Son: Mommy, what’s an orgasm?
Most of us know more about math than we know about orgasms. This is likely due to the fact our climaxes are so uniquely personal. Your orgasm is not my orgasm. Yet, we both agree, there are few bodily pleasures that give you such a rush of cascading sensations as a real live orgasm. Chocolate and cheeseburgers come close (together they’re as powerful as an orgasm, but only as a tag team.)
Despite our general agreement that orgasms are wicked fun, most of us know so very little about them. How silly is that? Imagine having a money tree in your backyard and never watering it. Hell, I’d say it’s worse than that. Orgasms beat money since your health is your true wealth.
Electric flesh-arrows … traversing the body. A rainbow of color strikes the eyelids. A foam of music falls over the ears. It is the gong of the orgasm. – Anais Nin
Do you know what Arthur Miller, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Joe Dimaggio and John Kennedy all have in common?
None of them gave Marilyn Monroe an orgasm.
(Poor girl. All that famous fucking and not a hint of horny happiness for her.)
She revealed this sad sexual fact of her life in recorded conversations that she sent to her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson, thanking him for teaching her how to have and enjoy orgasms. The tapes were recorded just before she died; but apparently, Marilyn reached a point wherein she was able to relax her mental tensions enough to safely feel and enjoy the orgasms always denied to her in the past. I guess she got pretty good at it pretty quickly, or she really put in the practice because Marilyn learned to enjoy multiple orgasms.
What I told you is true when I first became your patient. I had never had an orgasm. I well remember you said an orgasm happens in the mind….
You said there was an obstacle in my mind that prevented me from having an orgasm; that it was something that happened early in my life about which I felt so guilty that I did not deserve to have the greatest pleasure there is; that it had to do with something sexual that was very wrong, but my getting pleasure from it caused my guilt. That it was buried in my unconscious. Through analysis we would bring it to the conscious mind where we could get to the guilt and free me to be orgasmic. Then you said for the orgasm problem we’ll try a different approach. That you would tell me how to stimulate myself, that when I did exactly what you told me to do I would have an orgasm and that after I did it to myself and felt what it was, I would have orgasms with lovers. What a difference a word makes. You said I would, not I could.
Marilyn found her troubles weren’t in her body. They were all in her mind. There’s no doubt our mind-body connections determine the nature of our orgasms. Perhaps her training as an actress gave her an advantage but, regardless, Marilyn learned to play sexually and she started by “stimulating herself.” One could say her doctor told Marilyn Monroe, “go fuck yourself,” and it turned out to be some of the best advice she ever heard. It’s a funny little world.
Okay, here are some stats I bet you’ve heard before:
– 10% of women have never experienced orgasms (despite great efforts)
– Only 29% of women regularly experience orgasms (from/with their partner)
– 33 – 50% of women experience infrequent orgasms (reports/studies vary)
The French understand the primacy of pleasure. This is why they coyly nicknamed orgasms, “le petit mort.” It means the little death. It’s a poetic reference to how orgasms, obliterate you similar to the exit of death. I’d argue, we all need more obliteration in our lives – the good kind, the “Make Love, Not War” kind. Whatta ya say? Together, let’s endeavor to increase pleasure in our world.
Here are 21 facts, corrections, explications and tidbits of science-porn to help you become better friends with orgasms – both yours and the orgasms of others.
1. “Why can’t I stop this fucking orgasm?”
Yes. It happens. While most of us chase climaxes, there are a few unlucky bastards who can’t shut off their orgasm engine. Like, check out this hilariously bad re-enactment of a woman suffering from a three-hour orgasm. Yes. Three hours. And no, that’s not a typical problem for married people. I guess it happens. This is what it looks like on TV.
Beyond whatever that woman had going on, there is also a very real and very sad medical condition called: Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder
That shit’s no joke. It’s not nearly as cool as it sounds. For those poor unfortunate souls who suffer from endless orgasms, their lives are cursed by something akin to a sexual Midas touch. Any school-kid who’s heard that one can tell you why not everything should be golden. Imagine having to masturbate furiously to find some release so you can be able to leave your house.
