Types Of Orgasms

Descriptions of different types of orgasms, like definitions of orgasms are far from exact. There are no standard or universally identified types of orgasms and when you read about different styles or types of orgasms you are really just reading someone’s description of what they have either experienced themselves or observed in others.

To make matters more complicated, most of the “types of orgasm” you read about these days are coming from someone trying to sell you a book, a toy, or a sexual lifestyle.

Truly my least favorite type of orgasm is the “fad orgasm.” These are the orgasms created for marketing purposes to sell a book, DVD, or sex toy, which may be true for the one “sexpert” who is telling you about them, but may not ring true for you or anyone else.

Rather than thinking of orgasms like products you can buy that come in economy, medium, or deluxe, I prefer to think of orgasms like snowflakes; no two are alike, they’re free, they melt in your mouth, and not even the weather forecast can predict when they’ll come.

Here are some ways people have distinguished types of orgasms.

Clitoral versus Vaginal Orgasms

This distinction was popularized by Sigmund Freud, who linked orgasm to our psychological development. A clitoral orgasm is brought about by clitoral stimulation and a vaginal one through vaginal penetration. Freud argued that clitoral orgasms were characteristic of the young and immature, and vaginal orgasms represented the healthy female sexual response. As such, a woman who could only have orgasms from clitoral stimulation was stuck in her development. This theory has been largely discounted, although there are still a few curious (and not surprisingly male) researchers desperately clinging to the idea. An additional problem with this distinction is that it doesn’t describe how the orgasms feel or what their detailed physiological or psychological effects are, it focuses on the method of achieving orgasm.

In Orgasms for Two, the wonderful, and highly recommended follow up to her groundbreaking book Sex for One, Betty Dodson offers a practical breakdown of nine different types of orgasms, seven of which are listed below.

Expanding on Betty Dodson's descriptions of orgasm

Betty Dodson’s descriptions of orgasm which she outlines in her excellent book Orgasms for Two come from over 30 years of teaching women to orgasm, and her own orgasmic experience, which may be unparalleled. Her descriptions of orgasm are guided by her own biases, which favors genital stimulation, and while she discounts the experience of some women, these descriptions offer a great starting point to discuss the multitude of ways men and women can experience orgasm. Below is a summary of some of her orgasm types, with additional comments.

Pressure orgasms.Dodson ties these to early childhood experiences rocking back and forth or masturbating by squeezing your legs together. This orgasm comes from indirect stimulation, no rubbing, but instead applying pressure (by leaning heavily against or on something). As children we may engage in this kind of self soothing and sex stimulating behavior even if it doesn’t result in an orgasm the way we think of them as adults. A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2005 took note of this very common form of self-stimulation, particularly in young girls. Some adults may bring this behavior into their sex lives and have orgasms from it.

Tension orgasms.This is the orgasm that comes from direct and intense stimulation usually while you are holding your body and muscles tight and tense, and holding your breath. Dodson considers tension orgasms the most common, favored because they are quick and dirty. She also calls them “peak orgasms” as they offer an intense build up followed by a sudden release. Tension orgasms could be our default because of early sexual experiences, which are often secretive and quick. It’s often been suggested that for men, premature ejaculation is a result of learning early on how to get aroused and orgasm quickly. For women too, early experiences can influence later ones, and Dodson encourages people to try to experience more orgasms beyond these, even if they do do the trick.

Relaxation orgasms. Dodson describes this type of orgasm as coming not from a build up of tension, but from deep relaxation during sexual stimulation, where you continue to release tension and relax your muscles and eventually the orgasm sneaks up on you. As opposed to the “peak orgasm” Dodson cites Shree Rajneesh, a master and author of Tantra, Spirituality and Sex , who refers to these kinds of orgasms as “valley orgasms”.

Combination or blended orgasms. Ideally orgasm is a fluid process (no pun intended) and if sex play lasts long enough you’ll get to enjoy more than one experience during orgasm, which we can call a combination orgasm. For Dodson, who has been teaching women to orgasm for over 30 years, combination orgasms involve a specific set of actions, including: “clitoral stimulation, vaginal stimulation, PC muscle contractions, pelvic thrusting, and breathing out loud.” One could broaden this definition to include orgasms that offer a variety of experiences and opportunity for you to pay attention to the different waves of orgasmic feelings.

Multiple orgasms.While female multiple orgasms are more often talked about, both men and women are capable of having multiple orgasms. Dodson distinguishes between multiple orgasms and the “aftershocks of pleasure” that follow a big orgasm, which some people might call orgasms, and which allows them to count 20 or 30 orgasms a night. One of the pitfalls of multiple orgasms is the trap of waiting for them and having anxiety about whether or not you’ll have them. Do either of these things and your attention will be taken away from the pleasure you’re feeling, which is a waste of an orgasm whatever number it comes in.

G spot orgasms.The g spot debate is far from over, and while Dodson doesn’t discount them, she favors clitoral stimulation at least being in the mix, and offers a wary attitude to those who argue for orgasms that come from penetration alone. Nonetheless, many women report orgasms that come from g spot stimulation being fundamentally different from orgasms that come from other kinds of stimulation, and given the number of women who have written and talked about it, they certainly deserve a place in the orgasm encyclopedia.

Fantasy orgasms.Dodson largely discounts the idea of orgasms that result from mental stimulation alone (which is not surprising given her belief in the supremacy of clitoral stimulation). In fact there have been several studies and years of anecdotal reports by women who have orgasms without any physical contact, and from mental fantasy alone. There is a tendency by many to see orgasms from fantasy as being less than other kinds of orgasms, but this attitude seems to come mostly from rigid thinking about the right and wrong way to orgasm, and less from people’s personal experiences.

1.Dodson, Betty. Orgasms for Two. New York: Harmony Books, 2002.
2.Freud, Sigmund. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. New York: Basic Books, 2000.

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