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All you need to know about orgasms

The orgasm is widely regarded as the peak of sexual excitement. It is a powerful feeling of physical pleasure and sensation, which includes a discharge of accumulated erotic tension.

Overall though, not a great deal is known about the orgasm, and over the past century, theories about the orgasm and its nature have shifted dramatically. For instance, healthcare experts have only relatively recently come round to the idea of the female orgasm, with many doctors as recently as the 1970s claiming that it was normal for women not to experience them.

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In this article, we will explain what an orgasm is in men and women, why it happens, and explain some common misconceptions.

Fast facts on orgasms

  • Medical professionals and mental health professionals define orgasms differently.
  • Orgasms have multiple potential health benefits due to the hormones and other chemicals that are released by the body during an orgasm.
  • Orgasms do not only occur during sexual stimulation.
  • People of all genders can experience orgasm disorders.
  • An estimated 1 in 3 men have experienced premature ejaculation.

 

What is an orgasm?

Orgasms can be defined in different ways using different criteria. Medical professionals have used physiological changes to the body as a basis for a definition, whereas psychologists and mental health professionals have used emotional and cognitive changes. A single, overarching explanation of the orgasm does not currently exist.

Influential research

Couple sharing an orgasm

Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) sought to build “an objectively determined body of fact and sex,” through the use of in-depth interviews, challenging currently held views about sex.

The spirit of this work was taken forward by William H. Masters and Virginia Johnson in their work, Human Sexual Response (1986) – a real-time observational study of the physiological effects of various sexual acts. This research led to the establishment of sexology as a scientific discipline and is still an important part of today’s theories on orgasms.


Orgasm models

Sex researchers have defined orgasms within staged models of sexual response. Although the orgasm process can differ greatly between individuals, several basic physiological changes have been identified that tend to occur in the majority of incidences.

The following models are patterns that have been found to occur in all forms of sexual response and are not limited solely to penile-vaginal intercourse.

Master and Johnson’s Four-Phase Model:

  1. excitement
  2. plateau
  3. orgasm
  4. resolution

Kaplan’s Three-Stage Model:

Kaplan’s model differs from most other sexual response models as it includes desire – most models tend to avoid including non-genital changes. It is also important to note that not all sexual activity is preceded by desire.

  1. desire
  2. excitement
  3. orgasm

Potential health benefits of orgasm

Nurse holding prostate model

The male orgasm may protect against prostate cancer.

A cohort study published in 1997 suggested that the risk of mortality was considerably lower in men with a high frequency of orgasm than men with a low frequency of orgasm.

This is counter to the view in many cultures worldwide that the pleasure of the orgasm is “secured at the cost of vigor and wellbeing.”

There is some evidence that frequent ejaculation might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A team of researchers found that the risk for prostate cancer was 20 percent lower in men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month compared with men who ejaculated just 4 to 7 times a month.

Several hormones that are released during orgasm have been identified, such as oxytocin and DHEA; some studies suggest that these hormones could have protective qualities against cancers and heart disease. Oxytocin and other endorphins released during male and female orgasm have also been found to work as relaxants.

Types

Unsurprisingly, given that experts are yet to come to a consensus regarding the definition of an orgasm, there are multiple different forms of categorization for orgasms.

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud distinguished female orgasms as clitoral in the young and immature, and vaginal in those with a healthy sexual response. In contrast, the sex researcher Betty Dodson has defined at least nine different forms of orgasm, biased toward genital stimulation, based on her research. Here is a selection of them:

  • Combination or blended orgasms: a variety of different orgasmic experiences blended together.
  • Multiple orgasms: a series of orgasms over a short period rather than a singular one.
  • Pressure orgasms: orgasms that arise from the indirect stimulation of applied pressure. A form of self-stimulation that is more common in children.
  • Relaxation orgasms: orgasm deriving from deep relaxation during sexual stimulation.
  • Tension orgasms: a common form of orgasm, from direct stimulation often when the body and muscles are tense.

