Every Question You’ve Ever Had About Orgasms (Featuring Dr. Zhana)
Hey all! It’s Dr. Zhana and I’m back to answer all your questions about *drumroll please*… orgasms! Your questions were so good and so different from the questions I usually get, so I’m really excited about this.
Most of your questions were actually really specific and physiological that I had to recruit two people who know more about orgasms than I do in order to help me answer them. The first is leading sex researcher Dr. James Pfaus, and the second is the world’s greatest “sex hacker” Kenneth Play, who takes really complicated science, like James Pfaus’ science, and applies it to real-life scenarios so that people can receive and give more orgasms.
So, let’s get to it!
Q: Is it possible for a woman never to experience an orgasm?
It is. In studies, about 5-10% of women say that they’ve never had an orgasm, granted some of them are younger women who will eventually have an orgasm. But yes, it’s definitely possible. About 20% of women orgasm “rarely and with difficulty” as well.
Q: I have never had an orgasm. What do you think is the most common thing that holds people back from this?
The two most common reasons for this are psychological blockages (shame, guilt, anxiety, not being able to relax, body issues, and so on) or not having found the right stimulation that works for your body. There’s some good information online for giving and receiving pleasure, but remember, it’s not a race to the finish line. You can enjoy sex without orgasm and sometimes focusing on a goal actually hinders our pleasure.
Q: Why do I sometimes experience cramping during or after orgasm?
Most likely, especially if it feels like menstrual cramps, it’s due to what’s called the Shafik reflex, which are uterine contractions caused by the release of oxytocin during an orgasm. These contractions feel pleasurable to some and painful to others. It depends on your level of arousal and interpretation of the sensations.
Q: Is it normal to feel pain right after an orgasm?
In order to answer this, we’d have to define normal. It’s normal in the sense that it’s not that uncommon. It’s not normal in the sense that it’s not something you should be living with.
There are a number of different reasons that can cause pain after an orgasm and many of them can be addressed. It could be due to cardiovascular issues, where blood is prevented from flowing in or out of the genitals. It could be due to fibroid tissue inside the clitoris or the vagina. It could also be that your body has a lot of pain receptors in that area or that these receptors have become overactive.
Go see a gynecologist or a clinic that specializes in vulvodynia, dyspareunia and genital pain disorders if this continues long-term.
Q: Is it possible to test a clit’s sensitivity? I’m wondering because I hurt my clit as a kid and I’m worried that it could have impacted me.
Yes, injury can definitely affect clitoral sensitivity. And yes, you can get it tested at gynecologists who specialize in vulvodynia. Then, depending on the results, you might need to see a neurologist or even get neurological surgery to correct it.
Q: Sometimes I (a penis owner) can orgasm immediately after an orgasm. Is this unhealthy?
Nope, this is not unhealthy. I would call that lucky! Different people have different refractory periods, or the time between orgasm and when you can get aroused again. You seem to have a short refractory period, which is great. Enjoy it!
Q: When we experience orgasm without ejaculation, what hormones does our brain release?
Your brain produces the same hormones as it would during an orgasm with ejaculation: endorphins, oxytocin and an increase in serotonin and dopamine. Prolactin also increases right after orgasm.
Q: Is it bad to orgasm so hard a panic attack occurs?
I would say anything that causes you to have a panic attack is bad. It could be physiological or psychological. I’d recommend seeing a sex therapist or sexologist initially, and depending on what you discover, they may direct you to someone else such as a neurologist or urologist.
Q: What would be the best toy from LELO’s range to try first for clitoral orgasms?
It depends. If you want vibration and have a sensitive clit, try the LILY 2. If you want really intense vibrations, go with the SMART WAND. And if you want that sucking, pulsating sensation go with the SONA. It’s mind blowing.
Q: Is it normal to pee a little while having sex solo or with a partner?
It’s very common. About 25% of adult women in America experience some level of urinary incontinence, and about 60-70% of those have it during sex, orgasm or both. It could be due to what’s called an “overactive bladder” or weakened pelvic floor muscles. There are a couple of different avenues for addressing this depending on what’s causing it, so I’d recommend seeing your gynecologist.
