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    What Does an Orgasm Feel Like and Other FAQs

    Published 17 February 2020
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
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    An orgasm can be described as one of the most powerful sensations your body experiences. In fact, in French, it’s known as le petit mort, or “the little death.” If you're wondering, "What does an orgasm feel like for a woman?" read on.

    What happens to your body when you orgasm?

    Most female orgasms are achieved through stimulation of the clitoris, the most sensitive erogenous in the female body and the primary anatomical source of female sexual pleasure. The clitoris consists of many parts. The glans is the visible part that’s located just above the urethral opening at the front junction of the labia minora (inner lips). The glans contains lots of nerves — more than any other area of the body. The clitoris also has internal components — the body and two legs. 

    When enough stimulation of the clitoral glans or anterior vaginal wall happens, the nerve endings all fire at once, sending messages to your brain. Several parts of your brain light up during orgasm, including the cerebral cortex and limbic areas of the brain. Orgasm is associated with elevated levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, and vasopressin — hormones that make you feel good.

    What does an orgasm feel like for women? Sensations of touch and movement during sexual activity contribute to the sensory input to your brain. The hypothalamus is responsible for secreting oxytocin, the "love hormone” that gives feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. The thalamus integrates the input from the different areas of the brain and processes it all together.

    When stimulated, either psychologically or physically, or both, the blood vessels in the genitals will dilate, and more blood is delivered to the vagina, vulva, and clitoris. The increased blood flow will cause the vulva to swell and release fluid, lubricating the vagina. The top of the vagina will expand as well.

    Heart rate and blood pressure also increase, and the nipples may become erect. The areola may look darker as well. This increased blood flow may cause the face, neck, and chest to appear flushed. 

    Orgasm affects other parts of your body, too. If an orgasm occurs during penetrative sexual intercourse, the muscular walls of the vagina squeeze the penis, encouraging the partner to ejaculate. The cervix dilates and opens, which can help sperm move into the uterus and uterine tubes.

    Can you achieve different kinds of orgasms?

    While the male orgasm is primarily related to ejaculation, female orgasm is traditionally thought to take many forms. The blending of different sensations and the activation of the pleasure centers of the brain are different for each woman. That’s why the question "What does it feel like to have an orgasm?" may get different answers from different women.

    Clitoral orgasm

    This is the most common type of female orgasm achieved through stimulation of the clitoral glans. A clitoral orgasm can be sharp and intense, usually is short-lasting, and can feel like a bursting sensation for some people.

    Vaginal orgasm

    This type of orgasm involves the elusive G-spot, a sensitive area inside the vagina, about halfway up along the front wall. Not all women experience vaginal orgasm, although it may be possible for all women. Vaginal orgasms typically happen during intercourse and may last longer and feel more like a whole-body climax rather than localized at the clitoris. They’re not as intense as clitoral orgasms, generally.

    Blended orgasm

    Some people may experience a vaginal and clitoral orgasm simultaneously, with the intensity of clitoral orgasm accompanying the deeper, more immersive pleasure of a vaginal orgasm. 

    “Coregasm”

    This type of orgasm happens during exercise and is akin to a “runner’s high.” It may occur with stimulation of your clitoris and vaginal opening through your workout clothes, as well as the naturally occurring release of endorphins from working out. It’s described as less intense than orgasms that occur from sex but still a similar sensation.