When you first become sexually active, it can be hard to tell if you’re orgasming. Simply put, an orgasm is an intensely pleasurable physical response that results from the release of tension built up during sexual stimulation. There are some physical signals that can clue you in if you’re on your way too. When you’re aroused, your heart beats faster, your breathing quickens, your nipples become erect, and your genitals become engorged with blood. As arousal climbs, these sensations increase until you orgasm.
While the physical process is the same for everyone, the actual orgasmic experience varies from woman to woman and time to time. You might feel a mild tingle one time and an explosive full-body rush the next. However, there are some general tip-offs, such as contractions in your vagina, pelvic lifting or thrusting, curling of the toes or fingers, heavy, rapid breathing and moaning, and a sense of euphoria.
Chances are, if you’re not sure whether you’ve reached the big O, you probably haven’t: The feeling is so distinct, it’s unlikely you’d confuse it with anything else. If you suspect that you aren’t climaxing, you can learn to by becoming familiar with your body and how it reacts to sexual stimulation. Have you tried masturbating? Consider checking out some of these masturbation techniques — once you’ve mastered your own domain, you’ll be better able to let your partner know what turns you on. And don’t be afraid to bring toys into the mix! Shopping for one that fits you and your body can even be its own sexy form of foreplay, whether you do it solo or with a partner.
The trick is to experiment using different types of touch until you find the method that works for you, then go with it. It also helps to focus on what you’re feeling in the moment rather than worrying about achieving the goal of orgasm. As sex therapist Vanessa Marin has pointed out, “Deep breathing is a fantastic way to let go of distracting thoughts.” Also keep in mind that not everyone can achieve orgasm, either with a partner or ever, and that’s OK! Open communication with your partner and talking with a sex therapist can help — but remember that the fun of sex is in the exploration, which encompasses so much more than a climax.
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- What Does An Orgasm Feel Like? Signs You’ve Had One
- Is it that hard to tell if you’re having an orgasm?
- How can I help my body get to the point of orgasm?
- What are physical signs of orgasming that one should look for?
- 1. The classic sign
- 2. The best signs
- 3. Subtle biological signs
- 4. More practical signs
- 5. You may never know
- What are your thoughts?
- Female orgasm
- Types of female orgasms
- Who experiences the female orgasm?
- How often does a female experience orgasm?
- Factors influencing a female’s ability to orgasm
- Purpose of the female orgasm: Purely pleasure or assisting reproduction?
- Orgasmic release is not essential for sexual satisfaction
- Physiology of the female orgasm
- Changes to the female genito-pelvic organs induced by orgasm
- Changes to other body systems induced by the female orgasm
- Hormonal changes in females caused by orgasm
- Changes in the brain induced by orgasm
- Psychological changes in orgasm
- More information
- Here is your official guide to the female orgasm:
- Why it matters:
- The nitty gritty:
- What’s next:
- What they’re saying:
- The bottom line:
- 1. Orgasms can relieve pain.
- 2. Using a condom doesn’t hamper your orgasm.
- 3. It’s not easy for women to reach orgasm.
- 4. It’s important to find your G-spot.
- 5. Orgasm gets better with age.
- 6. Mixing things up can help.
- 7. Your self-esteem matters.
- 8. It may take more than 20 minutes to orgasm.
- 9. Orgasm can happen without genital stimulation.
- 10. There’s no point in faking it.
- Why Do Women Have Orgasms?
- What is an orgasm?
- What happens during an orgasm?
- Further information:
What Does An Orgasm Feel Like? Signs You’ve Had One
Think of this scenario: You’re having sex with your boyfriend (or lover, one night stand, younger slam piece… you do you), and you’re having a great time. It feels great, too. Then, after their undeniable climax, as evidenced by grunts and heavy breathing, they fall onto the pillow, blissed out. Because they are a generous lover, they turn to you with stars in their eyes and ask, “Did you finish, too?” And honestly, if you’re unfamiliar with what an orgasm feels like, you might wonder if you even did.
If you’re one of the lucky people for whom the Hollywood depictions of orgasms are a reality, maybe this isn’t even a question. Maybe your partner already knows that you came because your genuine yelps of ecstasy have generated more than one noise complaint in the past. (Also, if that’s so, I am very jealous of you.)
If things didn’t last as long as you would’ve liked, or if you are a very normal human woman who requires more clitoral stimulation than your partner was able to give you, maybe the answer is a big fat “no.” You could also genuinely have no goddamn idea. How can one tell if they’re actually having an orgasm?
While orgasms are both very delightful and very confusing, Elite Daily consulted some experts for some telltale signs that, yes, you are, in fact, having an orgasm. Congratulations! Well, let’s hope so, at least.
Is it that hard to tell if you’re having an orgasm?
Orgasms are not as black and white as movies and pop culture would have us believe. Even if you’ve had an orgasm before, alone or with a partner, you might wonder whether that was a warm tingle or the real deal.
“If you aren’t sure, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t having an orgasm,” says licensed counselor and certified sex therapist Sarah Watson. “Orgasms generally don’t look like what the media portrays them to be. Remember everyone is different. Learn your body, explore your vulva and your individual sensations.”
If you’re still questioning whether you’ve had a case of the chills or an actual big O, don’t worry. It’s just because we don’t discuss the nuances of the female orgasm enough. Psychotherapist LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D, author of Smart Relationships and founder of www.lovevictory.com, believes that “when in doubt, read about female orgasmic response to learn about the wide range of reactions”. Basically, if you are not sure if you’re coming or not, it can be helpful to read up on it… kind of like you’re doing now.
How can I help my body get to the point of orgasm?
The female orgasm is often longer and can be more intense than the male orgasm, if less reliable. Climaxing is not going to be some earth-shattering event every single time, but when you know, you know.
“I remember the first time I had an orgasm. For years prior, I was thinking I had experienced an orgasm but when I did, I realized I hadn’t been for years,” says sexologist, relationship expert, and author of Single But Dating, Dr. Nikki Goldstein. “If you are thinking you have not, then chances are, you probably haven’t.”
In other words, you’ll feel it. There will be a climax and release, either small or large. Just trust yourself. You shouldn’t feel pressured to orgasm every time. If you’re honest with yourself and your partner about climaxing, then you can start to learn more about what it takes for your body to actually get there.
What are physical signs of orgasming that one should look for?
Not all female orgasms are created equally. Some women react to particular physical stimulation, while others desire a sense of mutual respect and love in addition to the actual sensations.
“Physical signs of orgasm for women generally include some type of heightened tension and a release,” says Watson. These areas of involuntary muscle tightening are often in the jaw and face, as well as the toes.
Heavy or “ragged” breathing is another sign that your body is approaching orgasm, and it calms down after climax. You’ll usually know if you’ve had an orgasm after it has happened. The release in the body will usually make you feel warm and relaxed, with Dr. Wish referring to it as “a sense of floating.”
She also went on to say that, sometimes, orgasms can be so intense that you might lose your sense of reality for a moment. According to Dr. Wish, “if your eyes have been shut, when you open them, you surprised where you are!” Talk about goals, right?
If none of this sounds familiar to you, don’t worry. There are many ways to work toward a spectacular orgasm. Take baby steps as you figure out what’s best for you. You can try experimenting with a sex toy on your own, or switch to a new position with a partner.