In the Daily Beast, Lizzie Crocker wrote a touching piece about the suicide of a young woman afflicted with PGAD. The woman was 39. Kinda puts your orgasm concerns in perspective, doesn’t it?
2. So What Is an Orgasm? (…and do Germans have them, too?)
Yes, everyone, even Germans, can enjoy orgasms. (I don’t know where you would’ve heard otherwise.) Orgasms are as universal as dreams. Of course, some of us have better dreams than others. Some of us dream more often. And some of us can’t remember the last time we had a really good… dream.
Orgasms are specific to each person, and yet, they’re common as the head cold.
Orgasm (from Greek οργασμός orgasmos, from organ to mature, swell, also sexual climax) is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual tension during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure. – Wikipedia
That’s the internet textbook definition. But what are they really?
Orgasms are a brilliant paradox. Begun as sensations in the body, they take place entirely in your mind. There’s no doubt orgasms are one of the smartest gifts Nature ever gave us. They make us happier than a hog in mud. And they make us dumber than a dog. When I say orgasms make us dumb, that’s not like a silly sitcom opinion, that’s actual-factual science.
During climax, part of your brain shuts down. It’s a region located behind your left eye. It’s called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and it’s the seat of reason and behavior control. When you experience an orgasm everything outside of the orgasm falls from focus. In many ways, they’re like meditation. (Maybe that’s why they feel so healthy.)
3. “How will I know if she’s had an orgasm? (…asking for a friend)”
There are 5 stages to a woman’s orgasm:
(A woman’s orgasm is similar to a man’s but there are a few distinct differences.)
When a woman is touched and teased in a way she likes, a tiny intimate symphony of sensations triggers a series of waves of arousal. And this is why women’s sexuality is difficult to study, women can grow aroused and reach climax purely from imagination and anticipation. (This is also why romance novels sell so well). Real or imagined, with the first sensations of touch a woman’s brain flushes with neurochemical activity.
After her mind is triggered by touch or anticipation, next, a woman’s hippocampus and amygdala get involved. These areas are responsible for dreams, emotional processing and associative thinking. Together, these two sections deepen her fantasy. She begins to engage in the story of her sexual experience.
Cresting the Summit
As a woman nears climax, her muscles tighten and tense, her skin flushes with blood, her nipples stand erect, her butt, thighs and abs all begin to quiver or spasm.
It takes a woman, on average, 15 – 40 minutes of arousal to reach this point.
“OMFG, I’m Peaking!”
At the apex of her climax, a woman’s hypothalamus triggers the release of oxytocin (the bonding chemical), along with increased amounts of dopamine. It’s like getting shot-up with heroin while watching Youtube videos of puppies.
Most women only require a short resting period to give their nervous system a chance to calm down and reset before they’re ready for more stimulation and pleasure. Because of this much faster turnaround time, women are more likely than men to enjoy multiple orgasms.
Wudya Believe It? …Men Have Far Simpler Orgasms
This should surprise no one. A man’s orgasm is exceedingly basic. Have you ever seen someone open a bottle of champagne? Boom! You fully understand the male climax.
Most times, a man sees something that excites him. Suddenly, he’s got sex on his mind. “You know what it would be supercool right now? Some sex.” Once he’s triggered visually, his brain shoots chemical messages down his spine to his genitals. Hormones hit the bloodstream. A rush of blood engorges veins and tissue of his penis. Abracadabra! Look at that, he’s sportin’ an erection.
“Who wants to open this bottle?”
The erection is followed by increased sensitivity. The heart rate jumps to 150 to 180 beats/minute. His attention shifts to all the many nerve endings. The aforementioned parts of his brain shutdown as he enters “the O Zone.” The longer it takes a man to peak, the longer he can stay excited but not cum, the greater his eventual climax.
It usually takes a man two to seven minutes of arousal before he climaxes.
Yep. Two to seven minutes. Or, put another way, that’s between 120 and 420 seconds of loving. (It almost sounds more impressive that way. Almost.)
“Careful where you point that thing!”
