Here's every question you've ever wanted to know about The Big O, answered
It's fair to say that the majority of your love lives have had a rough old ride this past year - and not the good kind. But, fun fact: never a nation to be deterred, it actually turns out that orgasm questions have experienced a helluva spike during the pandemic.
Now that lockdown restrictions are easing and the summer of love is in full swing, some may be feeling a little apprehensive about how to be intimate, so we've enlisted the help of Dr Elesha Vooght to answer all your questions about why orgasms feel so good, whether such thing as a super orgasm exists, and whether the best sex toys do, in fact, make for the best orgasms.
Plus, it's National Orgasm Day, so we thought chatting to the Kandid sex expert - a fresh-thinking sex toy shop on a mission to normalise self-pleasure as a wellness tool - was the best way to celebrate and get a true insight into the most common orgasm-related queries.
So without further ado, these are the internet's most asked questions about orgasms, answered by someone who knows what's up. While you're here, do read our guides to bondage for beginners, Kamasutra sex positions and tantric sex, too - one of the most spiritual ways to spice things up in the bedroom.
Your 6 most Googled orgasm questions, answered
What is an orgasm?
An orgasm, according to Dr Vooght, is the release of sexual tension characterised by muscle contractions in the pelvis, a sense of euphoria and a flooding of endorphins into our bloodstream. Sounds about right.
Though it can be associated with a reproductive function, such as ejaculation, Dr Vooght reveals that experts still don’t know the actual reason why you have them. As long as they continue to feel as good, we won't be asking anymore questions…
Why can’t I orgasm?
According to Dr Vooght, there are tonnes of reasons why some individuals can’t orgasm. Some actually even require a higher level of stimulation than can be produced by a human, meaning toys can make an excellent alternative (scroll our edit of the best sex toys for couples, here).
In other cases, some people just haven’t yet figured what works for them. Dr Vooght warns anyone whose concerned not to let anyone else think that good orgasms take any less than time and patience to figure out how you work. "Give yourself permission to explore your body through solo-sex and find the things that bring you ultimate pleasure," she shares.
Health issues, medications and stress can also inhibit orgasms. If you think any of these issues may be affecting your sex life, do speak to your doctor. Your GP or a sexual health clinic are good places to start for further personalised advice.
How can I orgasm during penetrative sex?
This, as indicated by Dr Vooght, is where solo-sex well truly comes into use.
"Think about what gets you off. Are you a clitoral orgasmer or a g-spot orgasmer?", Dr Vooght says. "Both or neither or really anything at all are also suitable responses. Focus on the motions and intensity that you enjoy."
Got it? "Now, combine that with your partners assets and apply it to partnered sex. It does require you to be a little bit brave and have a candid conversation with your partner, but sex is about mutual pleasure, so I promise they want to know."
How long does the female orgasm last?
On average, a female orgasm lasts 6 to 20 seconds. But don't be surprised if it feels longer.
What happens when a woman orgasms?
To understand what happens during an orgasm, Dr Vooght says you have to understand what happens to the your body during the process.
"When you first become exposed to a sexual stimuli, you begin to get aroused. Your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate all increase and you get a large flow of blood to the genitals, making them much-more sensitive," she explains.
As you start stimulating our erogenous zones, your pelvic floor muscles then apparently begin rhythmically twitching, as the clitoris and nipples become erect and the vagina becomes increasingly lubricated. Dr Vooght says that some individuals can even become 'flushed' due to the increased blood flow, giving the labia a darker appearance.
She adds: "It’s believed once these contractions of the pelvic floor muscles become a certain frequency, there is an explosion of endorphins and happy hormones giving you the tingly, euphoric feeling."
Is there such thing as a super orgasm?
Short answer: yes, but to read the science behind why and to hear an experts take on it, you'll have to head over to our guide to super orgasms.
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Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.
Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.
Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.
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