“Sometimes, learning about your body takes time,” says Dr. Wish. “It takes time for your partner to learn as well! Tell yourself that there is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. And, don’t dismiss the importance of feeling satisfied. Mutually satisfying sex is part of the ’emotional glue’ in relationships.”
Whether you’re having window-shattering orgasms or not, just stick to what feels good. As with anything else in life, have confidence and use patience as you figure out what’s best for your body. I’m sure the rewards will be pleasurable.
Everyone likes it when their partner has an orgasm. It makes you feel like you’re a good lover, and that your partner is happy with your sex life.
The thing is, we’re sometimes left with a little doubt in the back of our minds. Did she really climax that loudly, or was she faking it?
The classic joke is that if you have to ask them, then they probably didn’t. But I don’t think that’s quite true – not everyone has a noisy orgasm, and it can vary in intensity from one day to the next anyway.
But if you don’t want to ask your partner directly, how can you be sure? Let’s take a look at some of the signs that might help put your mind at ease. Just remember – this isn’t an exact science though!
1. The classic sign
Before we get into what are, in my opinion, the best signs (i.e. hard to fake!), it’s worth addressing the classic sign.
Firstly, if you think loud screaming or moaning is a 100% reliable sign, it’s not always the case. I think there’s a better way of working out if it’s a sign or orgasm or not.
Does she scream or moan loudly, then roll over and move onto something else? Not great.
Or does she start making noises that she wasn’t making before, and then suddenly become much quieter and hold you close, perhaps shaking or breathing unusually deeply for a while? I’d say that’s a more likely sign of orgasm.
There’s still a problem with this, however. Women sometimes fake orgasms. So although the above could mean she’s climaxed, it might also mean that she wants you to think she’s climaxed.
See the conundrum? That’s why I recommend looking a little deeper than noise levels alone.
2. The best signs
For me, there are two excellent signs that a woman has climaxed, and they are both pretty simple:
- She has a ‘tell’. Some women just have a thing they do when they orgasm. It could be shaking, laughing, tensing her stomach up. But if you know her well enough, you’ll know.
- She tells you. If your partner is a good communicator and you have an honest sexual relationship, she’ll outright tell you that she has or hasn’t climaxed.
Of course, both these signs will depend on your relationship and how long you’ve been together. So let’s look at a few subtler signs to look out for.
3. Subtle biological signs
There are a few biological signs that a woman is aroused and has orgasmed. But these are a bit complicated, for reasons that will become clear:
- Her pupils dilate: a great sign, but not the easiest to keep an eye out for!
- Her face and chest flush: okay, except she might just be hot after all that exercise.
- Her vagina becomes more lubricated: slightly more helpful, though she’s probably already quite lubricated. And it can be difficult to tell if you’re wearing a condom.
- Her brain activity changes: yeah, you’re not going to be able to see that!
So these biological signs might work in the lab, but they’re not so practical in real life.
4. More practical signs
Here are a few of my personal observations that may help you (but there’s no 100% guarantee):
- Her vaginal muscles contract and spasm: not true of all women, and not true of all women all the time. But if it does happen, it’s a strong signal that there’s an orgasm going on. This is also an easier one to tell if you’re giving her oral sex.
- Her nipples get hard: again, not true of all women every time. But if her nipples suddenly become harder, it’s possible she’s about to orgasm.
- Her breathing changes: it gets faster, deeper, then stops for a second until she begins to orgasm.
- Her voice changes: a tricky one, but if she suddenly cries out in a primal scream (or uses language she normally doesn’t), then this could mean she’s climaxed.
5. You may never know
All of these clues, whether obvious or subtle, are fun to look out for. But they ignore one simple truth: you can’t expect to always be sure if your partner has climaxed.
The perhaps frustrating reality is that even after you’ve read everything there is to know about sex and women and orgasms, you might have to accept the fact that there will always be a little mystery – and that’s ok.
And not knowing might not be as big a deal as you think. Should you constantly worry about your partner’s climax tally? Perhaps not.
Sex isn’t just about orgasms
As a caring and good lover, you’ll want your partner to have an amazing time in bed. But it’s important to understand that orgasm isn’t the be all and end all of sex (for women or for men).
Sex in itself breeds intimacy, which is important to a successful relationship. Basically, sex is its own reward.
In fact, there’s a whole method of sex without orgasm that’s called Karezza. Practitioners of Karezza say that sex is more fulfilling without orgasm, that relationships are better, and that intimacy is improved.
Not only that, but female orgasm is a strange and unpredictable thing. According to research, only around 8% of women regularly experience orgasm from penetrative sex.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to make your partner orgasm in other ways, such as with great oral sex. But it does mean that for regular sex the odds are stacked against you.
Most women have had sex without climaxing at least once in their lives (and probably much more often), and realize that it happens.
Now, I’m not saying that women are used to not reaching orgasm or that it doesn’t matter if they don’t. I’m just saying that they understand it won’t happen all the time, and won’t hate you for it – as long as you have good sex that you both enjoy.
The orgasm balance
The real take-home is that when it comes to orgasms you need to strike a balance. Your partner has the right to orgasm if that’s what she wants; but she equally has the right not to feel pressured into having an orgasm.
That might sound complicated, but with good communication, it shouldn’t be. Partners should both feel comfortable enough to make their wishes known.
And as a good partner, you should be able to place her wishes over your own (don’t feel the need to make her orgasm if she doesn’t want to or can’t).
It’s also important to work together to find out what gets her there. Penetration doesn’t work? Be willing to go down or use your hands in the way she likes. And if you finish first, don’t be shy to use your hands or tongue to get her there.
What are your thoughts?
Does your partner have a ‘tell’ that they’ve reached orgasm? What are the signs of climax that you usually notice, and does it worry you if your partner does or doesn’t have an orgasm during sex? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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It’s the only thing that feels better than diving into a cool lake on a sweltering day, biting into a juicy cheeseburger when you’re starving, or even getting your wallet back after losing it on vacation abroad. An orgasm is that good. Which is why it bites that it doesn’t happen more often. According to several major surveys, only 25 percent of women always climax during sex with a partner. The rest of us either hit — or miss — depending on the night, or never experience a female orgasm during intercourse at all. Compared to the male version (more than 90 percent of men get their cookies off 100 percent of the time), the female “O”; is a fleeting phenomenon. The question is: Why? What the hell was Mother Nature thinking?
Check out 14 mind-blowing facts about orgasms in our animated video:
That’s what evolutionary biologists have been trying to figure out — with little success. The Case of the Female Orgasm: Bias in the Science of Evolution by Elisabeth Lloyd, Ph.D., a biology professor at Indiana University, shoots holes in virtually every theory that has ever attempted to pinpoint an evolutionary purpose to the female climax. “The clitoris has the indispensable function of promoting sexual excitement, which induces the female to have intercourse and become pregnant,” Dr. Lloyd says. “But the actual incidence of the reflex of orgasm has never been tied to successful reproduction.” Translation: Because women can and do get pregnant without climaxing, scientists can’t figure out why we orgasm at all.
The good news is that most scientists do agree on the how. Here’s what they know, so far — and how that knowledge can help the average girl hit her peak more often. Because even if the female orgasm does turn out to be pointless in terms of sustaining the species, it still feels pretty damn good.
