Oh, the ever-mystifying, ever-elusive female orgasm. We have them, we love them, but do we understand them?

On a biological level, everything that goes down inside the body during orgasm is the same physiological process regardless of mode or location of stimulation. Though the reaction takes place mainly in the vaginal and clitoral region, a woman can be brought to orgasm by merely fantasizing. I guess your Ryan Gosling spank bank will come in handy after all. And whatever you do, never rule out your breasts.

Two very important things happen when a woman becomes aroused that, if her partner plays their cards right, will eventually lead to orgasm: vasocongestion and myotonia.

As unsexy of a term as vasocongestion is, it’s just a fancy way of describing the swelling of tissues in the sexual organs caused by an increase in blood flow. Without it, men wouldn’t be able to get erections, the cute bartender wouldn’t be able to make you blush, and your vagina wouldn’t naturally lubricate. Praise be to vasocongestion.

Myotonia, on the other hand, is the voluntary or involuntary contraction of different muscle groups. Women have been known to make some epic o faces, and it’s a physical response to rapidly increasing myotonic tension in the body. You can also blame myotonia for the scratches on your partner’s back or the handprints on your headboard. Without something to clutch on to, the hands could spasm from this overwhelming tension. Good thing your partner is such a sport.

Orgasms, as earth-shattering as they may be, are nothing more than a release from vasocongestive and myotonic tension. As the tension is released, the orgasmic platform, which is simply the tissue of the outer third of the vagina, begins to contract rhythmically. The orgasmic platform experiences anywhere from three to 12 contractions. You can expect five to eight contractions to wake up your roommate, and you can equate 12 contractions to a broken headboard, ripped sheets, or an angry note from your neighbors who live three houses down.

You may be wondering why a solo session with your Hitachi Wand gives you a much different orgasm than sex with your partner. Though the orgasms are produced the same way physically, the experience is subjective to each woman, ranging in duration and intensity. Even within the same woman orgasms tend to be unique. The g-spot orgasm? Amazing. The clit orgasm? Even better. The g-spot-clit combo? To die for.

Though there are several key players in the female orgasm, the clitoris and the mind seem to be the most powerful. The clitoris is the most sensitive erogenous zone in the human body and is the only organ that is devoted purely to pleasure.

“No one has ever defined any other purpose,” Marvin Amstey, M.D, said. “Seriously.”

It sure as hell serves its purpose well. The clitoris, however, may as well be useless if you’re in a shaky state of mind.

The female orgasm is unfortunately yet beautifully, complex. Cultural, social, and emotional distractions have been known to hinder or even stifle orgasmic attainment altogether. The good news is that if you’re in a happy and healthy state of mind, orgasm, and even multiple orgasms, is attainable. So just keep calm and orgasm on. And on.

Howcroft is a member of

the class of 2014.

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