Psychology
09 Oct 2018

Orgasm -- do we need one?

For years, both male and female orgasms were regarded as the culmination of sexual intercourse. Today, we finally know that women’s physiology plays by its own rules. An interview with the sexologist Alicja Długołęcka.

Wysokie Obcasy
Paulina Reiter Wysokie Obcasy, Global
Orgasm -- do we need one? - NewsMavens
Woman, PixaBay

The following fragments from Paulina Reiter's interview with sexologist Alicja Długołęcka appeared in the Polish weekly "Wysokie Obcasy" in November 2013.

Paulina Reiter: Let’s start from the beginning: What is an orgasm?

Alicja Długołęcka: It’s a feeling of intense sexual pleasure that happens during sexual activity. And it results from desire. In order to feel desire we need to think about sex or about physical closeness with another person. I should stress that we can easily either eliminate sexual desire from our life or boost it up. And we don’t need to be in a relationship, have a sexual partner or think about making love in a pornographic way to be a sexual person.

The second stage, following the desire phase, is excitement which then leads to an orgasm. And to another one, and another one… The excitement stage is where we can try and work on our body, learn to get rid of all the barriers and build the connection with our partner. That way we’ll be able to reach a single, multiple and a “whole body orgasm”, also called the “orgasmic upward draw”.

PR: Can you explain the difference?

The first type of orgasm is followed by resolution and it’s very similar to a male orgasm. However, female resolution lasts a considerably shorter period of time and women are ready to repeat the whole process almost immediately. If we repeat it a few times in a row, we will reach the multiple orgasm -- climax after climax with small breaks in between.

If we would like to experience the “whole body orgasm”, we have to resist the initial sexual peak, prolong the phase of arousal and reach its higher level.

The best way to do it is to start with clitoral stimulation, which causes the swelling of labia minora and the G-spot area between the vaginal opening and the urethra, also called the "orgasmic platform". Consequently, an intense feeling of pleasure will spread from the clitoris, through all the genital area and up the spine, making our whole body one big erogenous zone.

PR: So in multiple orgasms, we go for quantity and in whole body orgasms, quality. Am I correct?

That’s right. What we call a multiple orgasm is the ability to reach a sexual peak, then a quick resolution and after a few minutes, another orgasm. During the whole body orgasm we intensify the sensation, moving to a state of higher sexual energy.

PR: Are there any new scientific theories about orgasms?

In 2000, sexologists finally acknowledged the difference between the male and female orgasm. They abandoned the male-oriented Masters and Johnson’s four-phase model (excitement, plateau, orgasm, resolution) and accepted the nonlinear model of female sexual response proposed by Rosemary Basson.

Basson's model incorporates the importance of emotional intimacy and relationship satisfaction, distinguishes different types of female orgasm and emphasizes the interdependence between orgasm and the phase of a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Up until then, orgasms were regarded as the goal of sexual intercourse. However, Basson argued that what females experience after sexual arousal is not climax, but rather sexual satisfaction.

This state of satisfaction can, but doesn’t necessarily have to, coincide with an orgasm. This means that orgasm is neither the purpose nor the condition for satisfactory intercourse and it can happen before, during or after a woman has reached her arousal peak. Although the physiological sensation of male and female orgasm is very similar, women achieve orgasm slower than men and they are capable of experiencing multiple orgasms.

Women can move from the excitement phase straight to orgasm, or go through all the phases without peaking, and still feel sexually satisfied.

Western scientists frequently announce seemingly sensational discoveries in this field due to the fact that they have only recently started to analyze the phenomenon of sexual intercourse, not only from a gynaecological and procreative perspective, but also with regard to its neurological and sexological aspects. [...]. That’s how they came up with the Anterior Fornix Erogenous zone (AFE), otherwise known as the "A-spot".

PR: A-spot? So far I’ve only heard of the G-spot.

The A-spot is the area behind the G-spot. It’s placed on the anterior wall of the vagina, but deeper, above the cervix. Unlike the G-spot, it does not require a rest period.

PR: What makes women experience orgasms differently than men?

According to Basson, female orgasm is not a purely physiological and sexual experience. It’s strongly affected by emotions and our interpretation of the situation. Very often, the intensity of a woman’s orgasm depends on her relationship with her partner.

Our main problem is the fact that we’re so deeply focused on reaching an orgasm, we forget to enjoy the whole experience of intercourse itself. Instead of taking pleasure in the intimate, physical connection with our lover, we’re stubbornly focusing on this one particular objective. What’s the point?

Orgasm shouldn’t be an end in itself. Once we make it our only goal -- the harder we try to achieve it -- the more elusive it becomes.

But if orgasm is our desire, there are other factors that might be stopping us from experiencing one,  the serious disease that troubles most modern, well-organised, independent people. It’s called: a need for control.

PR: Why is it so hard to lose control?

Because we’ve been unconciously maintaining it for years. It works on the external level -- when we consider our current life situation, time, place or partner inappropriate, and on the internal level -- when the self-restraint is associated with our upbringing, beliefs and well-being. Another type of control -- probably the most difficult to overcome -- relates to emotional risk. Some women might feel too shy to be spontaneous. They worry about what their partner might say if they let go or or follow their instincts in bed. But, if we want to enjoy sex, we certainly need to lose control. 

PR: What kind of partner will help us achieve different types of orgasm?

Men and women who are interested in sexual exploration and knowledgable about female sexuality.  These types of partners will crave physical and emotional intimacy and perceive their partner’s every single, multiple or whole body orgasm as a forceful, moving experience, in both a sexual and spiritual sense. It’s crucial that we get acquainted with our own body too -- get to know our erogenous zones, find our G-spot and the AFE zone, learn different methods of sexual stimulation, and then -- without shame -- teach our lover. A good knowledge of one’s body and a deep, and sensible relationship with our partner are the key to sexual satisfaction. 

***

Alicja Długołęcka is a Polish sexologist, and author of numerous books including: Seks na Wysokich Obcasach (Sex on High Heels) and a lecturer at the Department of Psychotherapy and Sexual Rehabilitation at Jósef Piłsudski University of Physical Education in Warsaw.

Translated from Polish by Martyna Kardach

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