While You Were Blissing Out…
When in the throes of an orgasm, you wouldn’t notice if your dog, your cat, and your cockatiel started rearranging the furniture. Which makes it unlikely that you could track all the subtle changes that are happening in your body. Luckily, famous sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson have done it for you in their seminal work, Human Sexuality. Here’s what they found:
That warm, sexy rush you feel during foreplay is the result of blood heading straight to your vagina and clitoris. Around this time, the walls of the vagina start to secrete beads of lubrication that eventually get bigger and flow together.
As you become more turned on, blood continues to flood the pelvic area, breathing speeds up, heart rate increases, nipples become erect, and the lower part of the vagina narrows in order to grip the penis while the upper part expands to give it someplace to go. If all goes well (i.e., the phone doesn’t ring and your partner knows what he’s doing), an incredible amount of nerve and muscle tension builds up in the genitals, pelvis, buttocks, and thighs — until your body involuntarily releases it all at once in a series of intensely pleasurable waves, aka your orgasm.
The big bang is the moment when the uterus, vagina, and anus contract simultaneously at 0.8-second intervals. A small orgasm may consist of three to five contractions; a biggie, 10 to 15. Many women report feeling different kinds of orgasms — clitoral, vaginal, and many combinations of the two. According to Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., coauthor of The G-Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality, the reason may simply be that different parts of the vagina were stimulated more than others, and so have more tension to release. Also, muscles in other parts of the body may contract involuntarily — hence the clenched toes and goofy faces. As for the brain, a recent small-scale study at the Netherlands’ University of Groningen found that areas involving fear and emotion are actually deactivated during orgasm (not so if you fake it).
Related: How Should You Get Busy Tonight?Let the Women’s Health sex position tool decide!
After the peak of pleasure, the body usually slides into a state of satisfied relaxation — but not always. “Like their male counterparts, women can experience pelvic heaviness and aching if they do not reach orgasm,” says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist and author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman. In fact, Dr. Kerner says, “many women complain that a single orgasm isn’t enough to relieve the buildup of sexual tension,” which can leave us with our own “blue balls.” Don’t worry: Like the male version, it’s harmless.
Big “O” Blockers
So what goes wrong on those nights when the fuse gets lit but the bomb never explodes? “Nine times out of 10 it’s because getting enough continuous clitoral stimulation,” Dr. Kerner says. Often, “A woman will get close to orgasm, her partner picks up on it, and orgasms immediately or changes what he was doing.”
That’s why Dr. Kerner frequently recommends the woman-on-top position. Because you control the angle and speed of the thrusts (try a back-and-forth motion so that your clitoris rubs against your partner’s abdomen), it allows for the most constant clitoral stimulation. Another solution is to find a position that mimics how you masturbate. If you have solo sex by lying on your belly and rubbing your clitoris with your hands tucked beneath you, then your man can enter you from behind in that position. By watching you he’ll also get a better sense of the stimulation you need.
“Spectatoring” is another problem that can trip women up. “It’s when a woman is too concerned with her appearance and/or performance to actually enjoy herself,” Dr. Kerner says. There’s no way you’re going to have an orgasm if you’re fretting about your cellulite or stressing over whether your newest as-seen-on-late-night-cable moves feel good for him. Instead, you have to let the erotic sensations register in your mind. Focus. Breathe. Let go. “It may seem counterintuitive,” he says, “but you need to relax to build sexual tension.”
The best preparation for a big orgasm is probably a long, steamy shower, full-body massages by and for your man — or 10 minutes of steady oral sex, if you can get it. It’s not so much your body that needs the R&R as your mind. “Many women need a transition period between dealing with the stress of everyday life and feeling sexual,” Dr. Kerner says. “A few minutes of foreplay usually isn’t enough.” Doing something ritualistic and soothing that will clear your head of to-do lists, work issues, family problems, and whatever else might be distracting you from connecting with your body is essential to feeling ecstatic.
A Hormone Worth Getting Excited About
The most fascinating orgasmic side effect of all happens in the brain. During the big moment, the hypothalamus releases extra oxytocin into your system. Called the “cuddle hormone,” oxytocin has been correlated with the urge to bond, be affectionate, and protect (new moms are drunk on the stuff). Since an increase in oxytocin has been shown to strengthen the uterine contractions that transport sperm to the egg, those findings are giving evolutionary biologists new hope. According to Dr. Lloyd, it’s conceivable that the additional oxytocin gives enough of a boost to contractions that orgasm could play a part in conception after all. “Of all the avenues of orgasm research, I think the oxytocin avenue is the most promising,” she says. It’s even been hypothesized that having an orgasm and releasing that tide of oxytocin is a woman’s subconscious way of approving of her partner as a potential dad.
The latest news is that this cuddle hormone might also be linked to our ability to trust. In a recent study at the University of Zurich, scientists asked 178 male college students to play an investment game with a partner they’d never met. Half of the students used an oxytocin nasal spray (not yet available in the United States) beforehand; half used a placebo. Those with the spray containing oxytocin were more than twice as likely to feel comfortable giving all of their money to their anonymous (but legitimate) partner. If oxytocin can help women feel more at ease about letting go and intensify orgasmic contractions, we might all want a bottle of the stuff stashed in our bedside drawers someday soon.
- Increased prolactin and oxytocin levels – measured by taking continuous blood samples and examining the amounts of these hormones in the blood;
- Tachycardia – an increased heart rate, measured with a heart rate monitor;
- Increased blood pressure – measured with a blood pressure monitor;
- Vasocongestion of the genital organs – swelling of the genital tissues due to increased blood flow, measured with device known as a photoplethysmograph, which is inserted into the vagina or anus during sexual stimulation. It is a tampon-shaped device which measures vaginal pulse amplitude (VPA) or how much blood is circulating each time the heart beats. The device also shines a tiny light and measures the amount of light reflected in the vagina as an indicator of vasocongestion (because vasocongestion alters the vaginal walls and the amount of light they reflect).
Subjective techniques for measuring the female orgasm
Subjective techniques for measuring the female orgasm involve asking individuals to rate various physical and emotional aspects of their orgasmic experiences, typically using a questionnaire with a series of questions about each aspect of the orgasm.
The physical aspects of orgasm which may be measured include:
- Building sensations;
- Flushing sensations;
- Flooding sensations;
- Shooting sensations;
- Throbbing sensations; and
- General spasms.
The emotional aspects include:
- Pleasurable satisfaction;
- Emotional intimacy; and
Types of female orgasms
Various types of female orgasm are often distinguished in medical and other texts and women’s orgasms are often classified according to these types. Evidence suggests that the physiological and hormonal changes as well as the physical sensations experienced during orgasm are similar amongst the different “types” of orgasm. However, there is evidence that the emotional aspects of orgasm differ between some types of orgasm, most prominently between self or masturbation induced or partner induced orgasms.
Anatomical location of physical sensations
Female orgasms can be classified according to the locations around the body at which the orgasmic sensations are felt. According to this classification system, female orgasms are usually grouped as those involving the whole body (typically orgasms induced by vaginal penetration) and those involving only localised sensations in the genitopelvic region (typically induced through clitoral stimulation).
Clitoral vs. vaginal induced orgasms
The clitoral/vaginal classification system and the general belief that there is a difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasms, stems from the psycho-analytical work of a philosopher named Sigmund Freud. He believed that vaginal orgasm was qualitatively different from clitoral orgasm and that a woman could only achieve vaginal orgasms once she had sexually matured. No evidence has been produced to support this theory. On the contrary, objective evidence suggests that the physical changes which occur during orgasm are similar whether it is induced through clitoral or vaginal stimulation. However, women typically find it easier to achieve orgasm with clitoral stimulation than without.
