How Do You Know When Orgasm Happens?

How do you know when you’ve had an orgasm? Have you ever wondered?

It’s actually a pretty common question, because orgasms can feel different for different people, and can vary from one time to the next.

This video gives more info on why that is, and how to get more in touch with what your orgasms might feel like. Enjoy!

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. Erica Marchand, I'm a psychologist and sex therapist, and I specialize in women's pleasure and orgasms.

I have made it my mission to try to understand women's pleasure and orgasms better so that we can all have more pleasure and better sex and more orgasms and orgasm equality with our partners.

So today, I'm gonna answer some frequently asked questions. Well, one frequently asked question. In these videos I answer frequently asked questions.

This question comes from a webinar that I did recently, and this woman asked, "How do you know when you've had an orgasm?"

So for some people it's super clear and for other people, it is not. So I wanna help you understand how you might know when you have had an orgasm if this is a question in your mind too.

So at the end of this video, I want you to know three things:
- Number one, orgasms feel differently between people and sometimes feel differently from one time to the next. And I'll talk to you little bit about why that is.

- I want to talk to you about common signs or clues that you have had an orgasm. Common ways that people say that it feels.

- And then also how to make your orgasm better if you think that you could have more than you're having right now.

So let's talk about that, but before we get into that why is this even important?

Well, I think it's super important, because there's a misleading idea out there that if you had an orgasm, you'd know it. Probably you've heard that before, if you have this question.

People say if you'd had an orgasm you know it. And I actually used to believe that too, but that's not true. Some women have really noticeable big, distinct, orgasms and some women have more subtle, easily missed orgasms. And it's important to know your body because then you know what's going on for you.

So accurate information is really important. So it's not true that if you had an orgasm you'd know it.

I think the other reason this is really important to talk about is about knowing your body. Knowing your body is super important so that you can know what's going on, you know what's normal for you, when things are going right or going wrong.

And if you know your body, you can share what you like and what you know about your body with a partner and have more pleasure with a partner, so knowing your body is super helpful. And this question about how do you know if you had an orgasm is all about knowing your body.

So let's get into all the things that I told you we were gonna talk about. So what is an orgasm? First of all, my favorite definition comes from a book by Emily Nagoski called "Come as You Are," and she defines an orgasm as "the sudden, involuntary release of sexual tension."

And so that can feel a lot of different ways. For some women, it feels like a big explosion. For other women, it feels like a little flutter, and then there's everything in between. For some women, they just feel like, "I'm done. This feels different than what was happening before." So, orgasms feel different for different people, and sometimes at different times for the same person.

So, different words that people have used to describe their orgasms include everything from explosion, euphoria, pleasure, to physical sensations like pulsating or contracting or flooding or warmth, to things like a flutter or a flush or a sense of feeling done or finished.

Some people describe feeling physically more sensitive afterwards. So the stimulation that was feeling good before the orgasm feels like too much afterwards.

Some people describe mentally feeling like they're kind of out of their body for a minute and people describe feeling totally in their body momentarily. Some people describe feeling like their mind is just in a different plane or in a different place.

There are a lot of different ways of describing orgasm.

Now, I want you to notice that not all of them have to do with the classic orgasm that we see on television, like the screaming, toe-curling, moaning, very distinct, very big orgasm.

Not everybody has orgasms like that. Some people do, but some people don't.

There's a range of how women experience their orgasm.

So that is a really important thing that I want you to take away from this because if you have the question, "How do I know if I've had an orgasm? If you're looking for the big explosive orgasm and you're not finding it in your own experience that might not be how your orgasm feels. It might feel some other way, it might feel different or more subtle or something that isn't the stereotypical orgasm, so that's super important.

So what are some common signals that you've had an orgasm? So let's say you're not sure if you're having one -- we'll talk about what to do to try to notice better -- but if you're not sure, or having one, what are some common signals?

I think the most common signal that women say, even if they don't have big orgasms that are really noticeable is that there's a shift at some point in the experience. There's arousal building, and then something happens. Maybe it's a big explosion of pleasure, maybe it's a little flutter, maybe it's a feeling of warmth, or a tingle, or connection, or could be anything, but then what comes after that feel significantly different than what was happening before.

So some women describe this as a sense of doneness.

Like "I am done," some women describe it as a sense of satisfaction or coming down, even if there wasn't a big explosion of fireworks at the point of orgasm.

So one of the most common signals that you've had an orgasm is that what comes after feels distinctly different than how you were feeling before. Your mind feels different, your body feels different, sometimes you're more sensitive and the same kind of touch that was happening before doesn't feel good anymore, afterwards; you're too sensitive.

So that's a really common clue that you've had an orgasm.

Sometimes it's hard to put into words what it feels like. So if some of these words match your experience great, but if they don't, that's okay. You also can pay attention to your body and your experience and try to put words to your own experience and they might match the way that other people have described their orgasms and they might not.

That's because there's a lot of variability and that is totally okay.

All right, now how to make your orgasms, better or stronger. This is a question that I get a lot from women, especially if you have subtle orgasms, can you have a big orgasm? A lot of people wanna know that. The answer is sometimes yes, and sometimes, no. Sometimes, the difference in orgasm is just individual variability and how our bodies are set up and how our minds and our bodies experience things.

Sometimes your orgasm the way it is, is just your orgasm.

However, some things that you can try if you wanna make your orgasm more powerful or more pleasurable are things like allowing more time for simulation? So, for some people, the more build up there is the stronger the orgasm is and stronger the pleasure is. If you allow a little bit more time for the pleasure and tension to build up, the feeling of the orgasm might be stronger.

