other skill, it takes time, patience, and practice to learn. Just because you haven’t yet learned that skill doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to. It would be like beating yourself up for not being fluent in Spanish, despite never having taking a Spanish class!”

The point is, if you put in the effort to learn to orgasm, you will. “Every woman is capable of orgasm,” says Marin. You just need to figure out what makes you tick. “If someone has not had an orgasm, either alone or with a partner, the most likely culprits are either that they are not getting the type of stimulation they need to orgasm or they have some kind of psychological blockage holding them back,” says Mintz. Both those things can be changed.

Here are some tips for having your first orgasm if you’ve never had one before.

1. Masturbate.

You can definitely learn to orgasm with a partner, but experts say the easiest way to start off is through masturbation. “It’s so important for us to get in touch with our own bodies and discover what we like,” says Marin.

“When alone, you can focus on just yourself and not be worried about anyone else,” Mintz agrees. To make the experience as pleasurable as possible, she recommends using a good lubricant when you masturbate.

2. Try out different hand techniques.

Every woman’s anatomy is different. No one stroke or motion will be the golden ticket for everyone, says Mintz. However, there are lots of techniques that many women find pleasurable—if you experiment with them, you’re bound to find something you like.

Try rubbing circles on your clitoral hood with one or more fingers, tapping on your clitoral hood, rubbing or caressing your labia, rubbing a figure-eight around your clitoris and vaginal opening, squeezing your outer labia together to stimulate your clitoris, and sandwiching your clitoris between two fingers and rubbing it up and down.

Once you find something you like, Marin suggests sticking with that motion for a while. “You’ve probably heard all kinds of myths about how complicated female orgasm is, so you’ll probably feel tempted to mix it up and go crazy with different types of stimulation,” she says. “But the truth is that the body needs consistency; if you keep switching it up, it will feel like starting over. Once you’ve found a specific stroke that feels decent, give that a shot for a good stretch of time.”

3. Consider a vibrator.

If your hands don’t seem to be doing the trick, a vibrator can be a very handy tool. “Many people with vulvas don’t have their first orgasm until they try a vibrator,” says Mintz. Don’t worry that using a vibrator will make it hard to orgasm with a partner down the road. It could actually get you familiar with what you need to orgasm, which will help you no matter what method you’re using.

Masturbation—touching yourself for sexual pleasure—is normal behavior and can lead to orgasm. Often a person’s first orgasm comes from masturbation, so it can be a great way to understand your body and explore your desires. Masturbation can help you become comfortable in communicating your needs to a sexual partner.

Unfortunately, taboos about masturbation can condition people to feel shameful about doing it. If you’re not harming yourself or others, masturbating is completely safe and normal.

Talking about arousal around the time of your period is even more taboo. The belief that sexual behavior must be avoided while menstruating is unfounded—there is nothing “dirty” or dangerous about menstrual blood.

Some women even notice increased arousal during their period (1, 2). The endorphins released by orgasms may help relieve menstrual cramps—and stress—for some people (3, 4).

But if you don’t feel like engaging in sexual activities during your period—or ever—that’s also totally fine.

Here are some tips for masturbation during your period:

Lubricant helps.

Touching, pressing, or massaging your genitals with your fingers, or with an object such as a sex toy, can be sexually satisfying and can lead to orgasm. Arousal fluid, personal lubricant (lube), and/or menstrual blood can help make masturbation a more pleasurable experience. But before you start, be sure to wash your hands and/or the objects, to prevent possible vaginal or urethral infections.

What about using a tampon or menstrual cup?

You can still masturbate if you’re using a tampon or menstrual cup. Using lube can be helpful here if you’re experiencing skin chaffing or irritation, as the tampon or menstrual cup might be absorbing the fluids that would smooth the process along. Try directly stimulating the clitoris, nipples, and/or the other parts of the vulva. The clitoris is the primary source of female sexual pleasure and is located above the vaginal canal and urethra (5–7).

Anal stimulation can feel good too, but note that bacteria in your rectum can cause vaginal or urethral infections. So if you want something that’s been in your butt to go into your vagina, wash it first or put a condom on it. Washing and using condoms on sex toys are good practices to prevent infections (and STIs if you’re sharing toys with an untested or new sexual partner) (8).

What if I’m not using a tampon or menstrual cup?

If you’re not using a tampon or menstrual cup, you can try including stimulation to the vagina (remember: the vulva is all of your external genital organs, while the vagina is specifically the canal between the uterus and vulva). Find out what feels good for you. If you’re inserting fingers into your vagina, you can keep tissues nearby in case you need to clean up any menstrual blood.

Preventing stains: If you’re bleeding heavily and worried about stains, try putting a towel beneath you or masturbating while in the shower. Showerhead or water stream stimulation can also be sexually satisfying, but don’t ever spray water into the vagina.

Washing the inside of the vagina with water or soap — also known as “douching”—shouldn’t be practiced. It can disrupt vaginal pH levels and healthy bacteria populations, which can lead to infections (9–11). The vagina cleans itself.

Are there any risks?

If you’re masturbating with a partner (mutual masturbation) and touching each others’ genitals to and fro, there’s a still a possible risk of pregnancy (if ejaculate gets into the vagina and you’re in your fertile window) and/or STIs (with an untested or new sexual partner). However, research has found the probability of being in your fertile window on the first couple of days of your period is close to zero, and may rise to about 2% on day four (12).

You should feel pleased to please yourself during any time of your cycle.

Do you notice increased arousal during your period? Track your sex drive and bleeding in Clue.

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