There are other forms of orgasm that Freud and Dodson largely discount, but many others have described them. For instance:

  • Fantasy orgasms: orgasms resulting from mental stimulation alone.
  • G-spot orgasms: orgasms resulting from the stimulation of an erotic zone during penetrative intercourse, feeling markedly different to orgasms from other kinds of stimulation.


The female orgasm

The following description of the physiological process of female orgasm in the genitals will use the Masters and Johnson four-phase model.

Excitement

When a woman is stimulated physically or psychologically, the blood vessels within her genitals dilate. Increased blood supply causes the vulva to swell, and fluid to pass through the vaginal walls, making the vulva swollen and wet. Internally, the top of the vagina expands.

Heart rate and breathing quicken and blood pressure increases. Blood vessel dilation can lead to the woman appearing flushed, particularly on the neck and chest.

Plateau

As blood flow to the introitus – the lower area of the vagina – reaches its limit, it becomes firm. Breasts can increase in size by as much as 25 percent and increased blood flow to the areola – the area surrounding the nipple – causes the nipples to appear less erect. The clitoris pulls back against the pubic bone, seemingly disappearing.

Orgasm

The genital muscles, including the uterus and introitus, experience rhythmic contractions around 0.8 seconds apart. The female orgasm typically lasts longer than the male at an average of around 13-51 seconds.

Unlike men, most women do not have a refractory (recovery) period and so can have further orgasms if they are stimulated again.

Resolution

The body gradually returns to its former state, with swelling reduction and the slowing of pulse and breathing.

The male orgasm

The following description of the physiological process of male orgasm in the genitals uses the Masters and Johnson four-phase model.

Excitement

When a man is stimulated physically or psychologically, he gets an erection. Blood flows into the corpora – the spongy tissue running the length of the penis – causing the penis to grow in size and become rigid. The testicles are drawn up toward the body as the scrotum tightens.

Plateau

As the blood vessels in and around the penis fill with blood, the glans and testicles increase in size. In addition, thigh and buttock muscles tense, blood pressure rises, the pulse quickens, and the rate of breathing increases.

Orgasm

Semen – a mixture of sperm (5 percent) and fluid (95 percent) – is forced into the urethra by a series of contractions in the pelvic floor muscles, prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and the vas deferens.

Contractions in the pelvic floor muscles and prostate gland also cause the semen to be forced out of the penis in a process called ejaculation. The average male orgasm lasts for 10-30 seconds.

Resolution

The man now enters a temporary recovery phase where further orgasms are not possible. This is known as the refractory period, and its length varies from person to person. It can last from a few minutes to a few days, and this period generally grows longer as the man ages.

During this phase, the man’s penis and testicles return to their original size. The rate of breathing will be heavy and fast, and the pulse will be fast.

Causes

It is commonly held that orgasms are a sexual experience, typically experienced as part of a sexual response cycle. They often occur following the continual stimulation of erogenous zones, such as the genitals, anus, nipples, and perineum.

Physiologically, orgasms occur following two basic responses to continual stimulation:

  • Vasocongestion: the process whereby body tissues fill up with blood, swelling in size as a result.
  • Myotonia: the process whereby muscles tense, including both voluntary flexing and involuntary contracting.

There have been other reports of people experiencing orgasmic sensations at the onset of epileptic medicine, and foot amputees feeling orgasms in the space where their foot once was. People paralyzed from the waist down have also been able to have orgasms, suggesting that it is the central nervous system rather than the genitals that is key to experiencing orgasms.

Disorders

A number of disorders are associated with orgasms; they can lead to distress, frustration, and feelings of shame, both for the person experiencing the symptoms and their partner(s).

Although orgasms are considered to be the same in all genders, healthcare professionals tend to describe orgasm disorders in gendered terms.

