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All the ways your body can have an orgasm

Written by Alice Child, Somatic Sexologist

Sydney-based Somatic Sexologist and Sex & Intimacy Counsellor Alice Child explains some of the different types of orgasm. Spoiler - there are more than you thought!

Different types of orgasm

This guide contains general advice only. If you need more tailored advice, please book in a session.

There are so many ways the body can build pleasure and reach orgasm, and many of them will surprise you.

Although I’m a great believer in enjoying the journey of sex and pleasure - not just focusing on the ‘destination’ of orgasm - there is no denying that orgasms can feel amazing. They also release all sorts of pleasure chemicals and neurotransmitters in our brain and body, meaning they are also beneficial for our health!

What is an orgasm?

A lot of people ask me to define an orgasm, which is tricky as depending on who you ask (a sexologist, a doctor, a neuroscientist etc!) you will get numerous different definitions. And it is a hard thing to define given they often feel so different from one experience to the next - let alone for different people!

My definition is a build up of erotic tension & pleasure, that culminates in some form of release or climax. This is often accompanied with physical responses in your brain/body, such as pelvic floor muscle spasms, shortness of breath, making sounds, heart rate increases, and a flood of emotions and physical sensations.

Why can orgasms feel different?

Many many people find it difficult or impossible to orgasm at all - you are not alone. This is one of the main reasons I work with clients, and if you're wanting support please book in a session.

There are all sorts of reasons for this, including pressure, lack of sex education, not getting the stimulus your body needs, pain/discomfort, not feeling safe in your body, poor sexual communication, and mental blockers.

Another big issue is we often fixate a lot on orgasm being the goal of sex, and that can be really harmful. This pressure often makes it even more elusive (and means they struggle to get out of their head and enjoy the moment!). When you're in your head worrying about whether you 'are taking too long' or 'will or will not' reach orgasm you're not in your body. This means you will feel less.

It's especially common for women and vulva owners to find it difficult (or even impossible) to orgasm - especially with a partner. There are all sorts of reasons for this, and helping women learn how to orgasm is one of the major things I help women with. I recommend booking in a session for tailored support.

I struggle to orgasm - do you have any tips?

I think it's helpful to change your definition of 'orgasm'. Orgasms can look and feel very different one day to the next for all sorts of reasons and they shouldn't be the goal of sex. Besides - just because someone didn't orgasms doesn't mean that they had a bad time, or didn't have some form of 'peak' pleasure experience!

We need to learn how to think less and feel more, and enjoy the journey not just the 'destination'. I recommend practicing alone first, and trying new things such as mindful masturbation, sensual touch, breathwork, movement practices, new strokes, new toys, making noises, buying a great lube, and trying new fantasies.

The more that we try and take the goal of orgasm out of our minds, and instead just focus on how to give and receive the best pleasure possible, the better.

What are the different types of orgasm?

There are so many ways the body can build pleasure and reach orgasm, and many of them will surprise you. This is not an exhaustive list, but gives you an understanding of how many ways there are of experiencing peak pleasure. 

External Clitoral orgasms seem to be the most common, and given the head/glans of the clitoris has over 10,000 nerve endings and is the most sensitive part of the human body that's not too surprising! According to various studies, around 70-85% of people with vulva's say they need some form of external clitoral stimulation (stimulating the glans and shaft of the clitoris) in order to build arousal and reach orgasm. This means that during self pleasure or partnered pleasure people rely on external physical stimulation like:

  • Hand stimulation / vulva massage 

  • Stimulation from a vibrator / air suction toy / shower head etc.

  • Pressure/grinding against a pillow/bed/body

Learn more about the clitoris and pleasuring a vulva here

Internal clitoral orgasms - The clitoris is a whole network that runs under the surface of the skin - what you see on the outside of the body (the glans) is only the tip of the iceberg! The majority of the clitoris (it's 7-11cm in size) lives under the surface of the skin, branching out either side of the opening to the vagina and downwards in two ‘legs’ and two ‘bulbs’. The entire clitoris is very sensitive and fills up with blood during arousal, and can be stimulated both externally (eg vulva & labia massage) and internally (near the entrance to the vagina).  Rather than just focusing on the tip, it's a great idea to stimulate the rest of the clitoris, vulva, and vagina too - this stops the glans becoming over sensitive and results in more full-bodied pleasure. 

For more clitoris anatomy and pleasure facts read my guide here.

G-spot (or g-crest / g-zone) orgasms - These are a type of internal vaginal orgasm, specifically stimulating the upper wall of the vagina (towards the belly button) with fingers, a penis or a toy. These can feel very intense. Stimulation here might also trigger squirting or female ejaculation which can be another form of peak pleasure experience (but isn't always an orgasm!) . Read my how to find the g-spot guide here.

Cervix orgasms - Going deeper inside the vagina is the cervix, which can also lead to very powerful and intense internal orgasms. Sadly many people associate this part of their body with pain (not pleasure) during sex due to accidental 'bumps' in certain positions. Remember sex should NEVER be painful, and when we listen to our body, slow down, and build pleasure at our own pace, we can have even more pleasurable experiences.

Penis orgasms (with ejaculation) - If your pleasure mounts in your genitals and you ejaculate,  then you’ve had an ejaculatory orgasm.

Penis orgasms (without ejaculation) - For men and people with penises, orgasm and ejaculation often happen simultaneously, but they’re actually two separate events that don’t necessarily have to happen at the same time.

Not everyone ejaculates with orgasm, and even those that do may not ejaculate every time. Learning how to have non-ejaulation orgasms is often the first step for learning how to have multiple orgasms as a man or penis owner.

Blended orgasms - When we are getting great stimulation in two (or more!) erogenous zones, that's what is sometimes called a blended orgasm. For example, when we are having pleasurable penetrative sex while also stimulating the external clitoris.

Anal orgasms - A very sensitive erogenous zone both externally and internally. Both external massage/rimming/stimulation and/or internal stimulation can trigger very very powerful orgasms. Read my ultimate guide to anal sex here.

Orgasms in your sleep - Many people with vulvas orgasm in their sleep without any touch at all! Sometimes this is due to certain dreams/fantasies, but not always.

Full bodied orgasms - Remember that our entire body can be an erogenous zone if we give it the right sort of time and attention. Don't just focus on the genitals. Imagine you are spreading that pleasure around your body. Don't be afraid to try new sensual touch, move your body, make sounds, and breathe. This is how people start to learn how to build to more powerful full-bodied orgasmic experiences.

Nipple-gasms - A very sensitive erogenous zone for many. With practice, many people can have orgasms through nipple stimulation.

Core-gasms  - These are orgasms that happen during exercise. These are not as unusual as you might think! Certain core workouts or weight training workouts can trigger a build and release of pleasure that feels like a type of orgasm. 

Breath-gasms - Some people can build and reach orgasm without any touch at all. With practice, they can use the power of breath, movement, and mindfulness to reach orgasm. This can also be a form of tantric sex - building erotic energy in a very different (but equally intense/pleasurable!) way.

Multiple orgasms - when you have more than one orgasm one after another! And yes - men can achieve these too with time and practice!


Alice x

Alice Child - Somatic Sexologist, Sex Therapy & Sex Counsellor - helps people achieve happier and healthier sex lives through 1:1 sex coaching, couples sex counselling, hens parties, and workshops. Book a session here.

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