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 closed 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.)
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
24 thoughts on “Q&A with J: How Do You Know When Orgasm is Close?”
I can see the pelvic sneeze analogy for the build up to orgasm. It is a little like anticipating a sneeze because you can feel it build up until it happens. But with a sneeze, it’s over in a fraction of a second and then all the build up is gone. With an orgasm, the “sneeze” part is often a bit longer and more prolonged, like a free fall on a roller coaster where you get the exhilaration for several seconds as it diminishes. It may resolve all the built-up feelings with it, or (if you’re lucky) you may feel like there’s still residual tension and be able to go again soon. Anyway, I liked the roller coaster analogy and that’s how I have often pictured it. You get that anticipation of growing tension getting closer and closer to the summit and then a wild ride as you get over the edge.
I’ve told my husband that I never had an ‘o’ in my life but now I’m not so sure; I’ve experienced a number of these things, when I was in my thirties, doing it myself, but my feeling was, ‘now what?’ and ‘is that all there is?’ There was no big release thing, certainly not like I see my husband have. At this point in my life, I really don’t care about an ‘o’ and don’t feel I even want one. My husband and I have a lot of sex, which I usually enjoy for the intimacy, the fun of making him so crazy, and the joy of his pleasure. (Yes I was taught that doing it myself was wrong and felt guilty about it and still prefer not to mention it.)
My wife is similar to you. In our 4 decades of marriage, she has never experience an “O”. However, she does enjoy the feeling of closeness during our times of intimacy. Sometimes I feel there is too much emphasis in our culture on the pursuit of the big “O”.
I hear you, but coming from husbands who probably reach climax 95% of the time or more…it’s kinda easy for y’all to say. Why shouldn’t she have an orgasm too? I’ve written about not needing one every time, but at least sometimes, yes!
So, I would never reply to this if you knew me but since you don’t….it breaks my heart! My advice is that you should buy J’s book for your wife and Google how to help her succeed in this area. Pray for your wife to climax as well; not only before but during intimacy. Pray that God will help you please her which will strengthen your marriage and relationship with Christ. Pray continuously. Also, I’m no expert and I’m sure I’m wrong about this but in my eyes there are 2 types of orgasms. One outwardly, stimulating clitorally, and inwardly, g-spot. I feel like outwardly is easier to achieve so I would start there. Inwardly is much stronger and in my opinion more like what the man expriences. Maybe pray and focus on what she likes and you’ll both enjoy the gift that God designed for marriage even more.
The best way to have an O is to be belly to belly and grab him on the behind and pull hard, slow, and deep. Youll have to try a few times to find the right spot, then use your hands to keep him there. My husband and I laugh bc he likes it shallow and fast and I like it deep and hard. Work together and remember women do better when men take their time and when your body is ready.
I suspect that’s a great option for many wives, but I wince when people say things like “the best way to have an O” and then describe what works for them. Because our bodies are just different, and what works for one wife may not work for another. One of the issues is distance between vagina and clitoris, and that changes from woman to woman. What we know is that clitoral stimulation does it, and what you suggest may grind right against that spot just so. Thrilled it works for you, worth others trying, but it’s just not guaranteed. Thanks, Suzette!
I understand everyone is different; I was just trying to explain a way to try to someone who has never had that experience. Just trying to help.
When my husband and I were first married, I used to be able to the time my movements with me on top so we could have simultaneous orgasms. Then we went through about 20 years of me denying him for a lot of various reasons that we are still working on.. 🙁
Now we’re kind of getting back on track, but I still haven’t had an orgasm in 20 + years. We can get to the point where I feel the tension building and building and building, and I just wonder will it ever happen? And / or he gets tired or sore and we stop. 🙁 and he’s usually already had an orgasm, so he’s ready for sleep 30 seconds later.
Why don’t you go first? That is, at least sometimes, he can focus on getting you all the way to orgasm through direct stimulation and THEN you can have intercourse. That would get you back into the sensation, and it’s easier for a wife to have a second orgasm through intercourse if she’s already had one through other means (manual play, oral sex…).
