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What happens when a Female Orgasms?

When a woman climaxes, there is little that can distract her from her transient yet utterly surrendered state of bliss. Yet not many women experience orgasm every time they have sex – according to Women’s Health Mag, only 25% report that they always climax during sex with a partner (as opposed to 90% of men).

To help both sexes understand the physical process of the female orgasm better scientists have analysed and described the process of subtle changes happening in the body before, during and after orgasm. Here is what happens every step of the way – mind, though, that the journey of her turn-on doesn’t always follow a linear process, but understanding the physiology can help us read her body’s signs.

Stage: Foreplay

When it feels right, the stage of foreplay comes with a warm, sexy rush which is caused by an increase of blood heading straight to the clitoris and vagina. As this happens, tiny beads of lubricant will be produced by the walls of the vagina which eventually get bigger and blend together.

Stage: The Build-Up

As she gets more turned on, the attentive partner will be able to notice a handful of physical phenomena: her heart rate increases, her breathing speeds up and her nipples may become erect. A less visible change includes an increase of blood flow to the pelvic area. Meanwhile, the introitus (entrance/lower part) of her vagina narrows (in order to grip the penis) and the upper part of it expands (in order to give it some space).

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Stage: Climax

With the right kind of touching that lasts for the right amount of time (and these vary from woman to woman), nerve and muscle tension builds up in her genitals, pelvis, buttocks and thighs until it reaches its boiling point – what happens then is that this tension is released in involuntary, intensely pleasurable waves: the female orgasm.

The muscles of the vagina, uterus and anus contract simultaneously at approximately 0.8-second intervals, about 3 to 5 times for a short orgasm and 10 to 15 times for a long one. At the same time, muscles elsewhere in the body may contract involuntarily – such as the muscles of the face or the toes. What’s more, a small-scale study at the Dutch University of Groningen shows that the parts of the brain associated with fear and emotional sensations are actually deactivated during the female orgasm – this is not the case if she fakes it.

After Orgasm: Release of Oxytocin

The aftermath of the female orgasm comes with something rather unique: during the throbs or climax, the part of the brain called the hypothalamus releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is associated with bonding, affection and protection. A recent study at the University of Zurich furthermore suggests that oxytocin increases trust – this means it can play a role in making women feel safer to let go, which in its turn may result in an increase of orgasmic contractions.

Things that Get in the Way of the Female Orgasm

The most common reasons for women to fail to reach their peak are a lack of clitoral stimulation, worries about looks and appearance and insufficient time spent on foreplay. The key for her to start to feel sexual is to be able to relax both her body and her mind. Start with something soothing or a wind down ritual before initiating sex – perhaps counter-intuitively, her body needs to relax in order to start build sexual tension.

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