Orgasm: What is it and How Does it Happen?

We’ve all heard of the orgasm and how amazing and wonderful it can feel.  Orgasms are a natural response to arousal and are normal for both men and women. Orgasms have been described as the physiological “let go”.  However, some of us have never yet had the chance to experience the pleasure that orgasm provides. If you haven’t experienced an orgasm for yourself, it’s difficult to describe the feelings, sensations, and emotions that go with it. This guide will help you understand what orgasm is, why it happens, and how to help you and your partner reach this state of pleasure. 

What is it?

Or·gasm /ˈôrˌɡazəm/ noun: a climax of sexual excitement, characterized by feelings of pleasure centered in the genitals and (in men) experienced as an accompaniment to ejaculation.

Laura Brotherson, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and Certified Sex Therapist, describes an orgasm like this:

“Orgasm might also be described as pleasurable sensations that slowly build, until the sexual tension bursts into a shooting star throughout the body. Rapid involuntary contractions or spasm radiate from the vagina and genitals. What began with some concentration on your part builds into a sexual crescendo until the sensations overtake you, reaching a fevered pitch. The sensations surge in intensity, momentarily transporting you from the present to an uninhibited wonderland. Like a sunburst of warmth and energy, the feelings penetrate your body, mind and spirit – coursing through you like an overwhelming, yet tangible feeling of love and ecstasy. The rush of blood to the genitals creates pleasurable pulsations and soft fullness. It may even feel as if your heart is beating and pulsating in the genital area.”

To say it simply, orgasm is extreme pleasure during periods of sexual excitement.  Sexual relations can be fun just due to intimacy, but seeking to create a sexual enviroment where both husband and wife experience the ecstasy of orgasm during sex is desirable. Orgasm even has physiological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual benefits. Dr. Jolene Brighten N.D. teaches that orgasms: 

  1. Increase circulation
  2. Help your skin glow
  3. Improve menstrual cycles
  4. Lower pain
  5. Boost your immune system
  6. Lower anxiety
  7. Help with aging
  8. Help you sleep better

Why wouldn’t someone want to orgasm regularly? Well, sadly many women don’t. Men experience orgasm much more frequently than most females. This is something known in the professional world as the “orgasm gap” or orgasm inequality. Studies have found that there is a big gap between the number of orgasms men vs women have. Do you find this to be true in your marriage? If so, you’re not alone!. There are many things that can be attributed to the orgasm gap but one that really stands out is understanding female anatomy and sex education. If you are struggling with an orgasm gap in your marriage, take some time to figure out why. Learning the ways that help you and your partner experience this pleasure will contribute greatly to sexual happiness in your relationship.

When You Can’t Reach Orgasm

First off, note that you are not alone in this struggle.  Many women and even some men can struggle to reach orgasm. In fact more than HALF of women have difficulty reaching orgasm with those under thirty years old reporting the biggest challenges.  It can make sex a harrowing experience as you try and fail, try and fail, to achieve orgasm. While each case is individual there are a few reasons why orgasm can be hard to achieve. 

For women, orgasm isn’t as automatic a response as it is for men. Many women feel the need to be able to let go of the busyness inside her head, relax, feel loved and cherished before they allow themselves to become aroused. Studies have found that the struggle to orgasm is often because they are under-stimulated sexually. We wouldn’t expect a man to be able to orgasm without any stimulation of the penis, the same goes for women. Many women and men overlook the amount of stimulation it may take for a woman to orgasm.  It’s not like the movies where everything just falls into place quickly. Understimulation could be for a number of reasons (individual to each woman) but a few may include:

  • Lack of clitoral stimulation
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Past sexual trauma
  • Insecurities relating to her body or genitals
  • Lack of sexual education
  • Fear
  • Boredom
  • No hope
  • Disappointment from prior sexual encounters
  • Pornography use
  • Grief or Loss

The female orgasm is known for its mystery and complexity. However, there is hope and light at the end of this tunnel! The more sexual knowledge you obtain and practice you put in, the more you’ll be able to break down walls slowly. 

