Orgasm occurs after stimulation of the genitals or erogenous zones. It’s the peak of sexual arousal and causes intense feelings of pleasure. Orgasms have several positive effects on overall health. Everyone experiences sexual climax differently, which is normal and healthy. But some factors can make it difficult to achieve orgasm.
An orgasm is the height or peak of sexual arousal when the body releases sexual tension and pressure. It involves very intense feelings of pleasure in your genitals and throughout your body.
An orgasm usually lasts a few seconds and feels very good.
Orgasm occurs during sexual stimulation of your genitals and sexual (erogenous) zones of your body. These include the:
An orgasm can occur during masturbation or during sex with a partner. It is one of four stages in the body’s sexual response cycle:
Having an orgasm is also called climaxing, cumming, or having the “big O.”
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Certain things happen throughout your body during orgasm:
Muscle contractions play an important role in orgasm. For example, the muscles of your vagina and uterus often contract. This may cause a small amount of fluid to release from your genitals. Likewise, the muscles at the base of your penis contract, which usually leads to ejaculation (when the body releases semen).
In the few minutes after orgasm, your body slowly returns to its normal state. As you recover:
Some people may become sexually aroused again a few minutes after orgasm and can have multiple orgasms. Some need more time before they can orgasm again. This differs widely from person to person.
There are different kinds of orgasms, including:
Orgasm is generally intense and pleasurable. But it can feel different for everyone, and it can even feel different for a person each time. All of the differences are normal and healthy.
During orgasm, your body releases dopamine, known as “the feel-good hormone,” and oxytocin, sometimes called “the love drug.” These hormones increase feelings of happiness and other positive emotions, and they counteract the “stress hormone,” cortisol.
Many people have to experiment with different methods and communicate well with their partners before they can achieve orgasm.
Other factors also can interfere with the ability to reach sexual climax:
If you have trouble having an orgasm and it bothers you, talk to a healthcare provider. Some people have sexual dysfunction, disorders that interfere with orgasm. You can speak to a primary care provider (PCP) to learn more. Or, to address sexual dysfunction in females, you may want to visit a gynecologist.
Research indicates that orgasms have several health benefits, including improvements in:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
An orgasm is a pleasurable feeling at the height of sexual arousal. Everyone experiences orgasm differently, and many factors can affect your ability to climax. Talk to a healthcare provider if trouble reaching orgasm is bothering you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/09/2022.
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