Female orgasms – we love them, and we want them, often and emphatically. Most of us are familiar with clitoral and G-spot orgasms, but did you know there have actually been 14 different types of female orgasms (or anyone with a vulva) identified? Yup, 14 different ways to experience sexual pleasure. Do I have your attention now?
But First, How Do Women Reach Orgasm?
Female orgasm is a personal experience, but typically it occurs when erogenous zones are stimulated for a sustained amount of time. Some of the most effective techniques for women to reach orgasm include spending more time in foreplay, stimulating the clitoris and/or other erogenous zones, and having sex in positions that are female orgasm friendly, such as cowgirl, missionary, and sitting sexual positions.
What Actually Happens During a Female Orgasm?
Urologist and female pelvic physician Dr. Michael Ingber states that women experience specific changes throughout their body during an orgasm: a course of rhythmic contractions happens in the vagina, pelvic floor muscles, and uterus. You experience tension during sex or solo play which may cause muscles throughout your body to contract and cause warmth in your pelvis, which may spread to other parts of your body. However, orgasm isn't solely a physical experience. Clinical psychologist, Daniel Sher, states that the brain works overtime during orgasm to produce various hormones and neurochemicals. These include dopamine, a hormone that allows you to experience pleasure, motivation, and desire. Orgasms begin in the brain and manifest in the physical body.
What are the Different Types of Female Orgasms?
Women can experience 14 different types of orgasms. These include the following:
As its name suggests, you experience a clitoral orgasm through clitoral stimulation. The clitoris is like the vagina's crown jewel. With over 8,000 nerve endings, the clitoris is a bundle of nerves that are extremely sensitive and responsive to touch. Most people induce a clitoral orgasm by stimulating the clitoral glans, which is the small portion of the clitoris that is external. It's often one of the first and most common methods of orgasm for women.
Historically, it was thought that this small external ball of nerve-endings was THE clitoris. However, most of the anatomy of the clitoris is INTERNAL. The clitoris is shaped like a wishbone with nerve-endings throughout the vaginal canal and walls. During vaginal intercourse, the clitoris can be internally stimulated by sex toys, fingers, or a penis.
Vaginal orgasm is a catch-all term for any orgasm that occurs through vaginal penetration. Vaginal orgasm is one of the most elusive orgasms for women since most women report that they do not reach orgasm from penetration alone. Vaginal orgasms occur deep within the body and could result from one or several nerve-endings being stimulated internally, such as the G-spot, clitoris, or top of the cervix.
The legendary G-spot! What does the "G" stand for? Great? Golden? It's Gräfenberg... The G-spot is named after the German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg for his extensive research on female sexual anatomy and his work developing IUDs. The debate around the existence of the G-spot can be attributed to a historical lack of research and misinformation around female pleasure and anatomy.
With the help of modern science and 3D imaging scans, scientists have been able to identify: no single structure consistent with the G-spot. However, we have learned that the G-spot might not be one single point but several erogenous zones that connect. Recent science has revealed that the vagina is a dynamic structure with an intimate interplay between the clitoris, urethra, and anterior vaginal walls. Meaning, the G-spot is thought to be the erogenous area where all three of those structures meet, and if properly stimulated, can create that sensational experience we think of as a G-spot orgasm.
Cervical orgasms are reached through stimulation of the cervix, or more notably, the top of the cervix. What is the cervix? It's the neck of tissue that connects your vagina to your uterus. The small opening allows semen into the uterus to fertilize eggs and menstrual blood out. This opening is usually covered in protective mucus and too small for a penis or sex toy to penetrate. The term "cervical penetration" is often used to refer to cervical stimulation, but it is worth noting that it is anatomically impossible to penetrate the cervix.
Stimulating the top of the cervix requires deep penetration because as a woman becomes aroused, the vagina expands, and the cervix moves further away from the vaginal opening. The top of the cervix feels like a button or a round bump. Some women report discomfort or pain during cervical stimulation, so if you do, that's okay; its primary function is not pleasure.
Many women can experience anal orgasms from anal sex or anal stimulation. An anal orgasm occurs when the inside of the anus is stimulated. Women can enjoy internal anal stimulation and orgasm even without prostates because of that crown jewel mentioned earlier: the clitoris. The clitoris's intricate web of nerve endings runs throughout the pelvic floor and close to the rectum, allowing for pleasure to be felt in that area.
A word of caution, the anus does not self-lubricate like the vagina, so lubricant is highly recommended to avoid any fissures or tears in the anal canal.
