Sex Q&A

Sex Question Friday: Are Multiple Orgasms A Myth?

March 8, 2013 by Justin Lehmiller

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know more about whether it is truly possible for women to have several orgasms in a row.

Can a woman really orgasm over 20 times in a sexual encounter, or is she just lying?

If you want to know whether a specific person has told you the truth about their sex life, unfortunately, I can’t really help you out there. However, what I can tell you is that it is indeed possible for women to experience multiple orgasms during the same sexual encounter. The phenomenon of multiple orgasms was first documented nearly a half century ago in the pioneering sex research of William Masters and Virginia Johnson. In fact, in their bestselling book Human Sexual Response [1], they noted that:

“The human female frequently is not content with one orgasmic experience during episodes of [clitoral stimulation]…Many well-adjusted women enjoy a minimum of three of four orgasmic experiences before they reach apparent satiation.” (p. 64)

Does this mean that all women are capable of multiple orgasms? Not necessarily. For instance, in a study of more than 800 female college graduates, approximately 43% of participants reported having had multiple orgasms before [2]. Of course, it is possible that an ever higher percentage of women are capable of multiple orgasms and that some women may simply have never tried it or perhaps do not wish to have more than one orgasm at a time.

Studies of men have found very few guys reporting the ability to achieve orgasm after orgasm. The reason for this is likely because men usually experience a refractory period after climaxing, a period of time during which no additional stimulation is capable of producing another orgasm. The length of this period can last anywhere from a few minutes in younger guys to a few hours (and sometimes even a few days) in older guys. The refractory period is thought to be a function of neurological and hormonal changes that occur after orgasm, but the exact mechanism remains unclear. Women do not typically experience a refractory period, which explains where there is such a large sex difference in this area.

So multiple orgasms are definitely not a myth. But is 20 a realistic number? Well, considering that the female world record holder for most orgasms in a hour during a lab study is a whopping 134, a mere 20 doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch, does it [3]?

For past Sex Question Friday posts, see here. Want to learn more about The Psychology of Human Sexuality? Click here for a complete list of articles or like the Facebook page to get articles delivered to your newsfeed.

[1] Masters, W. H., & Johnson, V. E. (1966). Human sexual response. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

[2] Darling, C. A., Davidson, J. K., & Jennings, D. A. (1991). The female sexual response revisited: Understanding the multiorgasmic experience in women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 20, 527-540. doi: 10.1007/BF01550952

[3] Hartman, W. E., & Fithian, M. A. (1984). Any man can. New York: St Martin’s Press.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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