Last Updated December 20th, 2021
Orgasms: Everything you Need to Know
An intense sexual pleasure that happens at the climax of sexual excitement is referred to as an orgasm. In women, the orgasm can be vaginal, clitoral, or blended. These will be explained in detail later. In men, the orgasm accompanies the process of ejaculation. A woman’s orgasms in intercourse are highly variable and are under little selective pressure as they are not a reproductive necessity. It is also sometimes referred to as “coming” or “climaxing” or simply as just the “big-O”
Quick Facts About Orgasms
- Orgasms lead to the release of hormones that reduce stress and provide other health benefits.
- Sexual stimulation is not the only way to get an orgasm.
- People of all genders can experience orgasm disorders.
- Transgender people are able to orgasm after gender reassignment surgery.
- Medical professionals and mental health professionals define orgasms differently.
Types of Orgasms
The clitoris is a small organ nearly four inches long. Only one-fourth of it is visible. It peeks out from the top of the vulva, is often covered by a hood, and extends down the inside of the labia. The tip of the clitoris alone has over 8000 nerve endings. That is about twice the number of nerve endings in an average penis after circumcision. For a better idea, consider one square inch of skin.
A square inch of skin has only 1000 nerve endings. The best way to stimulate the clitoris is by gently rubbing it with the fingers, palm, or tongue in a back and forth or circular motion. Clitoral stimulation is the best way to achieve an orgasm. It can lead to a tingly sense over the surface of the body and sometimes a sensation in your brain.
The vagina itself has only a limited number of nerve endings. This makes the vaginal tunnel less sensitive to stimulation during sexual intercourse as compared to the clitoris. Vaginal stimulation happens with penetration during the process of sexual intercourse. This can be by the use of a penis, as sex toy, or even one’s fingers. Because the vaginal walls pulse, these pulsations can be felt by the person not experiencing the orgasm as well. When you insert the object, and move up towards the belly button, there is a point of pleasure that is referred to as a G-spot. When you hit the G-spot regularly, the chances of an orgasm are increased.
Sometimes before orgasming, you would feel an intense desire to pee, but the contractions would not be around your genitals, they would be around your anal sphincter. Anal orgasms are more common in men because of the prostate. It is achieved by simply rubbing the outside of the anus with lube or by stimulating the inside of the anus by inserting a finger. Also, if you do anal sex, always use a lube. This is because the anus does not produce any natural lubricant to aid sex.
Combo of Clitoral and Vaginal
When both the clitoris as well as the vagina is stimulated, it can lead to a more explosive orgasm, which involves convulsing and probably even ejaculation. Female ejaculation can happen and is not a myth.
Other Erogenous Zones
Other erogenous zones like the nipples, ear, neck, elbows, and knees can still cause a pleasurable reaction when kissed and played with. For sensitive people, this can lead to an orgasm.
Stages of an Orgasm
Masters and Johnson first detailed the stages in an orgasmic experience in a book on the sexual response cycle. The sexual response cycle is the sequence of physical and emotional changes in an individual, resulting from sexual arousal and subsequent participation in sexually stimulating activities such as masturbation or sexual intercourse. The book describes four stages in an orgasmic experience:
Excitation is the step at which a person is turned on (sexually excited). The general characteristics of the excitation phase are as follows:
- Increase in muscle tension
- Quickening of heart beat and accelerated breathing
- Flushing of the skin (reddish spots start to show on the chest and back)
- Erection or hardening of nipples
- Increase in blood reaching the genitals, which leads to swelling of a woman’s clitoris and labia and penile erection in men.
- Beginning of lubrication in the vagina
- Formation of fuller breasts and swelling of the walls of the vagina.
- Swelling of testicles, tightening of scrotum, and secretion of a lubricant.
Repeated motion that feels pleasurable is referred to as a plateau. It follows initial excitation and extends up to the orgasm. The changes in the excitation phase are intensified during the plateau phase. The following changes take place here:
- The vaginal walls continue to swell as the blood flow increases. They turn a purple color.
- Heart beat rate and breathing intensifies and blood pressure increases.
- The clitoris becomes very touch-sensitive and withdraws under the hood. This is done so as to prevent direct stimulation by the penis.
- Muscle spasms happen in the hands, feet and the face.
- Muscle tension increases further.
The third stage, or orgasm, is the climax and lasts less than a minute.
- Muscle contractions of an involuntary nature start.
- Heartbeats, breathing, and blood pressure are at their highest, and oxygen intake is also raised.
- The feet muscles start to spasm.
- Sexual tension is released in a sudden and forceful manner.
- The vaginal muscles undergo contractions, as does the uterus.
