What is an orgasm?
An orgasm is the body’s physiological response to pleasure or sexual stimulation. Whether that sexual stimulation includes sensual massage, oral sex, penetration, or something else, it has the potential to lead to orgasm. We can experience orgasm when we are doing something that feels good enough to activate the nerves in our genitals. On a physiological level, orgasm is the height of sexual arousal, and generally tends to be the pleasure peak of your sexual experience.
What happens to your body during an orgasm?
The body experiences a few things during orgasm, from mental mindfulness to involuntary responses. Sometimes we experience an orgasmic response that feels almost uncontrollable, such as audible moans and groans or noticeable muscle spasms. Other times we may feel a sense of euphoria or peacefulness in our minds. Your heart rate and breathing rate is likely to increase just before and during orgasm, as blood flows to the genitals. When you orgasm, chemicals are released in your brain, including endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. Sometimes people experience ejaculation or squirting during orgasm, but this doesn’t always happen.
What happens to your body after an orgasm?
The body tends to enter relaxation mode after an orgasm (however sometimes you’ll find you’re still aroused and ready to keep going after an orgasm — we’ll touch on multiple orgasms later). Generally, your body and brain start to slow down and relax once you’ve finished. You may feel sleepy or cuddly due to the release of oxytocin, or you may feel happy or motivated from the endorphin release. If your clitoris or penis was erect, it’s likely to return to its flaccid state after orgasm. You may be feeling extra sensitive in your genitals, or maybe even slightly numb. You’re probably feeling pretty satisfied overall!
What does an orgasm feel like?
Orgasm is generally a build up of pleasure, followed by contractions of the pelvic muscles, ending in an ultimate sense of relief and relaxation. It feels like a pleasurable sense of pressure in your genitals, followed by an enjoyable release of that pressure.
The specific sensations that are felt during an orgasm are different for everyone. Some people may experience a satisfying sneeze-like sensation, a deep genital exhale, an explosion of fireworks within the whole body, and more.
What are the benefits of reaching an orgasm?
Trust us when we say there are so many benefits to masturbation. From physical benefits such as better sleep and activated pelvic muscles, to mental benefits such as improved mood and reduced stress, and even social benefits such as better sex and intimacy with a partner, the perks of self pleasure are endless. In fact, we think there are so many benefits to yourself and others that it’s actually selfish not to masturbate.
How to reach an orgasm
Ever asked yourself, “why can’t I orgasm?”. We have developed a beginner's guide to having an orgasm for those who have never had one before. Our hottest tips would be to engage in enough foreplay, stimulate a variety of erogenous zones with a focus on the clitoris, experiment with different types of stimulation, speeds, pressures, and rhythms before sticking to one that’s working, and incorporate your breath, sound, and movement to really embody the experience. We’d also advise investing in a good quality sex toy to help the process. If you’re looking to advance your orgasms, read about the many different ways to orgasm and how to achieve the various types of orgasm.
How long does an orgasm last?
The duration of an orgasm can differ each time, depending on the person, type of stimulation, physical state, and more. No two orgasms will feel exactly the same, or go for the same length of time. They could last anywhere between a few seconds and a couple of minutes! Perhaps the actual fireworks sensation lasts 10 seconds for you, but your body may need a few minutes to come down from it.
Can you orgasm more than once?
Yes, you absolutely can. Whether it’s a few times a day or a few times within one sexual experience, all bodies are capable of having multiple orgasms. Generally speaking, penis owners need longer recovery time after orgasm, which is why it tends to be more common for vulva owners to be able to have multiple orgasms. However, with the right tools (such as sex toys, an understanding of the different types of orgasm, or maybe personalised sessions with a sex coach), you can definitely learn to orgasm more than once.
If you feel like your body can only take one orgasm at once right now, but want to experience more of that juicy orgasm feeling, try edging! Edging is a technique used during sex to delay orgasm by slowing down just before orgasm, then bringing the intensity right back up to build more powerful orgasms.
