Ladies, it’s okay.
In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s your right to know your body and it’s healthy to talk about health! We whisper about it with our friends behind closed doors. We quickly flip to that page in Cosmo that mentions it, and we google it while our eyes dart around the room to make sure no one sees.
We’re talking about orgasms.
What are they? Have I had one? How do I get one? What does it feel like? Do a lot of women have them? Is it weird if I haven’t had one? These questions are totally valid and many of us want to know the answers!
C’mon, a mystical pleasure-filled moment that rocks your body and sends you to the moon—who wouldn’t want to feel that?
Do you have lots of questions? We know we do! So, let’s break it down to our top 5 questions.
1. What is an orgasm?
The short answer: it’s a pleasurable contraction (or reflex) of the pelvic floor muscles (think tightening sensation) when you are sexually aroused.
Psychology Today defines an orgasm as, “the peak of the sexual response cycle, experienced by males and females. This is a moment characterized by intense arousal and pleasure. During orgasm, involuntary muscle contractions and spasms may occur throughout the body.”
2. What does an orgasm feel like?
We know what’s happening physiologically when a woman has an orgasm, but how it feels depends on the individual. Cosmopolitan asked women what orgasms feel like. Here are our favorite responses:
- “Everything starts to tighten, and my breathing gets faster and more difficult. Then, all of a sudden, there are waves of pleasure going through my whole body.”
- “It started with that pulsating feeling, then my head was spinning, my body shaking uncontrollably. It was like a volcanic eruption…but down there.”
- “It feels like a release, and is really great for the split second before it happens. And then its over too soon and I want more. But sometimes, you can get lucky and feel these aftershocks, if you position yourself right.”
- “I would describe it as every ounce of sexual energy being sucked from my body, starting at my toes and fingertips, and working its way in until it pulses from my vagina.”
Again, how each woman feels during an orgasm will be different. But, we do know universally, it feels good!
3. Are orgasms good for you?
You bet they are! There are many positive physiological, psychological and emotional benefits of orgasms and sex. For instance, natural chemicals in your body are released during sex, and before, during and after an orgasm.
“All the feel-good chemicals released in the ascent to orgasm, at orgasm, and in afterglow elevate you,” Holistic Sex and Relationship Coach Kim Anami, told Well+Good. “Dopamine increases your drive and ambition; oxytocin makes you more relaxed, kind, patient, and loving; testosterone will make you perform better at work; endorphins will reduce your stress and leave you feeling elated.”
Also, according to Huffington Post, having orgasms can help you sleep better, relieve stress, alleviate pain, stimulate your brain, look younger, and even make you live longer!
4. How do you have an orgasm?
Every woman is unique, and how she experiences an orgasm is also unique.
An estimated 50% of women can orgasm from just penetration, according to Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D, and author of The Psychology of Human Sexuality. There are many professional opinions and not enough research (yet) to make more specific assertions. However, Dr. Lehmiller wrote that the other half of women, “require added clitoral stimulation or other sexual activities in order to climax.”
Lack of orgasms, “anorgasmia,” affects many women. According to Dr. Joaquín Alejandro Soto Chilaca, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, sexologist and forensic psychiatrist, anorgasmia in women, “is associated with factors such as age, culture, types of symptoms, etc. About 10% of women have not experienced an orgasm.”
There are different types of anorgasmia, including situational, generalized, acquired, and lifelong anorgasmia. But, there are also many tips to help you achieve an orgasm, with some of them being as simple as increasing foreplay.
“A lot of women fake orgasms because a lot of men fake foreplay,” according to Dr. Michael Krychman, MD, executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Medicine. But you don’t have to fake it!
Other tips include:
- Try a new sex position
- Try a new location while having sex
- Use a clitoral stimulation device
- Talk to a sexual therapist
There’s also a website called OMGYes, devoted to female sexuality. It includes articles and videos with “how to’s.” Even Emma Watson has a paid subscription!
*If you are experiencing anorgasmia, please consult with your doctor or practitioner.
5. Are there different types of orgasms?
Yes! There are many different types of orgasms because the female body is complex and, so is sex. But let’s start with the Clitoral Complex. Sounds intense right? (Pun intended).
Unlike men, women’s sexual anatomy responsible for female pleasure is located beneath the surface. “Most of the components of the clitoris are buried under the skin and connective tissues of the vulva,” according to an article published on Clitoral Anatomy and Sexual Function
Without getting too technical, the clitoral complex is made up of tissues, ligaments, and nerves. When a woman is aroused, and her clitoral complex is stimulated, blood flow is sent to this area, and sensations of pleasure travel along nerve pathways. The two main types of orgasms are:
- Vaginal Orgasm– induced by contact with the vaginal wall (inside the vagina) and the labia. [Think traditional penetration of the vagina].
- Clitoral Orgasm-induced by contact with the clitoral complex. [Think stimulation with or without penetration.]
There’s even an exercise-induced orgasm (yes, this is real), called a “coregasm.” A recent study of 530 women found that 23% of women received an orgasm while exercising, and 46% felt sexual pleasure while working out. (Makes you more motivated to workout, right?).
Tying It All Together
Ladies, knowing how to orgasm and having better sex is a good thing! You don’t have to be embarrassed reading articles about orgasms or sex. Learning more about your sexual health is no different than learning how to run faster, lift more weights, etc. Health embodies emotional, physical, and mental factors, and sexual health not only encompasses those three parts of health, but is in a category all its own.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and always consult your medical provider before trying something new. Your gynecologist isn’t just for your annual checkup, but a resource for answers and advice! Take it from Sue Johnson—author, nurse, writer, and media personality, and 87-years-young:
“Sex is… perfectly natural. It’s something that’s pleasurable. It’s enjoyable and it enhances a relationship. So why don’t we learn as much as we can about it and become comfortable with ourselves as sexual human beings because we are all sexual?”