- In men, ejaculation of semen, following muscle contractions at the base of the penis, happens.
- The body is covered with a rash, also referred to as a “sex flush”.
The final stage of the sexual response cycle, or resolution, involves the body returning to its regular state, including swelled or erect organs returning to their resting sizes and colors. Some women experience multiple orgasms and with sexual stimulation may continue orgasming. For men, there is something called a refractory period (time to recover from an orgasm) is longer. The average male’s refractory period tends to increase with age.
Health Benefits of Orgasms
The big-O has its fair share of benefits. Some of them are:
- Improves the circulation of blood to the organs of the pelvic cavity. This helps in delivering nutrients and maintaining the health of tissues.
- Regulates the menstrual cycle. The frequency of sex increases the frequency of the menstrual cycles in women.
- Increases fertility and improves the feeling of wellness. It does this by stimulating the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands.
- Helps in detoxifying the body. This in turn improves digestion, a person’s mood, and even helps prevent cancer in some instances.
- Boosts your immunity by strengthening the lymphatic system.
- Raises the estrogen levels in women, thereby helping prevent osteoporosis and diseases of the heart. It also makes the vaginal tissue supple.
- Raises the level of endorphins in the body, giving you a feel-good sensation.
- Reduces the blood pressure by getting rid of cortisol.
- Spikes DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) levels in the body. This in turn helps to improve the functioning of the brain and the immune system. It also makes the skin healthier.
- Helps fight colds and flu by boosting cells that fight infections!
- Reduces the incidence of migraine.
- Helps reduce pain.
- Oxytocin levels are increased. This is the hormone associated with social skills.
The Freudian View of Orgasms
Sigmund Freud posited that the female orgasm was related to psychoanalytic development. He believed that as a girl, she experiences an excitation in the clitoris that is very similar to the excitation felt by a boy in his penis. As she grows older, she begins to experience vaginal stimulation more than clitoral stimulation. In Freud’s view, continued reliance on clitoral stimulation pointed towards psychologically immaturity. A hundred years after Freud’s postulate, there are still people who believe this is right though its relevance has reduced. A minority of women routinely experience orgasm solely from sexual intercourse, whereas most women require other types of stimulation. Why this is so is still a mystery.
Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome
Post-orgasmic illness syndrome is a rare condition in which a person develops a flu-like condition or an allergy after an orgasm, with a partner, through sexual stimulation, or unconsciously in sleep. It generally happens in men following ejaculation, although it has been reported in women as well. Symptoms can develop within hours, minutes, or seconds of an orgasm and lasts for 2-7 days after which it goes away by itself. Some of the symptoms observed are headache, fever, fatigue, mood changes, stuffy nose, sore throat, and itching of the eyes.
Delayed Orgasm and Anorgasmia
The WHO defines delayed orgasm and anorgasmia together as a persistent or recurrent delay in, difficulty, or inability to reach orgasm despite sufficient sexual stimulation, leading to distress. There is no time threshold for what defines DO. Anorgasmia or DO can affect both men and women. There are many causes for Anorgasmia. Some of them are:
- Hormone related: like hypothyroidism (lack of thyroid hormone production leading to fatigue), hyperprolactinemia (which leads to vaginal pain during intercourse and irregularities in menstrual cycles), and testosterone deficiency
- Medication like antidepressants, antipsychotics, and opioids.
- Psychosexual causes
- Penile sensation loss
- Hyperstimulation (higher masturbatory activity)
Tips for Better Orgasms and Sex
Agree on a period – say one week, or whatever works for you – when you will not have orgasms or penetrative sex. Allow only kissing and holding during this time. After the waiting period is over, you can get to lovemaking.
A massage may be sexual or non-sexual. Even a non-sexual massage will help you understand your partner’s body better and improve the intimacy between the two of you.
Delight the senses when you are having sex. Adding candles for light and scented oil for massage can help in improving the sex greatly.
Using sex toys can be enjoyable if both you and your partner are okay with them.
Books on sex can give you several tips on how to satisfy your partner better and also reach that perfect orgasm.
Share fantasies and desires
Generally, men want women to tell them what they desire when they are having sex. Share fantasies and desires freely to improve your sex life.
Keep it clean
Be hygienic. Always ensure that you scrub yourself down and wash yourself clean after sex.
Relaxing with your partner can be very therapeutic and may lead to better sex later.
How important is an orgasm?
Orgasms are healthy for you. The only way you can ensure you stay healthy is to ensure you get more of your lovemaking and are able to get there in a relaxed manner. If you do not orgasm as much as you would like despite all the tips provided in this article, do not dwell upon it. An orgasm is not the be all and end all in life. That is love and intimacy.
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