"A woman needs to take responsibility for her own orgasms. You can't just lay there and expect it to happen. You ned to tell your husband what you need and do the things that will help your body respond... Sex is a learning process between two people. It is not like the garbage in the magazines that says objectively you can be a good lover. It is such a lie that there are special moves you can do that will drive your man wild. It's all about what turns your spouse on..." -Sheila Wray Gregoire "The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex"

Orgasm Before Intercourse

What? Orgasm before intercourse? Yep, you read that right. Orgasm before intercourse may just be the secret to helping women reach orgasm every sexual encounter. Women are far more likely to reach orgasm during intercourse if they orgasm first, before their husband. Many women need time to warm up, become relaxed, and ultimately orgasm. If their husband has already reached climax and orgasmed, it may be harder for him to keep his fire burning. On the flip side when women orgasm their sexual energy heightens. 

Some women often view reaching orgasm as unnecessary. It takes time, practice, patience, and sometimes it’s a struggle to even get there. Some women might be reading this thinking it’s impossible to reach orgasm. If orgasm is already viewed this way, her husband orgasms first, and then she is second to attempt to reach orgasm, it’s not very likely to happen. It’s easy to become frustrated and leave her feeling like she’s “wasting” time. 

Now, you might be thinking, okay, I know what an orgasm IS but HOW do I have one? But! Like all sex questions, there typically isn’t a step by step manual on how to have mindblowing sex. It’s a skill you have to learn and practice with your spouse. Each couple will have different ideas of what “mindblowing sex” is based on their preferences. The same goes for orgasms. However, we do have a few tips for you to try out to help you on this journey.


As stated above, orgasms have been named the “psychological letting go” and there is a reason for that. In order for many women to orgasm you have to relax, let go, and enjoy the arousal. Stop thinking about the grocery list or that your kids need new soccer cleats. This is KEY to orgasming. Let go, be present with your body, and clear your mind of anything not relating to the sensations you are feeling. “Trying” to reach orgasm if you never have and are feeling frustrated, can often be counterproductive as your brain is focused on the outcome of orgasming rather than the present experience. You become anxious. Let go! Loosen your jaw, move your tongue away from the roof of your mouth, surrender your hips, arms, shoulders to the moment. Make eye contact with your sweetheart. Take it all in. Focus on the pleasure.

A great way to practice mindfulness is to ask your husband to stop occasionally and ask you to rate your arousal. This is a method recommended by Sheila Wray Gregorie, a Canadian marriage and sex blogger and author. When he stops, think about how you are feeling, how wet you are, what your breathing is like, what your thoughts are about. Start to recognize what a level 4 arousal is versus a 7 or an 8. Take that time to talk to him about what you do and don’t like. Which areas are more stimulating and which aren’t. By using this practice you will be focusing on your sensations, you are reporting back to your spouse, but also giving yourself space and time to learn for yourself and teach your spouse what feels good.

Ways to Create Stimulation

There are many different ways to create stimulation and help you or your partner to achieve an orgasm. A few of these include

  • Manual stimulation- This is when you use your hands to stimulate each other’s genitals to help increase arousal. Put some lubricant on your fingers and start with general soft motions around the vulva. Develop a rhythm she likes and slowly work your way towards the head of the clitoris as she feels more aroused. Don’t rush this — take it at her pace.
  • Oral stimulation- This type of stimulation uses your tongue instead of your hands to stimulate your partner’s genitals. This is especially helpful for women who have a hard time orgasming as the tongue is gentle and flexible enough to stimulate the clitoris in a gentle way. 
  • Emotional stimulation- Being emotionally vulnerable with each other can be a very intimate experience. Try talking to each other and enjoying this time- you just might feel more sexually available for each other as well!
  • Environmental stimulation- Setting the mood is so very important! Women especially really need to be prepared mentally to be able to orgasm and the environment plays a huge role in this. Make sure your room or other setting is clean and welcoming. This will go miles in the way of preparing your partner for a pleasurable sexual experience. 

At the end of the day, making it easier for your spouse to relax and enjoy themselves in whatever way possible will make your sexual experience all the better. Think about what is making your sexual experiences harder right now and delve in. Are you struggling with being too dry and having painful sex? Try out some different lubes or even lubricated condoms if you are using contraceptives. Having a hard time turning off your brain and not going through your to do list in your mind during sex? Practice mindfulness techniques to help you be able to be more in the moment. 

Pleasure Thresholds

Every person has a personal arousal threshold and an orgasmic threshold. The key is to provide enough arousing stimulation to achieve the orgasmic threshold.

Types of Orgasm

Men experience orgasm in their genitals during ejaculation. However, there are 5 different types of orgasm for women. Try them all out to see which way helps you or your partner achieve orgasm the best.

