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Orgasms: What to know

Many individuals consider orgasm to be the pinnacle of sexual pleasure. It’s a strong sense of pleasure and sensation in the body. Researchers still don’t know everything there is to know about orgasm, and beliefs regarding the orgasm’s nature have altered throughout the last century.

This article discusses what an orgasm is and how it affects people of various sexes. It also examines the causes of orgasms and clarifies some common misunderstandings.

Gender and sex exist on a spectrum. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to the sex assigned at birth. To learn more, visit here.

What is it?


An orgasm occurs when a person reaches the pinnacle of pleasure, according to the American Psychological Association. The perineal muscles, anal sphincter, and reproductive organs contract regularly when the body releases stress.

When males attain orgasm, they generally ejaculate, while females have vaginal wall contractions. Females may also ejaculate during sexual activity or an orgasm.

Orgasm models

Orgasms have been characterized by sex researchers as a tiered model of sexual response. Although the orgasm process varies widely from person to person, in most cases, some fundamental physiological changes occur.

The following models represent patterns that may be found in any type of sexual response, not just penile-vaginal intercourse.

Master and Johnson’s 4-phase model

Researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson proposed a four-phase model in 1966:

  1. excitement
  2. plateau
  3. orgasm
  4. resolution

Kaplan’s 3-stage model

Kaplan’s model varies from most others in that it includes desire, whereas most others do not. It’s also important remembering that not every sexual behavior is preceded by desire. This model consists of three stages:

  1. desire
  2. excitement
  3. orgasm

What happens during an orgasm?

People may feel great pleasure in their genitals and throughout their bodies during an orgasm. Orgasms can take on a variety of forms for various people.

The face, neck, or chest may flush after an orgasm. Due to the release of endorphins, people may feel tired, calm, or pleased afterward.

For females

The muscles in the vaginal and anus of females may contract once each second for five to eight times. It’s possible that your heart rate and breathing rate will increase.

The vagina may become wet before and during an orgasm, and it may even ejaculate this fluid. According to studies, the percentage of females who ejaculate might range from 10% to 70%.

The clitoris may feel more sensitive or painful to touch right after an orgasm.

For males

Males’ penis and anus muscles contract around once every second, or five to eight times every second. It’s possible that your heart rate and breathing rate will increase.

Around 1–2 teaspoons of semen can be released from the penis. Although some people do not ejaculate during orgasms, they frequently happen at the same time.

The head of the penis may feel more sensitive or painful to touch right after an orgasm.

How long does it last?

According to a 2016 study, female orgasms can last anywhere between 20 and 35 seconds.

orgasm’s health benefits

Orgasms have been shown to improve sleep quality in certain people. According to 2019 research, orgasms shared with a partner result in better sleep. Masturbation-induced orgasms improved sleep quality and shortened the time it took to fall asleep.

During an orgasm, the body produces the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin may provide a number of health advantages, including:

  • reducing the risk of cancer, such as ovarian cance
  • reducing the risk of heart disease
  • regulating anxiety

Furthermore, some research suggests that frequent ejaculation in men may lower the risk of prostate cancer. According to research, doctors discovered prostate cancer less commonly in men with high ejaculation rates.


Orgasms come in a variety of forms, some of which are listed below:

  • Clitoral orgasm. This is when the clitoris is stimulated, causing an orgasm. According to a 2019 study, clitoral stimulation is responsible for 60% of female orgasms.
  • Vaginal orgasm: This is when vaginal stimulation causes an orgasm. Vaginal orgasms are linked to the indirect stimulation of the clitoris during sex, according to the American Psychological Association.
  • Blended orgasm: This happens when clitoral and vaginal orgasms happen at the same time.
  • Anal orgasm: During anal sex, some females have orgasms.
  • G-spot orgasm: The stimulation of the G-spot might result in an orgasm.
  • Multiple orgasms: A person can have a series of orgasms in a short period of time. Females have a shorter refractory (recovery) period than males, allowing them to have several orgasms in a shorter amount of time, according to Masters and Johnson.
  • Imagery-induced: Orgasms can occur in the absence of physical stimulus in reaction to visuals. Orgasms can be triggered by self-initiated images, according to a 1992 study. Mental imaging affects the brain areas linked to orgasm, reward, and physiological pleasure, according to newer study from 2016.
  • Nipple orgasm: An orgasm can be induced only by stimulating the nipples. The region of the brain that is activated by nipple stimulation is likewise activated by vaginal stimulation.

