All the Orgasms, Please!

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by Randall S. Frederick

As anyone who has read my previous articles would know, I am a really big believer in helping people learn how to experience an orgasm and helping to give them to their partners. How those two experiences “come” about are not often the same, though. How you achieve orgasm does not necessarily mean your partner will “get off” in the same way. Some people need a twist here or a tug there. Sometimes a person needs to be called names. Sometimes, they don’t need anything at all – it “just happens.”

Personally, it’s not easy for me to achieve orgasm. I have learned how to enjoy sexual activities or “foreplay” as much as the orgasm itself but “getting there” is not always my primary goal. Most of the time, I am perfectly content giving instead of receiving – and that has been confusing to some of my previous partners. They thought they were doing something wrong or something was wrong with me. It’s certainly a different mindset than most men have, “you first, me second – we’ll get there, but let’s enjoy this moment right now together.” Once I was able to talk about that openly and name it, my partners are typically able to relax and enjoy several different types of orgasms.

What am I talking about? Well, there are several types of orgasms. I don’t just mean “the fast kind or the slow kind” or “the weird unexpected one” or even the mythical unicorn “full body orgasm.” I mean there are all kinds of orgasms just waiting to be found by partners who are willing to explore one another’s bodies and find what works for each other, for themselves, and for their relationship. You might be experiencing tension and frustration in your relationship right now – like I did for many years – because you just haven’t found what works for you and your partner. I want to reassure you that humans are capable of experiencing orgasms in a variety of ways, so if the tips and tricks you see online (“drink pineapple juice and hang upside down from a trapeze while your partner whatevers”) aren’t working for you, that’s really a good place to start. Let’s rewind and start with some basic Orgasm Education!

Sex educator Betty Dodson says that most orgasms come about through one of two ways, “clitoral and penile orgasms result from stimulation of the pudendal pathway, while orgasms that result from G-spot, vaginal, and rectal stimulation often involve the pelvic nerve. Stimulating the pelvic nerve, via the rectum, can also lead to pleasure in some surprising ways.” Though Dodson says orgasms can be achieved by stimulation of either the pudendal pathway or the pelvic nerve, notice how she hinted at other “surprising” pleasures? Sometimes, the orgasm is entirely mental. Earlier this week, I was doing Happy Hour with a friend of mine and we started talking about this article. She told me that she doesn’t enjoy anal sex “at all” but does it for her partner. “And then I can’t help but orgasm because – even though I’m not really into it – the thought that my man wants this and is enjoying my body, that I’m doing something dirty like this, just makes my brain melt.”

As I like to say, “Whatever works, let me help you get there.”

Here are a few of the different types of orgasms that are possible for most people.

Clitoral/penile orgasms

I want to spend a little time with this one to help lay some groundwork for the rest of the orgasms I’ll be discussing. If you want to jump to the “fun” stuff, go right ahead! But discussing what an orgasm is and how the clitoris and penis are involved is too often overlooked because everyone thinks they’ve “got it.”

Stick with me.

The penile orgasm is often considered more straightforward and easy to explain. In brief, when a penis is orgasming, there are contractions and pulses that can be felt in the prostate and pelvic region. Physiologically speaking, these contractions are muscle spasms occurring as a result of direct stimulation of the penis and accompanied by increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tensing, an increase in blood pressure, and pupil dilation leading to a sudden release of tension. The penis is not the only muscle contracting. The anal region and sphincter are also clenching and releasing, as well as the Pubococcygeus or “PC muscle” which is a hammock-like muscle, found in both sexes, that stretches from the pubic bone to the coccyx (tail bone) forming the floor of the pelvic cavity and supporting the pelvic organs. Together, this region of the anatomy is considered the “pelvic floor.”

It’s important to know that ejaculation is not even technically speaking an orgasm. Ejaculation and orgasm are two different things, which is to say a penis can experience an orgasm without necessarily ejaculating or “cumming.”

When you orgasm, seminal fluids built up at the base of the penis in the urethral bulb, and when this happens, there are very intense sensations that you are about to ejaculate. When you reach the point of orgasm, the testicles tighten (typically, the testicles will “pull up” into the body momentarily), urinary tracts shut down so that ejaculate can exit from the penis rather than your bladder and, of course, all of these simultaneous actions and contractions are what make up an orgasm.

