Sexual pleasure is an important part of emotional and physical health. It can lead to better sleep, reduced stress, and improved fitness. While it is certainly not the end-all, be-all of pleasure, the orgasm is is an exciting experience worth understanding, so let's dive in!
What exactly is an orgasm?
An orgasm is the most intense peak of sexual pleasure that occurs during sexual activity. It’s often referred to as “coming” or “climaxing.” Everyone can experience orgasms regardless of gender.
What happens during an orgasm?
When you have an orgasm, your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase.
Sexual tension is released via contractions of the genital muscles. If continuously stimulated, a female body can experience multiple orgasms. A minority of people with vaginas (1 in 10) may ejaculate a clear fluid from the Skene’s glands during an orgasm.
In males, semen always spurts out of the penis (ejaculation). After this, the penis and testicles shrink back to their normal size, and the individual can’t have another orgasm for at least a few minutes and up to a day.
Note, it is possible to experience both genital and nongenital orgasm, even for some individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Some people find it difficult to achieve orgasm through vaginal intercourse, but can easily climax through masturbation. Others have trouble orgasming at all.
This can be caused by a variety of factors: finding it hard to relax, lack of stimulation, depression — even past traumatic sexual experiences. Bear in mind, it generally takes much longer for a woman to orgasm (up to 20 or even 40 minutes). However, the false notion that sex finishes when a man does continues to support this orgasm gap. Try switching it up. Increase foreplay, clitoral stimulation, maybe throw in a vibrator and/or some oral sex. Masturbating can also help you get to know what you enjoy so you can communicate your preferences with a partner during sex. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need to get off. If you’re worried about your inability to orgasm, visit your doctor. They may also refer you to a sex therapist.
Most importantly, you are not alone. About 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64% of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. Interestingly enough, the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that lesbian women orgasm about 75% of the time during sex with a consistent partner.
Intimacy can be just as pleasurable as experiencing an orgasm. For some people, kissing, taking baths together, and giving each other massages are even more satisfying than reaching orgasm.
The takeaway? Orgasming, not orgasming, and being curious about the “Big O” is 100% normal (and healthy), as long as you’re comfortable in your own skin.
Orgasms are easier if you're not hell-bent on having one. So relax, and HAVE FUN! Also take note, faking it doesn’t help anyone. Successful sex is a journey, not a destination.