Happy International Women’s Month! This week, I want to focus on something really special…the female orgasm. It is not a secret that orgasms feel good. Although it is not the only aspect of a sexual experience that feels pleasurable, it is often a highly anticipated event associated with sex or masturbation. Not everyone experiences orgasms the same way—especially if you have a female body.
There are many intricacies that go into the female orgasm. We will first explore the brain and body connection. When it comes to the literature on orgasms, it is sparse. There are various parts of the brain that light up when we expect pleasure but there is a lack of research on what exactly happens during an orgasm. We know why orgasms feel so good. This is due to the release of dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers, which is why orgasms can be a natural way to reduce pain. Orgasms also help you with feeling mentally relaxed. When our bodies are relaxed then our brain has a chance to slow down.
The clitoris is one of the few body parts that are specifically for pleasure. Most females require clitoral stimulation during sexual activity. In fact, new research is coming out that suggests that all female orgasms are stimulated by the clitoris, although some female bodies experience orgasms from the stimulation of other body parts.
I often hear from females in both personal and professional settings that it is either difficult to have an orgasm (with or without a partner) or they have never experienced one. What keeps getting in the way? One of the main culprits getting in the way of orgasming is stress. Stress can be caused by past trauma, negative thoughts, a mental health disorder, or a busy work schedule—it is important to note that this list is not exhaustive.
One of the best ways to achieve an orgasm is to relax and not put pressure on yourself. Putting pressure on yourself can lead to intrusive (oftentimes anxious) thoughts. Unhelpful thoughts during sexual activity can lead to tense pelvic floor muscles, pain, and frustration. Mindfulness plays a huge role in how the female body experiences pleasure and orgasms. These simple tips can help increase your awareness and improve your ability to stay in the present moment.
- Deep breathing: breathing in, holding it, and breathing out slowly.
- Noticing touch: paying close attention to what areas of the body you feel pleasure (see Erogenous Zones blog post).
- Reframing anxious thoughts: You might not experience an orgasm on your first try (or every try) and that is okay! Ask yourself, what anxious thoughts are preventing me from being confident and mindful during sexual activity? This might be something to explore with a trusted person or therapist.