Orgasm draws near. Semen gets loaded. Sperm wait for the launch, ready for their short trip. This is a kinda like a sexual point-of-no-return. Once the love gun is loaded, it’s quickly followed by a period of 10 – 15 waves of muscle contraction. They’re rather obvious. The shuddering spasms occur and then…
For a brief period of time before and after ejaculating, a man feels a rush of dopamine and endorphins in his blood. This “good feeling” usually lasts between 3 – 10 seconds. Reported times vary greatly from one man to another. There are rare reports of a male orgasm lasting longer than 30 seconds.
Soon after ejaculating, the blood flow in a man’s penis reverses course and his erection falls into memory. Statistically, the average man requires a half hour for full recovery.
4. “Is It True Lady Gaga Can Ghostride Her Whip?”
Yep. Lady Gaga claims she can think her way into an orgasm.
Researchers call those “hands-free” orgasms. A small percentage of people report that they can climax this way. I’ve done it. And, for me, it required extreme circumstances, plenty of concentration and heaps of imagination. Lady Gaga acts rather breezily about it. She talks like you’d be having brunch with her, and meanwhile, she’s secretly getting all the way off. Lady Gaga told New York magazine:
I love sex,” she says, tipping her sunglasses down a bit and leering. “You know, sense memory is a powerful thing. I can give myself an orgasm just by thinking about it.
My only question is: If she’s using sense memory, isn’t she acting? And if she’s acting, doesn’t that means she’s faking her orgasm? But, I guess, if she can’t tell the difference – what does it matter? And really, of course, Lady Gaga would fake an orgasm with herself.
5. “How Clean Would Your Teeth Be… If Brushing Gave You An Orgasm?”
A Taiwanese woman with epilepsy began to experience orgasms when she brushed her teeth. In her early 20s, the girl developed what’s called, “reflex epilepsy.” This is a condition triggered by specific patterns and sensations – things like blinking lights from video games. The only trick that made her special was the fact her seizures manifested as orgasms. And what triggered her seizures? You guessed it.
Not every time, but about twice a week, whenever she slid a toothbrush into her mouth, she might be floored by an orgasm. Literally, floored. Her dental orgasms/seizures were so powerful, for about two minutes afterward, she’d lose consciousness. Passing out in a bathroom from a standing position is skull-crackingly dangerous. One good blow to the back of the head and that’s all she wrote.
For years, this scared young woman didn’t seek help because she was ashamed and convinced she was possessed by a demon. (This is why we need more common everyday education about orgasms. This poor girl climaxes and her first thought is she must be possessed by a demon). Sadly, once she came forward, doctors were unable to treat her dental-based orgasms. To protect herself from future injury, she switched to mouthwash.
6. You Don’t Love Me, You Just Love My Downward Dog(gy-style)
I don’t know why every gym and yoga studio across the country doesn’t make this the cornerstone of their advertising campaigns; but apparently, women can experience powerful orgasms from yoga and working out. Hell, that’d be the name of my yoga studio. Yogasms. And if I opened a gym it’d be called Dumbbells & Coregasms. And both would sell frozen yogurt.
Forget doggy-style, when it comes to lady-loving yourself, it’s all about Downward Dog.
Yogasms: Certain yoga positions combined with internal muscle clenching can really get a girl off. It’s all about two words: Kegel exercises.
Coregasms: If ever there were a reason to get you to the gym, coregasms seem like the winner. Women often experience climax just from moving their bodies. (So jealous.)
Of the women who had orgasms during exercise, about 45 percent said their first experience was linked to abdominal exercises; 19 percent linked to biking/spinning; 9.3 percent linked to climbing poles or ropes; 7 percent reported a connection with weightlifting; 7 percent running; the rest of the experiences included various exercises, such as yoga, swimming, elliptical machines, aerobics and others.”
7. Foot Orgasm Syndrome (or FOS)
You think you have problems, there’s a Dutch woman whose brain thinks her foot is her vagina. She was left with nerve damage that occurred from a sepsis infection. As her nerves regenerated, her spinal cord confused the nerve signal paths. By the time she was fully healed her brain could no longer tell the difference between her vagina and her left foot. She noticed this after, roughly, 5 to 6 times a day sensations from her foot gave her skin-tingling, pulse-hastening orgasms. Walking barefoot for her was like being finger pleasured by Mother Earth. You may think lucky lady. She found it terribly embarrassing. Her condition is so rare the physician who treated her got to name it. He picked: foot orgasm syndrome (yeah, not the catchiest name). Good news is, now there is a website for those of you out there silently suffering in mute embarrassment.