Q: Can you have an orgasm from anal stimulation alone as a woman?
Absolutely! There are a lot of nerve endings in the anus, so rhythmic contractions there can activate stuff. You can be pushing up against the g-spot or through the wall of tissue between the anus and vagina which is fairly thin.
Usually, however, the first couple of times you have an anal orgasm, it’s caused by a combo of anal and clitoral or vaginal stimulation. After that, the body remembers the association between anal play and orgasm and can more easily activate the anal-only stimulation pathway to orgasm in the future.
And, of course, anal play can stimulate the prostate for those who have one, leading to a prostate orgasm.
Q: Please don’t tag me or anything on that last question. It’s very embarrassing.
It’s funny, but the person who asked this previous question also sent this request right afterwards. I would never tag anyone in these Q&As, but more importantly, there is nothing embarrassing about this. This is such an amazing question! And by the way, two other people asked the exact same question.
Q: Can I learn to orgasm from vaginal penetration?
Probably. You just have to find either the right toy or the right partner that you can do that up-and-down kind of grindy motion with, rather than the in-and-out motion, which is most likely what’s not doing it for you. LELO has a bunch of amazing G-spot simulators that you can try for this purpose.
Q: I can’t have multiple orgasms. Is this normal? I always hear how women can have many, but I can’t.
There are definitely a lot of women who do not experience multiple orgasms and that’s perfectly common and normal. For most of them, it’s probably because their clitoris has a long refractory period, so after they orgasm, they’re too sensitive until this period is over.
Q: Do all women have multiple orgasms?
We don’t know that for sure and we don’t know if you can necessarily shorten the refractory period of the clitoris itself. What we can do is what Kenneth Play calls “orgasm circuit training” which focuses on other types of stimulation and rotates through them. After you’ve come from external clitoral stimulation once, leave the external clit alone for a while and focus on internal vaginal stimulation, anal stimulation, nipple stimulation, cervical stimulation or whatever else you like, and then rotate!
Q: Do female partners orgasm more easily as they enter their late 30s and beyond?
Yep, that happens to a lot of women. We grow up with so much repression and suppression of our sexuality that we often don’t even discover our bodies or what feels good until much later in life when we finally start shedding those restraints.
Q: I can’t orgasm properly in front of my girlfriend when she gives me a handjob, but alone it’s fine.
Usually, this is either because she’s not providing the exact kind of manual stimulation that you need to orgasm or it’s a psychological issue: you don’t feel comfortable, there’s anxiety about doing that with her or something else that is hindering the experience. I would reccomend seeing a sex therapist, and they should be able to help you figure out what’s going on.
Q: Can you “lose the magic” by orgasming too much? Maybe orgasming too much changes your brain’s reward system or something?
No, you’re not going to rewire your brain or desensitize your nerve endings, which is something that people often worry about. None of that happens simply from too much sex or too many orgasms.
Q: I don’t really like having orgasms because I get bored. I’ve lost my interest in sex. Is that normal?
If you’re always having orgasms the same way, in the same context and with the same type of stimulation, you can get bored. In this case, you do “lose the magic” because the repetition causes habituation to the experience. Habituation is a phenomenon where you essentially stop noticing or responding to stimuli when they become too repetitive.
To make matters even worse, perhaps the orgasms you are having and the context you are having them in are not particularly arousing or good to begin with, which would further strengthen and speed up the habituation.
It’s similar to, say, food. You’re never gonna get bored with eating good and varied food, but you certainly can get bored with eating the same dish over and over and over and over again. Even if it is amazing, you’ll get bored with it, especially if it’s mediocre in the first place. I would suggest trying something different and high-quality!
Donna is a Volonté contributor and freelancer who lives in San Francisco with her understanding husband and not-so-understanding teenage sons. Her work has been published in The Journal of Sexology and she is currently writing a book on love languages.