The list above is by no means complete, and study into the many sorts of orgasms that people can have is still underway.

Can males experience multiple orgasms?

Males can have several orgasms, according to a 2016 research analysis.

This is not, however, a regular occurrence. They affect less than 10% of people in their 20s and less than 7% of those aged 30 and over.

Male multiple orgasms might be sporadic or compacted, according to the study.

The intervals between sporadic multiple orgasms will be a few minutes. Condensed multiple orgasms are characterized by two to four orgasmic bursts occurring within seconds to minutes.

More study is needed to determine what elements influence a person’s capacity to have numerous orgasms.

Orgasm in females

The Masters and Johnson four-phase model will be used to describe the physiological process of female orgasms in the genitals.


Female stimulation dilates the blood vessels in the genitals, either physically or mentally. Fluid passes through the vaginal walls as a result of the increased blood flow, causing the vulva to swell and become damp. The apex of the vagina increases internally.

Heart rate and respiration accelerate, and blood pressure rises during this period. The individual may seem flushed as a result of blood vessel dilatation, especially on the neck and chest.


The introitus (vaginal opening) gets firm when blood flow to it approaches its limit. Increased blood flow to the areola causes the nipples to seem less erect, and breasts might grow in size. The clitoris appears to vanish when it draws back toward the pubic bone.


Rhythmic contractions of the genital muscles, including the uterus and vaginal opening, occur every 0.8 seconds. The female orgasm usually lasts longer than the male orgasm, about 20–35 seconds on average.

Females, unlike males, do not have a recovery time after stimulation, therefore they can have more orgasms with repeated stimulation.


The body slowly returns to its previous state. Swelling decreases when the heart rate and breathing rate drop.

Orgasm in males

The Masters and Johnson four-phase model is used to describe the physical process of male orgasms in the genitals.


An erection can be induced by physical or psychological stimulation of the male body. The corpora (spongy tissue that runs the length of the penis) receives blood, causing the penis to expand and become hard. As the scrotum tightens, the testicles come closer to the body.


The glans and testicles grow in size as the blood capillaries in and around the penis fill with blood. Thigh and buttock muscles tense up, blood pressure rises, pulse quickens, and breathing rate quickens.


A sequence of contractions in the pelvic floor muscles, the prostate gland, the seminal vesicles, and the vas deferens allow sperm to reach the urethra.

In a process known as ejaculation, contractions in the pelvic floor muscles and prostate gland drive the semen out of the penis.


The man is presently in a stage of temporary recuperation. The refractory phase lasts for a certain amount of time and varies from person to person. It may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days, and it gets longer as a man gets older.

The penis and testicles recover to their previous size during this period. The pulse will be high and the breathing will be heavy and quick.


Orgasms are a common feature of the sexual response cycle. They frequently occur as a result of the stimulation of erogenous zones such as the genitals, anus, nipples, and perineum on a regular basis.

Orgasms are triggered by one of two fundamental reactions to continuous stimulation:

  • Vasocongestion: This is the process through which blood fills up bodily tissues, causing them to grow in size.
  • Myotonia: This is the act of tensing muscles, which includes both voluntary and involuntary contracting.

People can get orgasms through stimulation other than the vaginal region, such as the ears or nipples, according to a 2017 report. Orgasms can be induced by even mental stimulation.


Both the individual experiencing the symptoms and their sexual partner may experience difficulty, frustration, and feelings of humiliation as a result of orgasmic disorders.

