Science is pretty sexist, and so the body of research on female orgasms is unsurprisingly lacking. But it's getting better, more studies are being published, and we're learning more all the time about what sets female sexuality and pleasure apart. And there's so much to be gained from learning! Most importantly, the more is known about female orgasms, the smaller the gets.
So read up, improve your knowledge, and get better at a very specific type of trivia. Here are 11 things you probably never knew about the female orgasm, but truly should.
Less than 20 percent of women and female-bodied people can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone.
According to the largest study on orgasms so far, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy in 2017, only 18 per cent of women say they can orgasm from just vaginal penetration. Which hammers home the importance of the clitoris, bringing us to the next point...
More than a third of women and female-bodied people say they need some sort of clitoral stimulation to orgasm.
TBH this number feels small, given what is known about the and how many nerve endings there are ( ). According to the big orgasm study, 36.6 per cent say clitoral stimulation is "necessary" to orgasm.
But clitoral and vaginal stimulation can be difficult to separate...
Because, as Rosara Torrisi, a certified sex therapist at the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy, says, the clitoris can be stimulated "indirectly from vaginal penetration." This is because the clitoris isn't just a little dot on the vulva, but a G-spot. that extends into the body. It's believed that this internal clit situation is what a lot of people is the elusive
Foreplay isn't just polite; for most women and vulva-havers, it's necessary.
In the same orgasm study, a majority of women cited "spending time to build up arousal" as something that enhances an orgasm. Torrisi says that "for many, sex is more about intimacy, so foreplay is a way of accessing that intimacy." There you have it, a sex therapist-certified, scientific reason to emphasise foreplay even more.
No two orgasms are the same.
If you've had an orgasm that felt like a dud compared to one you've had previously, it's not in your head. Torrisi says "all orgasms vary in intensity based on sensation, situation, excitement, and possible fears or inhibitions." So things like environment, what's going on in the rest of your life, and how you're feeling that day are all factors, which is to say it's not all on you (or your partner) to produce wild and crazy orgasms, every single time.
And yes, multiple orgasms are real.
But that doesn't mean you'll experience them every single time, or at all. The website has a lot of handy info and very detailed (read: NSFW) guides on how to prime your body for multiple orgasms, if you're so inclined.
Some people have stronger orgasms while on their period.
No shame if you personally hate period sex, but have you tried it? If not, you could be one of the people who say they only experience vaginal orgasms , and not even know it.
Refractory periods aren't just for men and those with penises.
You've probably heard of the "refractory period," but probably only in the context of male orgasms. But this isn't just for men! According to International Society for Sexual Medicine, refractory periods aren't exactly the same for women and those with vulvas, but it's not abnormal to experience hypersensitivity after an orgasm that makes any physical touch too overwhelming to be enjoyable.
Some women and people with vulvas experience pain with orgasm.
Enough people experience this that there's a name for this phenomenon: dysorgasmia. It can be caused by a lot of things (from endometriosis to a history of sexual trauma), and usually takes a pelvic pain specialist to sort out. The thing to know about painful orgasms is that , meaning you don't have to go your whole life experiencing them. You can talk to your doctor or gynaecologist about this, or if you're more comfortable, seek out a pelvic pain specialist.
Women and female-bodied people can (and do!) have orgasms in their sleep.
Everyone can have sex dreams, which means everyone can have "nocturnal orgasms." Yet another thing that's disproportionately associated with men and penis-havers. So yes, if you've had a dream in which you *really* felt like you had an orgasm, odds are, you did.
And, yes, "nipplegasms" are real.
No two people have the same level of nipple-sensitivity, but for some, nipple sensitivity is so high they can actually orgasm from nipple stimulation alone (that's a lot of nipples in one sentence). A study, published in Sexual and Relationship Therapy, that measured brain responses to various stimuli found that a small but real number of women experienced orgasms from having only their nipples stimulated. So do with that information what you will.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.