By Jessie Fano
What’s an orgasm, anyway? And how do you know if you had one?
In my experience and my research, I have to say that understanding, appreciating and celebrating the female orgasm sucks up a lot of our energy as a species. A lot of the questions my readers would like to ask a sex therapist have to do with orgasms. In my book, that’s energy well placed because the more I get to know the female orgasm the more impressed I am with its variety, subtlety and mystery — and pleasure! A woman’s orgasm is truly an art and a lifetime adventure. After a lot of “work” (of the enjoyable kind) I can finally say I own sexuality by owning my orgasms’ uniquenesses — a huge step in coming to own my personal sexuality.
But a lot of us aren’t even sure when we have one! Personally, I think this is because they’re often so different and varied that while some seem like a sure thing, others are less clear-cut. And since many of us don’t talk about sex with our friends, or watch a lot of porn (which is of questionable veracity anyway), how would we know what’s normal and what’s not?
What the Sexperts Say
I thought I knew the answer to the question “What’s an orgasm?” until I looked it up. The most common definition is that it’s the most intense — or peak — sexual sensation. I actually don’t agree with that because I’ve had some pretty underwhelming orgasms but other sensations that were not technically orgasmic that I would describe as the peak experience of that particular love-making session. Call me a nit-picker, but I didn’t really like the dictionary approach. (Of course “the dictionary approach” to sex just doesn’t sound like a lot of fun anyway, now does it?)
Lissa related a whole bunch of descriptions women gave her when she asked them to describe an orgasm for her book, What’s Up Down There? She’s got a bunch of good ones (p. 127), but when I looked for one on her list I could relate most to, I couldn’t find it. To every description I thought, “Well, yes, I’ve felt that — but sometimes it’s different.”
So I checked in with a bonafide sexpert, Dr. Sayaka Adachi and here’s what she said about knowing if you’ve had an orgasm or not:
Although many experts say “If you have had it, you would know it,” my experience as an orgasm coach tells me otherwise. Unfortunately for us girls, there is no “evidence” when we come. Many girls think it should be mind blowing, super euphoric, and life changing. Although these orgasms are possible, that’s not the experience for all women. Orgasm is defined as “an involuntary muscle contraction accompanied by pleasure”. So, a good thing to do is when you think you are coming, stick one or two of your fingers in your vagina and see if you can feel the vaginal muscles contracting. If it is, in about 1 contraction per less than 1 second for 3-8 times, you are having an orgasm. Still not sure? When you are building up your pleasure, can you tell that your muscles all over body are tightening? Tighten it a little harder than normal, so when it gets released at orgasm, you can feel the euphoria more. Still no evidence? Don’t worry, you are not alone! About 10% of sexually active women are pre-orgasmic. Get a book such as “Sex for One” or “For Yourself” or “I Heart Female Orgasm” and start practicing. If still not sure, hire an orgasm coach. Just remember that you are NOT broken. You are just learning to ride a bike, that’s all.
I admit it. I had to look up “pre-orgasmic.” Here’s what Google says it means: Not yet having experienced one’s first orgasm.
EDIT: Dr. Adachi also gave me a great quote from Bevery Whipple, famed namer of the Gspot and sex researcher extraordinaire: “Orgasm is whatever you decide it is.” – HA!
So, see? Not yet! YOU decide. Never give up!