So that's one idea.

Another idea is to try different simulation. So if you know that you have an orgasm through one type of stimulation, but it's a pretty subtle one, you might try more stimulation. So if you can have an orgasm by simulating yourself with your fingers, try a vibrator and see if that gives you a different kind of feeling. So, sometimes more stimulation again leads to more feeling with the orgasm.

You might try getting more aroused. So, orgasm often happens after a period of high arousal. o let's say on a scale of one to 10, if you're normally getting aroused to some reasonable level and then maybe have an orgasm, but you're not frequently getting really, really turned on, you might try doing things that will get you more turned on.

So maybe that's more sexual activity with your partner or maybe that's a more interesting or hotter fantasy or maybe that's using a different kind of erotic material to turn yourself on, or it could be anything. But just try getting more aroused to see if there's any difference for you between an orgasm that happens when you feel kind of moderately aroused versus one that happens when you feel really turned on.

And I know that getting super, super turned on doesn't happen every single time and that's just part of the natural variation in sexual experiences. So I'm not saying this needs to happen every single time, I'm just saying experiment with this from time to time and see what you think.

And then finally to make your orgasms better, sometimes there are medical issues that can make orgasms feel more subtle or kind of dampen them a little bit.

Some medications can do this, so check your medications, check the side effects of your medication and see if sexual side effects are listed as part of what can happen with your medications. As a general rule, anything that changes your hormones or changes your brain chemistry, might have an impact on your sexual response either positive or negative. And so go ahead and check the side effects of your medications. If you think you might be on anything that could be affecting your sexual response and if you think that that's something that's getting in the way of having better orgasms, or getting in the way of having orgasms, you can talk to your doctor about changing the medication or changing the dose, or or adding another medication, or something like that.

Now, I want to say, please do not, on your own, take yourself off of any medications that you're on, please don't do that, definitely talk to your doctor and do it in a really careful responsible way if you think that you need to change medications.

This is my public service announcement. I don't like it when people just kind of go off of their medications without warning their doctor, it often doesn't turn out well. So, that's what I'll say about how to make your orgasms better.

Now, how specifically, if you wanna answer this question for yourself: "how do I know if I'm having an orgasm?"

So how do you take this information that I'm telling you and apply it to your own life? So the first thing is, I would say, try to pay really close attention to your body next time you have sex with yourself or somebody else.

Just try to really notice: how aroused am I getting? What does that feel like?

Is there a moment where things change? Do I feel any subtle physical changes or mental changes after I get really aroused? If so, can I put words to them? What's going on? So try to pay close attention to what's happening in your body and mind the next time you have sex. That's really the best way to try to answer this question, and see if you have any of the clues, or signs, that you might be having an orgasm that doesn't match the stereotypical big, explosive orgasm.

So experiment, pay attention to your own body. And then you might also think about, if you're not sure you're having orgasms, or you're having them and they're subtle, try one of the suggestions for making your orgasms better, which are basically suggestions for giving you more pleasure.

Try stimulation for longer or try getting more turned on for example.

Okay, so what did you try all that stuff or you've tried some of this before and you're still not sure? That's okay, keep paying attention. These are things that are hard to notice, or hard to put your finger on or hard to put words to, and so just be patient with yourself and keep paying close attention to your body and eventually you'll understand what's happening. You'll start to notice your body's cues and feelings and you'll notice a pattern that your body, your own particular pattern of sexual response that your body goes through.

And so if you're not sure yet give it time and experiment. Masturbate. I am a huge advocate masturbation because I think it's one of the best ways to learn your body's response and learn what you like in a situation where you're not distracted by anyone else.

So masturbate, experiment with different kinds of simulation, different kinds of fantasies, erotic material, different lengths of time, different times of day, just experiment, and again, pay attention, pay close attention, and be mindful about what you're doing and your body and your mind will give you clues about what's going on.

So now what have you have more subtle orgasms and you want bigger ones?

Like I said, sometimes it's just wiring and we don't have enough knowledge yet to know why people are different on the continuum of how orgasms feel. But if you have subtle orgasms the first thing I would say is try to enjoy the pleasure that's there. So even if your orgasm is not a big explosion, there's probably a lot of pleasure that goes along with getting aroused and some pleasure or satisfaction that goes along with having an orgasm even if it feels subtle.

Try to enjoy the pleasure that's there. Don't discount that experience because it's not this big explosive experience that everybody sees on TV. Don't discount what you do experience.

So that's the first thing. And then if you wanna try to make your orgasm bigger, again, try some of the suggestions that I mentioned before, more time, more arousal more or different simulation and check your medications.

So that's what I'll say about that question. How do I know if I'm having an orgasm?

I will maybe one day compile list of how women describe their orgasms just from talking to people. So if I ever do that, you'll be the first to know, I'll put it up as a video.

But aside from that, what you can do next is just try to implement some of these suggestions, try to really enjoy the arousal and the orgasms that you do have, and then try to focus more or differently, or prioritize your own pleasure more or differently to strengthen or build on the pleasure and the orgasms that you have. Alright, I hope that was really helpful. I am Dr. Erica. I will talk to you sometime soon. Bye!

Take the Orgasm Spectrum™️ Quiz to discover where you fall on the spectrum and then Dr. Erica will show you exactly what to do in order to make orgasms a regular part of your life. 

Take the Orgasm Spectrum™️ Quiz to learn where you fall on the spectrum and what to do in order to make orgasms a regular part of your life.