8. Phantom Limb Orgasm (or PLO)
Similar to the Dutch woman, there are folks who lose limbs to injury or amputation, but then, as the brain re-maps its neural network things can get a little screwy. For instance, one woman lost her leg. Months later, as she was having sex she noticed increased sensation. Her orgasm wasn’t limited to the usual pleasure centers. Suddenly, she was having an orgasm but mostly in her missing foot. Welcome to the curious world of phantom limb orgasms.
There’s a region of the brain called the cortical homunculus. This is where motor (movement) processing for certain body parts occurs. Would you believe it? The areas responsible for processing signals from the foot are next to areas responsible for genitals. Often, after a serious injury, as the brain rewires itself, the sections processing signals from the genitals might take over the brain space now left unused by say, a missing foot.
Lizards can re-grow their tails? Big fucking deal. We can re-map sections of our brains!
Your mind is possibly the coolest thing ever invented by the universe.
9. “So Is It True… Women Enjoy Lots & Lots of Different Types of Orgasms?”
Not only do women have better, longer lasting orgasms, they can easily have multiple ones, pleasure that can be either be multiplied or concurrent. The reason is simple. Women have far more avenues to orgasms. Guys have, like, two. Play with his dick and/or put a finger or dick (or whatever) up his ass and work his G-spot. Two ways. Women have near-limitless combinations. So yeah, it’s true. Women’s orgasms are better, stronger and more satisfying.
Here are the commonly traveled paths to a woman’s orgasm:
Vaginal: I guess you could call this the beginner’s orgasm. Not all women can climax from vaginal play alone. But this remains the gold standard of women’s orgasms. One thing to spice it up, locate her g-spot on the front wall of her vagina and you might become that one memorable sexual partner she occasionally thinks of years later.
Clitoral: The name-you-know when it comes to orgasms. Due to the concentration of 8,000 nerve endings in a very tiny space, this love button can trigger orgasms easily and reliably. But don’t just rush there and mash on the girl. Orgasms aren’t the finish line. You’re not racing to get there. Instead, think of orgasms as a body’s way of applauding the performance. An orgasm is like a standing ovation. (You might not always get one.)
Nipples: Recent studies have concluded that women’s nipples send nerve signals to the exact same parts of the brain as nerves from the genitals. But nipple orgasms aren’t as common as other types. It’s estimated that only 25% of women enjoy nipple orgasms.
10. “I Read That Japanese Women Experience Two Types of Multiple Orgasms?”
First, what merchant marine told you that? Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to hang around bars down by the docks? And, to answer your question, no, that’s just racist.
All women (can) experience two distinctly different types of multiple orgasms.
I suppose, technically, a guy could experience both types of these multiple orgasms if his g-spot was being stimulated and his partner was something of a nimble-fingered magician. But these two types of multiple orgasms occur far more easily for women.
Multiple Sequential: As the name suggests this is when a person experiences climax after climax after climax in quick and steady succession. Think shuddering diesel engine.
Multiple Concurrent: Stimulating numerous sources for orgasmic arousal, women can experience orgasms from multiple locations on their body, at the same time.
11. “So… uh, Clitoral Stimulation… Um, what is that?”
It’s woefully sad how few men (and some women) have no idea how to play with the little pleasure buddy, the clitoris. They love to come out and play, but they hate to be bullied. And for other reasons, lots of guys are intimidated by this. So let’s drop all that and learn to be coy and playful mates to the clitoris.
There’s, of course, a tiny problem when making a how-to video for a sex technique. What do you demonstrate on? You don’t use a real person. If you do, that’s porn. So you have to use a fake model body. In this video, a rather reserved Australian(?) man who we never see, only his hands, he uses a pink physiology doll to instruct us in stimulation. The surprising part is dude has it down. Straight forward and his info is solid. If you’re looking to get better at clitoral teasing and pleasing… check this vid!
12. “What the Hell is Squirting (And How Do I Get a Woman to Do That)?”
