The Big O: Everything You Wish You Knew About Orgasms

Hooking up. Getting frisky. Taking a roll in the hay. Making love. Going ‘round the bases.

No matter what euphemism you give it, most people hope it ends with one thing: an orgasm. The fact may be simple, but the achievement itself and all the questions that surround it? Not so much. Lucky for you, we got 60 collegiettes from around the nation to spill on their orgasms and collected some insider tips (and reassurance) from a certified sexpert. Read on for the answers to all your pressing questions.

What is an orgasm?

Let’s start with the basics, like what’s actually happening to your body during the toe-curling, head-spinning release of pleasure. “There are an enormous number of things going on during orgasm,” says Debby Herbenick, PhD, research scientist at Indiana University and author of Because It Feels Good. “A few of the highlights include muscular contractions around the genitals and anus, a peak in breathing and heart rate and a rush of chemicals throughout the body.”

What does an orgasm feel like?

That being said, not everyone’s chemicals rush in exactly the same way. Some collegiettes we polled tossed around the words “perfect” and “amazing,” while others experience what they could only describe as “waves and waves of peanut butter Oreos” or “rainbows, butterflies and sunshine — down there.” But, if you’re having trouble imagining these ladies’ orgasms (we don’t blame you), here are some descriptions from anonymous college gals that you can actually get your head around.

“I feel it mostly in the small of my back, radiating out to my fingertips. It feels like an explosion of sensation throughout your body, pulsating with your heartbeat.”

“My body seizes up and I feel this kind of euphoria and a slight need to pee, but more pleasurable.”

“It's like that feeling you get when you first stretch in the morning, but for longer and it takes over everywhere. Your whole body gets hot, and you pulse down there. Then I get a bit dizzy, and I swear I see colors brighter right afterward.”

“Everything within you is contracting and releasing. Depending on how you feel about who you are with, it can come with an emotional bond.”

How long will it take me to orgasm, and how long will it last?

Patience may not be at the forefront of your mind during sexy time with your guy, but it’s exactly what it sometimes takes to get you off. “In the beginning of a fresh relationship or when you are new to sex altogether, an orgasm with a partner can take at least 30 to 45 minutes to reach,” says Dr. Herbenick. For our group of anonymous college girls, timing is influenced by a number of factors: how turned on they are before sex, the amount of foreplay, the position they are in, and the partner they are with.

According to Dr. Herbenick, once you reach orgasm, it lasts about 20 seconds on average. The collegiettes we polled reported anywhere from just three seconds to a full minute. So, is 45 minutes of work worth a seconds-long burst of pleasure? Most say yes, arguing that an orgasm seems much longer than what it actually clocks in at.