Orgasm is a neuromuscular complex and reflex response that occurs when we reach the height of sexual pleasure.
According to Master & Johnson (1964), the sexual response cycle consists of various stages:
- Excitement stage (achieved by stimulating the erogenous zones, both physically – through the five senses – and mentally).
- Plateau stage (when you're about to climax. Also called point of no return the closest it is to stage 3).
- Orgasm (it only lasts for a few seconds – in both women and men the hypertonic muscles relax, releasing the blood back into the vessels and causing involuntary muscle contractions throughout the body but especially of the pelvic muscles).
- Resolution stage (you slowly go back to a normal, pre-excitement state).
However, some people can have multiple orgasms, that is, several orgasms close together without returning to a normal state and resuming the cycle from stage 1.
Women find it easier to experience multiple orgasms, as their refractory phase (i.e. a period of time during which there is no sexual response, despite stimulation) is shorter, perhaps due to hormonal levels that are different in men.
How many women have multiple orgasms? Master & Johnson suggested 16%, Bernorio and Passigato (in a 2017 study involving 1,264 women) 65% (25% often, 40% sometimes).
Averaging the two studies, we could say that about 40% of women has multiple orgasms: but how?
Some don't reach stage 4 but go back to stage 2 and then achieve a new climax relatively quickly (‘traditional’ multiple orgasms), while others, through adequate stimulation, can go back to the plateau stage from the resolution stage, and so achieve successive orgasms.
How to achieve multiple orgasms
One way to achieve multiple orgasms of either type is to shorten the plateau stage, quickly reach the orgasm stage and then start getting stimulated anew (if it's not troubling). This is a good method for men, too (although factors such as age and general state of health should be considered). Another way is to use different types of stimulation, perhaps on different areas: mouth, hands, sex toys or penis, clitoris and vagina, nipples, perianal and anal areas. Two things could happen: you might experience another orgasm or make a new fulfilling discovery about yourself. Masturbation is always a good starting point, as it helps us develop awareness of what we like and don't like. Together, the key word must be COMMUNICATION: if you don't like a certain stimulation technique, having one orgasm will be difficult, let alone multiple ones. If you'd like better stimulation (according to you – let's remember that it's all very subjective), just say so, explaining how much more you'd enjoy the experience.
All this doesn't mean that achieving orgasm is the sole objective of intercourse or something one should absolutely always strive for: it's really not like that, not always, at least. Often, the journey is better than the destination, and just being together is much nicer than those few seconds of pleasure.
Then again, if you never achieve an orgasm, you can always consult a healthcare professional specialised in the rehabilitation of the pelvic floor, as well as a sex therapist.
Article by Silvia Boselli – Obstetrician specialised in pelvic floor rehabilitation