Subjective differences in orgasmic sensations experienced from clitoral or vaginally induced orgasm have been reported. Women report clitoral orgasms are more physically intense and satisfying but sensations are localised to the pelvic region. Vaginal orgasms on the other hand are said to be more psychologically intense and satisfying, and to produce widespread, whole body sensations.
Penetrative vaginal sex vs. no penetrative vaginal sex
Orgasms induced through penetrative vaginal sex (also referred to as coital orgasms) are often compared to those which involve other means of sexual stimulation (also known as non-coital orgasms). The basis of this separation is similar to that which separates vaginal and clitoral orgasms, except it also involves aspects of a partner’s involvement. A partner is always involved in an orgasm which occurs as a result of penetrative vaginal sex and may also be involved in a non-coital orgasm. Research has shown that sex with a partner involves emotional intimacy which is absent in self induced orgasm.
Self induced vs. partner induced
This classification system is most concerned with the presence or absence of a partner during orgasm, rather than the stimulation techniques used to induce orgasm.
Who experiences the female orgasm?
Orgasm occurs in response to sexual stimulation, and thus women who are sexually stimulated, either through partnered intercourse or masturbation, can experience orgasm.
Evidence suggests that virtually all women can experience an orgasm although some never do, either due to physical or psychosocial factors. The degree of sexual stimulation required to cause an orgasm varies from woman to woman. Female orgasm in response to visual stimuli without physical sexual stimulation has been recorded, but typically fairly intense sexual stimulation, particularly clitoral stimulation, is necessary to induce orgasm.
In Australia, a national survey of sexual practices and experiences found that 28.6% of women reported that they had had difficulty achieving orgasm at least once in the month prior to the survey. The survey did not ask women if they had ever experienced an orgasm. Women who were 50-59 years of age were more likely to report difficulty achieving orgasm than women in younger age groups (41.9% of 50-59 year olds reported this difficulty, compared to 25-29% for 19-49 year olds).
How often does a female experience orgasm?
The frequency with which a woman experiences orgasm is directly related to the frequency with which she engages in sexual activity, either with a partner or through self or visual stimulation.
Some women experience an orgasm every time they have sex, while others never experience an orgasm. The majority of women experience orgasm sometimes but not others.
The capacity for women to have multiple orgasms has also been noted, however this phenomenon is poorly understood. Numerous factors have been identified as influencing a woman’s ability to orgasm.
Factors influencing a female’s ability to orgasm
Female sexuality and sexual function, including a woman’s ability to orgasm, is influenced by both physical and psychosocial factors.
Some researchers studying the nature of female orgasms have suggested that psychosocial factors may be more influential than physical factors in determining when and if women orgasm. There is some evidence from research studies to support these opinions. For example, there is evidence that women who feel highly relaxed and emotionally intimate at the time of orgasm give their orgasms higher satisfaction and pleasure ratings than women who find their orgasms highly sensory in the physical sense (e.g. women who report strong physical sensations such as throbbing, flushing and spasms). There is also evidence that aspects of a woman’s society (e.g. social perceptions regarding whether or not females should enjoy sex) influence a woman’s capacity to orgasm.
Research has shown that a woman’s ability to orgasm is associated with satisfaction with her sexual relationship and partner. For example, one large study found that the frequency with which a woman achieves orgasm and her satisfaction with the orgasms she experiences, are both associated with the perceived quality of her relationship and her satisfaction with her partner. Another study reported that the more satisfied a woman was with her relationship, the higher they rated the pleasure and satisfaction of their orgasms.
A woman’s emotional responses influence her sexual arousal, and are therefore also likely to influence her ability to orgasm. Psychological disorders such as depression, but also issues like self esteem and body image, decrease sexual response in women and in doing so make it less likely that women with these conditions will experience an orgasm.
Social perception of female sexuality
Studies of the ability of women living in different cultural settings around the world have noted that women living in cultures which expect women to enjoy sex are more likely to orgasm than those living in cultures which do not expect women to enjoy sex (e.g. cultures which view sex as primarily for male sexual pleasure). Studies have also noted that women living in societies which support their sexual expression, achieve orgasm more easily than women living in societies which do not support their sexual expression, for example societies which expect women to be sexually passive and not express their feelings of sexual desire.
Women who report feeling guilty about having sex also report more difficulty achieving orgasm, and this guilt is probably largely a result of social perceptions. For example, women who are told by society that sex before marriage is sinful are more likely to feel guilty about engaging in premarital sex than women in societies where premarital sex is considered normal.
Demographical, physical and hormonal factors
Several studies have reported higher rates of anorgasmia (inability to orgasm) amongst older women. The reasons for this are poorly understood. There are a number of hormonal changes which occur with age, particularly decreases in oestrogen and progesterone levels associated with menopause, which may affect a woman’s ability to orgasm as she ages.
There are also many psychosocial factors, including social taboos regarding sexual activity amongst the aged, reduced self esteem, and loss of partner, which may affect a woman’s ability to achieve orgasm as she ages.
Declining levels of oestrogen which occur with menopause have been identified as the main cause of changes in genital sensations and genital blood flow which lead more women to complain of sexual dysfunction (including anorgasmia) following menopause. Decreased oestrogen levels are also associated with reduced vaginal lubrication and mood changes, both of which may affect sexual pleasure and a woman’s ability to achieve orgasm.
Some studies have also found that low levels of testosterone are associated with decreased sexual arousal and orgasm. However as testosterone levels in a woman’s body change naturally throughout the menstrual cycle and other hormonal changes also occur naturally at this time, it is unclear whether testosterone changes themselves, or the other hormonal changes which accompany them, are responsible for this effect.
Medical conditions and medications
Many medical conditions can lead to changes in a woman’s orgasmic experience, including reduced frequency of orgasm, increased difficulty achieving orgasm and changed sensations during orgasm. Diseases which have been identified as negatively affecting orgasmic capacity in women include spinal cord injury, cancer, rectal disease, anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders. However, it is not clear to what extent the diseases themselves or the medications used to treat them, influence women’s orgasmic function. Surgery involving the genital system (e.g. hysterectomy) may also negatively affect a woman’s ability to orgasm.
Some medications inhibit female sexual arousal, including mood altering medicines used in the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. Women taking these medications often complain that they have difficulty achieving orgasm. Some scientists have suggested that oral contraceptives use may adversely affect a woman’s sexual function (which would in turn reduce her likelihood of experiencing orgasm), by affecting her mood, her body image or her sexual desire. However, other scientists have suggested that oral contraceptives might improve a woman’s sexual function, by reducing anxiety about pregnancy and reducing the pain of some gynaecological problems (e.g. endometriosis). There is currently insufficient evidence to determine which one of these opinions is correct.
A number of sexual behaviours have been reported to facilitate orgasm. One study reported that women achieved orgasm more easily during sexual encounters which involved a lot of foreplay, compared to those which involved minimal foreplay. Playing an active role in the sexual encounter, initiating sex and masturbating were also associated with women having more frequent orgasms during intercourse. Studies have also found that women who orgasm more frequently are more likely to initiate and be active during sex, so it is not clear whether playing an active role in sex facilitates orgasm, or vice versa.