A combination orgasm, also referred to as a blended orgasm, is when multiple erogenous zones are stimulated together to culminate in – you guessed it – orgasm! Not to be confused with the experience of multiple orgasms, which is when you orgasm more than once during sustained sexual activity. It is also possible to have multiple combination orgasms.
The most common blended orgasms result from stimulation of the clitoris and G-spot, simultaneously, or clitoral and vaginal stimulation.
A-spot is short for the anterior fornix erogenous zone, the sensitive tissue between your cervix and bladder, at the end of your vaginal canal. The A-spot is located approximately two to three inches deeper than your G-spot. Locate your G-spot, then move your fingers along that same front vaginal wall. You may feel a soft, spongy area or heightened sensitivity; if so, bingo - it's your A-spot. A-spot orgasms are not necessarily the same as anal orgasms, but due to variations in everyone's anatomy, some of the same erogenous areas may be stimulated via the anus and the vagina, making both orgasms feel similar. However, most women report A-spot stimulation is more intense if accessed through the vaginal canal.
I know this sounds like an orgasm from oral sex (the name is misleading), but oral orgasm is when someone reaches an orgasm from kissing. Oral orgasm is also dubbed the "the kissing orgasm." This type of orgasm is less common but not unheard of, considering lips are the most exposed erogenous zones, and kissing is associated with expressing love, eroticism, and intimacy. Although uncommon to reach climax by kissing, it happens, especially if the kiss is erotic and shared with someone with whom you have a deep emotional and sexual connection.
Nipple orgasm occurs when someone reaches their climax through nipple stimulation. This is possible because playing with breasts and nipples releases oxytocin; this hormone begins the chain reaction of vaginal and uterine contractions that lead to orgasm. Additionally, nipple stimulation activates the same nerve pathways that genital stimulation does. Using your thumb and forefinger, play with the area above your areola, the most touch-sensitive part of your breast, or ask your partner to lick, suck or pinch it, or use a vibrator to arouse yourself.
Did you know that your breath impacts the way you experience pleasure and how you respond sexually? According to sexologist Dr. Jessica O'Reilly, slow breathing intensifies orgasms and can even help women experience multiple orgasms.
In fact, you can breathe your way into an orgasm. Lay on your back, place a hand on your belly, breathe deeply through your nose, and focus on the sensations. Breath work has often been cited as the centerpiece of mindfulness activities like yoga. Breath orgasm is a new level and reason to explore the mind-body connection.
Have you ever experienced touch or sound so sensual you got goosebumps? An intense tingling sensation runs down your spine and through your limbs? Or perhaps you experience a similar reaction when listening to your favorite song. Either way, what you could be experiencing is a skin orgasm, also known as the "chills," "thrills," or "frissons." Research shows that a skin orgasm is more often associated with music, but you can also experience the same "chills" when intimate with someone you share a profound connection with.
An orgasm that occurs from exercise, namely lifting weights, high-intensity workouts, or any activity with intense abdominal engagement, is affectionately called a coregasm. Sexual arousal doesn't always accompany an exercise orgasm. Most people report that it just happens unexpectedly during a workout session. Exercise promotes the production of endorphins and other chemicals, like dopamine, linked to the pleasure centers in the brain. Exercise also stimulates muscles and increases circulation, heightening sensitivity and queuing the 'feel-good' chemicals, or even orgasm in some. Some women report becoming aroused from Kegel exercises, so it's not unheard of to experience exercise-induced orgasm or arousal. Maybe coregasms are the secret to those wash-board six-pack abs!
Wet dreams or sleep orgasms happen when you involuntarily have an orgasm during sleep because of a dream, whether it's erotic or not. Since it happens on its own, there's no way to make yourself reach orgasm during sleep.
A fantasy orgasm occurs when you fantasize your way into climax. Researchers define orgasm as "a complex response to socially contextualized physical and mental stimuli." It makes sense that some people can reach climax through mental stimuli.
Fantasy orgasm is an iteration of mental conjuring – allowing your imagination to conjure vivid erotic scenes that stimulate all your senses. Recent research has discovered that over 90% of women rely on mental conjuring to reach orgasm during solo and partnered sex. Fantasy orgasm incorporates fantasizing and breath work to have an almost transcendental-like experience of immense pleasure.
The Bottom Line
There are many different ways to reach orgasm and many parts of the body (and brain) involved, but at the end of the day, it's all about the experience of pleasure – not necessarily orgasm as an end goal. Pleasure is personal, and there is no standard for which types of stimulation are most reliable except the ones you prefer most.