15 Scientific Facts About Orgasm

May 23, 2014 by Justin Lehmiller

Think you know everything there is to know about the topic of orgasm? For today’s post, I’ve compiled a list of 15 of the most fun and interesting scientific facts about the big O. Do you have other favorite orgasm facts? Please share them below!

1. Multiple orgasms are real. In fact, it is thought that most women are capable or having more than one orgasm in a row. Men can have multiple orgasms too, but it is less common among men and the guys who have them don’t seem able to have quite as many orgasms as women. Consider this: the most orgasms documented in one hour is 134 for a woman and *just* 16 for a man [1].

2. Some women can orgasm from nipple stimulation alone. This isn’t particularly surprising when you consider the fact that brain scanning studies have found that nipple stimulation activates the same region of the brain as stimulation of the clitoris and vagina.

3. The rule of thumb: the distance between a woman’s clitoris and vaginal opening predicts her likelihood of orgasm during vaginal intercourse. When the distance is smaller (generally less than the width of a thumb), she is more likely to reach orgasm because the clitoris gets more stimulation by being closer to the action.

4. Orgasm and ejaculation are not the same thing. Men can orgasm without ejaculating, but they can also ejaculate with orgasming. It’s important to note that ejaculation isn’t just for men either—women are capable of experiencing ejaculation too and, interestingly, research has found that the composition of female ejaculate is fairly similar to male ejaculate (with the exception of sperm, of course).

5. Men aren’t the only ones who orgasm and ejaculate in their sleep—many women experience nocturnal orgasms too. In fact, Alfred Kinsey found that 37% of the women he surveyed reported having at least one orgasm in their sleep before [2].

6. The coital alignment technique has been shown scientifically to increase the odds of simultaneous orgasm during penile-vaginal intercourse. You can learn more about this sexual position and how it works here.

7. Most people associate fake orgasms with women, but many men fake orgasms too. For instance, a 2010 survey of college students found that 25% of male respondents reported having faked at least one orgasm before.

8. Some women experience premature orgasm. A 2011 study of Portuguese women found that 14% of respondents reported that they reach orgasm before they would like to at least occasionally, and another 3% reported that this happens frequently.

9. It is rare, but some people experience sneezing fits upon reaching orgasm. There is also a variant of this condition where the individual sneezes every time they become sexually aroused.

10. Orgasms aren’t just for humans—animals have them too. Of course, we don’t know if the psychological experience of orgasm is the same in animals; however, the physical experience (at least in non-human primates) looks pretty similar, right down to the O-face.

11. “Coregasms” are real. Alfred Kinsey was perhaps the first to note this more than a half-century ago when he estimated that about 5% of people may have orgasms from exercise or high muscule tension [2]; however, some recent studies on women suggest that the real number could potentially be even higher. That said, they’re perhaps more appropriately termed “exercise-induced orgasms” because they aren’t just limited to core exercises—they can also occur during yoga, running, weight lifting, and even jazzercise.

12. On average, it takes about 4 minutes for men to reach orgasm and about 10-20 minutes for women. At least that’s what Masters and Johnson found [3].

13. Frequent orgasms are associated with better health. In fact, some research even suggests that orgasm may provide a boost to the immune system.

14. Brain-imaging research has found that, in women, the area of the brain that processes pain is activated during orgasm. This suggests that there may be an important connection between pleasure and pain (you can learn more about this and other brain changes during orgasm here).

15. Some people have orgasms without any genital or nipple stimulation. In fact, cases have been reported of individuals who can think themselves to orgasm or reach orgasm through mundane activities, such as touching their eyebrows or brushing their teeth (learn more about other unusual means of reaching orgasm in this video).

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[1] Campbell, B., Hartman, W.E., Fithian, M.A., & Campbell, I. (1975). Polygraphic survey of the human sexual response. Physiologist, 18, 154.

[2] Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W.B., Martin, C.E., & Gebhard, P. (1953). Sexual behavior in the human female. Philadelphia: Saunders.

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

Image Source: 123RF.com

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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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