Clitoral stimulation is also an important factor in determining orgasmic ability in women. In one study, the majority of women had reported that clitoral stimulation was more important than vaginal stimulation for achieving orgasm. In another 95% of women reported achieving orgasm during masturbation (usually involving clitoral stimulation) but only 26% reported orgasm during intercourse without clitoral stimulation. Available evidence also suggests that uninterrupted, rhythmic pressure is more conducive to orgasm than varied sexual activity and most effective when it involves stimulation of the external genitalia and particularly the clitoris.
It has also been demonstrated that performance anxiety is associated with high levels of anorgasmia. This would suggest that the more a woman focuses on and becomes anxious about her arousal levels and whether she is likely to experience an orgasm, the less likely she is to experience an orgasm.
A study of female twins and their orgasmic ability reported that genetic differences are responsible for a considerable degree of variability in sexual function between women. However, this is the only study which has examined the role of genetic differences in determining orgasmic ability, and as such further studies are needed to ascertain whether or not genetic factors actually influence orgasmic ability.
Purpose of the female orgasm: Purely pleasure or assisting reproduction?
Unlike the male orgasm which typically coincides with ejaculation into the vagina of sperm-containing semen, the female orgasm has no obvious reproductive function. However, some theorists have suggested that the female orgasm must play a role in assisting reproduction, because evolutionary selection processes change bodies slowly over time, so that bodies eventually include only those parts and functions essential to reproduction of the species (e.g. the penis serves a direct reproduction function, the fingers allow people to fulfil numerous tasks, without which they would be unable to fulfil their daily requirements such as eating and drinking). These beliefs have lead to much debate about the purpose of the female orgasm and whether or not it serves a reproductive purpose.
A number of theories about the mechanisms by which the female orgasm might enhance reproductive success have been put forward. The most prominent, and one of the few evolutionary theories which there is biological evidence to support, is the somewhat crudely named “up-suck” theory. According to this theory, contractions of the uterus and other genito-pelvic organs involved during the female orgasm create gradient pressure or sucking which assists in transporting sperm into the uterus and retaining it there. As conception (the fertilisation of an egg by a sperm) occurs in the uterus, the chances of conception might realistically be increased if more sperm was sucked into the uterus. However this theory is not widely accepted.
Other theories which argue that the female orgasm serves a reproductive function argue that it plays a more indirect role. For example, some have suggested that the pleasure women experience when they orgasm leads them to have sex more frequently, and therefore increase their chances of conception.
However, there is no scientific evidence to support claims evolutionary selection processes necessitate the female orgasm fulfilling a reproductive role. On the contrary, these arguments have been neatly refuted. Those who argue against the evolutionary selection theories argue that the organs of orgasm (the clitoris in women and the penis in men) originate from the same embryological tissues (tissues in the growing foetus) is male and female foetuses. There is no difference in the appearance of embryological tissues which go on to form the clitoris or the penis, in the initial stages of pregnancy. Changes in the appearance of these tissues only occur after about eight weeks of pregnancy, when male foetuses begin producing their own hormones.
As the capacity to ejaculate is essential for reproductive success in males, the embryological tissues which go on to form the penis are necessary for reproductive success in males. However the embryological tissue necessary to enable the foetus to grow a penis must be present in all foetuses, as in the first eight weeks of foetal development, the foetus has not yet sexually differentiated, that is, it has not yet become either a boy or a girl foetus. When a foetus begins to produce male hormones, it will begin to display male features, including the growth of a penis. However, the embryological tissue which forms the penis in a male foetus does not simply disappear in the absence of male hormones. Instead another organ, the clitoris, develops. Just as males have nipples which do not serve a reproductive function as the female nipples do by allowing a woman to feed her offspring breast milk, neither the clitoris nor the orgasm which it produces serve reproductive functions.
Further evidence to refute claims that the clitoris must have a reproductive function comes from women’s varying responses to sexual stimulation. If the female orgasm was an evolutionary trait which assisted reproduction, one would expect orgasmic response to be highest during sexual acts which enabled reproduction (i.e. penetrative, vaginal sexual intercourse). On the contrary, most women emphasise the importance of clitoral stimulation for achieving orgasm, and the vast majority (>98%) employ at least some form of clitoral stimulation during masturbation. This evidence, combined with evidence from studies of female orgasm in primates, suggests that orgasm does not in fact occur in “normal” reproductive sex in which male orgasm and ejaculation are often considered the end point and of primary importance. Rather they can only occur when the sexual act is focused on providing the female partner sexual pleasure.
Orgasmic release is not essential for sexual satisfaction
It is important to note that orgasmic release is extremely variable and is not essential for sexual satisfaction for women. The traditional model for the human sex response cycle can be represented as Desire-Arousal-Orgasm-Resolution. Women often relate to this model at the beginning of a new relationship. However, in the setting of a long-term relationship, the situation is often rather different.
Sexual desire can occur either as a spontaneous event prior to arousal or can be responsive and occur after arousal or physical stimulation. For many women, sexual arousal and a responsive-type of desire occur simultaneously at some point after the women have chosen to experience sexual stimulation. Further arousal follows, generating a focus upon which to build to potential orgasm.
However, physical wellbeing may follow without orgasmic release. The rewards of emotional closeness, such as the increased commitment, bonding and tolerance of imperfections in the relationship, together with an appreciation of the subsequent wellbeing of the partner all serve as the motivational factors that will activate the cycle next time.
Physiology of the female orgasm
The female orgasm induces a range of physiological changes, in the genital and other body systems. Women also experience changing emotions during and following orgasm, and the hormones secreted by their bodies change considerably in response to sexual arousal and orgasm.
Changes to the female genito-pelvic organs induced by orgasm
Vasocongestion of the genito-pelvic organs
There is considerable evidence that genital organs, including the clitoris, vagina and uterus become vasocongested during sexual arousal and remain that way during and following orgasm. This reduces blood flow in some veins and prevents blood flowing out of the genital organs. Pressure and swelling in the tissues surrounding the genitals as well as contractions of genital muscles also reduce blood flow in the genital region, increasing vasocongestion.
The uterus and a number of pelvic muscle groups become active during sexual arousal and orgasm. These muscle groups include:
- The muscles which surround the opening of the vagina and exert pressure on the clitoris,
- The muscles which support the perineum (the tissues between the anus and the genitals) during orgasm;
- The muscles which support what is known as the pelvic diaphragm, or the area of vaginal muscle inside the vagina which typically undergoes spontaneous contractions during orgasm.
Smooth muscle contractions
The primary physical indicator of orgasm is contractions of the genito-pelvic and/or anal muscles. When these contractions were first observed in women experiencing orgasm, it was found they occurred at 0.8 second intervals and lasted on average for 16.7 seconds (compared to 25 seconds for men). It is however unclear whether or not all women experience vaginal muscle contractions during orgasm. It is also unclear if the commencement and cessation of such contractions signal the beginning and end points of a female’s orgasm, or if such contractions simply occur close to the time of orgasm.
