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Do You Need An Orgasm?

During sex, a lot of attention and focus is placed in the goal of reaching the big “O”, and for good reason. Not only orgasms feel amazing (or, at least, they should), they also come with a lot of health benefits, such as improved sleep, enhanced immune system, stress relief, pelvic floor muscle exercise, which also prevents or alleviates urinary incontinence; feeling good and bonding with a partner. Overall, orgasms may feel like the epitome of pleasure; however, pleasure during sex can and should be felt throughout and orgasms should not be the barometer with which the success of a sexual encounter is measured.

Orgasms: Reality vs. Expectations

There is an expectation that for sex to reach its grand finale we all have to reach orgasm. Nonetheless, this is not entirely true. Especially for men, for which orgasm and ejaculation is often times tied together (although they are not the same thing), there is pressure to ejaculate during sexual activity, which signals that the act of sex has ended, often times for all parties involved. Contrary to this belief, an orgasm is not needed and an orgasm does not need to be the end of sex, oral or penetrative, and it is especially not required to have a good sexual experience.

Fundamentally, there are differences between an orgasm for people with vulvas and people with penises, which are explained below. The most important thing to know about orgasms is that, if they become the only goal during sex, the pleasure of the whole sexual interaction, including before and after sex, can be missed if the only focus is an orgasm as an emblem of success. Moreover, if orgasm is not reached for any reason, the expectation that orgasm is the grand finale of sex can ruin or at least lessen the experience of sex, which should be a joyful and satisfying one throughout.

Orgasms, Explained

An orgasm for people with vulvas may feel like an intense feeling that can result in high activity in the brain and lots of physical pleasure. There are multiple types of orgasms that a person with a vulva may experience. To name a few, a clitoral orgasm is known to be the most intense and more concentrated feeling, while the vaginal orgasm has been described as a complete body sensation. Vaginal orgasms can be reached through the g-spot, the cervix and the anterior fornix. Anal orgasms are said to be similar to vaginal orgasms and occur due to the pudendal nerve which connects to the clitoris causing an orgasm during anal penetration.

For people with penises, the main orgasms can happen by stimulation of the penis and the prostate. For a penis orgasm or a prostate one, there does not need to be ejaculate for an orgasm to be had. Whether with ejaculate or not, an orgasm can feel like a rushing sensation with intense pleasure and can cause pelvic muscle contractions. The prostate is located about three inches up the rectum and is the size of a walnut, and a prostate orgasm is said to be a full-body orgasm that may feel more pleasurable than a penis orgasm for many.

What If Someone Cannot Orgasm?

There may be several reasons why someone may not be able to reach an orgasm. Among them are:

  • Mental and emotional health issues

  • Certain medications

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Some health conditions

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction

  • Past sexual, emotional or body trauma

  • Not enough stimulation

  • Problems in the relationship

  • Prostatectomy

  • Hormonal changes

Not all people have the ability to orgasm and many may be able to orgasm via other “non-conventional” ways other than penetrative sex. The body has a lot of erogenous zones and with practice, communication and imagination many different types of orgasms can be achieved. An orgasm for everyone can feel different, and there should never be pressure to reach an orgasm, especially in a specific way, in order to have a pleasurable sexual experience. On the contrary, stressing over reaching one may cause anxiety and the person not to relax enough to have one. So remember, pleasure is the goal of sex, orgasm or not. Enjoy!

Written by Isabella Calamari and edited by Dr. Tanginika S. Cuascud. Isabella Calamari Caprez. is a Junior at George Washington University, double majoring in Psychology and Communications in pursuit of becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist. She plans to practice in both English and Spanish and break the stigma of mental health and sex. Isabellac is also one of the founders of George Washington University Clearminds, an organization centered around relationships and providing help to guide students on how to have healthier friendships, relationships, and sexual interactions.

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