What Is an Orgasm – How to Tell If I’m Having an Orgasm

Society tells us that sex should result in an orgasm in order to “be good,” and while it is important to prioritize your own pleasure (aka no need to be an orgasm martyr while your partner hits their ninth O of the night while you lay there kinda bummed), whatever feels pleasurable for your body is still good.

If you’ve ever wondered if you had an orgasm, you’re not alone. Since every orgasm is different, it can be hard to tell if you’re orgasming.

What is an orgasm?

Medically speaking, an orgasm is defined as the changes in the body when there is intense pleasure, causing an increase in pulse rate and blood pressure, explains Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an OB/GYN and women’s health expert. Orgasms can also cause spasms of the pelvic muscles that cause contractions in the vagina and contractions of the urethra in penises, she adds.

How do I know if I had an orgasm?

Dr. Shepherd explains that thanks to the neurochemicals released during orgasm, an orgasm can feel like a sensual trance and create a state of sexual ecstasy that you can feel both physically and psychologically. Simply put, an orgasm is “the heightened sexual excitement and gratification sensed and then followed by relaxation,” she adds.

What are some signs I had an orgasm?

There are some physical signals that can clue you in if you’re on your way too. When you’re aroused, your heart beats faster, your breathing quickens, your nipples become erect, and your genitals become engorged with blood. As arousal climbs, these sensations increase until you orgasm.

While the physical process is the same for everyone, the actual orgasmic experience varies from woman to woman and time to time. You might feel a mild tingle one time and an explosive full-body rush the next. However, there are some general tip-offs, such as contractions in your vagina, pelvic lifting or thrusting, curling of the toes or fingers, heavy, rapid breathing and moaning, and a sense of euphoria.

Chances are, if you’re not sure whether you’ve reached the big O, you probably haven’t: The feeling is so distinct, it’s unlikely you’d confuse it with anything else. If you suspect that you aren’t climaxing, you can learn to by becoming familiar with your body and how it reacts to sexual stimulation. Have you tried masturbating? Consider checking out some of these masturbation techniques — once you’ve mastered your own domain, you’ll be better able to let your partner know what turns you on. And don’t be afraid to bring toys into the mix! Shopping for one that fits you and your body can even be its own sexy form of foreplay, whether you do it solo or with a partner.

The trick is to experiment using different types of touch until you find the method that works for you, then go with it. It also helps to focus on what you’re feeling in the moment rather than worrying about achieving the goal of orgasm. As sex therapist Vanessa Marin has pointed out, “Deep breathing is a fantastic way to let go of distracting thoughts.” Also keep in mind that not everyone can achieve orgasm, either with a partner or ever, and that’s OK! Open communication with your partner and talking with a sex therapist can help — but remember that the fun of sex is in the exploration, which encompasses so much more than a climax.

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