The orgasm is typically seen as the pinnacle of a sexual encounter, but few people fully understand what it is, what it does to the body, or its differences between the sexes.
When aroused, a healthy male body responds by filling the penis with blood in order to become, and stay, erect. The testicles are drawn up toward the body and blood pressure, as well as heart rate, increases. Climax occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and prostate contract and force semen (a mixture of sperm and bodily fluid) through the penis during ejaculation. This is accompanied by a surge of the feel-good hormones, oxytocin and dopamine. Typically, male orgasms last between 10-30 seconds.
To learn more about male orgasms, check out the informative guide below from Hims.
Female orgasms are even less understood than male orgasms but are equally as important to learn about. When a woman is sexually aroused, her blood flow increases, causing the vulva to swell and fluid to be released within the vaginal walls. During orgasm, the genital muscles contract rapidly and, like men, the woman’s brain releases a surge of dopamine and oxytocin. Interestingly, female orgasms can last twice as long as male orgasms, ranging anywhere from 13-51 seconds.
Good Vibrations, a female sex toy company, has gathered information on how often women orgasm, and the different types of climaxes that they experience. To learn more, you can check out their survey results here.
Why is it important to learn about orgasms?
Orgasms have many physical, mental, and relational benefits, including:
- Lower stress levels
- Better sleep
- Stronger immune system
- Menstrual cramp relief
- Reduced risk of prostate cancer and heart disease
- Improved physical/emotional intimacy with a partner
Learning about how you orgasm, as well as your partner, can help you both reap the benefits of climaxing.
What can affect the ability to orgasm?
Both men and women can face issues, whether they’re mental or physical, that can affect their sexual functioning and orgasms. For example, some men who live with anxiety, depression or stress experience early ejaculation, causing them to orgasm more quickly than they want. Alternatively, some women experience Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder, a condition which causes low libido and difficulty becoming aroused enough to orgasm.
There are several ways to address these issues including treatments, medication, and lifestyle changes. Issues with early ejaculation, for example, typically subside after underlying issues, like anxiety, are treated, but it can also be managed with a lidocaine spray that temporarily alters sensitivity in the penis. Women living with low desire can utilize medications like Flibanserin, or work with a counselor to discuss the issues that could be contributing to their low libido. Whatever your concern is, it’s important to discuss with a medical professional, as well as your partner, before moving forward.
The orgasm gap
Despite the ability of both sexes to orgasm frequently, men in heterosexual couples orgasm much more frequently than their female partners. This is known as the orgasm gap and exists in most countries around the world. This chart shows which countries have the smallest and largest gender gaps in orgasm frequency (apparently Americans aren’t doing a great job):
The orgasm gap is most often attributed to a lack of understanding about the different types of orgasms that people can experience. Most cultures prioritize penetrative sex as the preferred act, but only a quarter of women are consistently able to orgasm from vaginal intercourse. However, penetrative sex isn’t the only way a woman (or even a man for that matter) can orgasm. There are many other effective, yet sometimes misunderstood, ways that women can climax, such as clitoral, anal, nipple, or cervical orgasms.
There’s a lot to orgasms, both male and female, but it’s important to understand how you and your partner’s bodies work in order to experience orgasmic pleasure and the health benefits of climaxing.