Sex Tips

Understanding the How, Why and Oh My! of Orgasms

Is orgasm the main objective of sex? Hell Yeah! Well, mostly ... sorta. Orgasms are Ahh-Mazing! And important. But there's a lot more to sex than just getting off. Instead of seeing them as the end-all-be-all, another approach is to see orgasms as a super-charged bonus.

What Is an Orgasm?

An orgasm is the body's physical response to stimuli, accompanied by a few seconds of complete mental and emotional bliss.

Orgasms can feel warm and fuzzy, deeply emotional, physically intense or all of the above. Intensity isn't an indication of quality, and the absence of an orgasm doesn't mean the experience is lacking or less meaningful. Every orgasm is unique, and there's a lot going on in a short time.

What Happens During Orgasm?

Orgasms are often described in terms of male and female orgasms, but people of all genders experience them. Here's a simplified summary of the mechanics.

During initial arousal, blood flow to the genitals increases and erectile tissue activates in the nipples, penis, and vulva. As feelings intensify, the body enters a state of heightened arousal leading to climax where rhythmic contractions in the genitals and surrounding areas begin.

Orgasmic contractions cause semen to be ejaculated from the penis, but it's also possible to orgasm without ejaculating. Similar contractions occur in the vagina, cervix, and surrounding areas. Although vaginal ejaculation is possible, it's less common.

How long does an orgasm last?

Orgasms can last anywhere from 10-30 seconds in men and 13-51 seconds in women. But the pleasurable sensations can last longer. Each person and each orgasm is different and can last for varying times. After orgasming, your body then returns to its pre-arousal state over the next several minutes.

Types of Orgasms

Orgasms can originate in several areas of the body.

Clitoral orgasms involve direct stimulation of the clitoris.

Vaginal orgasms are usually achieved through vaginal penetration with a penis, fingers or a sex toys. Stimulating the G-spot is believed to take these orgasms to the next level. (The term mind-blowing may have been used a few times.)

Anal orgasms are felt around the anal sphincter muscles due to anal stimulation.

Combo orgasms occur when multiple areas are stimulated at the same time, for example the vagina and clitoris, or penis and prostate. Involving multiple areas tends to make these orgasms more intense.

Erogenous zone orgasms prove that the genitals aren't the only game in town. Some people, for example, can be brought to orgasm solely through nipple play. It may take longer to climax this way, but it can definitely be worth the wait.

How to Give and Receive an Orgasm

Several factors come together in creating ideal circumstances for orgasms.

Consent First. Consent is always a must. Neither you nor your partner should feel pressured.

Get Comfy. Chances are best for an orgasm when you're relaxed and comfortable. Both physical and emotional comfort go a long way in allowing you and your partner to focus on the business of pleasure.

Don't Skimp on Foreplay. Foreplay plays an important role in building desire. Don't rush it. A feeling of "hurry up and get it over with" can be a total turn off.

Condoms, Yes Please! In addition to protection, many condoms include pleasure enhancing features like ribbing and other textures designed to increase sensation and arousal.

Lube Like There's No Tomorrow. "There's too much lube!" said no one ever. By reducing friction and discomfort, personal lubricant keeps the wheels of love turning and allows more time to find that sweet spot and rhythm.

Who's on Top? Certain sexual positions allow for greater control of the action. Take turns leading and find out what works best for you and your partner.

Toys, Toys, Toys. Vibrators and other sex toys can help you explore in new ways and increase excitement. Experiment with speed, pressure and texture on different areas of the body to see what feels best.

Get Out of Your Head - And onto Your Partner. This is no time to worry about looking cool or graceful. Concentrate on how you and your partner are feeling. If it's a solo venture, forget about what other people say it's supposed to be like, and just enjoy!

You Do You - Literally. Nobody knows your body like you do. Discover what you like through solo play, then you can teach that unique set of skills to your partner.

About Multiple Orgasms

More of a good thing is great! But, don't let unreasonable expectations block the fun. After orgasm there's a refractory period where the body goes back to it's pre-arousal state.

Several body systems send the mission accomplished signal to the brain after orgasm which pauses the action. The recovery period can last anywhere from 15 minutes to a day depending on the person.

Women seem to require less recovery time, possibly because their state of arousal stays elevated longer after orgasm. If additional stimulation occurs during this time, they may be able orgasm multiple times.

The edging technique can be used by all genders and involves cycles where you get close to climax but back off stimulation to keep the arousal going longer.

The Emotional and Social Sides of Orgasm

Orgasms are powerful. Emotionally, they can bring partners closer together while the inability to have them can weaken self-confidence and erode relationships. And the perceived social pressure to have bigger and better orgasms that occur with every sexual encounter can create mood-killing anxiety.

There's always room to grow, and trying to reach new orgasmic goals is great! Just don't let the quest for the ultimate, mind-blowing experience overshadow all the special, perhaps more humble moments along the way. Whatever type of climax you reach is perfectly wonderful, totally normal and uniquely yours.