On a biological level, orgasms can be described as the rhythmic stimulation of highly sensitive body parts / erogenous zones. Usually orgasms are achieved through the stimulation of genitals, however achieving an orgasm is not limited to genitalia. In fact, it is possible to orgasm from stimulation of other body parts (i.e. nipples) and even through thought alone.
The sexual response can be divided into 4 stages:
If you have a penis, the anal sphincter, prostate gland and penis muscles will contract
Vagina owners don’t experience a refractory period (can allow for multiple and consecutive orgasms)
Brain takes control during orgasm; dopamine (aka the happy chemical) is released in the brain, and so is oxytocin (the bonding and love chemical)
If you have never experienced an orgasm, it might be confusing to know what it feels like. Here are some good sources that describe what an orgasm might feel like for you.
Best friends Florence and Reed started their youtube channel to talk about sex and everything that has to do with it. One of their best videos by far is “What does an orgasm feel like?”. Watch them describe the different sensations they have experienced during orgasm here.
In this Teen Vogue article, 17 women open up about what an orgasm feels like for them. One woman describes an orgasm as, “Screaming for joy. Feeling everything and nothing at the same time,” and another describes it as “The stars emoji mixed with the explosion emoji.” To read more orgasm accounts look at the articlehere.
Studies have shown that in heterosexual sexual encounters betwen cisgendered men and women there is a gendered gap between who achieves orgasms more. In these sexual encounters, men traditionally experience substantially more orgasms than their female partner. For example, in a study of 800 undergraduate students “91% of men versus 39% of women reported usually or always experiencing orgasm in partnered sex”.
There are many different types of orgasms that can arise from different types of stimulation.
Usually, the pressure orgasm occurs during solo-sex or masturbation. It occurs when pressure is applied indirectly to genitalia and other erogenous zones. This type of orgasm is actually most prevalent amongst children, who often unknowingly masturbate.
Simply put, multiple orgasms are a series of orgasms that occur, one after the other, in a short period of time.
This type of orgasm occurs in a moment of intense and deep relaxation during stimulation.
This is one of the most common types of orgasms. It occurs when the muscles and the body are tense during direct stimulation.
As we mentioned before, the brain is overwhelmingly involved in how you experience pleasure during sexual activity. Something that you probably didn’t know is that orgasms can actually occur from mental stimulation alone.
This is a type of orgasm that occurs when an erotic zone is stimualted during penatrative sex.
The G-spot is a small area, about an inch inside the vagina. It’s on the upper wall of the vagina (which can be visualized as close to the belly button). While some vagina owners don’t notice a difference when their G-spot is stimulated, many do experience orgasms from stimulation and roughly 10% will ejaculate when their G-spot is stimulated.
For people with vaginas, there are two kinds of orgasms. Both involve the clitoris! One is achieved by stimulating the head or external clitoris (what we usually think of the clitoris) and the other is achieved stimulating the whole of the clitoral and vaginal complex - the internal clitoris, which is achieved through penetration (source).
It’s important to note that although these orgasms are functionally different, some people believe they feel the same while others think that they feel different.
Not only are orgasms amazing because they feel great, they also are known to have a number of health benefits. Some of these include:
When discussing orgasms with a partner, it is imperative to establish a safe space in order to widen lines of communication. Initiate the conversation by opening yourself up and preparing to get vulnerable. Know that it is very common for a partner to have trouble orgasming during sex, this is why open communication is key. During this conversation be sure to set an intention for sex, this can be anything from orgasming, to intimacy, to foreplay, etc. When discussing your pleasure, try emphasizing what your partner does that you enjoy, focusing on the positive to ensure that they do not feel attacked or isolated. Continue to discuss sex when you are not having sex, establish communication about sex and orgasms in everyday life. This ensures that talking about sex and orgasms is not awkward and open communication is set as a standard. Remember to speak up for yourself, if during sex you have not orgasmed yet and you would like to, express that to your partner. Talking about orgasms and pleasure with a partner can be intimidating, but once the conversation is initiated, it can lead to a fulfilling, pleasurable, and satisfying sex life between individuals.
Everyone should be entitled to pleasurable sexual experiences. This includes sexual experiences with a partner. Communication and orgasms go hand in hand when it comes to partnered sexual activity. You might think it’s awkward to ask for what you want in a sexual experience - it’s not! It’s actually really important to convey to your partner or partners what feels good in a sexual experience because it will make it more enjoyable for everyone involved!
You deserve to be with someone - whether it be a one night stand, casual hook-up, or long-term relationship - who prioritizes your pleasure just as much if they do their own.