How does a female orgasm feel?

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An exploding star, an erupting volcano, or a powerful vaginal sneeze; women are creative when it comes to describing their own orgasm. There are tons of metaphors to describe that sensational feeling. At the same time, about ten to fifteen percent of women has never had an orgasm. How do you know for sure that you’ve had one?

Peek of sexual arousal

An orgasm is a peek of sexual arousal. It’s a thrilling climax, a dazzling high, and an overwhelming release where all build-up erotic tension erupts. At the same time it’s quite complicated. With men it’s easy to recognise because of ejaculation, but with women, it’s a bit more subtle. Perhaps your body starts to shake, you can’t control your breathing anymore, or you feel tingling between your legs. But is that really an orgasm?

Small hint: if you’re not sure you’ve had orgasm, you haven’t. You’ll know when it happens.

What happens during an orgasm?

When you reach a climax, a lot of things happen in your body. You probably notice that tension builds up inside your body when you get more and more aroused. The moment that this tension almost becomes unbearable and is finally released is the moment you’re having an orgasm. The contracted muscles in and around your vagina start to rhythmically and uncontrollably contract and you feel a huge release in your entire body. Those contractions last about ten to fifteen seconds, although some lucky women are able to have minute-long orgasms.

The four physical phases of sex

American sexologists Master en Johnson divided the sexual response cycle into four phases:

  1. Arousal: when a women gets aroused, her blood vessels widen. That doesn’t just lead to fast breathing and flushed cheeks, but also to a swollen vagina that gets wet on the inside. Muscles tense, your breasts swell up a little, and your vagina gets longer and wider so your partner can easily enter. The colour of your vagina changes too, from pink to deep red. This phase starts right after the start of erotic stimulation and can take from a couple of minutes to several hours, depending on how experienced you are when it comes to delaying your orgasm.
  2. Plateau: this phase is also called the ‘point of no return’. The sexual arousal is so intense at this point, that the climax can’t be stopped anymore. It doesn’t matter what is going on around you at that moment. Your vagina swells up even more, you clitoris pulls back against your pubic bone, and your vaginal wall starts to contract. An orgasm is practically inevitable.
  3. Orgasm: there it is, that overwhelming climax. It usually starts with tingling and random muscle contractions in and around your vagina, followed by a powerful release of sexual tension. Those contractions sometimes make your body shake and tremble while you float around in a state of bliss. It’s all very normal, so try not to hold back. Your orgasm usually lasts about ten to fifteen seconds and you want to enjoy it without any worry.
  4. Relaxation: during this phase, your body returns to a state of relaxation. The swelling reduces, your blood flow returns to normal, and your heart rate and breathing calm down. Your muscles enter a slow, sleepy state and taking a nap in your lover’s arms suddenly sounds like the best idea ever.

Sex in your mind

An orgasm, or the orgastic phase leading up to it, doesn’t just make you pant, moan, and swell up in certain areas. It also does something to your brain. Your blood flow is a little too busy with your genitals to send enough blood to your prefrontal lobe during an orgasm. And that’s exactly the part of your brain that’s responsible for social behaviour and self-control.

So don’t feel embarrassed if you lose control during an orgasm, forget everything around you, and growl and claw like a wild animal. There’s nothing you can do about it, your heart is simply a little busy pumping blood to more primitive parts of your body.

When you reach a climax, various hormones, like endorfin, are released in your body. That hormone is responsible for that feeling of total bliss. Oxytocin is a magical chemical as well. It’s also called the love hormone, because it makes you feel a stronger connection to your bedpartner. Do you feel sleepy after having sex? That’s because of prolactin, a hormone that makes you feel drowsy after having an orgasm.

Types of orgasms

Do you ever wonder why an orgasm through penetration feels different than an orgasm through fingering or oral sex? To make defining an orgasm even more complicated, we can divide it into different categories. There are about eleven of them, but we’ll discuss the three most important ones here:

  • Clitoral orgasm: for most women, this is the easiest to achieve and it’s almost always a successful option during sex. That little pleasure knub between your inner labia is an essential part of foreplay. You can hardly tell by looking at it, but that tiny knub is just the end of a much larger part of your genitals that runs inside your body and surrounds your vagina. When you stimulate your clitoris it swells up, your vagina gets wet and the blood circulation in that area improves. During a clitoral climax, you feel your vaginal wall, as well as your anus and the area surrounding it, contract intensely.
  • Vaginal orgasm: having an orgasm through penetration sounds nice, but in reality, a vaginal orgasm is actually just a clitoral orgasm. The nerve endings in the vaginal wall and the parts of the clitoris that run inside your body can make you reach a climax through vaginal penetration. The often mythical G-spot orgasm is also a clitoral orgasm, considering the G-spot is the other end of the clitoris. However, the fact remains that an orgasm through stimulation of your G-spot can feel substantially different than a normal orgasm: deeper and more intense.
  • Multiple orgasms: with women, the arousal doesn’t go away as quickly after an orgasm as it does with men. We don’t have to recharge that long before we’re ready to go again, so we can have multiple orgasms in a small period of time. However, the second and third orgasm usually do feel less intense, although there are also women who experience every following orgasm more intensely. They start with a mild orgasm and work their way up to a powerful and overwhelming orgasm that tops every orgasm before that.

Tip: Do you want to experience the miracle of multiple orgasms? Train your PC muscle in your pelvic floor. This vaginal muscle runs from your anus to your clitoris. When you regularly train this muscle, you can make your orgasms feel more intense and increase your sensitivity to G-spot stimulation. Sex toys like vaginal balls or yoni eggs can help you with that.

It’s different for everyone

You might think that having an orgasm feels the same to everyone, but that’s not the case. Some women say it feels like a release, while others describe it as a violent explosion. And where one women feels a deep connection to her partner, another may be so caught up in her own experience that she forgets her partner completely for a moment. Nothing is as subjective as an orgasm.

Ecstacy or meh?

Every orgasm can feel different. Sometimes it’s just a pleasant moment for yourself, after which you quickly get on with your daily tasks, and sometimes you’re in a state of complete ecstacy for fifteen minutes, longing for more. Other times it’s so relaxing you might fall asleep right away.

A mild orgasm can be hard to recognise by the way, because it’s gone so quickly and isn’t a mind-blowing experience. It can leave you feeling unsatisfied, because you expected more or because you still feel tingling in your body even though you already reached a climax.

Women describe their orgasm

For a Cosmopolitan article, seventeen women were asked to describe their best orgasm. Although every woman offered a different, colourful metaphor, it’s interesting to see the similarities between the various experiences.

There were several comparisons to peeing, overflowing pools, and glasses of water. Other women said an orgasm feels like that thrilling moment when you’re on the highest point in a rollercoaster, or when you jump off a cliff. An erupting volcano was also mentioned several times.

Here are some of the quotes from the article:

  • ‘Everything starts to tighten, and my breathing gets faster and more difficult. Then all of a sudden, there are waves of pleasure going through my whole body. It’s so intense that sometimes all my muscles just kinda want to stop working.’
  • ‘It’s amazing, like a powerful sneeze in your vagina. The kind of sneeze that’s been coming for a while and when it finally does, it’s so satisfying that you want to do it again immediately.’
  • ‘It’s a build-up of tension that makes your back arch and your toes curl, almost as if you’re cramping up. And just when you think you can’t handle it anymore, all the tension is released and the orgasm shocks and vibrates through your body. It’s the best release ever.’

Does this sound like something that would pass you by unnoticed? We didn’t think so. So, no worries. Like we said, you’ll definitely recognise your orgasm when it washes over you!

Also read: Want to orgasm quicker? Tips for a better orgasm

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