How we know someone has had an orgasm

A sex education should include a description of sexual techniques that may be used to pleasure men and women. These should differentiate between those techniques which assist with orgasm and those which provide sensual pleasure. We orgasm with a frequency dictated by our responsiveness. We think about sexual activity because some trigger causes us to think about sex. Most men are already aroused when they have an opportunity for sex.

Achieving orgasm relies on a number of factors. The most critical issue is that an individual must have the necessary responsiveness. Responsiveness is a male characteristic. So men are much more likely to experience orgasm than women are. Further factors include a degree of privacy, a degree of confidence for men in the sociable situation and a relaxed state of mind.

A man may not want his performance observed in case it is judged lacking. Like a carnivore after a kill, a man doesn’t want to have to fight off competitors. Foremost a man wants to concentrate on the eroticism of the scenario so that he can enjoy the best release. He doesn’t want any interruptions until he has ejaculated. He may not want a partner to be distracted. Women want privacy because of embarrassment over sex.

One of the key characteristics of orgasm is that it occurs sporadically. This is difficult to appreciate when an individual is highly responsive. It is much easier to see when a person is less responsive. Due to the novelty of the situation, a man may ejaculate spontaneously if he is highly aroused, young or inexperienced. Women never orgasm spontaneously. Female orgasm must always be consciously generated. Men also have to work at achieving orgasm to a greater or lesser degree depending on their state of arousal.

Orgasm is just one part of the arousal cycle, which varies but is a unique experience. The ideal scenario involves enjoying psychological stimulation (conscious erotic fantasy or subconscious response to eroticism) combined with genital stimulation (of the tumescent sex organ: penis or clitoris) that culminates in the release of sexual tension (in the form of an orgasm) followed by a pleasurable aftermath (of orgasm) including waves of post-climax echoes and sensations of lassitude.

Achieving orgasm involves applying consistent stimulation until orgasm and then desisting. The time taken to achieve orgasm depends on various factors including our current state of arousal. But that period of stimulation cannot be determined in advance. You cannot set your watch and demand that someone reaches orgasm at an exact point in time. This makes it very unlikely that lovers can orgasm at the exact same moment as each other.

Men and women experience orgasm differently. A man has the turn-on of penetration and domination. A man is very conscious of his need for release. He has the sensation of ejaculating and release from sexual frustration. Even for a woman a release feels best when some time has elapsed since the last orgasm. The focus on eroticism is a fantasy scenario for a woman but could be a turn-on for a man such as a new sexual partner.

We do not experience the exact same sensations every time we have an orgasm. On some occasions the feelings of release are much more satisfying than on others. Factors that affect the quality of our orgasm include: our pent-up need for sexual release, our ability to achieve a mental focus on eroticism and factors such as our general state of well-being.

If we are aiming for orgasm, we want to control our own stimulation. We want to synchronise stimulation with what is happening in our heads to optimise the mental impact of orgasm (satisfaction obtained from sexual release). Orgasm is a subconscious response but we need to take conscious actions to achieve it. A woman masturbates by applying an instinctive stimulation technique (as men do). A person knows that they have had an orgasm because it is a unique experience. But we also know how we got there! Arousal (and hence orgasm) relies on what happens in the mind.

Achieving orgasm involves some considerable effort. Both men and women experience an increase in heart rate and heavier breathing. For men, this effect is increased if they have engaged in vigorous intercourse for some time. Female arousal depends on mental concentration rather than physical effort. A woman may tense and hold her breath for short periods as she concentrates on her arousal, which may add to her breathlessness.

The feelings that accompany orgasm are unique and do not equate exactly to any other human experience. We lack the vocabulary to describe it because we never talk about these sensations. The feelings of arousal are like excitement. We feel a slight adrenaline rush. We hold our breath to concentrate on the feelings. Our mind is totally absorbed in what is happening. The sensations of orgasm are sweet, joyful and satisfying.

Erotic stimulation… effects a series of physiologic changes which… appear to involve adrenal secretion;… increased pulse rate;… a flow of blood into… the penis… and the clitoris;… often considerable loss of perceptive capacity; increase in nervous tension; some degree of frigidity in whole or part of the body at the moment of maximum tension and then a sudden release which produces local spasms or more extensive convulsions. (Alfred Kinsey 1948)

by Jane E Thomas

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