How much, if at all, does how you view your husband factor into a wife orgasming? I love my husband dearly. He really does try to please me sexually and help me orgasm. But a) I’ve never masturbated, b) find him rather physically unattractive since he’s put on about 100 pounds since we got married due to his relaxed diet and sedentary habits, and c) we’re both very sexually inexperienced and were virgins on our wedding night. Plus, we haven’t been very creative in the marriage bed since we got married several years ago. We try different positions and angles, but that’s about it and none have resulted in an orgasm for me yet. Sometimes I wonder if being visually turned on by my husband would up the chances of me having an orgasm since it would cut down on the length of foreplay I require which would cut down on the amount of clitoral stimulation I need which would mean my clit wouldn’t get so tired and sore. I let him know what feels good to me when we’re making love, but still haven’t “gone over the edge” or had an orgasm, though I think I’ve been in the beginning stages of one before. Any ideas or tips?
Typically, orgasm for a wife is less about visuals than other senses, but that can include touch…which has changed, I’m sure, since your husband gained a lot of weight. That said, if you’re experiencing a “tired and sore” clitoris, I wonder if you have enough lubrication or if he’s applying too much pressure. I have a chapter in my book about manual play that can be very helpful for a husband to also read to know how to stimulate his wife toward orgasm. (I also have a chapter about orgasm in that same book.)
Thank you J. I’ll read your book, especially that chapter. We use lots of lube, so my guess is it’s probably the amount of pressure he’s using.
I’m no expert, like J, but I can tell you what works for me. If your husbands looks don’t turn you on, just turn the lights off and remember him when he was attractive to you. The more sex you have the closer you’ll get, regardless. Maybe encourage him to work out and eat healthier bc you love him and don’t want him to die. If your clit gets sore, keep your legs closed; don’t even let him go there until you’re ready. It doesn’t feel good to be rubbed there when you’re dry. Talk and tell him why or what you like. Sometimes when I’m not in the mood, I’d rather him rub up and down my body or my backside instead of right to the point; like teasing. Let him know not to start there and kiss the inside of your thighs until you tell him you’re ready. Hope this helps.
My wife and I never had sex together before marriage and both of us knew very little. About 3 to 4 days into our marriage she would act weird during sex and space it out. She said she didn’t know what was going on and that her body was “playing tricks on her”.
About a month later we read a marriage book that described the female orgasm is great detail. She then told me that was what had been happening to her. She had been climaxing and didn’t know it. She has since spent the remaining years trying to learn how to position herself so she could climax again. She’s been very successful. It been a wonderful life.
Oh my, why didn’t someone tell her?! Glad y’all figured it out. Blessings!
Thanks for answering my question. The physical and experiential descriptions are helpful. Does your book go into what else to do? Usually once I feel this tension, I start laughing, and then we move on to intercourse…how do we figure it out? You don’t know what you don’t know. If we don’t move on, and try other things that wind up not really feeling as good, then I’m not ready for actual sex and feel like we have to start over from the beginning.
I also wish the most common analogy wasn’t the first drop of a roller coaster. That is my least favorite part of the ride. It makes me nervous, and if I’m being honest, so does the idea of having an orgasm.
I read this post on the same day I was watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix. It coincidentally was the episode where she and her husband finally have sex. She doesn’t have an orgasm the first few times, but by the end the episode, everything is resolved. I cried my eyes out and then had to take a nap.
I’m fairly specific in the book, with practical tips to try, both in that chapter and others.
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What about when you feel the tension building and then it just suddenly stops feeling good? I’d wonder if I’ve actually had an orgasm and just missed it, but it always leaves me feeling quite let down. (I should probably add that it’s taken me 5+ years just to get sex to stop hurting, so it honestly doesn’t feel that great, period, except occasionally after something like an hour of foreplay and then hitting that wall and just getting the intercourse over with. And then feeling like this whole thing is so overrated.)
Bless your heart! And I will be writing soon about missed orgasms. Yes, what you describe can happen, but I want to research some more before I give blanket advice. Hang in there… And yes, sex is meant to feel good for you too!
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I would have that build up of tension, feeling like something was about to happen, then it would just stop. So extremely frustrating. Years and years of this.
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