Psst—you over there. Guess what? We're going to talk about orgasms. Specifically, the female orgasm.
Why? Orgasms are just as important to a woman's health as using dental floss. You want to experience them to their fullest, but you can't do that unless you're in the know about what exactly a female orgasm is, how you reach your climax, and what happens to your body when it experiences one.
So now's the time to expand your knowledge. This is everything you ever wanted to know about an orgasm, and hopefully your next sexual experience will be your best one yet.
1. Orgasms can relieve pain.
When you have a headache, it's pretty common to go to bed. But you shouldn't be sleeping. "There is some evidence that orgasms can relieve all kinds of pain, including pain from arthritis, pain after surgery, and even pain during childbirth," says Lisa Stern, R.N., a nurse practitioner who works with in Los Angeles. It's largely due to the body's release of oxytocin during orgasm, a chemical that facilitates bonding, relaxation, and other positive emotional states, she explains. While the pain relief is often short-lived at about 8-10 minutes, Stern says that past research indicates even thinking about sex can help alleviate pain. Sex dreams, anyone?
2. Using a condom doesn't hamper your orgasm.
A lot of people think that because sex can often feel better without a condom that their orgasm will too. But that's not the case. "Women are equally likely to experience orgasm with or without a condom," says , Ph.D., a research scientist at Indiana University and author of . "In fact, condoms may help a couple spend more time having sex, as a man doesn't have to 'pull out' quickly if he's worried about ejaculating too soon." If he's resistant to wearing a condom because of lack of sensation, consider manual or oral stimulation before intercourse.
3. It's not easy for women to reach orgasm.
If you've ever had trouble clima, you're not alone. According to , 10-40% of women report having difficulty or an inability to reach orgasm. One of the best ways to fix that is through clitoral stimulation, Stern says. But medical treatment can also help, as some women suffering from female sexual dysfunction (FSD) may find topical testosterone therapies or oral medications to be helpful. Unfortunately, there isn't a ton of solid medical evidence behind these treatments yet, which is why it's important for researchers to keep digging. In the meantime, anyone experiencing difficulty should talk to their doctor as FSD can be associated with other medical conditions, including thyroid disease, depression, and diabetes.
4. It's important to find your G-spot.
Sex experts have long touted this area of female genitalia, which is believed to contain a large number of nerve endings, as the key to helping women achieve longer and stronger orgasms. But it's a controversial topic: have refuted its existence, while claimed to have found the spot on various women via ultrasound. Regardless, sex educators, like Los Angeles–based , support the existence of the G-spot and encourage women to find theirs. Its location may be slightly different in all women, but most often it's found inside the vagina and is characterized by a "rougher" texture, she says.
5. Orgasm gets better with age.
There are plenty of things to gripe about when it comes to age, but your sex life isn't one of them. It turns out that as you get older, the quality and frequency of orgasms can improve, Dr. Herbenick says. "[A recent survey showed that] 61 percent of women ages 18 to 24 experienced orgasm the last time they had sex, 65 percent of women in their 30s did, and about 70 percent of women in their 40s and 50s did."
While the survey didn't indicate why exactly orgasms become easier with age, Dr. Herbenick says that it's likely because older women are more sexually experienced, have more confidence in the bedroom, and aren't afraid to speak up for what they want. There may also be more trust and intimacy involved if you're in a long-term relationship, which can allow a woman to relax more and embrace the ride on the way to orgasm.
6. Mi things up can help.
If you have trouble reaching orgasm during intercourse, consider switching things up, Dr. Herbenick says. "It is significantly easier for women to experience orgasm when they engage in a variety of sex acts as opposed to just one act," she says. "For example, vaginal sex plus oral sex would be linked to a higher likelihood of orgasm than either one of them alone." And remember, intercourse isn't the only way to reach an orgasm — many women get off by using sex toys, either with their partners or totally solo.
7. Your self-esteem matters.
that how a woman feels about herself — including her genitalia — is linked to the quality of her orgasms. "As a women's health clinician, I can vouch for the fact that every vagina looks different and there is no 'perfect' way for a vagina to look," Stern says. "As long as your vagina is pain-free and you don't have any abnormal discharge, sores or other medical problems, you can consider yourself healthy and normal."
To increase your confidence (and therefore your orgasm potential), Stern says it's important to talk to yourself in a positive, healthy manner, especially when thinking about your body. One way to do that? Look in the mirror every day and say one thing you like about your body. (No repeats from the day before!) Another trick: Pull out a hand mirror and take a look at what's going on downstairs. Getting to know every part of yourself is the first step toward feeling confident all over.
8. It may take more than 20 minutes to orgasm.
Many women take longer to climax than their male partners, and that's perfectly normal, Stern says. In fact, most women require at least 20 minutes of sexual activity to climax. "If you find that your partner often reaches orgasm before you do, there are ways to help him slow down, like applying firm pressure around the base of the penis," she says. If premature ejaculation is a concern, Stern recommends seeing a primary care doctor or urologist to find alternative techniques that can help.
9. Orgasm can happen without genital stimulation.
We've all heard about women who can orgasm while sitting on a train and wondered if it was actually possible. Experts say it is, and Stern even knows a woman who had an orgasm every time she used the treadmill. "The reason for spontaneous orgasms during certain activities is twofold — increased blood flow to the genitals and vibration of or with the clitoris," Stern says. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is pretty rare, she adds, so if it hasn't happened to you already, it's not likely to start.
10. There's no point in faking it.