11 Things You Never Knew About The Female Orgasm

Science is pretty sexist, and so the body of research on female orgasms
unsurprisingly lacking. But it’s getting better, more studies are being
published, and we’re learning more all the time about what sets female
sexuality and pleasure apart. And there’s so much to be gained from
learning! Most importantly, the more is known about female orgasms, the
smaller the pleasure gap gets.

So read up, improve your knowledge, and get better at a very specific
type of trivia. Here are 11 things you probably never knew about the
female orgasm, but truly should.

1. Less than 20 percent of women can orgasm from vaginal penetration
alone. According to the largest study on orgasms so far, published in
the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy in 2017, only 18 percent of
American women say they can orgasm from just vaginal penetration. Which
hammers home the importance of the clitoris, bringing us to the next

2. More than a third of women say they need some sort of clitoral
stimulation to orgasm. TBH this number feels small, given what is known
about the structure of the clitoris and how many nerve endings there are
(thousands). According to the big orgasm study, 36.6 percent of women
say clitoral stimulation is “necessary” to orgasm.

3. But clitoral and vaginal stimulation can be difficult to separate…
Because, as Rosara Torrisi, a certified sex therapist at the Long Island
Institute of Sex Therapy, says, the clitoris can be stimulated
“indirectly from vaginal penetration.” This is because the clitoris
isn’t just a little dot on the vulva, but a whole structure that extends
into the body. It’s believed that this internal clit situation is what a
lot of people think is the elusive (fake) G-spot.

4. Foreplay isn’t just polite, for most women, it’s necessary. In the
same orgasm study, a majority of women cited “spending time to build-up
arousal” as something that enhances an orgasm. Torrisi says that “for
many women, sex is more about intimacy, so foreplay is a way of
accessing that intimacy.”
There you have it, a sex therapist-certified, scientific reason to emphasize foreplay even more.

5. No two orgasms are the same. If you’ve had an orgasm that felt like a
dud compared to one you’ve had previously, it’s not in your head.
Torrisi says “all orgasms vary in intensity based on sensation,
situation, excitement, and possible fears or inhibitions.” So things
like environment, what’s going on in the rest of your life, and how
you’re feeling that day are all factors, which is to say it’s not all on
you (or your partner) to produce wild and crazy orgasms, every single

6. And yes, multiple orgasms are real. But that doesn’t mean you’ll
experience them every single time, or at all. The website OMGYes.com has
a lot of handy info and very detailed (read: NSFW) guides on how to
prime your body for multiple orgasms, if you’re so inclined.

7. Some women have stronger orgasms while on their period. No shame if
you personally hate period sex, but have you tried it? If not, you could
be one of the women who say they only experience vaginal orgasms on
their period, and not even know it.

8. Refractory periods aren’t just for men. You’ve probably heard of the
“refractory period,” but probably only in the context of male orgasms.
But this isn’t just for men! According to International Society for
Sexual Medicine, refractory periods aren’t exactly the same for women,
but it’s not abnormal to experience hypersensitivity after an orgasm
that makes any physical touch too overwhelming to be enjoyable.

9. Some women experience pain with orgasm. Enough women, actually, that
there’s a name for this phenomenon: dysorgasmia. It can be caused by a
lot of things (from endometriosis to a history of sexual trauma), and
usually takes a pelvic pain specialist to sort out. The thing to know
about painful orgasms is that they aren’t necessarily normal, meaning
you don’t have to go your whole life experiencing them. You can talk to
your OB-GYN or general provider about this, or if you’re more
comfortable, seek out a pelvic pain specialist.

10. Women can (and do!) have orgasms in their sleep. Everyone can have
sex dreams, which means everyone can have “nocturnal orgasms.” Yet
another thing that’s disproportionately associated with men. So yes, if
you’ve had a dream in which you *really* felt like you had an orgasm,
odds are, you did.

11. And, yes, “nipplegasms” are real. No two people have the same level
of nipple-sensitivity, but for some, nipple sensitivity is so high they
can actually orgasm from nipple stimulation alone (that’s a lot of
nipples in one sentence). A study, published in Sexual and Relationship
Therapy, that measured brain responses to various stimuli found that a
small but real number of women experienced orgasms from having only
their nipples stimulated. So do with that information what you will.

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