Tag Archives: orgasm in marriage

Q&A with J: How Do You Know When Orgasm is Close?

Today’s question is a great one about orgasm. For many women, the building of an orgasm, the crossing of the line, and the characteristic spasms are fairly easy to detect. But for some women, it’s not so clear. And for pre-orgasmic women (a term Bonny Burns of OysterBed7 taught me!), it can be frustrating to feel that build and not know what it should feel like to get all the way to climax.

With that in mind, here’s this month’s reader question:

I wanted to ask how you know if you’re close to having an orgasm? There are times when my body tightens up in a way that seems similar to when my husband orgasms. However, it’s not followed by a sense of release or uterine contractions (which I thought is an orgasm?). Do you think this is on the way to orgasm?

Quick answer: Yes, I think you’re on the way to orgasm. Building tension is a key component of heading toward climax. But the arousal may not have increased enough to get you over the edge to release.

There are really two ways to look at orgasm: physiologically and experientially. Let’s look at each.

Physiology of an Orgasm

Medical professionals and scientific researchers define the buildup and orgasm through physical characteristics — that is, what’s actually happening in your body. Leading up to a climax, the blood vessels in the genitalia dilate, meaning that a woman’s vulva will swell. The inner vaginal lips will become 2-3 times their normal size. The blood flow can also cause flushing of the body, particularly on the neck and chest. Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase.

Right against the edge orgasm, blood flow causes the lower area inside the vagina to become firm. A wife’s breasts may swell, the areola of her breasts (shaded part around the nipple) flatten, and the clitoris pulls back from the pubic bone. The climax, however, has not happened until rhythmic contractions occur.

That’s a lot going on, and you’re almost certainly not aware of all that as it’s happening. Your husband is likely not fully aware either, as you are both hopefully caught up in the passion of the moment — not eyeballing your parts to see what’s swelling or firming or flattening.

But biologically speaking, that’s what’s going on.

Experience of an Orgasm

Experientially, the female climax has certain features most wives recognize, but it can also be individual. One wife may flush a lot, and another not so much. One wife may feel her pulse strongly, and another isn’t all that aware. One wife may feel the contractions strongly, and another less strongly.

So how do you know when you are coming close? Or have arrived?

I asked the wives in my Hot, Holy & Humorous Facebook Community to describe their experience, and here’s what they wrote:

  • Increasing leg twitches, a feeling of warmth in the whole pelvic region, and a building tension similar to the buildup before a sneeze.
  • Like I am on a roller coaster heading up a big hill then the drop off the end for the orgasm
  • Shin cramp
  • Legs start twitching and my leg muscles automatically tense. The pelvic region in general will tense and … there’s a feeling of warmth or tingling. And then there’s the wave as the tide hits
  • My stomach drops like on a roller coaster, just before you go over the top, then I have the most peculiar feeling to hold perfectly still and not breathe
  • There is a very intense feeling in the clitoral area that builds. All my muscles tense up. This continues till I can’t take it anymore and then the release…ahhh
  • Much more vocal, focused on only on us and the moment. My inhibitions become waaay lower
  • The good feeling of what is happening intensifies and gets more and more concentrated almost until I can’t take it anymore, then it’s like an electric explosion
  • A lot of pressure, but it’s pleasurable. Warm and tense in the clitoral area. Sometimes my body shakes a little bit. Breath comes in gasps. Muscles tense up right before. 
  • This weird sensation that starts from the pelvic region and travels up my left side of my spine, to my brain — then, fireworks. … I also agree with the leg twitches, and the first time I heard “like a pelvic sneeze” I thought- YES! that is exactly what it is like.
  • I feel like I’m moving closer and closer to something amazing—good sensations everywhere and everything feels so good and much more intense. When it happens—the best way to describe it for me is fireworks exploding in my brain and all over my body
  • Tingling, tickling, spark-like sensations. I also feel a swelling in that area and stimulation at times feels like it’s too much to handle. I also cannot keep my hips still… then it feels like a run away train or fireworks that go every which way in the end
  • I can no longer focus on what I’m doing (like kissing or touching his back)
  • Mostly it seems like my toes just curl up and I feel just warm and fuzzy, nothing real intense, but my breathing stops and I just feel so close and connected with my hubby

My favorite description here might be the “pelvic sneeze.” But think of a big sneeze — like that one that makes your whole body tense, and you know it’s coming and you won’t be able to stop it, and the eventual sneeze is actually a relief. 

If you’re not sure you’ve had an orgasm, then you probably haven’t. (Not always true, but generally so.) The contractions are really the key, and you should be able to feel those, at least somewhat — and it should be followed by a release of muscle tension.

Achieving an Orgasm

So what factors can help a preorgasmic wife finally reach orgasm? I recently read an interesting study about what helps a woman climax, in which researchers said mattered most were:

  • How important orgasms were considered personally
  • How high was sexual desire
  • How high was sexual self-esteem (including how skillful and good in bed women considered themselves)
  • How open was sexual communication with the partner
  • Ability to concentrate on the moment
  • Mutual sexual initiations
  • Partner’s good sexual techniques

I actually address every one those in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design. So if you’re struggling, go get a copy! (Or get a copy anyway, to boost your lovemaking.)

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The vast majority of wives can, and definitely should, reach orgasm most times they have sexual intimacy with their husbands. If you’re not getting there, it’s time to consider the issues mentioned above. Though I would add relationship health and belief as a Christian that sexual intimacy is a God-approved and blessed activity in marriage.

