Addressing the age-old, oft-posed query: “Did you come?”
For time immemorial, women have been faking orgasms. Whether out of pity, fueled by exhaustion, driven by team morale, or founded in cultural expectation, the whole faux, shrieking climax bit comes with a history (See: Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally mimicking completion in a diner).
Sure, in 2020, women are being exposed to a different form of sex education. In large part, they’re learning to advocate for their own orgasms, to familiarize themselves with their own physiology. They’re finding ways to prioritize their own pleasure by way of social media platforms, across film and television, and from one another. But for all the progress made, it would seem that our longstanding tradition in performed climax begs the question: How do you actually know if your partner is orgasming? Can you feel the female orgasm? And more broadly, can you feel any partner’s orgasm?
Well, we’ve got answers.
For starters, let’s address the orgasm at large. Technically speaking, an orgasm is a flood of endorphins, usually experienced as intense sexual pleasure or relaxation. Typically, you’ll feel flushed, you may feel muscle spasms throughout the body, but generally, the sensation is concentrated in the genital area.
Biologically speaking, for men and women, there are few differences here. For both, orgasm is typically measured in a particular number of pelvic spasms (generally 6-10) and lasts around 20 to 30 seconds. Which is to say, the experience of orgasm is democratic across folks who identify as male, female, transgender, or gender neutral. In fact, an Oregon study even determined that across gender identities, surveyed participants all described their orgasm experiences in the same words.
That said, when it comes to what your partner experiences while you orgasm, there are some differences. For starters, the male orgasm is typically marked by ejaculation. On the other hand, only 10% of women ejaculate while orgasming. So, in short, no matter your gender identity, you’ll likely be able to gauge whether or not your biologically male partner is reaching climax by way of, well, cum –– the presence of which is often hard to miss.
With the female anatomy, there is a bit more nuance. For many women, orgasm does not actually occur during sex. Unlike with old-school porn, it likely won’t be commemorated by wild thrashing and/or hollering. That said, while pleasuring a woman, it’s plenty likely that, if you’re using your hands, you’ll feel fluttering muscular contractions in and around her clitoris. While giving oral, it’s more likely that you’ll feel those movements along your lips or tongue. And along with all else, you’ll feel her heart rate increase as she reaches completion.
That said, you still may have trouble detecting orgasm in your partner. So here’s the thing: Talk about it. Ask your partner when they’re close, what they like, how they typically experience orgasm. Create a dialogue that allows your partner to say, “no, I didn’t come, let’s try something else.