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Sex + Relationships

7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Female Orgasm

Orgasm, the big O, climax… we all know what it is, but not everybody wants to talk about it. As women, we need to be able to talk about stigmatized subjects like the orgasm, because believe it or not, they’re pretty important (and pretty awesome). Whether you’re a seasoned O-pro or have yet to experience your first time, we talked to some experts to explain seven things you probably didn’t know about orgasms.

1. You don’t always need genital stimulation to reach climax.

Some women have been able to reach orgasm from just a simple knee touch or massage. Spontaneous orgasms during such activities are often related to increased blood flow to the genitals and vibration that stimulates the clitoris. According to Kimberley Chestnut, M.A., M.Ed., Ph.D., Director for Student Health Services at Temple University, “The Vagas nerve is the spinal cord destination that allows for orgasm without genital stimulation,” she says. “There are actually three spinal destinations that allow for the experience of orgasm: pudendal nerve, pelvic-hypogastric nerve plexus, and vagas nerve.” Basically, while it may not be ideal for everyone, it’s possible. 

2. There is no “average” time length for an orgasm.

Depending on your level of arousal, your orgasm could be gone in an instant or longer lasting. When you climax, your vaginal muscles contract, which explains the pulsing feeling that women experience. According to Popsugar, mild orgasms have three to five pulses, and intense orgasms can have 10 to 15. After you climax, your body releases a hormone called prolactin, which can shut off your sex drive for about an hour. Dr. Maria Tucker of Total Woman Health and Wellness OB/GYN says, “Prolactin is a hormone released from the anterior pituitary gland that stimulates milk production after childbirth. High levels of prolactin have been found in blood samples of men and women after orgasms.” This differs from men, who can have multiple orgasms in a short amount of time. However, some women are able to orgasm multiple times in a short time-span as well. 

3. Committed relationships yield more orgasms than hookups or one night stands.

That’s right ladies. As afraid of commitment as many of us are, it has its perks. A recent survey from the Kinsey Institute noted that women are two times more likely to climax when they are in a relationship as opposed to a casual hookup. Dr. Tucker says, “Marriage, with all of its trials, leads to the most satisfying sex as couples are committed to working out emotional and sexual issues within a framework of trust and longevity.” So if you’re looking to the future, just remember that commitment is sexy. Guys, you too.

Related: 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Having Satisfying Sex

4. An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away…?

Safe sex, as well as masturbation, are good for you! Studies show that reaching climax can help relieve cramps, alleviate stress, boost the immune system, relieve pain and so much more. See ya, Advil! In addition, the New York Times showed that a study released by the British Medical Journal says there’s a strong correlation between orgasms and mortality rates, and those who orgasm two times a week or more can add up to eight years on to their life. 

5. Half as many women have orgasms when they have sex compared to men.

And up to 10 percent of women are actually anorgasmic, meaning that they can’t reach climax. Some people do it on purpose; they resort to faking an orgasm, whether they’re trying to please their S.O. or just get back to doing their homework. Dr. Tucker says, “There are many spiritual, physical, emotional and mental reasons a woman can be anorgasmic. Most women don’t consistently have orgasms with vaginal penetration alone.” She also says that orgasm habits can change with age, medical issues or based on medications you’re taking. “If you’re happy with the climax of your sexual activities, there’s no need for concern. However, if one is concerned by lack of orgasm or the intensity of your orgasms, consult your doctor about anorgasmia,” Dr. Tucker says. 

6. The brain is the main sexual organ.

That’s right, an orgasm isn’t just a physical sensation. Like many other things, the body and mind are connected when it comes to climaxing too. According to Dr. Laura Berman, a nationally recognized sexual health expert, “The brain is the main sexual organ for many people….an emotional and mental connection helps contribute to some of the fun and passion of sex.” If you’re stressed, your Os won’t feel as good and you may not even be able to have one. So, forget about your history paper and enjoy the moment. That being said, some women are stressed because they’re afraid they won’t perform well enough for their partner. Dr. Tucker says, “If you are under stress because you are being forced to perform in a certain manner during sex or because you are stressed over finals, a climax might be elusive.” She raises the question, “If you are having sex with a person that does not build up your sexual self esteem why are you having sex with that person?” That’s a good reminder for every woman; love yourself first.

7. There’s a holiday just for the big O.

July 31…mark your calendars, ladies. We’re feeling 50 shades of excited. How will you celebrate?

Sex and climaxing are not actions that should be taken lightly. “Sex is serious business spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically…orgasms should be the product of a healthy sexual experience, not the goal of sex,” says Dr. Tucker. We couldn’t agree more. Being safe in your sexual endeavors should be top priority. Dig out your condoms and if you’re on the pill, make sure you take it daily. This article, while we hope it was helpful, should not be your orgasm Bible. If you have questions, head to your local campus health center, OB/GYN or primary care physician.

Temple University, 2019. Magazine journalist and editor, fitness instructor, health and wellness enthusiast. Proponent of lists, Jesus, and the Oxford comma. Will do anything for an iced oatmilk latte. Follow my journey: Twitter + Instagram: @sarah_madaus
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