I know a bit about orgasms, in that I know that I like them and that I prefer having them during sex to not. But I know little else — like why do my toes curl when I have one, or why does my partner orgasm even when I don’t? In hopes of finding the answers to all my ‘big-O’ inquiries, I looked into the science behind sexual climax.
What happens to your body during an orgasm
According to Dr. William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, pioneers in human sexuality research, the body has a sexual response cycle called the “Four-Phase Model.” It consists of — you guessed it — four stages: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
During the excitement phase, your muscles tense, heart rate accelerates, nipples become erect, skin flushes, vaginal lubrication begins, and blood flows to the clitoris and the labia minora as the labia minora begin to separate. In the plateau stage, the body does anything but plateau. On the contrary, throughout this stage everything that happens in the excitement phase simply continues to build and intensify, guiding your body into the orgasm stage. During an orgasm, your body has a myriad of reactions: your heart rate peaks, you may experience involuntary muscle spasms (cue the toe curling), muscle tension decreases, and the vaginal and uterine muscles contract. After orgasm, you enter the resolution stage, where the body returns to its normal, boring ol’ state.
Why women orgasm less than men
There’s absolutely nothing in the world like a good orgasm (sorry, cheesecake). But for many women, consistent orgasms during sexual intercourse are hard to achieve. Based on a 2017 study by Chapman University, 65 percent of heterosexual women said they usually always orgasm, compared to their straight male counterparts who claimed they orgasm 95 percent of the time. A separate study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, focused on the variations in orgasms. The study proved that women have “less predictable, more varied orgasms” than men and that more research is needed to determine why sexual experiences vary. It’s the sad truth, ladies: we not only shoulder a pay gap, but there’s an orgasm gap, too.
How to have better orgasms more frequently
For those of us who want more orgasms, there are a couple of tried-and-true tricks to improve your chances. The Chapman University study suggests that women were more likely to climax if they have more oral sex, ask for what they wanted in bed, and try new positions. There seems to be a direct correlation between experimentation and orgasms.
It’s believed that only 25 percent of women orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone and that most women can only achieve an orgasm via clitoral stimulation. That being said, moving around more, even gyrating, during sex could help you climax more frequently. Dr. Rosara Torrisi of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy suggests that “a thorough understanding of your own body and what gives you pleasure is important for sexual health.” The more you know about your body and what it takes to experience pleasure, the more likely you are to hit that zenith you’re looking for.