Whether it’s in casual conversation with your girlfriends or on those old episodes of Sex And The City, you hear the word “orgasm” all the time. But physiologically speaking, what exactly is an orgasm? It’s defined as a rapid pleasurable release of neuromuscular tensions at the height of sexual arousal. Confused? Don’t worry, we’ve got you.

For starters, the big finish is different for everyone. And to make matters even more complicated, each orgasm can be different — you might feel a bit tingly one time and get a full-body rush the next. Needless to say, we have a lot to talk about. Scroll down for everything you need to know about orgasms: like how to have one, why you’re not experiencing them, and what it should feel like.

They feel ah-mazing

If you’re questioning whether or not you’ve had an orgasm before, chances are you haven’t — the distinct feeling of an orgasm is almost impossible to confuse with anything else. Some general physical reactions include rapid breathing and accelerated heart rate, pelvic thrusting, erect nipples, swelling in your genitals, moaning, and trembling of the body.

They’re actually really good for you
Orgasms — what’s not to love? The euphoric trembling, the toe-curling sensation — they really are unbeatable. But sexual pleasure aside, countless studies have shown that orgasms have multiple health benefits. Having one regularly can actually reduce stress, relieve chronic pain, and may even help you live longer. And if you can believe it, orgasms can help you look younger too; due to the release of oxytocin, orgasms increase collagen production and even give your skin a healthy glow. Plus, they’re a great way to burn calories.

Not all women can bring home the big O

If you’ve tried but have still yet to experience an orgasm, you’re not alone. Plenty of women have trouble getting there. There are a few common reasons you could be having trouble, and don’t worry, they’re almost always curable.

Antidepressants and medications used to treat anxiety disorders can diminish sexual hormones in the body, which can make it harder to achieve an orgasm. If you’re currently taking a similar prescription or another one that you suspect is giving you trouble with climaxing, ask your doctor if there’s a comparable medication with fewer sexual side effects.

A huge percentage of women find it impossible to orgasm from penetration alone. If you haven’t explored clitoral stimulation during sex, you should: it might be just what you need to get you to your peak. Try massaging your clitoris with your fingers, or add a vibrator for extra stimulation.

Just because you’re turned on doesn’t mean your body is producing enough natural lubrication to enjoy sex, especially when you factor in fluctuating hormones and the chemistry of condoms. Adding lubricant is an easy way to make sex more enjoyable.

They can be painful for some
Sex can feel great, but if orgasms cause more pain than pleasure, you could be suffering from a condition called dysorgasmia (no, that is not a made-up word). Dysorgasmia, which can be caused by a variety of underlying causes, is described as pain in your abdomen or pelvic area during or after orgasms.

The most common cause of dysorgasmia is the occasional muscle spasm or internal swelling of your pelvic area. If you typically feel pain in your bladder, this could be a result of a flare up in that region either from a buildup of bacteria or an infection. If you experience pain in the muscles near the rectum, this can indicate a recent spasm in that muscle group. Pain in the abdomen might be caused by a uterine spasm, which makes sense considering this is the biggest muscle to contract and release during orgasms. If you’re experiencing cramps from any of the above, the solution might be as simple as taking ibuprofen before sex. If that doesn’t work, consult your doctor for a more permanent solution.
Uterine fibroids are a common culprit of post-sex cramps. These are benign, non-cancerous tumors that show up on your uterus that can cause pain after intercourse, heavy period bleeding, and spotting between periods. If these symptoms sound familiar, talk to your doctor. While fibroids aren’t dangerous — there’s a less than one in 1,000 chance a cancerous fibroid will occur — having them removed can make sex much more enjoyable.

Pelvic inflammatory disease can occur from a sexually transmitted bacterial infection, like chlamydia or gonorrhea. It causes inflammation in your pelvic area, which can make orgasms uncomfortable. The good news is you can cure it by treating the bacterial infection that is causing the inflammation.

We told you it was a lot, but the good news is now you’re an expert on orgasms. Take these tips, get out there and get ready to experience that feeling of nirvana everyone has been talking about all this time.

Stephanie Montes is a Los-Angeles based fashion, beauty and wellness writer. Her work has been featured on Elite Daily, Brides, Well + Good, Hello Giggles, The Zoe Report and more. She loves traveling, trying new beauty products, photography, and cuddling her two dogs and husband. Follow her on Instagram at @stephanie_montes.