Orgasm is an experience not quite like any other, and I hope and pray that each wife can lean into their sexual enjoyment and feel that special peak of pleasure.

Sources include Medical News Today: Everything you need to know about orgasms; NIH – Determinants of female sexual orgasms

These 3 Actions Could Bring You to Orgasm

One of the questions I receive most is from wives asking how to achieve orgasm. That’s understandable, since a really great orgasm is one of the few things that lives up to its billing.

I have a full chapter on orgasm in my book, Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design, and that remains my best advice on how to get there. But although I incorporated the following information into what I said based on personal experience and hearsay, I didn’t have the study I want to share about what researchers call the “Golden Trio.”

Triangle with starburst fireworks + blog post title

It starts with 52,000 participants in an online survey, which is obviously a huge sample. Admittedly, it’s not a perfect sample, because this survey was hosted on the NBC News website, so there was self-selection in who participated. Still, given that number, there should be some interesting insights.

Among the many questions about sex that they asked, they queried about orgasm. And while 95% of heterosexual men reported usually or always reaching orgasm during sexually intimate encounters, only 65% of heterosexual women reported the same. That’s a good-sized gap of 30%.

Now one question that I don’t believe was there was whether there was a concerted effort to reach orgasm and the woman was unable to do so. Because, for reasons that men sometimes don’t understand, some wives don’t always feel the need to orgasm (see Why I Sometimes Don’t Care about the Orgasm).

However, it’s pretty clear based on God’s design for sex — our sexual responsiveness, our physiology (thank You for that clitoris!), and the importance of mutual pleasure in the marriage bed — that wives should be achieving orgasm regularly in their lovemaking. Meaning that 30% gap is way too big.

How do you close that gap?

Researchers found that vaginal penetration alone (as I and others have said) is not likely to get to get most women to climax. A PIV orgasm can be great, but it often follows on the heels of an orgasm achieved in a different way. Specifically, according to this study, through the combination of three actions — that is, the “golden trio.”

1. Genital Stimulation

In basic terms, stimulation of the clitoris is what brings a wife to climax. Since vaginal penetration is indirect stimulation of the clitoris, it’s more difficult to get the right angle, pressure, and intensity to bring her to the peak.

More effective is hubby taking his hand and touching the clitoral hood directly. Remember that hood is just the part of the clitoris that protrudes from the body, while more of the clitoris can be aroused by massage of the vulva. Regardless, make sure there’s sufficient lubrication, find the touching that she likes, and directly touch her in that sensitive spot.

2. Deep Kissing

Are you surprised to see that one? I’m not. But I do think we overlook this important activity after we get married and in the midst of making love. All the other bits seem so fun and sexy and only-in-marriage that we forget how fabulous kissing can be. It’s why I wrote You’re Not Kissing Enough.

But this was reported by women in the study as so significant to reaching orgasm that it got equal time with genital contact. Actually, long before that, in the one book of the Bible devoted to marital, sexual intimacy, God shared this wisdom. Song of Songs opens with this line: “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine” (1:2). Are you spending enough time delighting in your spouse’s better-than-wine lips? Maybe you should spend more.

3. Oral Sex

That’s oral sex for her, by the way. It’s the same principle as genital stimulation above, in that hubby can directly stimulate the clitoris, helping her to edge up the slope to orgasm and reach that peak with a cry of victory. Why is oral sex (aka cunnilingus) so helpful in this regard? Well, she’s getting lubrication with his mouth, he can cover a larger area with his mouth and tongue, and the tongue can do more delicate things than a man’s finger. It’s a pretty cool pleasure tool.

There are yet some wives who are reluctant to give this activity a green flag, and some husbands who hesitate as well, but oral sex really is a good way for many wives to finally achieve orgasm. Whatever mental barriers you have to this practice, I’ve answered a lot of those in my blog and my book. And let me direct you to this verse from Song of Songs: “Let my beloved come into his garden and taste its choice fruits” (4:16b).

Actually, all three of these actions get their own treatment in my book too — a whole chapter each on kissing and oral sex, and a section in the hands-on chapter about manual play for her (genital stimulation, that is).

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What else helps a woman reach orgasm? The survey concluded something else interesting: Women who played music, changed sexual positions, or exchanged I love yous during their last sexual encounter were about 20% more likely to report usually or always orgasming. Atmosphere and adaptability matter too.

Also, women who orgasm more frequently tended to have a longer duration of sex and higher relationship satisfaction. Smaller but significant factors that also influenced orgasm were asking for particular behaviors in bed and flirting with your partner throughout the day.

Good gravy, it’s almost like they’ve been reading my blog and my book. 😉

Seriously, though, if you’re pre-orgasmic (haven’t gotten there yet), want to have more orgasms, or just want to give this “golden trio” a go, why not try genital stimulation, deep kissing, and oral sex with your next lovemaking encounter? Of course, you can have intercourse too. In fact, many wives who experience this level of pleasure will desire intercourse even more after hitting that high note.

They say that good things come in threes. Maybe “this golden trio” will bring a very good thing to your sexual intimacy.

Sources: The Guardian – ‘Golden trio’ of moves boosts chances of female orgasm, say researchers; Archives of Sexual Behavior – Differences in Orgasm Frequency Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Men and Women in a U.S. National Sample