Ejaculation, however, is a spontaneous muscle spasm: A reflex that arises at the base of the spine and causes the ejection of semen (the average, healthy male ejaculates about 3 to 5 ml of semen at a time and in each millimeter, there are about 150 to 500 million sperm). This “spasm” garners a great sensation. It is possible and a frequent thing that a male can have an orgasm without ejaculating (there is even a fetish for this).

Because so many guys have learned to mesh both orgasm and ejaculation, it has become quite difficult, albeit possible, for them to separate the two.

Meanwhile, a woman’s orgasm is very similar, and only marginally more complex. When the peak moment finally comes (pun intended), muscle spasms will start, especially in the pelvis. This is a combination of the walls of your uterus, vagina, anus, and pelvic floor contacting, causing the waves of pleasure throughout your abdomen and the rest of your body.

Interestingly, scientists have found that the strength of your orgasms can be tied to the health of your pelvic floor muscles. The more toned your pelvic floor muscles are the better they contract during orgasm, adding to the pleasure you feel. Yet another reason to find a good pelvic floor exerciser and start your kegels, right?

Depending on the strength of your climax, it can last anywhere from a few seconds to a full minute. The number of contractions also varies, but the normal range is between 1 and 12 contractions that each last about a second.

And orgasms are already a “full body” experience, since while your pelvic muscles are contracting, your brain is releasing chemicals like oxytocin (“the cuddle hormone” which helps create intimacy) and dopamine (a natural pain-killer). Many women will say their orgasm benefits from a combination of senses taking place all over their body. In other words, playing with a woman’s breasts during climax kicks her orgasm into gear and makes it more intense. Temple Grandin, in developing a more humane way to corral cattle, found during her intial human trials/studies that humans enjoy a “hugging” feeling if their entire body is being touched and/or stimulated. Those same chemicals, oxytocin and dopamine, are being released in small levels everywhere the body is being touched, and the higher the level of those chemicals in the body at the time or orgasm, the more pleasurable the orgasm is.

However – and this is so important that I want you to stop and bookmark this paragraph – most women cannot orgasm without clitoral stimulation. The clitoris or “clit” is the center of a woman’s orgasm. Every single study about the clitoris since the 19th Century (and literally millions of documents, novels, and archaeological finds before that) testifies that the clitoris has only one purpose: a woman’s pleasure. In fact, up to 80% of women say they cannot have an orgasm unless clitoral stimulation is present. There is, hands down, nothing else like it. When in doubt, worship the clitoris. Good things can happen.

Newly appointed as the “sex expert” for Playboy magazine, Jenny Block says that 

“For a [straight] woman needing clitoral stimulation, preferably external clitoral stimulation, if you’re just doing a little bit of the old in and out you’re probably no where near the clit. Sex that is designed to put sperm inside of the woman’s body is not necessarily designed for a woman to have an orgasm, and yet we keep having that sex.” 

The number one myth Block said she’d like to dispel about the female orgasm is that most women climax without clitoral stimulation. “If you really want a full on hard-core orgasm there needs to be external clitoral stimulation,” she says. “That’s all there is to it.”

Lelo says: “You’re much more likely to reach the big O if your partner takes a more leisurely route around this most sensual of areas before honing in on the clitoris itself.” Again, much like the penis, most people with a clitoris are capable of having a clitoral orgasm, and (emphasizing a point here) many are not capable of coming to orgasm without clitoral stimulation. This is because the clitoris can be considered the hub of pleasure; that little love button holds the key to over 8,000 bundled nerve endings (twice that of the penis, which has a respectable 4,000 nerve endings). Whether you’re receiving oral sex, applying pressure, or breaking out your favorite pleasure product for a more consistent vibe, clitoral orgasms are almost universally ranked as a favorite (so statistics are on your side here). The clitoris is best served with a blend of direct and indirect stimulation; the more you become aroused, the more sensitive and erect it becomes. This is why foreplay is such a big part of the overall pleasure-inducing experience.