It’s just like you see in porn. Okay, let’s pretend you’ve never seen any porn or even a fraction of a second of a woman squirting. Cool. Well, my virginal friend, here’s a video to explain everything you’d want to know about this burgeoning sexual trend. And this doesn’t mean you’re kinky it means you’re curious. This video comes to you courtesy of a site called dontneedaman.com. (I think that says a lot right there.)
…Now watch it!
13. “Is The Male G-Spot Real? (…Or How Do I Make a Man Cry with Joy In Bed?)”
Yes. It’s real. And I have a map for you. It doesn’t matter if you think “finger in your bum” talk is weird, or if you’re a little more modern and you wanna know how a dude can enjoy multiple orgasms; this video shows you (in a kinda science-y way) how to find a man’s g-spot. It’s up to you to figure out to get him sprung on your finger. G’luck!
14. “Will she enjoy more orgasms if she’s on top…”
It’s critical you keep your physical rhythms fresh and your sexual geometry exciting. Do it for them, for you, for everybody involved. An orgasm is a product of your brain-body connection. You gotta use your mind to get the most pleasure (in and) out of your body.
Here are 41 (possibly new to you) sex positions known to induce orgasms. Check ‘em!
15. “…And That’s Why It’s Never Cool To Show Up To A Party Early and Uninvited”
Newsflash: Don’t beat yourself up about it. Apparently, premature orgasms happen to everyone – guys and gals.
Stats suggest, roughly, 20 – 30% of men experience premature ejaculation.
And surprisingly, 40% of women reported having premature orgasms.
(No word if “faking one” is considered a premature orgasm.)
16. “But hold up what about the people who can’t have orgasms? That must suck!”
Yes, it does indeed suck. Modern medicine calls sexual dysfunctions that limit or preclude climaxes: Anorgasmia. It’s a catchall term that covers a host of physiological and psychological difficulties. I won’t detail them all here but it’s a staggering set of complications.
17. “No, I’m not bored. I’m actually orgasming right now. No. I am. I am…”
Let me tell you a funny story about a little drug called Clomipramine. It’s a sordid tale of drug interactions and unintended side effects. But you know how those go. Heard one, you’ve heard them all. You know what? Long story short, clomipramine is this dirty, heavy-duty anti-depressant. They don’t even prescribe it anymore since it was so heinous and clumsy on the brain. It sorta stomped around as it worked its mental magic. The funny part is this terrible dirty old school anti-depressant caused some patients to experience orgasms when they yawned. Yes.
Go ahead and yawn.
Imagine if that made you feel as good as climaxing.
Can you see yourself in some boring ass meeting … you yawn … and boom! goes your dynamite.
Not a bad way to get through a slow Monday meeting or a long afternoon class, right?
Except, there were side effects for this medicine. Kinda horrendous ones, like, persistent dizziness, dry mouth, heart arrhythmias, hypotension (low blood pressure), severe constipation, pounding headaches, stronger allergic reactions, the list goes on and on…
Yet, and this really speaks to the power of orgasms, despite that shit list of side effects, there were patients who wanted to stay on the medication for as long as someone kept making it. Wow. (If you’ll go through all that for an orgasm, might as well just get married. Ba-dum-dum! Tsshhh!)
I guess no one told those reluctant patient there are easier ways to get orgasms than take a anti-depressant that gives you headaches and makes you anal retentive. Reading about them, it made me sad to think they apparently didn’t have some nice cousin in their family who’d take them to a sex shop for their birthday and buy them something useful like a vibrator.
18. “But I Still Don’t Understand …Why Do We Orgasm – What’s the Point?”
Just like you, an orgasm has a job to do. But we don’t fully know what that is. Researchers think (or more accurately, theorize) it has something to do with raising the odds of reproduction. Science isn’t entirely certain other animals have orgasms. Seems kinda stupid to look at that way, considering the fact all female mammals have a clitoris. I think the cocaine monkeys prove that animals have pleasure centers in their brains and know how to reward themselves with good feelings. You gotta figure orgasms aren’t a new trick of Nature. They are the hidden stitching that keeps the fabric of the animal kingdom together.
Thinking we’re the only creatures that enjoy orgasms is silly. It reeks of the stink of species-based superiority. (And no, I don’t mean that in some “you better check your privilege, humans!” sorta way.)