Changes to other body systems induced by the female orgasm
There is now considerable evidence that orgasm induces whole body, and not just genito-pelvic, changes. There is particularly good evidence regarding cardiovascular changes which occur during orgasm, including tachycardia (increased heart rate) and increased blood pressure. For example one study, in which the heart rate and blood pressure of ten women who watched pornography and masturbated to induce orgasm were compared to those of women who watched a documentary film, reported that heart rate and blood pressure of the masturbating women were higher than the documentary film watchers by the time they reached orgasm. Other studies have also noted bodily reactions to orgasm including shuddering, muscle spasms, rigidity, sweating, rocking pelvic motions, facial grimacing and abdominal muscle contractions.
Organs also cause changes in the central nervous system responses.
Hormonal changes in females caused by orgasm
A woman’s hormone profile (the relative concentrations of different types of hormones in her body) changes distinctly during orgasm. Similar to the hormonal changes which accompany male orgasm, the key hormone change associated with the female orgasm is a substantial increase in levels of a hormone called prolactin. There are however many other subtle hormone changes which women experience during orgasm including changes to the hormones testosterone, cortisol, oestrogen, progesterone and plasma adrenalin.
Changes in the brain induced by orgasm
The brain is also an important source of sexual arousal and orgasm in women. There is evidence that individuals can experience orgasm with no direct stimulation to the genitals. This evidence comes from the orgasms experienced by paraplegics, from orgasms induced hypnotically, from orgasms stimulated by fantasy alone, and from orgasms experienced as a result of stimulation in certain areas of the brain. In addition, there have been reports of orgasm from women who have had a clitoral and labial excision and vaginal reconstruction. This research suggests that the brain be considered as part of the anatomical requirements for orgasmic experience.
It has also been proposed that several different nerve pathways are involved in sexual response:
- the pudendal nerve for clitoral stimulation;
- the hypogastric plexis and pelvic nerve for vaginal stimulation; and
- possibly the vagus nerve directly from the cervix to the brain.
Psychological changes in orgasm
The psychological changes associated with orgasm are measured subjectively, using rating scales. Women typically report feelings of ecstasy during orgasm and feelings of relaxation following orgasm.
Kindly reviewed by Desiree Spierings BA (Psych) MHSc (Sexual Health); Sex Therapist; Director of Sexual Health Australia and Editorial Advisory Board Member of Virtual Men’s Health and Virtual Women’s Health.
|Having trouble to orgasm during sex? Our Sexpert Desiree Spierings explains the female orgasm and what the factors are that influence a woman’s ability to orgasm.
Read the Sexpert Q/A: How to orgasm during sex?
The fact of the matter is the female orgasm can range from amazing to lackluster or from a regular occurrence to a rarity, and what you feel and how intensely you feel it varies from woman to woman. We all have different buttons that need pressing to reach climax, but if you have never had an orgasm we are here to tell you that we have the science, tips and tricks to help you get there.
Here is your official guide to the female orgasm:
The science behind the female orgasm
Men and women have a very different experience when it comes to sex, something that science has proven. When it comes to women and orgasms, there are three main stages:
Our vagina is full of nerve endings, that when stimulated during foreplay, release a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that makes you feel amazing which is why plenty of stimulation of the downstairs area is an essential ingredient to your orgasm.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty scientific details of the climax. It is the hypothalamus part of your brain (the area that controls body temperature, hunger, and sleep) that is responsible for your pleasurable experience during climax.
When you’re reaching the Big O, your blood is flowing, your pupils are dilated and the dopamine being released in your brain is increasing every bit of stimulation your receiving from your partner.
The End Release
Just before you reach the finish line your brain is filled with extra dopamine and another happy hormone called serotonin. Basically, your brain is filled with a happy explosion – makes sense right?
Tips to achieve an orgasm
Here is a couple of things you can do to help achieve an orgasm with or without your partner:
Get familiar with yourself
Spend some time with yourself and notice where and how much pressure you’re applying right before you climax. When you know where the climax button is you can guide your partner there.
Fantasising, talking dirty, touching each other or yourself, these are all ideal primers for a sexual encounter. It’s a lot harder for a woman to orgasm when she’s not in the mood, so spend time beforehand building that excitement.
Get into position
Some positions, like woman-on-top, make it far easier for girls to orgasm if you’re having penetrative sex. If you’re on top you can control the angle, depth, and speed and touch yourself at the same time. A good lesbian sex position is scissoring. This position comes in many variations, not just the stock standard one you see in porn, so have a look online and see which one speaks more to you and your partner. This position is the action of rubbing your clit against something else, which will feel amazing and may help you get that orgasm.
What does an orgasm feel like?
How do you know you’ve reached the Big O? First things first, women experience orgasms differently so the experience can vary from woman to woman. There are no set rules when it comes to the female orgasm!
In saying this there are broad feelings that most – if not all – women will feel when they orgasm:
– It is the peak of their sexual pleasure throughout the experience
– It is a sensation that is far different from the other sensations you felt during the encounter
– It feels like a release in built-up pressure
So whether you feel tremors, tingling in the toes or pleasure that goes in an out in waves, all are normal and unique to your orgasm.
Are there different types of orgasms?
The short answer is…Yes!
The main two types of orgasms are:
The clitoris is a bundle of nerve endings which is at the front of the female vulva and under the clitoral hood. The clitoris kind of feels like a tiny button which, if pressed correctly, will bring a woman to orgasm. Fun fact: the clitoris will swell and become more sensitive as you get more turned on.
A vaginal-stimulated orgasm is when you reach climax through stimulation of the vagina only. There are many theories as to how this actually works and researchers are split on the existence of the elusive G-spot. What we do know is that whether it’s through clitoris stimulation or vaginal stimulation, your orgasm is going to feel equally as great.
There are also orgasms through stimulation of other body parts which aren’t your vagina area (such as breasts, nipples or anus), exercise-induced orgasms and orgasms during sleep (yes, really).
Common issues stopping women from achieving orgasm
There are many factors that may affect orgasm, and the most common among them include:
– Hormone changes
– Not feeling aroused
– Certain medicines
– Fear or worry surrounding the sexual encounter
– Level of alcohol consumption
– Vaginal dryness
– No longer emotionally invested in your partner
– In a bad head space
Tips to overcome problems with not reaching orgasm
There is a laundry list of external, psychological or physical reasons when it comes to difficulty reaching an orgasm, so if you’re consistently having trouble orgasming it’s best you visit your GP to get to the bottom of why.
However, there are general lifestyle changes you could make that may improve your sex life:
– Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink (sorry)
– Regular exercise
– Quitting smoking (if you smoke cigarettes)
– Up your clitoris stimulation during masturbation or intercourse
It’s tempting to listen to women’s magazines and believe female orgasms are a small pleasure to make up for periods and pregnancy, what they might call the raw end of Darwin’s deal. But a study published Monday shows that as mammals developed from solitary creatures to societal ones, ovulation became more automatic, and both the orgasm and the clitoris lost their reproductive roles.
Why it matters:
In some mammals, sex stimulates hormone release and is required for ovulation. Somewhere along the way, intercourse became divorced from that biochemical windfall. But when? And how? It’s not easy to study this aspect of sexual arousal in our predecessors.
The new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology, took a look at the lineage of the human female orgasm, tracing it back to a similar biological response earlier female mammals have when they have sex.
Since Aristotle, researchers have looked for the biological and functional purposes of the female orgasm. Men need to have an orgasm to release sperm, but women do not need to orgasm to ovulate or become pregnant. Some researchers have suggested that orgasms persist because they have a psychological function in reproduction — they feel good, so they encourage women to have more sex.
