What’s an Orgasm and How to Have One?

It has been estimated that between ten and fifteen percent of American women have never experienced orgasm, and the percentage might be even higher in countries in which there is less sexuality information available. There are many reasons for a woman’s failure to climax, including such things as sexual ignorance, sexual anxiety, or a fear of letting go. Some reasons have more to do with the woman’s partner, who might also be ignorant of sexual anatomy or hold unrealistic expectations of how women reach orgasm. A man who rushes foreplay believing he must finish the job with intercourse might well leave his partner frustrated.

A Persistent Sexual Myth
Many men and women still believe that women should orgasm during intercourse. That is, women should all be capable of vaginal orgasms. Many people even point to orgasms during intercourse as the only “right way” to get there. In reality, perhaps thirty-five percent of women can indeed climax during intercourse, but the vast majority of women never have and probably never will. Ina woman approaches sex orgasm fact, most of the women who do orgasm during intercourse are only able to do so because they are in a position that provides effective clitoral stimulation.

Female Sexual Anatomy
Female genitals are variations on the same theme, but no two women look exactly the same. Thus, a single drawing cannot look like every woman. At the top is the clitoral hood. The hood may be thick or thin, might cover the head of the clitoris, or allow it to be exposed. Whether the hood is thick or thin, covers the clitoris or not, seems unrelated to woman’s ability to orgasm.

Beneath the clitoral hood lies the clitoral shaft. The length of the shaft will vary among women, just as penis size varies among men. The head of the clitoris is rich with nerve endings and is the most sensitive part of a woman’s vulva. Most women require clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm, although the sensitivity of this small organ will vary among women. For some women direct stimulation of the clitoral head is pleasurable, but for others the head is too sensitive and stimulation of the shaft works best. Sexual communication can be essential in redirecting a well-intended finger or tongue.

The small inner lips might be thin or full, short or long. Often one lip will be larger than the other. Nothing on one side of the human body is a mirror image of the corresponding part of the other side, and so asymmetrical genital lips (labia) are not uncommon and should be no cause for concern.

A woman’s urethral opening, from which she urinates, is below the clitoris and above the vaginal opening. Often this opening cannot be seen without close inspection.

The opening to the vagina is below the clitoris, perhaps an inch or so, and in most positions of intercourse is not in “the direct line of fire” of a thrusting penis. The walls of a woman’s vagina are relatively insensitive, although there is certainly feeling in the muscular opening (first inch) and there is clearly a sense of containment. The role of the “G Spot” is probably minimal, although some women do report “hot spots” deep inside.

What Happens When a Woman Has An Orgasm
While a woman approaches orgasm, her body will naturally tense. This is called hypertonicity. A woman should not attempt to undo this natural process, but rather allow her body to do what it needs to do. This hypertonicity might last anywhere from a minute to twenty or more. When sexual excitement reaches a certain threshold, there is a neurological “orgasmic trigger” which is pulled. This threshold is lower for some women than for others.

Women will report their subjective experience of orgasm in their own unique ways. “A rush of warm feelings,” “an explosion of pleasure,” “waves of ecstasy,” and so on. Most, however, will identify the waves of positive feelings associated with the physical contractions of their pelvic floor muscles. The best way, then, to objectively describe an orgasm is as a series (six to ten) of strong muscle spasms that radiate positive feelings throughout the entire body.

If a woman who has never experienced orgasm wants a small sample of that experience, she can rhythmically contract her pelvic floor muscles. Then multiply these sensations by one hundred!

For many women, there will also be uterine contractions during orgasm, but many will not feel these unless pregnant. Following a hysterectomy, some women report a change in their orgasmic experience, but others will not.

The period of relaxation and warm feelings of contentment that follow an orgasm has been called the afterglow. There are women who are capable of going on an experiencing one or more additional orgasms. Nobody knows why some women are multi-orgasmic and others are not.

What About Female Ejaculation?
A small percentage of women will expel a clear fluid when they orgasm. This fluid reaches out of the urethral opening, and is often mistaken for urine. This fluid is quite different from a woman’s sexual lubrication, but many people believe that a woman who is exceptionally wet with her slippery lubricant has ejaculated. This is not so. The lubrication comes for small glands just inside the vaginal opening and is thick. The ejaculate comes from the urethral opening and is watery.

Despite claims that women can learn to ejaculate, there is not evidence that this is possible. Some women expel fluid, others don’t. Either way, this should not be of concern.

Can a Nonorgasmic Woman Become Orgasmic?
Women can learn to become orgasmic and there are several good self-help programs available. For many woman, their first attempts to learn are on their own. If this does not work, however, or if there are psychological blocks the woman cannot overcome on her own, therapy with a qualified sex therapist is recommended.

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