Female orgasmic disorders

Female orgasmic disorders center around the absence or significant delay of orgasm following sufficient stimulation.

The absence of having orgasms is also referred to as anorgasmia. This term can be divided into primary anorgasmia, when a woman has never experienced an orgasm, and secondary anorgasmia, when a woman who previously experienced orgasms no longer can. The condition can be limited to certain situations or can generally occur.

Female orgasmic disorder can occur as the result of physical causes such as gynecological issues or the use of certain medications, or psychological causes such as anxiety or depression.

Male orgasmic disorders

Also referred to as inhibited male orgasm, male orgasmic disorder involves a persistent and recurrent delay or absence of orgasm following sufficient stimulation.


Male orgasmic disorder can be a lifelong condition or one that is acquired after a period of regular sexual functioning. The condition can be limited to certain situations or can generally occur. It can occur as the result of other physical conditions such as heart disease, psychological causes such as anxiety, or through the use of certain medications such as antidepressants.

Premature ejaculation

Ejaculation in men is closely associated with an orgasm. Premature ejaculation is a common sexual complaint, whereby a man ejaculates (and typically orgasms) within 1 minute of penetration, including the moment of penetration itself.

Premature ejaculation is likely to be caused by a combination of psychological factors such as guilt or anxiety, and biological factors such as hormone levels or nerve damage.

Common misconceptions

Young happy couple

A happy relationship is based on more than just the orgasm.

The high importance that society places on sex, combined with our incomplete knowledge of the orgasm, has led to a number of common misconceptions.

Sexual culture has placed the orgasm on a pedestal, often prizing it as the one and only goal for sexual encounters.

However, orgasms are not as simple and as common as many people would suggest.

It is estimated that around 10-15 percent of women have never had an orgasm. In men, as many as 1 in 3 reports having experienced premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.

Research has shown that orgasms are also not widely considered to be the most important aspect of sexual experience. One study reported that many women find their most satisfying sexual experiences involve a feeling of being connected to someone else, rather than basing their satisfaction solely on orgasm.

Another misconception is that penile-vaginal stimulation is the main way for both men and women to achieve an orgasm. While this may be true for many men and some women, many more women experience orgasms following the stimulation of the clitoris.

A comprehensive analysis of 33 studies over 80 years found that during vaginal intercourse just 25 percent of women consistently experience an orgasm, about half of women sometimes have an orgasm, 20 percent seldom or ever have orgasms, and about 5 percent never have orgasms.

In fact, orgasms do not necessarily have to involve the genitals at all, nor do they have to be associated with sexual desires, as evidenced by examples of exercise-induced orgasm.

The journey to an orgasm is a very individual experience that has no singular, all-encompassing definition. In many cases, experts recommend avoiding comparison to other people or pre-existing concepts of what an orgasm should be.

 

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How does menopause affect sex drive?

Sexual problems are more common in postmenopausal women, which suggests that menopause can reduce libido.

The reduced sex drive is often caused by decreased estrogen levels, which can dampen arousal and result in sex being more painful.

In this article, we look at how menopause might affect someone’s sex drive, along with what can be done to improve libido.

 

Menopause and libido

What is menopause?

sad middle aged woman sitting on bed

Menopausal symptoms can have a negative effect on a woman’s relationship with her partner.

Menopause refers to when a woman stops having her period permanently, but it can affect more than a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Menopause can cause physical and emotional changes that impact a woman’s life, including her sex life.

Some symptoms and side effects associated with menopause include:

  • anxiety
  • bladder control issues
  • decreased sex drive and desire (libido)
  • depression
  • difficulty sleeping
  • thinning hair
  • weight gain

Each of these effects can impact a woman’s quality of life and relationship with her partner.

What is libido?

Libido refers to sexual interest and sexual enjoyment.

Some women going through menopause report reduced libido, but the causes vary from person to person.

According to one review, the reported rates of sexual problems in postmenopausal women are between 68 and 86.5 percent.

