Ask Ada: What Does It Feel Like To Have An Orgasm?

Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice!

How do I know if I’m actually orgasming? What should the release feel like?



Hi SM,

Well, first of all, Scarletteen has this question covered, and I would say that it touches on the subject in a far better way than I ever could. But I’d still like to answer your question, because there’s a bigger discussion here that’s worth delving into.

The short answer is that the only person who knows how an orgasm feels for you is yourself. The slightly longer answer – which you will also find on Scarleteen – is that the only way for you to tell that you are orgasming is through practice, trial, and error.

I know, I know. It sucks to hear that you’re responsible for your own orgasm, especially if you were raised in a household that was hostile to sexual expression. Hell, it sucks to hear if your upbringing was super sex-positive, but your only partners were uppity assholes who think that 30 seconds of cunnilingus is all the foreplay you need. My generation got its sex ed from fanfiction and porn, and it shows – we continue to perpetuate the idea that there is a “right” way to experience pleasure, and that anybody who feels differently is somehow broken.

What I’ve gleaned from your question, SM, is that you are experiencing frustration.

You are frustrated with yourself and frustration with the dissonance between what you are feeling and what others led to believe that sex is about. (I’m also going to go out on a limb and assume that your partner is not one of those people who goes out of their way to make you comfortable). Unfortunately, the only solution is in your hands (literally!)

My concrete advice to you is to figure out what you find sexy. Look for sex-positive media, as well as sex-positive people who are like you. Seek out accurate representations of your own gender and body type, figure out your turn-ons and turn-offs, and get ahold of some feminist pornography. You could also head to a feminist sex shop, and then, when you have enough material, return to the quest of discovering your orgasm. Try things out by yourself, and when you feel confident enough, try them with your partner.

My less concrete advice? Approach your orgasm from a place of curiosity, not a place of punishment. Your body is not a malfunctioning appliance or a car that needs to pass its MOT. Over time, you will discover your path to sexual gratification again and again.

And if your partner makes you feel like you’re supposed to perform like a porn star every time?

Then you’re not the one who needs to change.


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Image credit by Mickael Gresset


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