While it’s been reported that 10% to 15% of women have not experienced an orgasm, the remaining 85% to 90% are well-acquainted with the ecstasy that is the ultimate female pleasure eruption. But, unlike a penis, it’s not so obvious what occurs when such a magical combustion happens to a vagina and vulva owner.
Even the words to describe it elude us. It’s tension, yet release. It’s sensual, yet explosive. It builds, then it peaks.
But what is IT?
We tapped award-winning sexologist Chantelle Otten to break it down.
“Physiologically, an orgasm is a reflex response that involves the contraction of various muscles, including the pelvic floor muscles, uterus, and anal sphincter, among others. The purpose of these contractions is to expel semen in males and to enhance the likelihood of fertilization in females. These muscle contractions are accompanied by a subjective sensation of pleasure that is perceived in the brain,” Chantelle explains.
Ok, the biological facts check. But what makes this enigmatic experience so fulfilling? Pun intended.
“During sexual arousal, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which activates the pleasure centers in the brain. As sexual activity continues, the body releases other chemicals such as oxytocin, endorphins, and prolactin,” Chantelle says.
“Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the ‘love hormone,’ as it helps to promote social bonding and trust between individuals. Endorphins are natural painkillers that are responsible for the euphoric feeling that is often associated with an orgasm. Prolactin, on the other hand, is involved in the refractory period, which is the time it takes for an individual to recover after orgasm.
“In vulva owners, the clitoris is the primary erogenous zone, and it is responsible for triggering orgasm. The clitoris is a highly sensitive organ that contains thousands of nerve endings, and it becomes engorged with blood during sexual arousal. During orgasm, the clitoris contracts, and the muscles in the pelvic area also contract, which can lead to a feeling of vaginal contractions. This sensation can be accompanied by a release of vaginal lubrication,” Chantelle says.
So while we may not have the same type of finale as penis-owners, things still turn deep-Amazon-rainforest down there.
“It’s worth noting that the vulva owner’s orgasm has remained somewhat of a mystery, as it’s not necessary for reproduction. However, research suggests that the vulva owner’s orgasm may play a role in facilitating conception by drawing sperm up the reproductive tract,” Chantelle explains.
And when it comes to consensual sexual play, we do hope men are making the female orgasm a necessary priority. Good, bonding, sensual sex most definitely does not always (and doesn’t have to!) end in orgasm. But let’s break up with the idea that it’s the man who matters most here.
Striving for more orgams? We got you, here. And here. And here.