This range is much higher than in all women in general, which is estimated to be between 25 and 63 percent.

Why does menopause affect libido?

Decreased estrogen levels can result in reduced blood flow to the vagina, which can cause the tissues of the vagina and labia to become thinner. If this happens, they become less sensitive to sexual stimulation.

Decreased blood flow also affects vaginal lubrication and overall arousal. As a result, a woman may not enjoy sex as much and may have difficulty achieving orgasm. Sex may be uncomfortable or even painful.

Fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause and menopause can also affect a woman’s mental health, which in turn, may cause a decrease in her libido.

Stress can also impact a woman’s libido, as she may be juggling a job, parenting, and be caring for aging parents. The changes in hormone levels a woman may experience during menopause may make her irritable or depressed, so dealing with everyday stress may feel more difficult.

According to an article published in the Journal of Women’s Health, women who have more significant side effects associated with menopause are more likely to report lower libido levels.

Examples of these side effects include hot flashes, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and fatigue.

Other factors that make a woman going through menopause more likely to experience a reduced libido include:

  • history of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or depression
  • history of smoking
  • engaging in low levels of physical activity

A woman should talk to her doctor about how these conditions could affect her sex drive.

 

Tips for improving libido

There are several steps a woman can take to increase her libido. These include medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and home remedies.

Medical treatments

middle aged couple enjoying a bike ride

Spending time together on shared hobbies, exercising, and planned dates will help increase a couple’s intamacy.

If a woman experiences changes to her vaginal tissue, such as thinning and dryness, she may wish to consider estrogen therapy.

Prescription estrogen can be applied directly to the vagina in the form of creams, pills, or vaginal rings. These usually contain lower doses of estrogen than regular birth control pills.

Some women may wish to take estrogen pills that contain higher levels of hormones. This treatment, known as hormone replacement therapy, might help reduce symptoms, such as hot flashes and mood changes, but may also carry risks.

A woman thinking about hormone replacement therapy should discuss it with her doctor before starting to take any medication.

One study found that women using hormone therapies reported higher levels of sexual desire compared with women who did not.

Less commonly, a doctor may prescribe testosterone therapy. However, not all women respond to this treatment, and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not approve it for treating sexual disorders in women.

A woman may not experience any changes in her sex drive after using estrogen or testosterone therapies.

A woman may also choose to see a therapist who specializes in sexual dysfunction or enhancing sex. Sometimes, couples may want to attend therapy together.

Lifestyle changes

Some women may benefit from using water-soluble lubricants during sex. These can be purchased over-the-counter at most drugstores.

However, women should avoid non-water soluble and silicone-based lubricants, as these can break down condoms used to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Increasing physical activity, such as getting 30 minutes or more of exercise on a routine basis, may help reduce menopause-related symptoms, including a low libido. Eating a healthful diet can also enhance a person’s overall sense of well being.

Changing sexual habits

There are many ways a person can foster a sense of intimacy with their partner, including:

  • Changing sexual routines: Try spending extended periods on foreplay, use vibrators or other sex toys to enhance an intimate experience, or engage in sexual activity or touching without the goal of orgasm.
  • Relieving stress together: There are many stress-relieving techniques a couple can do outside of the bedroom to increase intimacy. Examples include going on planned dates together, taking a walk, or spending time doing hobbies together, such as exercise, crafts, or cooking.
  • Practicing masturbation: Spending time alone and exploring what types of touch and sexual stimulation work well for an individual can help them talk to a partner about their needs and preferences. It can also help a person feel more comfortable with sexual activity without the pressure of a partner.

Natural remedies

Some women use natural supplements to try to increase their libido. It is important to keep in mind that the FDA do not regulate herbs and supplements, so women should be sure to choose a reputable brand.

