In all honesty, no one truly knows (yet). Some researchers estimate that it could be up to 12 different kinds of orgasms. They vary in physical location, intensity and duration. To get to the bottom of this, we first need to define what an orgasm is.
Orgasm (or the BIG O) = a transient peak experience of intense pleasure accompanied with rhythmic (involuntary) muscle contractions (Meston et al., 2012). As a result, ‘feel good’ hormones and neurotransmitters (e.g., oxytocin and endorphins) are released in the body, which leads to relaxation.
Caveat: having an orgasm is not a necessity! Many women experience pressure when it comes to having an orgasm and up to 70% of women have reported faking an orgasm. You can enjoy sex immensely without having an orgasm. It’s about the journey, not the destination. However, many women desire to experience an orgasm, and experiencing one actually can have health benefits, which is why it’s important to discuss them here.
For example, the health benefits of experiencing orgasm(s) include:
- Pain relief & relaxation
- physiological effects of experiencing an orgasm include the release of ‘feel good’ hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin, which can have pain-relieving and relaxing effects
- Skin health, muscle & joint health
- Orgasm releases a peptide called Human Growth Hormone, which stimulates cell reproduction and -regeneration as well as collagen synthesis. This in turn is reflected in skin health as well as muscles and joints
- Brain health
- Orgasms increase blood flow into the brain via the vagus nerve. This was discovered in a study where women masturbated in an MRI machine. Let’s thank all the participants for being frontline warriors in promoting women’s sexual health!
- Vaginal health
- Orgasms cause the muscles in the pelvic floor to contract and release which helps maintain pelvic floor wellbeing.
The physical location of orgasm often depends on the area that is stimulated. Common types of orgasm include:
Clitoral orgasm = are often surface-level orgasms, that is, they are felt on the surface of the body. Commonly described as a tingling sensation on the skin and brain.
Vaginal orgasm (or G-spot orgasm) = is often felt deeper in the body and located in the vagina as rhythmic contractions. These types of orgasms are often considered “the orgasms” present in literature and movies etc.
Anal orgasm = is often felt in the group of muscles at the end of the rectum (i.e., anal sphincter).
Blended orgasm = is often a combination of orgasm types e.g., clitoral and vaginal orgasms when those areas are stimulated together.
Coregasm (or exercise-induced orgasm; EIO) = an orgasm that often takes place when you are exercising or engaging your core and/or pelvic floor muscles.
Erogenous zones orgasm = often experienced in one or more of the areas in your body with heightened sensory sensitivity.
How to get started on the path toward an orgasm?
- Have you experienced an orgasm? If so, describe your experience. What kind of orgasm was it? How intense was it? How did it make you feel in your body and mind?
- If you haven’t, try to identify things that prevent you from having an orgasm (e.g., low sex drive, pain during sex). Is an orgasm something that you want to experience? If so, reflect on how you can help yourself “get there”.
- What would you like your orgasms to be like? If you want, write down specific goals so it’s easier to work toward them.