The researchers behind the new study ask: Where does the female orgasm come from?
The nitty gritty:
Mihaela Pavličev, in the department of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and Günter Wagner, an evolutionary biologist at Yale University, compared more primitive mammals with more complex ones to see how female orgasm diverged from ovulation.
Solitary animals, like cats and rabbits, experience male-induced ovulation — a mature egg is only released from the ovary during copulation. The researchers said there is evidence of a physiological reaction similar to human climax, and when they ovulate, a hormone called prolactin is released.
But women also experience a surge of prolactin when they orgasm, even if they don’t ovulate at that time. The new study shows that female orgasm, and the concomitant hormone release, is likely an ancestral holdover of its reproductive function, because humans and other placental mammals, like primates, ovulate spontaneously. As induced ovulation evolved into spontaneous ovulation, the female orgasm was freed up for another purpose, albeit one without a clear role in human reproduction. Wagner and Pavličev also found that as ovulation stopped depending on orgasm, the clitoris stopped being located inside the vaginal canal.
“Female orgasm is an evolutionary vestige like the appendix,” said Wagner. “It can be used for something, but it is not clear if it has a function beyond psychological bonding between partners,” he said. Wagner compares the female orgasm to the human ability to appreciate music and other, finer aspects of life. “The value of something the human body is capable of does not have to be functional,” he said.
And while the female orgasm has evolved beyond its ancestral role, it can still speed up ovulation in humans — but only if ovulation was going to occur within the hour, said Wagner.
It may have lost its biological function, but the female orgasm is here to stay. That’s because the clitoris and the penis develop from the same part of the embryo. “If the clitoris went away through evolution, so may the penis,” said Wagner. No penis means no way for sperm to naturally enter a woman’s body, so unless we reproduce via medical procedures like in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, this could threaten the survival of the human race.
Men have nipples for a similar reason — they are left over from a previous stage of the embryo’s development, and don’t have a function besides heightened sexual pleasure. But they are indispensable in women, and for that reason, remain part of male anatomy.
What they’re saying:
To be sure, humans today have sex for reasons that stretch far beyond reproduction.
“The paper is a new way of looking at why females have orgasms, but I don’t think we’ll ever quite figure it out,” said Caroline Pukall, a psychology professor and authority on human sexuality at Queen’s University who was not involved with the new study.
Our basic needs have been met, and “we are able to do more than try to survive,” said Pukall, who is also a sex therapist. Instead of trying to get pregnant, she said, many humans are now trying to limit their fertility. Plenty of people who choose not to have children, or have intercourse with partners of the same sex, still have orgasms, she said, adding, “The argument is clever and compelling, but it doesn’t capture our passions and need for bonding.”
Female orgasm may have evolved beyond helping us reproduce, but it is still a key part of sex — it makes women feel good and strengthens bonds between partners.
“All of life is much more complex than we give it credit for,” said Wagner.
How come some girls don’t come at all? And guys always do. I don’t really understand. My sis said is becuz guys “are at their peak” .She says it takes a while for girls and they will start “coming” when they get a little older like 20 or 25. Please help i’m really confused!
Girls — and even adult women — may feel like they experience orgasm less easily or less often than guys or men.
Many women — about one out of three — have trouble reaching orgasm when having sex with a partner. Most women experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation rather than through vaginal penetration. So if a woman is having difficulty reaching orgasm, she may want to try clitoral stimulation during, before, or after vaginal intercourse or oral sex. Her clitoris can be stimulated orally, manually, or with a sex toy such as a vibrator. Most women who reach orgasm with a partner have also experienced an orgasm from masturbation. Women who have never had an orgasm may want to try to masturbate to learn how they like to be touched.
Keep in mind, every woman’s body responds differently to various kinds of sex, and every woman has different preferences for how she likes to be stimulated. That’s why communication with a partner is very important. Our partners can’t read our minds, so it’s important to be clear about what feels good and what doesn’t, and what we do and don’t want to do.
A woman may find as she gets older that she has an easier time having orgasms because she has more knowledge of what she likes sexually, and because she’s more comfortable communicating with her partners about what she likes and doesn’t like.
Guys don’t always achieve orgasm — it’s not uncommon for them to have trouble reaching orgasm, or getting or maintaining an erection. Sexual pleasure for women and men has a lot to do with emotion and relaxation. It’s difficult to enjoy sex and reach orgasm if we’re uncomfortable, self-conscious, or don’t feel quite right about what’s going on or about our partners.
Psst—you over there. Guess what? We’re going to talk about orgasms. Specifically, the female orgasm.
Why? Orgasms are just as important to a woman’s health as using dental floss. You want to experience them to their fullest, but you can’t do that unless you’re in the know about what exactly a female orgasm is, how you reach your climax, and what happens to your body when it experiences one.
So now’s the time to expand your knowledge. This is everything you ever wanted to know about an orgasm, and hopefully your next sexual experience will be your best one yet.
1. Orgasms can relieve pain.
When you have a headache, it’s pretty common to go to bed. But you shouldn’t be sleeping. “There is some evidence that orgasms can relieve all kinds of pain, including pain from arthritis, pain after surgery, and even pain during childbirth,” says Lisa Stern, R.N., a nurse practitioner who works with Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles. It’s largely due to the body’s release of oxytocin during orgasm, a chemical that facilitates bonding, relaxation, and other positive emotional states, she explains. While the pain relief is often short-lived at about 8-10 minutes, Stern says that past research indicates even thinking about sex can help alleviate pain. Sex dreams, anyone?
2. Using a condom doesn’t hamper your orgasm.
A lot of people think that because sex can often feel better without a condom that their orgasm will too. But that’s not the case. “Women are equally likely to experience orgasm with or without a condom,” says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., a research scientist at Indiana University and author of Because It Feels Good. “In fact, condoms may help a couple spend more time having sex, as a man doesn’t have to ‘pull out’ quickly if he’s worried about ejaculating too soon.” If he’s resistant to wearing a condom because of lack of sensation, consider manual or oral stimulation before intercourse.
3. It’s not easy for women to reach orgasm.
If you’ve ever had trouble climaxing, you’re not alone. According to recent research, 10-40% of women report having difficulty or an inability to reach orgasm. One of the best ways to fix that is through clitoral stimulation, Stern says. But medical treatment can also help, as some women suffering from female sexual dysfunction (FSD) may find topical testosterone therapies or oral medications to be helpful. Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of solid medical evidence behind these treatments yet, which is why it’s important for researchers to keep digging. In the meantime, anyone experiencing difficulty should talk to their doctor as FSD can be associated with other medical conditions, including thyroid disease, depression, and diabetes.
4. It’s important to find your G-spot.
Sex experts have long touted this area of female genitalia, which is believed to contain a large number of nerve endings, as the key to helping women achieve longer and stronger orgasms. But it’s a controversial topic: Researchers in England have refuted its existence, while Italian researchers claimed to have found the spot on various women via ultrasound. Regardless, sex educators, like Los Angeles–based Ava Cadell, support the existence of the G-spot and encourage women to find theirs. Its location may be slightly different in all women, but most often it’s found inside the vagina and is characterized by a “rougher” texture, she says.
