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How Can You Know For Sure That You've Had An Orgasm?

Soooooo...how can you know you've seen the mountaintop...exactly?

Sex

Yes, yes. Orgasms. Before we get semi-surface-level-knee-deep into this thing, let me just say that, if there are two times in life when the same response is probably annoying as hell to the people who personally can't relate, it would have to be when it comes to being in loveand having an orgasm. And what reply am I referring to specifically? It's when someone asks, "So, how do you know when it's actually happened?" and those who've been through it, pause, reflect, exhale and then say, "Girl, you just…know."

On the climax tip, I get that, if you've never truly been to the mountaintop before, hearing that answer isn't really offering up much help (although there is a ton of truth in that statement). And so, whether you've never had sex before and you're curious (if that's you, please check out "Here's How Your First Time Having Sex Can Still Affect You") or you've had a fair share of sexual experiences but things are still unclear as far as whether you've had as much fun as everyone else, I'm gonna try and break down how you can know that you've had an orgasm before. Get your glass of wine and sit back.

So, Really—What Is an Orgasm?

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I'm not really sure how I can truly be "'bout it" when it comes to this kind of topic without divulging some of my own past sexual journey. When it came to my first healthy orgasm (I was sexually molested as a child and teenager, which is why I phrase it that way; we'll have to dive into the layers of that another time), I was in college—and it was with myself. My first boyfriend also came into my life my freshman year. He was younger than I was (I didn't know that until we got arrested together for his cousin having a gun in my car; also another story for another time), so neither one of us really knew what we were doing. We continued to talk off and on throughout the years and, honestly, looking back, I think a part of what kept us holding on, is we both wanted a sexual do-over. He ain't ugly (by any stretch) and neither am I. Sometimes, you just…wonder.

Anyway, it wasn't until a professor in college said, "How can you get a man to please you when you don't even know how to please yourself?" (he was saying this to a table of college freshman which is kinda creepy in hindsight) that I said, "Yeah…" and entered into the world of masturbation (another topic that I'll have to share my personal take on at another time). And when I compared that to the intercourse I was experiencing with my boyfriend, yes—I definitely knew when I had my first orgasm and he definitely wasn't in the picture. I then started experiencing orgasms via oral sex with my second sexual partner and lawd—talk about cuing in Peobo Bryson and Regina Belle's "A Whole New World" (with a DeVante Swing remix to it)! Ever since my early college years and experiencing sexual instances when I truly felt like my body was gonna explode, I know, without question, that I've had an orgasm before. At this point in my life, many times over too.

And What Exactly Does an Orgasm Feel Like?

I think the best way to describe it, without it looking like a science paper, is to say that an orgasm is the pinnacle of sexual tension that comes as the result of rhythmic contractions that occur within your uterus, pelvic floor and vagina—all at the same time.

It typically transpires in three phases:

Excitement: Which is when you're aroused (typically during foreplay) and then blood starts to rush to your genital region. It's also when there is an increase of testosterone, dopamine and serotonin in your system which makes you feel warm and stimulated.

Plateau: This is when sexual tension builds, right up to the point where you feel a mixture of thinking you might have to pee (that's the best way to describe it, I think) and you having very little control over yourself. When you hear people on movies doing all of the yelling 'n stuff? It's usually right at this point.

Orgasm: This is when the contractions come. They aren't painful (like when a woman is giving birth). They feel really good—and a bit overwhelming. The warmth that you started to feel during the excitement phase then spreads all throughout your body, a huge release transpires and you finally are able to catch your breath and start to resume a regular breathing pattern. As far as how long orgasms last, the average is somewhere between 18-51 seconds a piece (I say, "a piece" because some people can have multiple orgasms).

OK, so now that you know what an orgasm is, let me just briefly go (back) over what some of the signs are that you've had one:

  • Increased heart rate and breathing
  • Warm feelings, starting in your genital region
  • Multiple vaginal contractions
  • Hyper-sensitivity immediately following (especially in your vaginal region)
  • An immediate feeling of calm and serenity after

There Are Multiple Kinds of Orgasms. Vaginal Being the Most Challenging.

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Now that you know what an orgasm is from a technical standpoint, it's important that I reiterate that orgasms don't only happen via intercourse. I've already shared that my first ones came from masturbation and receiving oral sex. The two things that both of these acts have in common is the focus is put on stimulating my clitoris (including my clitoral hood).

The clitoris is amazing because there is no scientific reason for why it exists other than sexual stimulation. So, the chances of you having an orgasm increase, astronomically so, if the focus is put onto your clitoris, along with your erogenous zones. In fact, this is why a lot of medical and sex experts believe that there are (at least) 11 different types of orgasms a woman can have including a clitoral, anal, nipple, blended and vaginal one.

