Have you been wondering about orgasms? Don’t worry, you're not alone. From how to orgasm, to how to know if you’ve had one, to having vaginal orgasms (not a thing, to be honest), to whether yours are normal, there is no end to the information you might come across. It’s overwhelming!
So, in the spirit of rescuing sex ed (we need it in this country), let’s talk about another phenomenon we haven’t had explained: orgasm aftershocks. What’s up with those feelings of ongoing sexual tension, pleasure, and intensity after the sexual action is over? Is it normal?
Basically, an “orgasm aftershock” is when your body tenses up and releases repeatedly after the initial “big orgasm.” Your PC muscles convulse, creating even more pleasure. Your partner may be laying next to you in all the wonders of the post-sex afterglow, but you’re still riding the wave to Pleasure City.
To further understand orgasm aftershocks and all the nuances, we examined the varied ways women experience orgasm and how “aftershocks” might play a role.
Sometimes you’re having multiple orgasms.
We love putting pressure on women to not only have orgasms all the time, but to have multi-orgasms in any give sex session. (We even received a letter wherein a male reader claimed his girlfriend was having “10 to 15 orgasms” every time they had intercourse. Oh, honey ...) But we should also note, don’t fake orgasms.
Pressure and myths aside, some women are truly multi-orgasmic. Meaning, you don’t usually have one big orgasm during sex, but a series of orgasms. Sometimes all your orgasms are volcanic, sometimes they lessen or grow in intensity. It isn’t exactly an “aftershock,” but instead a buildup and release of the body’s sexual response cycle for a second (or third or fourth time). Studies have shown that about 15 percent of women are multi-orgasmic. It’s not particularly common, but then again, nothing in sexuality could ever be labeled “common.”
The sexual response cycle typically looks like this: Desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, resolution.
What many don’t know is that these stages may look linear, but it can happen in a wide range of ways. For instance, you may experience genital and sexual arousal physically before you brain experiences desire for any sexual touching. The point is, it’s complicated. To learn more, read our guide to the Dual Control Model of sexuality.
Sometimes it’s just a tread from the first orgasm.
According to legendary sexologist and educator, Betty Dodson, you may think you’re riding into another orgasm, but really it’s just the “aftershocks” of the orgasm you just experienced. Your body is ebbing and flowing through the orgasmic feelings. It can feel like peaks and valleys, or simply waves of pleasure.
How one person experiences orgasm varies. No matter who you talk to, they’ll likely have a different take on what orgasm feels like. We tend to think all orgasms are founded in this insane “release” or “eruption,” but this is false advertising.
Orgasm is the involuntary, often pleasurable, release of sexual tension at the height of sexual response. It's earth shattering for some and for others, not so much. “Aftershocks” can simply be a continuation of this release. You tense up again and then release again. The term “aftershock” is actually quite en pointe in this instance.
And some people have “mini orgasms.”
There are some women who don’t experience one big release of sexual tension, but rather a series of smaller orgasms. Women who have these “mini orgasms” often think they aren’t having orgasms at all. Women have reported feeling like they can never quite “peak.”
What’s really happening is a smaller, shorter wave of tiny orgasms happening in succession. This is more like an orgasmic “pre-shock” than aftershock.
Experiencing “aftershocks” post orgasm is completely normal. If you feel waves of pleasure, highs and lows, or what seems to be one, ongoing orgasm—enjoy yourself. Lean into it. There is nothing wrong with what you’re feeling. It will likely be a huge turn on to your partner to see you in such an erotic state. Healthy sexuality is a beautiful thing and what makes it healthy is your satisfaction and happiness.