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The Truth About Orgasms
You may have read Cosmopolitan or Playboy to get an idea of how to keep sex exciting. So you are pretty savvy when it comes to myths vs. facts about male and female orgasms, right? Well, just to be sure, here is a short quiz to help you separate fact from fiction.
- True or False? The best way to bring both a male and female partner to orgasm is through direct vaginal/penile contact.
- True or False? Men always ejaculate when they reach orgasm.
- True or False? The ability to have and enjoy an orgasm declines as men get older.
- True or False? A woman who cannnot have an orgasm is frigid.
Answers can be found at the end of this article.
Although these questions seem rudimentary, the phenomenon of orgasm has been extensively studied. Men and women have a variety of orgasms, and there is no right or wrong way to have an orgasm. Mood, level of energy or fatigue, amount and type of foreplay, level of trust, and concurrent life events all have effects on the sensation of orgasm.
In men, orgasm depends mainly on stimulation of the penis. It is almost always accompanied by ejaculation of seminal fluid. As ejaculation occurs, a series of four or five contractions are accompanied with pleasant sensations.
Some men have powerful physical reactions during orgasm accompanied by loud vocal sounds and thrashing body movements. Others have more tranquil, quiet orgasms, but most men experience a range of intensities between these two extreme reactions.
For many men, the main source of orgasmic pleasure is a powerful ejaculation. Other men experience a number of continued orgasmic sensations long after ejaculation. Still others may experience a pattern similar to the multiple orgasms of women, a series of closely spaced mini-orgasms that climax with ejaculation.
Research generated from the personal experience of many women suggests that there are at least two types of female orgasm. The first originates in the clitoris. The second starts in the clitoris and spreads down into the vagina. This results in a more powerful orgasm than when the orgasm involves the clitoris alone. This type of orgasm is believed to result from stimulation of the G spot, which is thought to be located at the front wall of the vagina, and is accompanied by contractions of the uterus, vagina, and pelvic organs. Some experts believe that the G spot exists only in some women. Others simply believe that the front wall of the vagina is very sensitive. And some experts believe that the whole concept of a G spot is ridiculous and serves only to precipitate feelings of inadequacy and anxiety among women.
Can I Have Multiple Orgasms?
If you are a woman, probably. If you are a man under 30, probably. If you are a man over 30, maybe. After a major orgasm, men experience a refractory period, during which erection is very difficult to initiate. Men under 30 have the ability to ejaculate frequently with only short resting periods; older men tend to need longer periods between erections. However, with practice and control, most men can extend their sexual cycles and enjoy several mini-orgasms before a final climax. Most men who experience multiple orgasms ejaculate only once.
Many women are capable of experiencing more than one orgasm during a single sex act. Instead of moving into the resolution of orgasm, they can remain highly aroused in a plateau phase. From here they can be stimulated to orgasm quickly and repeatedly.
Most researchers agree that there is no one right pattern of sexual response. Whatever works, feels good, or connects partners to each other in mutual trust and love is what is right.
- False. Vaginal stimulation is generally the least effective way to arouse a woman. Most women are far more sensitive to clitoral stimulation. Ultimately, says Lonnie Barbach, PhD, author of For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy, orgasm is a full body response. Some people become orgasmic just through nipple stimulation, massages, or even their fantasies. "Site doesn't determine orgasm," says Barbach.
- False. Ejaculation and orgasm are two separate functions in the male body. They just usually happen together. After age 40, many men do not ejaculate as much and some eventually not at all. Nonetheless, orgasms do still occur just as they do in women who have gone through menopause and are no longer ovulating.
- False. The ability to enjoy an orgasm remains the same, regardless of age. The question is whether a man lets himself enjoy it. If he is worried about ejaculation, he may not feel satisfied. Everything slows down with age and also with use, but there is no age where it cannot happen anymore, it just may take longer. Think of a runner who jogs vigorously as a young person, but takes more pleasure in walking as aging occurs. As both men and women age, the orgasm may be less intense, but that does not mean the satisfaction lessens.
- False. Women may assume that if they do not have orgasms, they must be frigid, or unable to enjoy sex. However, if a woman becomes lubricated during sex, sexual arousal has occurred. Orgasm is not a pivotal component of sexual fulfillment. Ultimately, the psychological component—the feeling of pleasuring and being pleasured—is what is really critical to sexual fulfillment.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Society for Human Sexuality
Women's Health Matters
The College of Canadian Family Physicians
Learning more. Society for Human Sexuality website. Available at: http://www.sexuality.org. Accessed February 27, 2013.
Rowland DL. Neurobiology of sexual response in men and women. CNS Spectr. 2006;11(8 Suppl 9):6-12.
Your sexual health. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology website. Available at: http://www.acog.org/~/media/For%20Patients/faq072.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130227T1650106080. Accessed February 27, 2013.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 02/2013