Despite the fact that orgasms occur in both men and women, healthcare experts tend to categorize orgasm diseases into gendered categories.

Female orgasmic disorders

Female orgasmic disorders are characterized by the lack of or a considerable delay in orgasms after adequate stimulation.

Anorgasmia is the medical term for the lack of orgasms. This word can relate to when a person has never had an orgasm (primary anorgasmia) or when a person who has previously had orgasms can no longer have them (secondary anorgasmia) (secondary anorgasmia). The condition might manifest itself in a broad sense or in specific circumstances.

Physical causes, such as gynecological diseases or the use of certain drugs, as well as psychological causes, such as anxiety or depression, can cause female orgasmic disorders.

Male orgasmic disorders

A chronic and repeated delay or absence of orgasm following appropriate stimulation is known as male orgasmic dysfunction (male anorgasmia).

Male anorgasmia is a condition that can last a lifetime or develop after a period of normal sexual function. The condition might manifest itself in a broad sense or in specific circumstances.

Male anorgasmia can develop as a result of medical issues like low testosterone, psychological issues like anxiety, or the use of certain drugs like antidepressants.

Premature ejaculation

In males, ejaculation is intimately linked to orgasm. Premature ejaculation is a typical sexual issue in which a man ejaculates before he wants to.

Premature ejaculation can be caused by a mix of psychological and biological causes, such as shame or fear, as well as hormonal imbalances or nerve injury.

Common misconceptions

The significance that society places on sex, along with our lack of understanding of the orgasm, has resulted in a number of frequent misunderstandings.

Orgasm has been elevated in sexual culture, and it is frequently seen as the sole objective of sexual relations.

Orgasms, on the other hand, are neither as easy or as prevalent as many people believe.

In a 2016 research, 14% of women under the age of 35 said they had never had an orgasm through sexual activity. According to the same research, 9% of women polled, regardless of age, have never had an orgasm via sexual intercourse.

According to the study’s findings, just 38% of young women have an orgasm during intercourse on a regular basis, while 43% have orgasms infrequently.

In the United States, one in every three guys aged 18 to 59 years old has had premature ejaculation at some point in their life.

Orgasms aren’t typically regarded as the most important component of a sexual experience, according to research. According to the Kinsey Institute, both males and females were more likely to express sexual satisfaction when they had:

  • higher sexual functioning
  • more frequent sex
  • frequent kissing and cuddling
  • sexual caressing from partner

Another common misunderstanding is that penile-vaginal stimulation is the primary people of eliciting orgasm. While this is true for many people, many more women feel increased sexual desire as a result of clitoris stimulation.

Orgasms can happen in a variety of ways. As illustrated by cases of exercise-induced orgasm, orgasms do not always have to include the genitals or be linked to sexual desires.

Another prevalent misunderstanding is that following gender reassignment surgery, transgender people are unable to orgasm.

The effects of gender affirming surgery (GAS) on orgasm were investigated in a 2018 study.

After having sexual intercourse after having GAS with penile inversion vaginoplasty, 55.8% of participants said their orgasms were more intense than before the procedure. Twenty-eight percent of the participants said there was no change.

In a 2014 research, 97 people who had single-stage metoidioplasty were studied. The researchers discovered that no one who underwent the operation had trouble getting an orgasm.

According to Johns Hopkins, orgasm can be achieved after phalloplasty.

The path to orgasm is a very personal experience with no single, all-encompassing term. Experts often advise avoiding comparisons to other people or preconceived notions of what an orgasm should be.


Orgasms varies from person to person and are not always triggered by sexual stimulation.

Orgasms may occur in people of all genders, and transgender people can orgasm following gender affirmation surgery. Endorphins are released during orgasms, which can cause to feelings of relaxation or contentment.

Orgasm problems, such as premature ejaculation or inability to orgasm, can affect people of either gender. People might chat with a doctor or a sex therapist if they have any worries about their orgasms.



Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.