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What is an orgasm?

An orgasm is a feeling of intense pleasure that happens during sexual activity.

It's sometimes called coming or climaxing. Most people can have orgasms.

What happens during an orgasm?

When you have an orgasm, your heart may beat faster and your breathing may change.

If you have a vaginal or clitoral orgasm, an intense pleasurable release of sexual tension is accompanied by contractions of the genital muscles.

Some people may ejaculate when having a vaginal orgasm. 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.

If you have a vagina you may be able to experience more than 1 orgasm shortly after the first if you continue to be stimulated.

If you have a penis, an orgasm makes muscles contract and semen containing sperm spurts out of the penis (ejaculation). After this, you usually 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.

Read about orgasm problems in women and ejaculation problems.

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 2 December 2019
Next review due: 2 December 2022