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What is an orgasm and what makes it so stunningly breathtaking?

If sex were like the movies, the climax would arguably be one of the best parts.

The bed creaks in harmony with your sharp intakes of breath. One hand is gripping the sheets while the other is taking cues from a restless heart. It’s a hair-raising symphony, your hips swaying to the beat of its frenetic rhythm. 

Sweat trickles down from your temple to your quivering jaw. Your eyes roll backwards as your back curls upwards, rising to a crescendo—

A moan escapes your trembling lips, the electrifying sensation filling you up from the core. It travels in waves until it reaches your fingertips. With every rise and fall of your chest, you crane your neck and allow it to consume you. 

You needed this relief. Nothing truly makes your body tingle and blood sing quite like an astonishing orgasm. 

Do you ever wonder how, in one moment, you can feel both so delicate yet unbelievably explosive?

Building the tension

While it’s been a recurring subject of both prose and poetry, there’s no singular way to describe that intense feeling of pleasure that accompanies sexual activity: the orgasm

Characterized by racing heartbeats, ragged breathing, and muscle spasms, it’s the ceremonious release of sexual tension that overwhelms every fiber of your being.

As an elusive and taboo topic, we give it many nicknames— coming, climaxing, peaking, to name a few. Most people are eager to experience it, either alone or with a little bit of help. Just like in the movies, we’d be on the edge of our seats as we breathlessly anticipate the climax of this grand act.

Female orgasms typically last longer from 13 to 51 seconds on average, while male orgasms clock in at just 10 to 30 seconds.

As a woman, this immense feeling comes with the contractions of your genital muscles. You might even ejaculate during a vaginal orgasm! That’s when a milky or watery fluid squirts from your paraurethral glands, usually when you’re extremely aroused up until the point of release. It’s also possible to achieve one orgasm after another, so long as you’re continually stimulated.

We may seem endlessly fascinated by it, but for the longest time, humanity had been grasping in the dark for what it actually is. After all, it’s always difficult to generalize something that we experience differently. 

Yet we’ve come up with many stories, theories, and explanations anyway. How long did it take to reach the peak of understanding what makes us tick?

Path to pleasure

Throughout history, the female orgasm has always been an enigma to those who have never experienced it. The discussion didn’t always include ladies like us, yet they insisted that they could stay on top of a woman’s pleasure. No wonder it took so long before they were able to hit the spot!

The middle ground

You might be surprised, but female orgasm hasn’t always been in a place of shame. For instance, despite the apparent patriarchy during the middle ages, sexual pleasure for women took center stage.

People thought the orgasm is required to conceive a child, so they made sure women always had it in bed. Unfortunately, they also believed the woman’s vagina was the “inverted” form of the man’s penis. 

History of hysteria

By the 1800s, society has become too caught up in male pleasure to pay attention to what women felt like in bed. It’s no surprise that they regarded pent-up sexual tension as hysteria, also known as the “wandering womb.” And the only conceivable deterrent (pun intended) to this insanity at the time was a regular dose of pelvic massages and douching.

The emergence of the vibrator during this period was simply an afterthought. It seems that male doctors and partners had better things to do apart from attending to women’s sexual needs.

Some sexy figures

Alfred Kinsey, a renowned sexologist, conducted an influential survey on sexual behavior in the 1940s and 1950s. For the first time in recorded history, the publicized Kinsey Report shed some light on the sensation of the female orgasm.

Only about 6 out of 10 women say they usually or always achieved orgasm during sex, compared to 9 out of 10 men. That’s called the orgasm gap.

Did you know that during his time, 40% of women said they got their first climax from masturbation, while 5% got them from wet dreams? About 14% of them also said that they’ve experienced multiple orgasms. Women do enjoy sex, and our orgasmic capabilities even continue to rise before they ebb at retirement age.

The naked truth

Ever since the scientific community has managed to “discover” the female orgasm, experts have been bent to determine why it exists in the first place. 

Some thought it’s the woman’s way of choosing her best mate, while others asserted that it gives her the ability to explore multiple partners. Others said that vaginal spasms “suck up” sperm to increase fertility. Yet evolutionary theory argued that it encourages women to have sex for the survival of humanity.

Desmond Morris insisted in The Naked Ape that female orgasms determine whether a male partner can be a good father to her future children.

Nobody knows for certain the answer to this question, but at least we’ve made huge leaps in terms of discovering how it all works. 