Why can’t I orgasm?
There are many reasons that you may be struggling with orgasm. This could be due to cultural, religious, or social messaging that is holding you back, medical reasons such as medication or anxiety, or simply the wrong type of sexual stimulation for your body.
Fear not, our sexpert has written a beginner’s guide on how to have an orgasm if you’ve never had one before. We’d also encourage chatting to a relevant professional if you’re concerned about not being able to orgasm, as GPs, pelvic floor physios, sexologists, and pleasure coaches can help a tonne.
Are there different types of orgasms?
Technically, all orgasms come from the same place — the brain! But there are many ways to stimulate different erogenous zones that can lead to orgasms that may feel slightly different within the body. From clitoral orgasms and blended orgasms, to anal orgasms or coregasms, there are many types of orgasms and various ways to achieve them.
Why do I feel pain when I orgasm?
Pain during orgasm can happen for a variety of reasons. Maybe your body is too tense and you’re not allowing yourself to breathe and relax into your orgasm. Maybe you’re overdoing the stimulation and need to take it back a notch and take a more gentle approach. Maybe you’re experimenting with internal stimulation before your body is fully aroused and ready for penetration. Or perhaps it’s something more significant that requires advice from a healthcare professional. We support chatting to a GP, gynaecologist, pelvic health physio, or sexologist for individual advice, because you don’t have to put up with unwanted pain during sex.
Why do vibrators make me feel numb?
This can happen sometimes! It’s important to know that you’ll never lose your nerve endings from vibrators. Any numbness that you may feel is always temporary. If you feel numb from your vibrator, we suggest taking a break or moving back to hands or other forms of stimulation for time being. When using vibrators and sex toys, you still need to do foreplay! We don’t suggest rushing into vibrator use and waiting for it to do its magic. Sex toys are always more pleasurable (and less numbing) once you’ve taken the time to turn your whole body on, build arousal and desire, and get yourself in the mood.
Why can’t I orgasm with a partner?
Orgasming alone but not with a partner is super common. This can happen due to the extra stimulation that occurs when another person is present, or the distractions or thoughts that come with sharing your sexuality with a partner. It could also be that the distance between your vagina and your clitoris makes it harder for you to orgasm through penetration! Whatever the reason may be, we recommend talking to your partner/s about wanting to give yourself more of a chance to orgasm when you’re together. Communicate your wants and needs!
Some people struggle to orgasm with a partner because the type of sex they’re having alone compared to with a partner is completely different. Our best advice in this case would be to replicate the type of stimulation you give yourself during masturbation when you’re with a partner. For example, if you orgasm alone during clitoral stimulation with a bullet vibrator, bring the bullet vibrator into the bedroom with your partner and do the same thing that you know gets you off.
Can you orgasm on your period?
Yes, absolutely. Some people find it easier to orgasm while on their period, while others don’t even want to think about sex or orgasm during their monthly bleed. Your body and desire will fluctuate throughout the four phases of your menstrual cycle. Most people with a menstrual cycle tend to experience more sexual desire during ovulation, but some also have their sexual peak during their period.
Do orgasms help relieve period pain and cramps?
They sure can! Masturbation, sex and orgasm all release endorphins in our brains that not only make us feel happy, but help to naturally relieve pain. Orgasm is a physical release of tension, which helps our muscles relax and our body unwind, which can definitely help reduce those cramps and aches. If you’re not keen on penetration, internal masturbation, or high intensity sexual activity when experiencing period pain, stick to gentle, external stimulation, such as a palm vibrator.
Read more on Stimulation:
Want to learn more about orgasms and masturbation? Read our sexpert’s guide on how to masturbate and the best masturbation positions and poses. You can also learn about the orgasm gap! On the VUSH Stimulation blog, we also have guides for sexual communication and how to use sex toys with a partner.
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