In this four-part blog series we are highlighting important topics that can have an impact on women's health and wellbeing: cervical cancer, the menstrual cycle, contraception and some interesting science about the female orgasm!
The female orgasm
There is currently no defining explanation of what an orgasm is actually for. There are, however, many different definitions of what an orgasm is. The medical explanation is that an orgasm results from physiological changes within the body, however psychology professionals also link it to a change in the cognitive & emotional mindset.
Of the two viewpoints, the physiological aspect of an orgasm is the better understood. For women, it begins when the blood vessels in the genitals dilate, as she begins to become excited. This can happen via physical or psychological stimulation, or both. Blood pressure increases, as does her breathing & heart rate. The vulva swells due to the increased supply of blood to it, potentially leading to the women looking flushed and pale, normally around the chest & neck. The top of the vagina expands internally and fluid starts to pass through the vaginal walls for lubrication.
The lower area of the vagina becomes firm as it reaches its maximum limits of blood flow, and the clitoris is pulled backwards to lie against the public bone.
The female orgasm, which lasts on average between 13-51 seconds, is the muscles of the genitals contracting rhythmically, roughly every 0.8 seconds. Most women do not have a recovery period after an orgasm, meaning that further stimulation can lead to multiple orgasms.
Scientific studies have shown that orgasms can have several health benefits for women. Three different studies have shown that the average length of menstrual cycles for women who had sex regularly (every week) was 29 days, while women who had infrequent sex had lengthier menstrual cycles.
Also, 70% of women in a study linking improvements to headaches and migraines with sex, said they had substantial, to complete, relief from a migraine after orgasm.
Women's health related AnatomyStuff resources
Further reading / sources
What is an orgasm?
Orgasms and menstrual cycle length
Sex & headaches