Explosive, relaxing, pleasurable and special – not only do orgasms produce a feeling of ecstasy, but they are also highly personal. It is very difficult to describe how an orgasm feels, and even scientists don’t agree on how they differ or what happens in the body. Whatever the case, the most exquisite feeling in the world is certainly good for you and we think it deserves a little more attention. So we decided to take a closer look at how to achieve an orgasm, how to recognise an orgasm and how to make it even better.
What does the word ‘orgasm’ mean – and what exactly is it?
The word orgasm is derived from the ancient Greek for ‘intense arousal’, or ‘acute desire’. Also known in medical terminology as a climax, it describes the peak of pleasure during sex or masturbation. Every person’s orgasm is unique to them and can even be described as neural fireworks, yet people generally have trouble finding the words to describe it. Alongside hormones, there are also several messenger substances in the brain – in the limbic system, to be precise – that are responsible for producing an orgasm. Of course, the key to having an orgasm is to make sure the atmosphere is right and you are relaxed when you have sex or masturbate.
- There are more than a dozen different ways to achieve an orgasm
- The average orgasm lasts up to 2 minutes
- Orgasms help to boost your mood and strengthen your immune system
- 37% of women need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm
- 50% like circular movements around the clitoris
- The excitation reflex is what makes orgasm possible
- The latest trend to rock the orgasm world is the ‘slowgasm’
How is it produced?
The vagina and the penis both consist of highly sensitive erectile tissue that has the ability to fill with blood, causing it to increase in size and hardness. This means the nerve receptors can be stimulated by touch and rubbing. An orgasm is therefore triggered by applying continuous rubbing and appropriate pressure to a man’s genitals, and by using a variety of stimulation techniques, such as clitoral and vaginal stimulation, on a woman’s genitals.
We often use the term ‘excitation reflex’ when talking about how an orgasm is produced. This is a natural reflex that develops during childhood. Some people experience this excitation reflex quite unexpectedly – when riding a bike or playing sports, for example; in other words, whenever the sensitive nerves in the genital area are likely to be (inadvertently) stimulated. The excitation reflex is often described as the point of no return, because there is virtually nothing you can do to stop it. Once the point of sexual excitation is passed, an orgasm takes place. This is much more pronounced in men than in women, however, as this is simply the nature of the penis from a purely biological point of view, and for reproductive reasons men experience a point of no return every time.
How to spot an orgasm
There is plenty to talk about here, as it’s not always easy to tell when someone has an orgasm. Ejaculation makes it easier to recognise in men than in women. That said, it is fairly easy to tell or even sense when a woman is about to have an orgasm. You can look at what her nipples are doing, for instance, and pay attention to whether her intimate area is getting wetter. Once you’ve got the hang of it and you are able to tell when your partner is about to have an orgasm, it can help you enjoy sex to its fullest. Many couples who are completely in tune with one another refer to this as an ‘orgasm boost’, which only works if you can recognise each other’s orgasms.
Both sexes show physical signs of having an orgasm, then, and we’ve put together a list for you here:
- Breathing becomes heavier
- The heart rate increases
- The skin on the chest near the heart becomes slightly reddened
- Salivation increases
- Nipples become erect (in both sexes)
- The testicles become tighter
- The eyeballs move beneath the eyelids
- Muscle contractions in the intimate area increase
- Toes and fingers are tensed
- Relaxation of muscles (after orgasm)
Now we know a bit more about how an orgasm develops and how to spot one. But where exactly does it occur? Let’s explore this in more detail now.
What exactly happens in the body?
In addition to being in a mentally relaxed state, there also needs to be a certain amount of tenderness and affection first, followed by the right amount of pressure, rubbing and muscle contractions in the intimate area for an orgasm to be able to happen. The rubbing and pressure stimulate blood flow to the genitals, which in men, together with the muscle contractions, triggers ejaculation. In women, increased blood flow to the clitoris, vulva and vagina, combined with muscle contractions that often take place in the pelvic floor area, produce lubrication – which can also (less commonly) be experienced as female ejaculation. In addition, when we become sexually aroused, our breathing rate and pulse increase to double the normal rate at rest and blood flows more quickly through our blood vessels, providing our muscles and organs with a greater supply of oxygen. If the arousal is powerful enough, it travels to the more primitive diencephalon and finally ends up in the cherry-sized hypothalamus, which controls involuntary bodily functions such as your heartbeat. This control centre stimulates the release of hormones such as adrenaline and oxytocin, which in turn increases our sensitivity to physical stimuli.
What happens in the brain?
Messenger substances such as dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and various other hormones are also released in the brain, stimulating the pleasure centre and shutting down the pain centre. The oxygen supply to the brain is also reduced slightly, which can sometimes result in a feeling of light-headed ecstasy. What is interesting is that, while our sensitivity to pain is reduced by half, we are still fully aware of gentle touches. Other areas of the brain are also shut down. Blood supply to the prefrontal cortex, for example, which among other things governs moral sensitivity, self-awareness and self-control, is reduced during orgasm.
The biggest sex organ: the brain
Our brain is involved in deciding what we feel and find arousing when it comes to sex. It does this by means of synapses that are assigned to specific parts of the body, for example the hands or the genitals. This makes it the most important sexual organ. It processes everything we experience and controls all four phases of the sexual response cycle: desire, sexual arousal, orgasm and resolution. The mind determines what triggers your desire, what arouses you, when you will have an orgasm and how you feel after you have come. So the more often you are aroused, the more easily you will be able to categorise it for yourself, enabling your brain to interpret it as sexual arousal more quickly.
How to improve your orgasm!
So now we understand what an orgasm is and what happens in the body. There is still one more thing that interests us: how can we make our orgasms even better?
3 tips for a better orgasm:
- Take your time! Feel it and experience it with all your senses! Slow sex could be just the thing to help you achieve better orgasms!
- Masturbate more! After all, the better you know yourself, the better your brain will be trained to understand what turns you on, and how quickly and how much. Why not try using some personal lubricant to help you relax even more?
- Be active! Get moving and enjoy your body. The more active your muscles are, the better the blood supply to your intimate area. Pelvic floor training is also a good way to get to know your muscle contractions better.
We now know a little more about how to recognise an orgasm and how to improve it. However, an orgasm alone is no guarantee for a good sex life. With that in mind, we urge you to enjoy your love life and your sex life to the full and be open about what you want. And of course you can always bring some personal lubricant to the party, too 😉 Just wait and see how your partner reacts.