Better questions to ask are: Why wouldn’t other animals have orgasms? What evidence do we have to suggest we’re such a rare creature? What if orgasms are a central factor to the advances of evolution?
Primate researchers had this to say:
At the Institute for Primate Studies in Norman, Okla., psychologist William Lemmon and his grad student, Mel Allen, argued that “the female chimpanzee manifests most, if not all, of the indices of sexual arousal and orgasm that occur in women.”
Other than lubricating general evolution, orgasms also play an individual role in human reproduction. Thanks to really tiny cameras we can now see what it looks like inside her vagina when a woman orgasms. I’ve seen some footage. And I warn you, like walking in on your parents having sex, seeing the footage isn’t something you forget.
You’ll see up close how her cervical muscles spasm and contract and cause the opening of her cervix to drop down into a “flattened pool” where sperm collects. The cervical entry to her uterus keeps dropping down into the pool and “sucks up” sperm. The intensity of her orgasm correlates with the vigorousness of the sperm-sucking action. The more a woman gets off the more sperm she pulls into her uterus.
This is important because the average man’s shot of semen holds 500 million sperm.
Now, of that huge crowd of swimmers, often, as few as 20 sperm cells make it far enough to find the egg. Think about that, those are some batshit crazy odds!
The odds of winning the New York lottery jackpot are: 1 in 258,890,850
The odds of one sperm surviving the trip to the uterus: 1 in 500,000,000.
(Keep in mind there are likely around 20 sperm that even reach the egg.)
The fact you’re reading this sentence, means you beat those odds — you already won the lottery once in your lifetime just to get your ass here. Way to go, you!
Now, if you’d like to see what that sperm-sucking action looks like (or if your Trent Reznor and just really want to see fucking from the inside) as it happens, in a real woman’s body… scroll to 5:06 in the video…and enjoy!
19. “Is it true what I’m hearing? …Orgasms can cure baldness?”
What? No. Don’t be an idiot. Orgasms aren’t magic genie wishes. But they are pretty amazing. Just consider some of the stuff they make better.
20. “I always think orgasms are kinda pornographic?”
Yes. Often the best ones feel that way. But they come in all sizes and flavors.
It’s difficult to convey the importance of regular orgasms without sounding wildly kinky, or like a cheap salesman or some boring science lecturer. However, one can always shut-up and let an orgasm speak for itself.
Photographer Clayton Cubitt captured climax as the central experience of a series of videos he made filming a woman’s orgasm. His efforts are highbrow rather than merely cheap and tawdry because he asked women to read from a book of their choosing while they were teased and stimulated (spoiler alert: by an unseen vibrator-wielding assistant). You listen to her read aloud as you witness the woman’s experience of a real live orgasm. Clayton Cubitt’s project is called “Hysterical Literature.” (I was such a fan I wrote a whole article about it and you can read that here.)
For now, enough words, here’s a sample video.
21. “Have You Seen Natalie Portman’s O-Face?”
From Black Swan, here’s Natalie Portman enjoying some trick Mila Kunis can do with her tongue.
The reason why this is important cinema isn’t the girl-on-girl titillation. This moment is super-tits because women’s orgasms, or even showing a woman experiencing pleasure, is rare in Hollywood’s blockbuster culture. Fuck that! Women don’t exist as service receptacles for the pleasure of men. Their orgasms should not be considered as a magic trick, or a point of pride for a guy, or comparable to some elusive prey. Check history and you’ll find women are and have always been as freaky-deaky as men.
(And let’s not be naïve and think this cinematic moment is some pinnacle of feminist sexuality that was snuck into a mainstream movie. One could call it shameless girl-on-girl action. But at least the moment is focused on a woman’s orgasm, even if the whole point is to mix together sex and death in a coldly manipulative Arnofskian way.)
Just watch the clip and drink in the ecstasy of Natalie’s hella serious O-face.
Well, let’s put a bow on this. The last words on orgasms will come (no pun intended) from science writer, Mary Roach. Here she is giving one of the best Ted talks ever.
What’s that old cliché? Life isn’t about the destination but the journey? That’s how it is with an orgasm. It isn’t some target or goal to be reached. It’s a reward for how you get there.