Lizette Borelli, writing for MedicalDaily, adds to that saying,

  • The clitoris is not shaped like a penis, but it is similar to the male anatomy because it has a glans, a foreskin, also known as the clitoral hood, and even a shaft. Moreover, it swells up when it’s aroused.
  • Similar to the never-ending penis debate of whether size matters, the size, or distance of a woman’s clitoris from her vagina may affect her ability to orgasm. A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found out of 30 women, 10 of them said they had a difficult time orgasming. These 10 women tended to have clitorises that were father from their vaginal opening.
  • The clitoris is more than just a button. Underneath the shape seen in a female diagraph, the clitoris has a shape of a wishbone, with two legs that extend 3 inches into the vagina, which connects to the G-spot. This pleasure zone has a lot of reach and power during pleasure.
  • Sorry ladies, but the clitoris can reach its maximum pleasure potential once it’s stimulated. If it continues to be stimulated, pleasure can soon turn into pain and discomfort. The clitoris can become very sensitive, so it’s best to ease the stimulation, and focus on the surrounding areas.
  • The perfect positioning for clitoral stimulation may be the coital alignment technique. If a man is on top, he can scoot up to about 2 inches so the base of the penis is directly aligned with the woman’s clitoris, according to Women’s Health. This should be followed by a rocking motion while the woman wraps her legs tightly around the man’s thighs.

For more information, get started here:

  • 12 Crazy Amazing Facts About the Clitoris, by Pamela Madsen – Madsen says that penises and vaginas are actually very similar, when you think about it. “At about 12 weeks, each baby’s genitalia begin to differentiate into a penis or labia. We are more alike than we are different. The clitoris and penis are the same materials assembled in a different way. The clitoris has glans, a foreskin (also known as the hood), erectile tissue and a very small shaft — all the parts that a penis has. It even swells when it’s aroused.”
  • The Most Important Sexual Statistic, by Michael Castleman – Castleman says that the size of the penis doesn’t matter, “The fact is, any size penis can provide great pleasure to the man it’s attached to. But they key to most women’s erotic pleasure comes not from the penis and intercourse, but from direct clitoral stimulation, using the fingers, palm, tongue, or sex toys.

Remember that every orgasm is different, every body is different, and everyone experiences their orgasms differently. However, having a better understanding of how your body (and mind) react to sexual stimulation can help you unlock the knowledge of what gets you there. Take time either alone or with your partner to figure out what you like. Find your own rhythm – we all know that getting there is part of the fun. But above all, treat the clitoris like the center of a woman’s pleasure because that’s exactly what it is.

Pelvic Nerve orgasms

The pelvic nerve lies deep in the pelvis and follows a path that comes from the sacral area and later separates into three branches, one going to the anal-rectal area, one to the perineum (the small strip of skin between the anus and vagina or testes), and one to the penis or clitoris. Since there are slight anatomic/physical variations with each person, a pelvic nerve orgasm can depend on which of the branches are affected, although often all three branches are involved.

A pelvic nerves orgasm is often hard to describe by the person experiencing it because it really is a sensation where the entire region is stimulated. Some people describe it as a “hair trigger” – when the nerve is touched, it produces a rather intense sensation. The flip side of talking about this? The pelvic nerve is still a nerve, which means it can be hurt, damaged, crushed, or experience “neuralgia” (intense, usually intermittent pain along the nerve). Think of it as a toothache in a very sensitive area. Touched forcefully, a pelvic nerve can cause significant pain immediately and for long, extended periods of time. Remember that sexually-induced dopamine acts as a pain reliever, so yes, an orgasm can be seriously amazing (and you can certainly see stars for a few moments), safety is always important no matter what kind of sexual activity you are participating in. Once dopamine subsides to normal levels, whatever injuries or bruising took place during sex can become painful. Be safe.

Coregasms/exercise

Coregasm was first discussed through anecdotal accounts in 1953 and many people still don’t believe it is a real thing mainly because it is rare and they have never experienced it. Still, sexologist Alfred Kinsey wrote in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female that 5% of women he spoke with mentioned experiencing orgasms during exercise and many men (because they have been taught to experience an orgasm as ejaculation) deny they having experienced this. Again, it is important to make the distinction between orgasm and ejaculation. A few years ago, researchers from Indiana University reported in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy that this phenomenon was relatively common. Of the 530 women they surveyed online, 370 experienced either an exercise-induced orgasm (EIO), or exercise-induced sexual pleasure (EISP).

The reason this type of orgasm has gotten so much attention lately is, well, because sex sells (duh!) and the rise of fitness media like blogs, Pinterest, and “thinspiration” social media outlets. Their primary evidence is based on the flow of chemicals through the body during exercise which are, of course, similar to those experienced during sex. After all, sex can be a workout sometimes!

Please read part 2 of “All the Orgasms, Please!” here.

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