5. Orgasm gets better with age.
There are plenty of things to gripe about when it comes to age, but your sex life isn’t one of them. It turns out that as you get older, the quality and frequency of orgasms can improve, Dr. Herbenick says. ” 61 percent of women ages 18 to 24 experienced orgasm the last time they had sex, 65 percent of women in their 30s did, and about 70 percent of women in their 40s and 50s did.”
While the survey didn’t indicate why exactly orgasms become easier with age, Dr. Herbenick says that it’s likely because older women are more sexually experienced, have more confidence in the bedroom, and aren’t afraid to speak up for what they want. There may also be more trust and intimacy involved if you’re in a long-term relationship, which can allow a woman to relax more and embrace the ride on the way to orgasm.
6. Mixing things up can help.
If you have trouble reaching orgasm during intercourse, consider switching things up, Dr. Herbenick says. “It is significantly easier for women to experience orgasm when they engage in a variety of sex acts as opposed to just one act,” she says. “For example, vaginal sex plus oral sex would be linked to a higher likelihood of orgasm than either one of them alone.” And remember, intercourse isn’t the only way to reach an orgasm — many women get off by using sex toys, either with their partners or totally solo.
7. Your self-esteem matters.
Research shows that how a woman feels about herself — including her genitalia — is linked to the quality of her orgasms. “As a women’s health clinician, I can vouch for the fact that every vagina looks different and there is no ‘perfect’ way for a vagina to look,” Stern says. “As long as your vagina is pain-free and you don’t have any abnormal discharge, sores or other medical problems, you can consider yourself healthy and normal.”
To increase your confidence (and therefore your orgasm potential), Stern says it’s important to talk to yourself in a positive, healthy manner, especially when thinking about your body. One way to do that? Look in the mirror every day and say one thing you like about your body. (No repeats from the day before!) Another trick: Pull out a hand mirror and take a look at what’s going on downstairs. Getting to know every part of yourself is the first step toward feeling confident all over.
8. It may take more than 20 minutes to orgasm.
Many women take longer to climax than their male partners, and that’s perfectly normal, Stern says. In fact, most women require at least 20 minutes of sexual activity to climax. “If you find that your partner often reaches orgasm before you do, there are ways to help him slow down, like applying firm pressure around the base of the penis,” she says. If premature ejaculation is a concern, Stern recommends seeing a primary care doctor or urologist to find alternative techniques that can help.
9. Orgasm can happen without genital stimulation.
We’ve all heard about women who can orgasm while sitting on a train and wondered if it was actually possible. Experts say it is, and Stern even knows a woman who had an orgasm every time she used the treadmill. “The reason for spontaneous orgasms during certain activities is twofold — increased blood flow to the genitals and vibration of or contact with the clitoris,” Stern says. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is pretty rare, she adds, so if it hasn’t happened to you already, it’s not likely to start.
10. There’s no point in faking it.
A recent study showed that, when it comes to orgasm, 80 percent of women have faked it at some point or another. That needs to stop, as doing so doesn’t do anyone any good. Faking it means your partner doesn’t learn what you like and don’t like, and you’ll end up regularly finishing sack sessions feeling unsatisfied.
Why Do Women Have Orgasms?
Considering that it’s happening all the time, everywhere, all across the world, there’s a lot that scientists still don’t know about the female orgasm. Although the debate over the chemistry of female ejaculation has been settled, it’s still not definitively clear how many types of female orgasms there are.
The most tantalizing question of all, though, has barely been addressed – namely, what is the evolutionary point of the female orgasm? Writing in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, a team of scientists at Yale University thinks they’ve come up with an answer.
Rather than merely evolving as a trait to accompany the male orgasm, which some presumed was an adaptation to encourage pair-bonding between partners, these researchers have concluded that it was once the key biological trigger required for ovulation to take place.
When women orgasm, they release two hormones, oxytocin, and prolactin. In the females of wild placental mammals, this type of hormonal discharge actively causes ovulation to begin, and without it, pregnancy would not be possible. The male and female orgasms work together, so to speak, to begin ovulation.
It’s likely that the same mechanism initially evolved in human females for precisely the same reason. Over time, women developed the ability to ovulate on cycles independent of male sexual activity. This hormonal function was rendered unnecessary and it became superfluous, but it stuck around in female biology due to its secondary role as a pleasurable bonding mechanism.
“Prior studies have tended to focus on evidence from human biology and the modification of a trait, rather than its evolutionary origin,” co-author Gunter Wagner, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale University, said in a statement.
What is an orgasm?
What happens during an orgasm?
When you have an orgasm, your heart may beat faster and your breathing may change.
If you have a vaginal or clitoral orgasm, an intense pleasurable release of sexual tension is accompanied by contractions of the genital muscles.
Some people may ejaculate when having a vaginal orgasm. A clear fluid spurts from glands close to the urethra during intense sexual excitement or during orgasm. The glands are called the Skene’s glands.
If you have a vagina you may be able to experience more than 1 orgasm shortly after the first if you continue to be stimulated.
If you have a penis, an orgasm makes muscles contract and semen containing sperm spurts out of the penis (ejaculation). After this, you usually cannot have another orgasm for a while.
This recovery phase, in which the penis and testicles shrink back to their normal size, can last from a few minutes to a few hours.
Read about orgasm problems in women and ejaculation problems.
Read the answers to more questions about sexual health
- Is it necessary to have an orgasm to enjoy sex?
- What can cause orgasm problems in men?
- Female sexual problems
- Sexual arousal in men
- Sexual Advice Association
In case you didn’t know, we have sex to procreate. That’s kind of the only reason why we have those innate urges to take off our clothes and touch each other. And when we do that in just the right way, we have orgasms. And those orgasms lead to babies!
But when men orgasm, it’s for a legit purpose, aside from it feeling amazing. Male ‘gasms forcefully propel semen deep into the naughty bits of a woman, which then get her pregnant. Thus mission accomplished.
But why do women have orgasms? They don’t need to climax in order to get pregnant…so why do we need to go through all that trouble to get her to orgasm?! Well, science finally has an answer.
According to scientists Mihaela Pavlicev and Günter Wagner, the female orgasm might be the evolved remnants from our evolutionary past, back when women had an insane hormonal surge during sex that was necessary for reproduction. Considering humans evolve very slowly, it makes sense.
“It is important to stress that it didn’t look like the human female orgasm looks like now,” Pavličev wrote in the report, published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology. “We think that is the core that was maybe modified further in humans.”
In order to find out this crucial information, Pavlicev and Wagner dug deep into the anatomy and behavior of various placental mammals, and found that in certain animals, such as cats and rabbits, hormonal surges during sex cause eggs to be released from the female’s ovaries, which is called “male induced ovulation.”
We know that humans “spontaneously ovulate,” hence that time of the month stuff, but before that, about 75 million years ago, women got pregnant on demand when her man got horny and stuck it in her. See, gentlemen? The D is more powerful and influential than you’d have ever thought.
However, aside from the baby-making concept, orgasms are still good for bonding, since it releases a rush of hormones, including oxytocin, so there’s a good reason why it hasn’t been bred out of our genetic profiles.
“There is a lot of discussion about whether it could have any functions like in bonding behaviour and things like that – so we cannot exclude that it actually has co-opted some other function after it lost its function in reproduction,” said Pavličev, suggesting female orgasms are still good for something.
That said, the female orgasm hasn’t evolved out of our DNA just yet, so make sure you give her the big O.