We end the month of July by celebrating National Orgasm Day. A holiday dedicated to raising awareness of your sexual pleasure, the issues surrounding it, and the joy of getting orgasmic. Although sex and intimacy is so much more than reaching an orgasm, there are wonderful benefits to loosing yourself in the moment of the climax.
Research shows that sexual intimacy can make a person relax due to the hormone oxycontin being released in your body whenever you engage in hugging, kissing, and caressing. Among other things, oxycontin lowers levels of stress and increases the good mood. When you experience an orgasm, your body then releases more hormones including dopamine which is responsible for feelings of pleasure, desire and motivation. However, as much as sexual climax is about the body, it is in equal parts to do with the mind. So whether you’re pleasuring yourself or creating pleasure with another person, let’s take a minute and reflect on what gets you to that climactic moment.
What is an orgasm
Orgasms are defined as the climax of sexual excitement resulting in muscle contractions and, for someone with a penis, ejaculation. You can experience orgasms in multiple ways, both on your own and with others, often enhanced through a powerful combination of visual/mental stimulation and physical sensation. The genitals play an important role in connecting with the arousal of sexual pleasure, however, there are numerous areas of the body, known as the erogenous zones, that also excite sexual feelings. These include the nipples, lips, ears, buttocks, anus, toes, fingers, and inner thigh. Combine this with a kinky leather outfit or your love of feet and the journey to reaching an orgasm has already become more exciting.
Facilitating orgasms on your own or with a partner can take months of trust building, practise and patience. The challenge of sexual dysfunction is another reality many people face, with pre-ejaculation and vaginal dryness causing barriers along the road to sexual pleasure. Understanding what your boundaries are and how you can feel safe and peaceful in the moment is an essential way of relaxing into the moment and letting go of insecurities and fears. Know that an orgasm is part of a four stage process. From the start of those flirtatious texts to the butt naked playing, we are constantly moving between varying states of arousal. The more you can recognise the characteristics of this “sexual response cycle”, the better you can understand your body’s preference of touch and pleasure.
Every Orgasm Is Different
Contrary to what people may believe, penetrative sex is not the only way you can reach an orgasm. Anal sex, oral sex, clitorial massage, tantric massage, flogging and facilitating pain are all ways of stimulating the bodies sexual response cycle. Audio erotica, pornography, dressing up or watching a strip tease can also get you in the mood. By engaging in what we find erotic mentally and connecting it with what we find arousing physically, we can kick start our sexual response cycle into connecting with more pleasure.
Our “sexual response cycle” defines the build up and come down of an orgasm, and it differs from person to person, experience to experience. Based on a cycle of desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution, tuning into the changes that happen in the body is a good way to read one another’s mood and become more intune with the sexual chemistry bubbling away beneath the surface. Bear in mind not everyone’s intention when engaging in a sexual activity is to orgasm, sometimes people are motivated by a desire for intimacy, money, or a BDSM power dynamic.
You might experience some of these physical changes in a different order and that is completely normal because we are all different.
The build up
The journey begins with desire, the feeling of becoming turned on. This initial stage can last from a few minutes to several hours. Through flirtation, touch, erotic language or sexually stimulating visuals we can recognise desire through our nipples becoming harder and erect. Your pussy might start getting wet with it’s natural lubrication and you might feel the vaginal wall begin to swell. Breasts can become fuller and an increased blood flow to the genitals results in the clitoris and labia minora (the inner lips of a vulva) swelling. Similarly, an increased blood flow to the penis causes an erection, as well as the scrotum tightening, and the secretion of lubricating fluid.
On the edge
The second stage is a heightened sense of arousal which lasts until you reach the brink of an orgasm. All the above characteristics increase and become more intense. A vagina will continue to swell and the vagina wall can turn a darker colour. The clitoris can become enlarged and highly sensitive (maybe even painful to touch). A penis may release pre-cum and the testicales can move up into the scrotum. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing continue to intensify while your muscles can become more tense. Interestingly, muscle spasms can also begin in your feet, hands, and face.
It’s at this point that you can play with edging. Keep yourself or your partner on the brink of their orgasm by playing with the intensity of your touch. Stop and restart what you’re doing so as to prolong the build up. This can result in a more intense and pleasurable orgasm, and is a great way to experiment with power dynamics by being in control of someone else’s climactic moment.
An orgasmic bang
Stage three is the almighty orgasm which is the shortest of the phases and can last for as little as a few seconds. It’s the climax of the sexual response cycle but the end result can vary far and wide. I’ve found it can be a quick burst of some muscle tension accompanied by some heavier breathing or a full blown, bodily eruption of mysterious, lightning bolts of pleasure that transport me into another dimension. This is often dependent on how safe and relaxed I feel with the person or environment that I’m in.
Physically, the signs of an orgasm can be read by these following characteristics. Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure reach their peak and result in a rapid intake of oxygen. A sudden, powerful release of sexual tension results in the vagina muscles beginning to contract while rhythmic contractions can be felt in the uterus. At the base of the penis, muscle contractions lead to the ejaculation of semen. While muscles in your feet can spasm and a body rash “sex flush” can appear on the skin.
The final stage is known as resolution, when the body slowly returns back to an unaroused state. The engorged genitals relax and reduce once again in size. During this time, it’s important to recognise what one another needs, be it a hug or other forms of after-care, including rehydration, sleep and gentle caressing. For male bodied people, it is difficult to have multiple orgasms because it takes longer to recover after ejaculation. However, for women and people with vulvas, they are able to have multiple orgasms during and after resolution. This is something I’d definitely encourage anyone to indulge in!
Whatever form your sexual intimacy takes, know that reaching an elevated form of pleasure is something completely unique to you and your own bodily sensations. Explore your erogenous zones and open up your mind to different fantasies that may enhance your sexual responses. You can take inspiration from wonderful videos on CHEEX such as ‘Breast Play’ where two women talk through what turns them on before masturbating in front of one another together. Indulge in this National Orgasm Day by having a little play.