Some natural remedies used to increase libido in women include:

  • black cohosh
  • red clover
  • soy

A woman should discuss these remedies with a doctor before taking them to ensure they will not interact negatively with other prescriptions and supplements she may be taking. Soy contains estrogen, so it may react with other estrogen therapies.

 

When to see a doctor

A woman should speak to her doctor whenever perimenopause or menopause is having a significant impact on her day-to-day activities, including sexual activity.

Sometimes, a doctor can recommend changes in health habits as well as discuss whether prescription medications may help relieve the symptoms, including a low libido.

Speaking with a doctor can also rule out any other underlying medical conditions that may cause a reduced libido. These conditions include urinary tract infections, uterine prolapse, endometriosis, or pelvic floor dysfunction.

 

Outlook

woman speaking with a doctor

A doctor will be able to rule out other conditions that may be responsible for a reduced sex drive.

While some women do experience a decreased libido in menopause, others do not.

Some women may even experience a heightened libido after menopause. This can be due to reduced stresses over pregnancy and fewer child-rearing responsibilities.

If a woman’s libido is impacted after menopause, she should talk to her doctor about treatments that could enhance her quality of life.

All you need to know about orgasms

The orgasm is widely regarded as the peak of sexual excitement. It is a powerful feeling of physical pleasure and sensation, which includes a discharge of accumulated erotic tension.

Overall though, not a great deal is known about the orgasm, and over the past century, theories about the orgasm and its nature have shifted dramatically. For instance, healthcare experts have only relatively recently come round to the idea of the female orgasm, with many doctors as recently as the 1970s claiming that it was normal for women not to experience them.

In this article, we will explain what an orgasm is in men and women, why it happens, and explain some common misconceptions.

Fast facts on orgasms

  • Medical professionals and mental health professionals define orgasms differently.
  • Orgasms have multiple potential health benefits due to the hormones and other chemicals that are released by the body during an orgasm.
  • Orgasms do not only occur during sexual stimulation.
  • People of all genders can experience orgasm disorders.
  • An estimated 1 in 3 men have experienced premature ejaculation.

What is an orgasm?

Orgasms can be defined in different ways using different criteria. Medical professionals have used physiological changes to the body as a basis for a definition, whereas psychologists and mental health professionals have used emotional and cognitive changes. A single, overarching explanation of the orgasm does not currently exist.

Influential research

Couple sharing an orgasm

Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) sought to build “an objectively determined body of fact and sex,” through the use of in-depth interviews, challenging currently held views about sex.

The spirit of this work was taken forward by William H. Masters and Virginia Johnson in their work, Human Sexual Response (1986) – a real-time observational study of the physiological effects of various sexual acts. This research led to the establishment of sexology as a scientific discipline and is still an important part of today’s theories on orgasms.

Orgasm models

Sex researchers have defined orgasms within staged models of sexual response. Although the orgasm process can differ greatly between individuals, several basic physiological changes have been identified that tend to occur in the majority of incidences.

The following models are patterns that have been found to occur in all forms of sexual response and are not limited solely to penile-vaginal intercourse.

Master and Johnson’s Four-Phase Model:

  1. excitement
  2. plateau
  3. orgasm
  4. resolution

Kaplan’s Three-Stage Model:

Kaplan’s model differs from most other sexual response models as it includes desire – most models tend to avoid including non-genital changes. It is also important to note that not all sexual activity is preceded by desire.

  1. desire
  2. excitement
  3. orgasm

Potential health benefits of orgasm

Nurse holding prostate model

The male orgasm may protect against prostate cancer.

A cohort study published in 1997 suggested that the risk of mortality was considerably lower in men with a high frequency of orgasm than men with a low frequency of orgasm.

This is counter to the view in many cultures worldwide that the pleasure of the orgasm is “secured at the cost of vigor and wellbeing.”

There is some evidence that frequent ejaculation might reduce the risk of prostate cancer. A team of researchers found that the risk for prostate cancer was 20 percent lower in men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month compared with men who ejaculated just 4 to 7 times a month.