  1. Clitoral: Your clitoris is located right under the point where the inner labia meet and form a little hood (known as the clitoral hood). It’s on top of (or in front of, depending on which angle you’re at) the vagina and the urethra (the hole you pee out of). These orgasms are often felt on the surface of the body, like a tingly feeling along your skin and in your brain. The clitoris is the one part of the female body that was designed specifically for pleasure, containing over 8,000 nerve endings on the tip (visible part) of the clitoris alone. 
  2. Vaginal: These orgasms are deeper in the body and can easily be felt by the person penetrating the vagina because the vaginal walls will pulse. This type of orgasm is achieved through vaginal penetration and will typically require a fair amount of foreplay before achieving. 
  3. Anal: Before orgasming from anal penetration, you may feel an intense need to pee, but the contractions definitely won’t be felt around the genitals. Instead, they’ll be around the anal sphincter. 
  4. Combination: When the vagina — particularly the G-spot (located in the lower distal, one-third of the way into the vagina)— and the clitoris are stimulated at the same time, it tends to result in a more explosive movie-style orgasm that may have convulsing or female ejaculation (check out our article on female ejaculation, known as “squirting”, here).
  5. Erogenous Zones: Lesser known parts of your body, such as the ears, the nipples, the neck, the elbows, and the knees, can still cause a pleasurable reaction when kissed and played with. For more sensitive people, continuous play may lead to an orgasm. The most common erogenous zone to lead to orgasm (aside from the aforementioned genitals and anal areas) is the nipples. 

Stages that Lead to Orgasm

  • Excitement: The initial step of being turned on and feeling sexual arousal. 
  • Plateau: Repetitive motion that feels pleasurable in sex. 
  • Orgasm: The burst of pleasure and release that comes after the plateau.
  • Resolution: When you relax and your sexual experience typically ends. 

Orgasm can happen more than once in each sexual experience. These steps would simply repeat and the resolution would not end the sexual experience until later on. 

Tips For Husbands

Husbands, a few things for you to help your spouse achieve orgasm:

  • Don’t pressure your spouse to have an orgasm. Let them take their time and realize they may not achieve orgasm every time. 
  • Focus on your spouse’s pleasure and listen to what they are saying. Let them feel the way they are feeling and don’t pressure them to want things they don’t.
  • Be extra patient as they figure out their pleasure thresholds and how to experience the pleasure that will lead them to orgasm. 
  • Make it known that you are willing to persevere for an hour or even more if that is what it takes to get her to the point of orgasm. 

The most important thing is that you make it known to your wife that you care about her and her ability to experience pleasure. Help her know that you love her and will do what you can to help her feel that.

Communication is Key

As in any type of sexual play, communication is extremely important to discovering the ways you and your partner best reach orgasm. Be sure to talk to your spouse. Help them know where things feel good and what things are helping you feel more aroused. You need to communicate the opposite as well, the things that aren’t helping you reach this point of extreme pleasure. Remember, your partner can’t read your mind, no matter how much you may want them to. So if they’re not doing something that you like, it is your responsibility to lovingly correct them. 

This also means that both you and your partner need to be open to experimentation and trying new things. Don’t do anything you aren’t comfortable with, but try to open your mind and body up to the possibility of trying new things to discover what helps you achieve orgasm. This is just as important for men as it is for women. Communicating to make sex the most bonding and loving experience possible will be essential to reaching orgasm on a regular basis. 


Reaching the point of orgasm is an extremely pleasurable experience that we should all be able to experience. While it won’t always be easy, it will be worth it when you find what works to help you and your partner achieve orgasm. We hope this article has shed a little light on the topic of orgasm, what it is, and how to achieve one. If you have more questions, please feel free to reach out to us through email at [email protected]. Now go and Get Your Marriage On!

P. S. Are you a man wanting to explore orgasm? Check out our new course 6 Weeks to Multiple Male Orgasm!

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<h3>Jaina Thurston</h3>

Jaina Thurston

Hi there, my name is Jaina (pronounced like Jay-Nuh) and I am so happy to be here! I am an outdoor enthusiast and love doing everything with my hubby and 3 dogs. I focus a lot on fertility in my own life and am learning to help other couple's on their intimacy journeys while struggling with infertility. I have a degree in psychology and absolutely LOVE helping others discover their greatness!

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