This is What an Orgasm Feels Like

At almost every workshop, we get asked what an orgasm feels like. Sometimes, the person asking isn’t quite sure they’ve had an orgasm and craves clarification – did that “build up and then… nothing” count? Others express confusion that their orgasms feel different during partner sex- is that normal? And why? Still others mention how they sometimes experience super powerful orgasms but other times feel disappointed.

The simple answer to all of these Qs is YES. These all count as an orgasm.

Read on for the more complex answer.

Orgasm—especially female orgasm—continues to be shrouded in mystery

The confusion around this question makes sense—there’s so much misinformation about sex in our society. Here are some common ones related to orgasm and what an orgasm feels like:

  • female orgasms take a long time and are difficult to have
  • every orgasm should blow your mind
  • its easy to come at the same time as your partner
  • the orgasm doesn’t “count” unless it occurs during PIV
  • your partner gives you an orgasm
  • there’s a single “best” way to get off—and it works for every body
  • you should orgasm every time you have sex
  • if you aren’t having an orgasm, there’s something wrong with you or your partner(s)
  • the only thing that matters for orgasm is being turned on
  • orgasm and ejaculation are the same

While all of these can be true—some of the time, kinda—they aren’t the whole story. Your experiences may or may not match up—but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with you! Its simply that how we talk about sex is rooted in white cis hetero-patriarchy that ignores the beautiful variety of pleasure (and orgasm).

Read more: The Sex Myth

What an orgasm feels like varies from whisper-quiet to earth-shattering

That’s right: not all orgasms feel the same! 

Some nights you’ll be left wondering, “Did I climax?” while other times your whole body is engaged and you roll over and pass out immediately. What feels like the best orgasm ever to one person might be the norm for someone else.

They’re all orgasms and they’re all amazing.

You don’t need to experience orgasm every time you have sex

Sometimes the orgasm just. isn’t. there. It doesn’t mean you aren’t enjoying yourself or experiencing pleasure, only that you aren’t having an orgasm. That’s it! For some people, having an orgasm isn’t even all that important. Maybe you are just tired or in need of some serious cuddling but don’t mind a little sexy time along the way.

The point is: you might come, you might not, and how much it matters is up to you.

You can climax and not realize it.

Every orgasm is not going to be mind-blowing, out-of-this world amazing.

Sadly that only happens in movies and romance novels—and, even there, we’re starting to see more variety!

How often they’re ah-mazing depends on things like your stress level, how present you are, any health conditions or medications and…the list goes on!

When you broaden your understanding of what an orgasm feels like, you’ll recognise them more often

Reading this is step one. Next, focus on the sensations leading up to your orgasm (or that nothing described above) to see what’s there. Ask yourself not, “what does an orgasm feel like?” but rather “what do my orgasms feel like?” Intentionally “look” for them and see what you find! Then you can focus on making your orgasms stronger and longer.

There’s (most likely) nothing physically wrong with you or your partner

Struggling to experience an orgasm is a common problem that rarely has a physiological cause.

Instead, it’s more likely to be caused by things like not spending enough time on foreplay or only focusing on adding things that turn you on (instead of also removing things that turn you off).

Read more: How to Get in the Mood Fast

Now that we’ve tackled some myths, let’s talk about what an orgasm actually is.

You create your orgasm

Your orgasm comes from your brain-body. You create that pleasure. In other words: no one can give it to you! Though, they certainly can facilitate your experience of one.

Pretty amazing huh?! To do this though, you need to know what you like and what you don’t. Self-pleasure is one great way to learn more about your turn-ons and turn-offs. Alternatively, you might also feel more comfortable exploring with your partner. Or doing both.

Read more: Try this for a Sexy Date Night In

Knowing what turns you off is just as important as knowing what gets you off

If something doesn’t bring you to climax, it’s easy to feel discouraged. But that info is actually really important!

For example, women often need to feel relaxed, safe, and connected with their partner(s) in order to come. Knowing this lets you make better decisions around when you have sex (aka when do you feel the most connected) and what you do during sex (e.g. lots of check-ins).

Here’s another example. Maybe you know that being stressed makes it hard for you to come. Perhaps you don’t even try to get in the mood, never mind get off, if you feel tense (and let’s be real- that’s pretty often). Instead, take what you know doesn’t work—being stressed—and combine it with what you know helps you feel relaxed, yummy, and sexy. That might be a bath or sensual massage. THis is how you make it easier for yourself to experience orgasm.

Read more: 15 Sensual Self-Care Practices that Don’t Cost a Thing

There are so many ways to experience orgasm

While there are definitely some things that work for most, no one thing works for everyone, every time. This also means what you like changes over time.

Maybe you need to fantasize. Maybe the Big O is your favorite form of stress relief or procrastination method. Maybe you need your clit touchedor your bootyor your breastsor your g-spot.

Perhaps it’s something else entirely.

Here are a few things that women reports lead them to experience orgasm:

And here are some things that have made experiencing orgasm easier:

On all these lists, you probably see some things that surprise you and others that are super familiar. Hopefully some of the surprising ones inspire new fantasies and sexy new ideas!

None of them are better or more “right” than the other. They just are.

Part of what makes orgasms so fun is how much variety there is

The bigger message, and the best thing about sex generally, is this: there’s something for everyone. And, there’s always something new you get to explore.

What ultimately matters for creating a more intimate, adventurous, and satisfying sex life is that you know what brings you to orgasm, you play with and explore new things, and you practice what works, however many times each week is right for you.

So, what does an orgasm feel like?

My favorite definition of orgasm comes fromEmily Nagoski’s book, Come As You Are:

Orgasm is a “release of sexual tension.”

That may be more explosive or gentler than expected. Regardless, yes, it’s still an orgasm! When you’re open to enjoying the full range of orgasms, you’ll realize that while it might not be what you expect, it feels delicious no matter what!

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