Several hormones that are released during orgasm have been identified, such as oxytocin and DHEA; some studies suggest that these hormones could have protective qualities against cancers and heart disease. Oxytocin and other endorphins released during male and female orgasm have also been found to work as relaxants.

Types

Unsurprisingly, given that experts are yet to come to a consensus regarding the definition of an orgasm, there are multiple different forms of categorization for orgasms.

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud distinguished female orgasms as clitoral in the young and immature, and vaginal in those with a healthy sexual response. In contrast, the sex researcher Betty Dodson has defined at least nine different forms of orgasm, biased toward genital stimulation, based on her research. Here is a selection of them:

  • Combination or blended orgasms: a variety of different orgasmic experiences blended together.
  • Multiple orgasms: a series of orgasms over a short period rather than a singular one.
  • Pressure orgasms: orgasms that arise from the indirect stimulation of applied pressure. A form of self-stimulation that is more common in children.
  • Relaxation orgasms: orgasm deriving from deep relaxation during sexual stimulation.
  • Tension orgasms: a common form of orgasm, from direct stimulation often when the body and muscles are tense.

There are other forms of orgasm that Freud and Dodson largely discount, but many others have described them. For instance:

  • Fantasy orgasms: orgasms resulting from mental stimulation alone.
  • G-spot orgasms: orgasms resulting from the stimulation of an erotic zone during penetrative intercourse, feeling markedly different to orgasms from other kinds of stimulation.

The female orgasm

The following description of the physiological process of female orgasm in the genitals will use the Masters and Johnson four-phase model.

Excitement

When a woman is stimulated physically or psychologically, the blood vessels within her genitals dilate. Increased blood supply causes the vulva to swell, and fluid to pass through the vaginal walls, making the vulva swollen and wet. Internally, the top of the vagina expands.

Heart rate and breathing quicken and blood pressure increases. Blood vessel dilation can lead to the woman appearing flushed, particularly on the neck and chest.

Plateau

As blood flow to the introitus – the lower area of the vagina – reaches its limit, it becomes firm. Breasts can increase in size by as much as 25 percent and increased blood flow to the areola – the area surrounding the nipple – causes the nipples to appear less erect. The clitoris pulls back against the pubic bone, seemingly disappearing.

Orgasm

The genital muscles, including the uterus and introitus, experience rhythmic contractions around 0.8 seconds apart. The female orgasm typically lasts longer than the male at an average of around 13-51 seconds.

Unlike men, most women do not have a refractory (recovery) period and so can have further orgasms if they are stimulated again.

Resolution

The body gradually returns to its former state, with swelling reduction and the slowing of pulse and breathing.

The male orgasm

The following description of the physiological process of male orgasm in the genitals uses the Masters and Johnson four-phase model.

Excitement

When a man is stimulated physically or psychologically, he gets an erection. Blood flows into the corpora – the spongy tissue running the length of the penis – causing the penis to grow in size and become rigid. The testicles are drawn up toward the body as the scrotum tightens.

Plateau

As the blood vessels in and around the penis fill with blood, the glans and testicles increase in size. In addition, thigh and buttock muscles tense, blood pressure rises, the pulse quickens, and the rate of breathing increases.

Orgasm

Semen – a mixture of sperm (5 percent) and fluid (95 percent) – is forced into the urethra by a series of contractions in the pelvic floor muscles, prostate gland, seminal vesicles, and the vas deferens.

Contractions in the pelvic floor muscles and prostate gland also cause the semen to be forced out of the penis in a process called ejaculation. The average male orgasm lasts for 10-30 seconds.

Resolution

The man now enters a temporary recovery phase where further orgasms are not possible. This is known as the refractory period, and its length varies from person to person. It can last from a few minutes to a few days, and this period generally grows longer as the man ages.

During this phase, the man’s penis and testicles return to their original size. The rate of breathing will be heavy and fast, and the pulse will be fast.

