What happens when you have an orgasm?
The orgasm is famously one of the greatest feelings ever. If you haven't had one you might be wondering what all the hype is about. Let's see what's really going on in your body when you have one.
When a person with a vulva is aroused, blood flows to their genitals heightening the sensitivity of that area. This area includes the vulva, labia minora and majora, clitoris, clitoral hood, and other tissues. When you begin stimulating this sensitive area, this is when you begin to feel an increased heart rate and rapid breathing, often called "excitement". It's an electric feeling that you might experience in solo play or with a partner you have good chemistry with. The more aroused you are, the closer and closer you are to culminating in orgasm.
Climaxing and its components.
The early stages of arousal are interchangeable in their order. In general, it happens like this:
Excitement, when arousal builds
Plateau, when arousal increases and is maintained
Orgasm, which causes intense feelings of pleasure
Resolution, when arousal diminishes
You may find that your excitement and plateau stages move back and forth building you to an orgasm. Or you might find yourself moving from excitement to plateau very slowly or very quickly. This can also change depending on the activity. Remember, no matter what you are feeling, if it feels good to you, it's ok!
People with vaginas can often orgasm again after the resolution phase (woo! multiple orgasms!), while for the most part, people with penises require a period of rest before they can have another orgasm. This is often referred to as a refractory period. It is not unusual to find yourself in a refractory phase even if you are a vagina owner. Listen to your body, it knows what to do.
Pro-tip: Orgasming before penetration can help prepare the way for more play!
What does an orgasm feel like?
There are many types of orgasms, from different types of stimuli but overall, all orgasms produce rhythmic contractions in your vagina and the release of muscles all over. (You may even feel a strange pressure, similar to the urge to pee right before you orgasm!)
But, just like pleasure, there is an unlimited way of feeling it and explaining that feeling. When orgasming, you can experience any of the following.
A building of tension that concludes in a massive euphoric release.
A feeling of elation followed by feeling very relaxed.
A tingling sensation over your body.
Contractions in the vaginal wall and across the body
Curling of toes and fingers
Rapid breathing and moaning or other noises.
Flushed skin and increased body temperature
Sensitive genitals after orgasm (sometimes, feeling too sensitive to be touched)
All orgasms vary in intensity, frequency, and duration. One person may describe it as an intense tingling sensation all over the body, whereas for another the defining feature might be the sense of elation. These sensations will also depend on the type of orgasm you’re having! That might include anal, clitoral, or even a nipple orgasm. Many of these sensations are caused by your brain, which releases dopamine, the hormone associated with pleasure, and oxytocin, a hormone associated with affection.
Is it normal to never have an orgasm?
If you've never had an orgasm during sex, you're not alone. For example, one study in 2018 showed that only 30% of cisgender heterosexual women reported regular orgasms from penetrative sex, while 95% of heterosexual men had orgasms every time.
The term that describes this issue is Anorgasmia. Which is Greek in origin, roughly translating to "without orgasm".
Even though it's less common for people with vulvas to have an orgasm during penetrative sex, there are ways to change this! Like stimulating your clitoris while being penetrated.
Years of sexual education in the US and many other countries have often taught that cisgender women and men have drastically different sex drives. Additionally, these erroneous assumptions have favored the teaching of abstinence instead of pleasure, leading to insufficient knowledge of sex in general. Masturbation has also been taboo for so long, many have yet to truly explore their bodies to find out what they like. On top of this, body shaming and purity culture can make changing the landscape for people with vulvas really challenging. All in all, this can lead to being short-changed in the bedroom.
These may sound insurmountable. But there are tons of ways for you to change this! This can range from sensate focus exercises to masturbation. For those who consistently struggle to have orgasms, there are also various arousal disorder treatments available.
Why Can't I Orgasm?
The reason behind nonexistent orgasms can be complex and unique. You may have heard dismissive things like "it's all in your head," or "just get over it," which can be incredibly hurtful. You also might be telling yourself, "I'm broken" or "I'm not normal".
Just know, you are normal, you aren't broken and there are many ways to make climaxing happen for you. Remember, anorgasmia can affect anyone, in complex and unique ways.
What causes Anorgasmia?
There is rarely a single cause for anorgasmia. Things like stress, depression, distraction, not being pleasured in the right way, or gynecological issues can all contribute. If you are inconsistently orgasming, you've noticed its toll on your sex drive. It’s natural for sexual desire to wane when you are continually disappointed with the sex you are having.
Notably, stress, depression, and dissatisfaction all pile on one another. Sometimes becoming a self-perpetuating cycle that can lead to a low sex drive. Like having one bad candy, and throwing out the whole bag, experiencing unpleasurable or unsatisfying sex can also lead to relationship dissatisfaction and low self-confidence. Oxytocin (the "happy" hormone released by your brain) can increase feelings of emotional attachment, which is why having orgasms and other intimacy with a partner can be important for romantic relationships.
If you're struggling to have orgasms or want to have them more often, download our app today. Our courses are supported by science, and specifically designed to help you climax consistently. To learn more about how Lover can help you, our expert Dr. Britney Blair explains it all here.