4 things about female orgasms that researchers are actually studying

Cardi B’s song WAP and the Netflix show Sex education placing female orgasms at the center of popular culture.

But female orgasms are also the subject of serious academic research.

Here’s a look at what the research tells us about female orgasms, what we don’t know, and what researchers want to find out.



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1. When women have an orgasm, what really happens?

When women have an orgasm, their pelvic floor muscles Contract rhythmically and involuntarily. These contractions are believed to help drain blood from the erect tissues of the clitoris and vulva, allowing them to return to their usual flaccid (floppy) state.

During sexual arousal and orgasm, the heart rate, respiratory rate and blood pressure of women get up.



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Levels of oxytocin, known as the “love hormone”, increases during sexual arousal and is thought to peak during orgasm.

Areas of the brain associated with dopamine, “The happy hormone”, are activated in both men and women.

And in women, other areas of the brain are activated further during sexual arousal and peak with orgasm. These include those associated with emotions, the integration of sensory information and emotions, higher level thinking, and motor areas associated with the pelvic floor muscles.

The “right angular gyrus” part of the brain can also be related to an altered state of consciousness that some women say they feel when they cum.



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What is more difficult to determine is the relationship between the body and the brain. We know that the frequency and intensity of female orgasms depend on a range of complexes psychosocial factors, including a woman’s sexual desires, self-esteem, openness to sexual communication with her partner, and general mental health.

2. Not all women orgasm. Is it a problem?

Orgasms aren’t a problem for all women, and that’s perfectly normal.

And 21% of Australian women ages 20 to 64 say they can’t cum. From a biologically simplistic perspective, anorgasmia (the inability to orgasm despite adequate sexual stimulation) is also not a problem. However, women with anorgasmia often report shame, insufficiency, anxiety, distress and detachment surrounding intercourse and orgasm.

These negative emotions can be linked to long story suppressing, and now celebrating, the sexual pleasure of women.

For many women, orgasms represent empowerment. Naturally, then, anorgasmia can make women feel like something is wrong with them. Some might simulate orgasm, which two-thirds report do. This is usually to help them feel better about themselves or to make their partners feel better.

Many women say they fake their orgasms, as seen in the classic movie When Harry Met Sally.

Over 80% of women doesn’t orgasm just through vaginal stimulation. So if anorgasmia is a problem, trying different types of stimulation might help, especially clitoral stimulation.

When anorgasmia causes negative feelings or prevents the formation or maintenance of healthy sex, it becomes a problem. But certain websites, “sextech“(Technology that aims to improve female sexual experiences), and dedicated health professionals can help.

3. Can you over-orgasm?

No! While a investigation run by an online dating site suggests that 77% of women have had multiple orgasms, academic research suggests the figure is much lower, at about 14%.

Some women who have multiple orgasms report their second orgasm is the strongest, but the following ones become less intense.

Just make sure you have enough lubrication to last the distance, as prolonged stimulation without sufficient lubrication can result in pain.

About 50% of women in one study, they use vibrators to achieve orgasm (or multiple orgasms). Some people say that vibrators can decrease the sensitivity of the clitoris, making it more difficult for women to orgasm with clitoral stimulation that does not involve vibration. However, most research shows that desensitization is soft and transient.

4. What is it for anyway?

Evolutionists tend to take three views on why the female orgasm has evolved: to increase reproductive success; strengthen couple bonds between women and their sexual partners; or the one I consider most likely is that female orgasms serve no evolutionary purpose. They are simply a byproduct of evolution, existing because male and female genitalia develop similarly to embryos and do not begin to differentiate until around six weeks gestation.

Just because women’s orgasms don’t serve an evolutionary purpose doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Female orgasms are important because for many women, they contribute to healthy relationships and their sexual well-being.



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What remains to be discovered?

For a long time, we have assumed details of female orgasm based on its male counterpart. And it is only since 2011 that we were able to map what goes on in the brains of women during sexual stimulation. So there is a lot about the female brain during orgasm that we haven’t explored yet.

We only recently learned the actual size and function of the clitoris. We are also debating whether G point exist.

Women’s sexuality, desires, likes and dislikes are also incredibly diverse. And in this article, we’ve only talked about and included research on cis gender women, people whose gender identity and expression matches their sex assigned at birth.

So we also need more research with people of different sexes to better understand the complexity and diversity of orgasm and sexuality.

It remains to be seen whether science can explain all these differences in the complexity of the human being.

About Molly Brown

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