Vaginal/Clitoral Orgasm: The Medical Story

Naturally, when I got asked to write about orgasms, I went to medical literature to find the latest and greatest studies.

I found some studies on vaginal or clitoral orgasm and *tons* of studies on penis orgasms. That's interesting, to say the least - it could be that medicine focuses mostly on disease and illness and rarely do we see a disease of the clitoris. It could also be that we live in a world where cultural norms find the subject of female sexuality and orgasm taboo. It could also be that vaginal orgasm is not necessary for reproduction and therefore we don’t focus on it medically.

Studies on Sexual Response

Masters and Johnson studied sexual response in the 1950s and 1960s.

You probably recognize the name Kinsey as well. He had an institute where he observed people having sex and masturbating and recorded the findings. In short, they observed people in different stages of sex. The final product was the standard we use for sexual response: excitement, plateau, climax and resolution. Eventually, researchers altered these definitions because they found that in people with vaginas there is a link between mind and body, in this care desire and connection also play a role in orgasm. 

Vaginal Arousal (The Mechanics) 

Two words can describe most of what happens to a human with a vagina during arousal - swelling and blood flow.

During arousal, the person's heart races, they breath faster and start to sweat. All the while, there is increased blood flow going to the genital area which causes engorgement and swelling. The swelling can be seen in the labia (lips), the inner part of the vagina and the cervix. The clitoris enlarges. The breast nipples harden. And, the glands in the vagina secrete juices to lubricate the entire area.

The actual orgasm can happen because of stimulation in 2 areas - the clitoris or the vagina.

In fact, these areas have a different set of nerves that get stimulated. Once an orgasm is reached, there are rhythmic contractions of the uterus and vagina with some involuntary body movements. Eventually the response ends, and within 20-30 minutes the body goes back to normal.

Sound easy? There are some people who can have multiple orgasms!

Why Does it Feel So Good?

The brain is a powerful organ.

There are nerves from the genitals going to the brain - it is a two-way street where four main nerves send signals back and forth. The signals then trigger your brain to release neurochemicals that make you feel awesome.

These chemicals not only make you feel good but also give you feelings of attachment. Some have tried to pinpoint this feeling as “love”. Some research has shown that a person having an orgasm and a person taking heroin have similar images on MRI. I’ve actually heard heroin addicts talk about this as well.

In my opinion (IMO)

We are undereducated about sex and orgasms. We fear discussing the taboo topics - but, we must to understand our sexuality.

We are sexual beings from birth until death. Let me repeat that phrase, we are sexual beings from birth until death.

The fact is we experiment with our bodies from the day we can find our genitals until we die (totally normal) and with each experience, we understand our bodies and sexual wellbeing better.

Our expression of sexuality, gender identity, and sexual preferences may unfold as we age (again, totally normal).

A word of caution:

Sometimes we feel shy about discussing sexual issues. And, it’s this lack of knowledge that pushes us to do other things, like search the internet and follow those examples. The internet sets misleading standards for what is normal, all the while making us believe we are not skinny enough, not pretty enough, not sexual enough, just not enough. What you see on a screen is not real or factual. One thing I have learned in 14 years of practicing medicine is that there is a spectrum of normal. And, you are normal and enough.