Sexual satisfaction occurs in three domains: biological, psychological, and social/context. Since none of us have exactly the same biology, psychology, or social contexts, it is impossible to address every possible aspect of most desired result of having sex (alone or with others) is the orgasm. However, we are going to define the orgasm, types of orgasms, benefits of the orgasm, and three tips to enhance your orgasm game!
What is an orgasm?
Most of us believe we know what the orgasm is, although there are many females who report problems with orgasms. Female orgasm challenges can be based on psychological and social/context aspects (Moura, Taveras, & Nobre, 2020) but can also be biological. Males too can experience biological function changes that can disrupt the physical orgasm experience. If you are experiencing biological or functional orgasm challenges, you should visit with your medical provider about this to learn of your options.
Typically, its described as the moment (or moments) when the body releases its sexual arousal. For males, we think of the ejaculation. For females, there is an internal response that has been described as “waves” or “pulses.” Each of these responses create a sense of euphoria, and mostly genital focused. Interestingly, this is only part of the orgasm and does not even fully capture the sense of euphoria that can be experienced without ejaculation or waves.
Medical professionals describe the orgasm as physiological (biology). Mental health and social science practitioners/researchers describe the orgasm as emotional or cognitive response (psychology). In Western society, with its emphasis on the male sexuality perspective, we tend to focus on the visual (ejaculation) or auditory (moaning) aspects of the orgasm (social/context). The reality is that the orgasm is actually a combination of all of these.
Types of orgasms
Betty Dodson, sex researcher, identified numerous forms of orgasms. Some of Dodson’s, and other, orgasm types are below. See if a few of these described below match your experience:
- Tension orgasm: direct genital (or touch) stimulation causing the body and muscles to tense, and then release.
- Multiple orgasm: several orgasms that occur over a short period of time.
- Pressure orgasm: indirect stimulation of applied pressure (e.g., females have reported squeezing thighs together to generate an orgasm).
- Fantasy/Mental orgasms: orgasms that result from mental stimulation alone (e.g., tantra techniques, imagination).
- “G-spot” orgasms: stimulation of an erogenous zone during penetrative intercourse (Note: the G-spot has recently become controversial as to its existence and whether the G-spot is actually the physical extension of the clitoris).
- Clitoral orgasm: stimulation of the pea-sized and shaped (typically)part of the female anatomy that is often considered the female pleasure hub (Note: Males have a similar pleasure pressure point on the bottom of the penis, just under the tip).
- Body part orgasms: Breasts. Nipples. Kissing. That’s right. People can experience an orgasm through stimulation of these body parts.
- Anal orgasm: Females and males can experience orgasms through anal stimulation (Note: Use lube! Move slow. Tight anal muscles and cell layers are at risk of tearing. Anal beads and plugs may assist in preparing your body for anal sex).
How do these types of orgasms fit within the biological, psychological, and social/context aspect? With each of these types of orgasms, our bodies have a physiological response to stimulation. Our muscles tense and release. Our sense of touch is heightened. Connecting biology to psychological, our bodies release chemicals in response to stimulation. This combination of hormones typically causes our brain to interpret the biological response as pleasurable. That’s why we can feel euphoria or other intense emotional responses (e.g., crying) following the orgasm experience. Finally, the social/context component is based upon things like why you’re engaging in sex, the situation in which you’re having sex, what time of day, level of desire, attraction, arousal and so much more. These three aspects work together to create the experience of the orgasm. So let’s identify a tip within each category to enhance your orgasm experience.
Tip #1: Strengthen your pelvic floor (biology)
Stop what you are doing. Imagine urinating (just stay with me here). Now imagine stopping the flow of you urinating. Aaaaanndd hold..one…two….three….four….five. Relax. What you just did is a Kegel exercise. These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor. As we age, this is a great exercise to address age-related change (e.g., urinary incontinence). However, it just so happens that these muscles are associated with the muscles used during the biological aspect of an orgasm. Doing this exercise routinely can create a stronger physical response to sexual stimulation (see Castleman blog) To increase the biological intensity aspect of the orgasm, do five slow contractions, followed by five quick ones three times per day for a week. Then increase the number of contractions by fives (10, 15, etc.) each week until you are doing 25 slow and fast contractions.
Tip #2: Touch and be in the moment (psychology)
Masters and Johnson originated a Four-Phase Model for sexual expression: Excitement, Plateau, Orgasm, Resolution. If you look at these, you can see that very little of this model is exclusively biological. Excitement includes arousal and desire. Allow your fantasy and imagination to support your sexual experience. Identify and share what turns you on with your partner(s), and then explore. The plateau may be those intense moments where our bodies are about to climax, but our minds are focusing during this time. “Being in the moment,” allowing ourselves to enjoy the sensations we are feeling enhances the orgasm. The orgasm itself, psychologically, is our interpretation of what we have felt in the build up and what we experience in the heightened moment. Finally, the resolution is the emotional post-act experience. Sex science has found that “touch” is an essential component of enhancing the orgasm experience (Galinsky, 2011). To enhance the psychological experience, explore fantasy and desire as part of your sexual experience. Integrate touch, even if it is not direct stimulation, as it heightens the experience (remember that biology and psychology are interconnected). Be in your moment with touch and fantasy. Focused attention will strengthen the orgasm experience.
Tip #3: Explore your desires and fantasies (social/context)
The Dual Process Model of sexual expression can be summed liked this: Accelerators and Brakes. Accelerators are the things that get you going. We all have sexual scenarios that push our accelerators and those that become brakes. Our accelerators are driven by our fantasies and desires. Communicating these with your partner(s) can enhance your relationship and allow for you to explore those fantasies further. Our brakes, however, are those things that we simply do not find arousing or create jealousy or fear for us. Communicating and understanding your brakes are also important. Why are brakes important related to the orgasm? Those of us who are in the lifestyle may experience all types of sexual experiences. If group sex makes us uncomfortable, and we are in a situation to participate in group sex, we may do so and still experience an orgasm (biology, psychology), but have a negative experience on the context side. So, knowing those brakes will help ensure that the orgasm, which includes all three components, can help you manage through the brakes and promote a healthy orgasm experience.
Galinsky (2011). Sexual Touching and Difficulties with Sexual Arousal and Orgasm Among U.S. Older Adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-011-9873-7
Moura, Taveras, & Nobre (2020). Cognitive-Affective Factors and Female Orgasm: A Comparative Study on Women With and Without Orgasm Difficulties. Journal of Sexual Medicine. https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(20)30843-2/abstract