It really isn’t as hard as men would have you think
( @browniepointsforyou / Instagram)
One day, I was having a post-sex rundown with a friend after she finally hooked up with the guy she’d had a crush on for a minute. She told me what positions they had tried, what felt good and what didn’t and the mid-sex conversations they had. I wanted to know everything.
But she left out one crucial piece of information that I just had to know. So I asked, “Did you cum?” And her response shocked me: I don’t know.
How could you not know if you climaxed?? I was perplexed. An earth-shattering, leg-quaking, vaginal-squirting orgasm seems like it would be so obvious.
But then I remembered this is reality, not a porno, and that’s not how women orgasm.
What is an orgasm?
Scientifically speaking, a vaginal or clitoral orgasm is “an intense pleasurable release of sexual tension, accompanied by contractions of the genital muscles.”
Just as everyone’s bodies are different and they enjoy different things sexually, everyone orgasms differently.
“When it’s really good it’s like an out-of-body-experience like I can feel my clitoris on a roller-coaster ride but my soul and mind are on a whole other level of connection with myself or the person I’m with and it takes over my body. Usually it leaves my whole body shaking and I can’t stand up for a few minutes,” a source told Teen Vogue.
Unfortunately not everyone with a vagina gets to feel this euphoric pleasure. Only 18% of women report orgasming from penetration alone, with 9% of women unable to finish from penetration.
Straight women are the least likely to orgasm (shocking), with 65% reporting they could come during sex, while 86% of lesbian women report climaxing during sexual activities. I wonder why that is?
“The number-one reason for the orgasm gap [between men and women] — and it’s not the only one — is our cultural ignorance of the clitoris,” Laurie Mintz, UF professor and author of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters - And How to Get It, told NBC News BETTER.
The clit has over 8,000 nerve endings, making it one of the most sensitive erogenous zones, or areas that turn you on when stimulated, in a woman’s body. Other erogenous zones include the rest of the vulva, nipples, thighs — really anywhere that gets you going.
When the focus during sex is turned to clitoral stimulation, that’s when the real magic happens. 37% of women require some form of clit play to orgasm, and another 36% said while it wasn’t necessary for them to finish, it definitely amplified the experience.
Remember that 9% of women who said they couldn’t orgasm from penetration? Well, oral sex can get them there — tongue, meet clit.
For some, orgasms require mental stimulation just as much as physical. Some of these factors include your level of sexual desire (read: how horny you are), self-esteem and how open sexual communication is with your partner.
One study found that 50% of women in relationships report they usually climax during sex, but the number falls to 40% for single women.
A negative headspace can also block your orgasm. Fatigue, stress, difficulty concentrating, and rationalizing sex (thanks to social norms and media representation) can make it more difficult to finish.
“Excessive rationalism is the biggest enemy of orgasms,” said Professor Osmo Kontula, researcher from the Population Research Institute at the Family Federation of Finland in Helsinki. “Simply put, thinking does alight desire, but orgasms come when thinking ceases.”
So now that we know how to achieve an orgasm, what does it actually feel like?
During orgasm, the muscles that make up your perineum and pelvic floor contract, your heart rate increases, blood rushes to your vagina and your brain releases large doses of oxytocin and dopamine.
But like I said before, the actual feeling is different for everyone. For some they feel it in their legs, while others have full-body experiences. Some are moved to tears and others are unaffected.
The firework-like release of an orgasm that some describe as “euphoric” can be uncomfortable at first for others. For those who are unfamiliar with their sex organs, an orgasm can feel unnatural or wrong. But let me assure you: it is so, so right.
One common misconception about female orgasms is that there is an ejaculation, similar to how men ejaculate. While it’s not impossible, only about 10 to 54% of women can squirt, producing anywhere from a few drops up to a half cup of liquid. The large range is attributed to the differences in how studies are conducted and what definitions they use.
Researchers haven't completely agreed on what this liquid actually is. Trace amounts of urea and creatine (chemical compounds found in urine) are present, as well as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) which is produced in the Skene’s glands and drain into the lower end of the urethra.
Those who have had the pleasure of squirting say they get there by stimulating their G-spot, a rough patch about 5 to 8 cm inside the vagina on the front wall (this is where the Skene’s glands are located).
Now it's your time to shine. Play around with your vagina and figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Speak openly and honestly with your partner about your preferences, and get comfortable taking control if needed.
Happy orgasms, or multiple orgasms, to all you vagina-havers out there.
Rachel Kutcher is a Staff Writer for Rowdy Magazine. She loves the rain, candles, drinking wine, collecting jars and New Girl's Nick Miller. Her passions include destigmatizing sex, empowering women and sustainability.