Causes

It is commonly held that orgasms are a sexual experience, typically experienced as part of a sexual response cycle. They often occur following the continual stimulation of erogenous zones, such as the genitals, anus, nipples, and perineum.

Physiologically, orgasms occur following two basic responses to continual stimulation:

  • Vasocongestion: the process whereby body tissues fill up with blood, swelling in size as a result.
  • Myotonia: the process whereby muscles tense, including both voluntary flexing and involuntary contracting.

There have been other reports of people experiencing orgasmic sensations at the onset of epileptic medicine, and foot amputees feeling orgasms in the space where their foot once was. People paralyzed from the waist down have also been able to have orgasms, suggesting that it is the central nervous system rather than the genitals that is key to experiencing orgasms.

Disorders

A number of disorders are associated with orgasms; they can lead to distress, frustration, and feelings of shame, both for the person experiencing the symptoms and their partner(s).

Although orgasms are considered to be the same in all genders, healthcare professionals tend to describe orgasm disorders in gendered terms.

Female orgasmic disorders

Female orgasmic disorders center around the absence or significant delay of orgasm following sufficient stimulation.

The absence of having orgasms is also referred to as anorgasmia. This term can be divided into primary anorgasmia, when a woman has never experienced an orgasm, and secondary anorgasmia, when a woman who previously experienced orgasms no longer can. The condition can be limited to certain situations or can generally occur.

Female orgasmic disorder can occur as the result of physical causes such as gynecological issues or the use of certain medications, or psychological causes such as anxiety or depression.

Male orgasmic disorders

Also referred to as inhibited male orgasm, male orgasmic disorder involves a persistent and recurrent delay or absence of orgasm following sufficient stimulation.

Male orgasmic disorder can be a lifelong condition or one that is acquired after a period of regular sexual functioning. The condition can be limited to certain situations or can generally occur. It can occur as the result of other physical conditions such as heart disease, psychological causes such as anxiety, or through the use of certain medications such as antidepressants.

Premature ejaculation

Ejaculation in men is closely associated with an orgasm. Premature ejaculation is a common sexual complaint, whereby a man ejaculates (and typically orgasms) within 1 minute of penetration, including the moment of penetration itself.

Premature ejaculation is likely to be caused by a combination of psychological factors such as guilt or anxiety, and biological factors such as hormone levels or nerve damage.

Common misconceptions

Young happy couple

A happy relationship is based on more than just the orgasm.

The high importance that society places on sex, combined with our incomplete knowledge of the orgasm, has led to a number of common misconceptions.

Sexual culture has placed the orgasm on a pedestal, often prizing it as the one and only goal for sexual encounters.

However, orgasms are not as simple and as common as many people would suggest.

It is estimated that around 10-15 percent of women have never had an orgasm. In men, as many as 1 in 3 reports having experienced premature ejaculation at some point in their lives.

Research has shown that orgasms are also not widely considered to be the most important aspect of sexual experience. One study reported that many women find their most satisfying sexual experiences involve a feeling of being connected to someone else, rather than basing their satisfaction solely on orgasm.

Another misconception is that penile-vaginal stimulation is the main way for both men and women to achieve an orgasm. While this may be true for many men and some women, many more women experience orgasms following the stimulation of the clitoris.

A comprehensive analysis of 33 studies over 80 years found that during vaginal intercourse just 25 percent of women consistently experience an orgasm, about half of women sometimes have an orgasm, 20 percent seldom or ever have orgasms, and about 5 percent never have orgasms.

In fact, orgasms do not necessarily have to involve the genitals at all, nor do they have to be associated with sexual desires, as evidenced by examples of exercise-induced orgasm.

The journey to an orgasm is a very individual experience that has no singular, all-encompassing definition. In many cases, experts recommend avoiding comparison to other people or pre-existing concepts of what an orgasm should be.

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