Throughout the 1960s, William Masters and Virginia Johnson secretly produced in-depth studies of female sexual arousal. These so-called “Masters of Sex” taught us how orgasms can be traced to vaginal or clitoral stimulation, among many others. And thanks to them, we’re able to dispel a lot of our earlier misconceptions.

It’s her turn

Despite all that, our sexual pleasure turns out to be not as complicated as history had made it seem. Because recent conversations on the topic are increasingly initiated by women, we’re finally learning to uncover what women truly want.

American sexologist and feminist Lisa Diamond views the female orgasm less as a physical experience and more as a natural part of bonding. As the first to study a large group of women for more than 10 years, she’s come to realize how emotional factors affect our physical desire.

For many women in her book Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire, sex is about getting intimate with a person, not a gender. 

“Fluidity is not a fluke,” Diamond stressed. So what other surprises does the female orgasm have for us?

Big O-some benefits

You know what they say about the Big O: It’s fun while it lasts. But don’t you listen to them— momentary pleasure isn’t the only thing you’re getting from your orgasm. As it turns out, there’s so much more that women could gain from having a good time in bed. 

Here are some of the awesome health benefits of orgasms that will surely take your breath away:

  • The chill pill. For many women, orgasms release chemicals like oxytocin and DHEA, both of which can improve your mood and help you relax. We can’t stress this enough!
  • Every body happy. Research shows that an orgasm enhances brain function, increases your white blood cell count, and strengthens immune systems. How’s that for a well-rounded physical fitness?
  • Cool off period. If your period cramps are excruciatingly painful, we’ve got some good news for you. Orgasms have also been proven to ease PMS pains and regulate your menstruation
  • Get that glow. You’re not just imagining things. The post-sex glow is the real deal! Because orgasms increase blood flow, you’ll get a naturally flushed skin almost instantly… and a healthier complexion for the long haul.
  • At long last. An orgasm doesn’t just guarantee you a good time— it can also make you last a long time. The Longevity Project can show you how women who get more orgasms tend to live longer than those who don’t.

Who knew something that feels so good can actually be good for you? Now you have a lot of great reasons to have more of that blissful release, whether by yourself or with your partner.

After all, the female orgasm isn’t as rare or even hysterical as a lot of people believed it to be. With developments in research and the gradual adaptation of women empowerment, we’re now allowed to talk about our delicate yet explosive moments without guilt.

Still, some theories are better put into practice. How would you define your own breathtaking orgasm?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an orgasm?

The orgasm is often regarded as an intense feeling of physical pleasure, followed by a ceremonious release of sexual tension. We give it many nicknames— coming, climaxing, peaking, to name a few. But everyone looks forward to the climax when engaging in sexual activity, just like in every good movie. 

What happens to my body when I achieve orgasm?

It can manifest in many ways, like racing hearts, ragged breathing, and muscle spasms. The muscles in both your vagina and uterus contract along with some other parts of your body, like your abdomen. But of course, every body is different! The length and intensity of this sensation will vary widely among women.

Why do women have an orgasm?

The truth is, nobody knows for sure. Though we do have some educated guesses: Some say it’s our way of choosing our mate, and others think the contractions help hold in the sperm. Meanwhile, according to evolutionary theory, it’s simply nature’s way of incentivizing us to keep the human race alive.

Is female ejaculation a real phenomenon?

Yes! Sometimes, a clear fluid can squirt out of their paraurethral gland and through the urethra whenever women aroused or at the point of orgasm. It usually occurs when their G-spot is stimulated. But not women ejaculate, so there’s no need to worry if you don’t.

How does a female orgasm differ from a male orgasm?

Female orgasms typically last longer from 13 to 51 seconds on average, while male orgasms clock in at just 10 to 30 seconds. Plus, women can experience multiple orgasms in succession, something that men can’t enjoy. That’s because penises have a refractory phase, during which they can’t have orgasms from minutes to days.

What is the orgasm gap?

The orgasm gap refers to the difference between the men and women who achieve orgasms in bed— roughly 60% of women compared to 90% of men. This arises from a general misconception of sexuality in mainstream culture, which tends to focus too much on male pleasure.

What are the health benefits of orgasms?

Momentary pleasure isn’t the only thing you’re getting from your orgasm! As it turns out, female orgasms can also relieve stress, enhance brain and bodily function, regulate your menstruation, improve your skin complexion, and help you live a longer life in general.

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