What is an orgasm?

An orgasm is a feeling of intense sexual pleasure that happens during sexual activity. It’s sometimes called 'coming' or 'climaxing'. Both men and women have orgasms.

What happens during an orgasm?

When you have an orgasm, your heart beats faster and your breathing gets quicker and heavier.

In women, an intense, pleasurable release of sexual tension is accompanied by contractions of the genital muscles. A woman may be able to experience more than one orgasm shortly after the first if she continues to be stimulated. A minority of women may ejaculate - a clear fluid spurts from glands close to the urethra during intense sexual excitement or during orgasm. The glands are called the Skene’s glands.

In men, muscle contractions cause semen containing sperm to spurt out of the penis (ejaculation). After this, a man cannot have another orgasm for a while. This recovery phase, in which the penis and testicles shrink back to their normal size, can last from a few minutes to a few hours.

For more information, see What can cause orgasm problems in women? and What can cause premature, delayed or dry orgasms?

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Further information:

 

Female sexual dysfunction

A psychosexual therapist explains the different types of female sexual dysfunction and the medical and psychological issues that may be involved.

Media last reviewed: 18/04/2013

Next review due: 18/04/2015

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2014

Next review due: 16/12/2016