What’s an orgasm?

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girl with kiss mark on faceIf you look up the word “orgasm” in your biology book, you’ll likely find a definition such as “the climax of sexual excitement with increased blood flow to the genitals that is usually accompanied by ejaculation of semen by the male and by vaginal contractions in the female”. While this definition is on point with what happens physically, it doesn’t describe the “feelings” which can be different for everyone, both young and old, girls or guys.

Orgasm has to do with the body’s natural response to pleasurable feelings during masturbation (when you pleasure yourself) or with a partner. However, not everyone experiences orgasm when they are sexually stimulated. If they do, it might not be all the time either – and that’s perfectly normal.

Some people who experience orgasm during sexual contact say:

  • “It feels like a build up of tension and then a mini-explosion in my body.”
  • “At first I just feel sexually excited, and then the feelings seem to build up and then release… it’s the release that I consider to be the orgasm.”
  • “My genitals start out by feeling all tingly… then something happens and I feel really awesome.”
  • “It’s like this really intense build up of sexual tension and then a huge release and then I feel my vagina contract for a few minutes.”
  • “Sometimes I have an orgasm when I massage my clitoris, and other times the feeling is in my vagina.”
  • “The kind of orgasm I feel when I am connected emotionally with my partner is much more intense and pleasurable then when I have casual sex.”
  • “I wish I could describe it but I can’t… BUT I do know how it feels really good though.”

Everyone experiences orgasm in their own way, and it can vary too. Some people think that having an orgasm only happens when you have sex with a partner, but you can have an orgasm if you stimulate yourself or masturbate, too. It can feel differently if you are stimulated by a penis, finger, vibrator, and even through different sexual positions. Orgasms can feel similar or different (even with the same partner), or be mild or very strong depending on many things, such as how you’re feeling emotionally.

During the teenage years, girls and guys usually become familiar with their sexual feelings and begin to learn what feels pleasurable and what doesn’t, just by exploring their own bodies. However, some cultures or religious practices may discourage or even not allow this. If or when you make the decision to become sexually active, please keep in mind that:

  • Talking to your parents to learn about their values and advice can be very helpful.
  • Becoming sexually active and with whom is a big decision.
  • Having sex should be YOUR choice.
  • You should NEVER feel pressured or rushed into having sex.
  • Waiting to have sex is OKAY.
  • Wait until you are ready and protect yourself against unwanted pregnancies and STIs.