So, the first thing to keep in mind—and it truly can't be stated enough—is it's important to know the difference between an orgasm and a vaginal orgasm. If you've experienced many of the things that I've described, then there's still a good chance that you've had one before. However, it's the vaginal one that can give women a bit of trouble; around 70 percent of women, to be exact.

Why is that? A lot of medical and sex experts believe that, physically, it may be tied into the fact that the closer a woman's clitoris is to her vaginal opening, the easier it is for her to experience a vaginal orgasm. That makes sense if you think about the fact that it's our clit, not our vagina, that stimulates us the most. So basically, this means that probably the main reason why a lot of women don't have vaginal orgasms is due to how their body is naturally designed (if their clitoris is able to be directly stimulated during intercourse)—not because anything is necessarily "wrong" with them.

Yet what if you're one of those kinds of people who doesn't like being told "no", in any area and so, you're simply not content with accepting that maybe you should shift your focus on having orgasms period and not just a vaginal one? In walks my final point for today.

What Can You Do to Increase Your Chances of Experiencing a Vaginal Orgasm?

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I write about orgasms a lot. That's how much I dig 'em (check out "What Is A Super Orgasm & How Can I Have One?", "Want A More Intense Orgasm? These Tips Are Sure To Make You Cream", "10 Weird & Random Things That Can Prevent An Orgasm"). I really do think that striving for an orgasm period, should be the greater goal, but if you want to give having a vaginal orgasm a more intentional shot, here are five things that you can do.

Try some orgasmic meditation. Stress is the enemy of, just about everything. And the reality is that one of the main reasons why a lot of us have a hard time climaxing is because we have a really difficult time relaxing. If you can relate, something that can help is something that is known as orgasmic meditation. In short, it's when you and your partner practice a form of "mindful touching". You get quiet, you deep breathe and he intentionally focuses on stroking your clitoris as a form of an erotic build-up. Think of it as meditative edging. It's erotic AF while also extremely calming at the same time. You can read more about it by checking out "What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?".

Bring more foreplay into the mix. On average, men can climax within five minutes while it takes us somewhere between 15-20. A lot of that time has very little to do with the orgasm itself; it's all about getting to the excitement part that we talked about earlier. What helps that to happen is foreplay. One of the reasons why I wrote the articles, "9 Sex-Related Questions You & Your Partner Should Ask Each Other. Tonight.", "8 Men & 8 Women Told Me What They Wish Their Partner Would STOP Doing In Bed" and even "Are You Ready To Apply Your Love Language To Your Sex Life?" is because, if there's one thing that all of those posts have in common, it's driving home the point of how important communication is.

Real talk, a lot of people aren't "sexually incompatible", so much as they are not being truly open and honest about their sexual wants and needs. Trust me, if the foreplay is on point, it is so much easier to have an orgasm—any kind but especially a vaginal one.

Get into the right/best positions. All sexual positions serve a purpose, but certain ones can accomplish certain goals quicker than others. When it comes to trying to have a vaginal orgasm, some of the positions that can help you to best achieve your goal include the reverse cowgirl (it's a great way for your partner's penis to stimulate your clitoris during penetration); being on your side (he can rub your clitoris during penetration); what I call the "cat position" (it's just like doggy style but you're on your stomach rather than on your knees; deeper penetration can happen that way); the chest bump (which is when you're in the missionary position but your arch your back while being thrusted; it angles your clitoris to touch his shaft) and, when your legs are over his shoulders (again…deeper penetration).

Have an emotional connection. If you go to your favorite search engine and you put "married sex is best" in the search field, you'll see quite a few links to articles on why sex is best when you're in a long-term and fully committed relationship. A big part of why is because you can fully trust your partner with your desires, your fantasies, your vulnerabilities, what has worked (and has not) worked in the past. Listen, you can have good mechanical sex with a whole lot of people. But even the most sexually active (or sexually cynical) person will vouch for the fact that when there's an emotional connection with the person you're "engaging with", sex really doesn't get much better than that—physically or otherwise.

Don't overthink it. It's kinda crazy that so many of us overthink when, more times than not, all that really does is create problems that don't exist. When it comes to trying to have a vaginal orgasm, please never let it leave your mind that your partner enjoying you as you enjoy them should be the main focal point. If you chill out, relax and let things naturally happen (as your clitoris is getting well taken care of), you've got a far greater chance of having one than if you worry about "getting there" all of the time. Orgasms are wooooooooooonderful. Don't let anyone tell you that they're not. But you are still a sexy, beautiful, amazing woman whether you have one or you don't—vaginal or not. Keep that in mind and watch how many fireworks go off for you. Most likely when you least expect them to…too. #wink

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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