We understand orgasm in the grand sense. An orgasm is that great release at the height of sexual pleasure. It’s when you get to a peak and involuntarily cross over. For some, it is a wave of bliss; for others it’s an explosion, and for some, it’s almost undetectable.
Orgasms are a marvelous thing. Being able to access sexual pleasure is a fundamental human right. Orgasms should be encouraged along with sexual autonomy. If you can make yourself come, you’re already on your way to personal fulfillment.
What do we actually know about orgasm and how it works? Here are nine facts that will surprise and delight you about the female orgasm.
External clitoral stimulation is almost always needed to have an orgasm.
The vast majority of women require clitoral action in order to have an orgasm. The stat that is often tossed out (and indeed we’ve used it) is that only 25 percent of women are able to have an orgasm through intercourse alone.
What this stat doesn't account for is how many women in that original study were stimulating their external clitoris during intercourse to wind up in the 25 percent. When you take this into account, it’s more like 90 to 95 percent of women need their clitoris stimulated to experience orgasm. Mind. Blown.
… and for those who have orgasms during intercourse
You’re still very likely getting that external stimulation! Studies have shown that the location of the clitoris has an impact on whether or not you’ll have an orgasm during intercourse. If the clitoris is less than 2.5 centimeters from the vaginal opening, you may be able to have an orgasm during intercourse.
Two and a half centimeters is about the length of a thumb. For most women (nearly all), this is just not how our anatomy is laid out.
For those few women who do fit into that minute bracket, it isn’t internal stimulation of the vagina or G-spot that is giving you orgasms, it’s the fact that you can rub your clitoris on your partner’s penis, dildo, or pubic bone during intercourse. Your clitoris is simply closer to the thrusting action.
“Orgasm” happens in a variety of ways.
How orgasm actually happens is highly subjective. It changes from person to person. The human sexual response cycle goes like this: desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, resolution.
It appears to be this linear, straightforward series of events. But it isn’t. Not every person follows the human sexual response cycle as it is lain out. Some people experience arousal before desire, for example. Some people don’t reach orgasm during sexual activity all or some of the time. Such is life. (To learn more, click here.)
Some orgasms happen in small, short waves.
Not everyone experiences orgasm as this grand, volcanic eruption in their loins. As we’ve noted, people experience orgasm differently. This means that the orgasms people have are also different.
Every single one is as unique as you are. Did you know that some orgasms occur as a series of waves, or smaller, shorter orgasms? It’s true! Some women don’t just have one orgasm, but a bunch of tiny ones in a row.
G-spot orgasms are real, but not everyone has them.
The G-spot is actually the back of the clitoris. The clitoris extends into the body, underneath the labia and mons. The part you can see is the glans, but the entire thing is nearly five inches in some women.
The G-spot is more of an area than a spot. It is the area that surrounds the urethral sponge and canal. When you stimulate the G-spot, you’re stimulating that internal apex of the clit. Some women enjoy internal stimulation alone, but most need either a combination of external and internal or external stimulation alone to orgasm.
Orgasm is highly controlled by the brain.
Your brain plays a bigger role in orgasm than you could have imagined! That’s right. It’s not just the clitoris that predicts orgasm, it is your noggin. Enter, the Dual Control Model. Your brain has a series of brakes and accelerators when it comes to arousal and desire.
The brakes are your sexual inhibitors and the accelerators are what pushes you toward sexual feelings. Everyone has a different makeup of brakes and accelerators. When it comes to orgasm, those with sensitive brakes will likely need more from their sexual experiences to experience orgasm. No person is better than any other, we’re just different.
To learn more about the Dual Control Model, click here.
Orgasms relieve pain.
Studies have shown that orgasms have the potential to do a lot for our mind and body. When you have an orgasm, the brain releases a cocktail of chemicals, including oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a natural pain reliever. Having regular orgasms can help with pain management. They can relieve everything from headaches to hangovers.
Pressure inhibits orgasm.
Orgasm is often touted as the end-all-be-all of sex. It is the “goal” in which we’re all meant to strive when getting it on. Yet, putting pressure on orgasm does not make experiencing an orgasm particularly easy. It pumps those brakes we talked about.
Orgasm should not be seen as the goal of sex, but rather a happy occurrence. We should be enjoying pleasure for pleasure itself. If you don’t come, that doesn’t invalidate your sexual experience.
What matters is having a partner who cares about your needs and who wants to do whatever they need to to make you feel good. If you get off, cool. If you don’t, that’s totally OK too.
Every orgasm is clitoral.
There are many ways to have an orgasm, as we've discussed. Some women can have orgasms without even touching the clit. There have been many cases of orgasms through other erogenous zones such as the nipples.
That being said, every orgasm is still based in the clitoris. Your erogenous zones are all connected to the clit and to the brain. When you stimulate these areas, the brain sends signals to the clit. Whatever orgasm you're having, the clitoris is still the epicenter.