Remember the scene in American Pie when Viki’s best friend tells her if she’s not sure if she’s had an orgasm, she definitely hasn’t? We all nodded our heads, right?
Welcome to a cultural lie we’re all subject to. We’re made to believe that orgasm will be this thing that changes us forever. It’s something we need and will be incomplete without. Sex will never be good if we don’t have these enormous orgasms that make our thighs quiver and shake.
Like, cool, that’s not setting the bar high or anything for something we cannot control.
While this highly theatrical orgasm has been smashed into our collective psyche, leaving many of us feeling lacking, it turns out orgasms come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Yes, the earth-shattering orgasm of the movies is the experience of some women, but not all.
The truth about orgasms is that not all are the same. They are quite like snowflakes (or penises): No two are exactly alike. You may think you’ve never had an orgasm or are incapable of orgasm. While some women are a-orgasmic, it’s more likely that the orgasms you’re experiencing are simply unconventional.
And by unconventional we mean: Not the ones you’ve heard about in romance novels or seen in porn—AKA the Oh GOD YES! *glass shatters and stars align or whatever*
You may be having one, or even short series of smaller orgasms and not even know it.
What does it mean to be “mini-orgasmic”?
“Mini-orgasmic” is a freshly minted term from Everyday Feminism (and highly reported on by Vice) used to describe those who experience a series of short, small orgasms as opposed to some huge, monumental, life-altering, I-see-the-light orgasm.
Does this seem a bit confusing? That’s because sexuality is confusing and complex. Go figure.
Sexual response happens in five main phases: desire, excitement. plateau, and orgasm. Even though it is technically broken down, it’s not as simple as these linear stages appear. These stages overlap and interchange from person to person. Not everyone’s sexual response will start with desire, and not everyone’s will end with a noticeable orgasm. (For more on this, read our definitive piece on how orgasms actually happen).
Those who have a smaller orgasmic experience may find the plateau phase has a lot of little peaks that never (or almost never) reach the intensity of the single or multiple orgasm pattern.”The most common experiences of mini-orgasmic women are that you have a bunch of orgasms that never seem to end or, conversely, that you never have one at all. Everyone is a different unicorn.
Does this sound like it could be you or your partner? You may have been having orgasms all along! We hope you feel a least partially vindicated.
Orgasm isn’t even all about pleasure, anyway
Why does this happen? It’s actually quite simple: Our definition of orgasm and pleasure is kind of messed up.
More recent definitions of orgasm include the word “pleasure,” but it actually isn’t centered around pleasure. Weird, we know.
Orgasm is the involuntary release of tension and contractions that occur at the culmination of sexual activity. This can mean a whole lot of things. Involuntary release and contractions? Doesn’t exactly get you horny, does it?
Despite what Hollywood would like you to think, orgasm feels different for everyone. Plain and simple. In most cases, orgasm will feel extremely pleasurable. In other cases, it may be so underwhelming that you don’t know it’s happened.
Set more realistic standards
Enough with the ridiculous standards. If this new information shows you anything, we hope it’s that every human person is different. It’s unfair for a woman to feel shamed by a sexual partner because she experiences orgasm differently.
On a even grimmer note, pressure around orgasm is what causes so many women to fake it. That is too depressing for words. This is not the way to live. We have to change the way we define what makes good sex and broaden our understanding of how the body responds to pleasure.
If we keep setting the orgasm bar at IT MUST BE EXPLOSIVE TO COUNT, many women (and men, to be honest) will be disappointed. It’s important to lean into the kind of orgasms you have (or think you’re not having). Instead of focusing on some “big finish,” breathe into everything that is happening to your body. Take note of what you’re feeling. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you feel, without expectation.
Pleasure is the goal, not the orgasm. Check it.