Modern life is a minefield of superficially gratifying things that are also terrible for us — industrially-produced convenience foods, endless scrolling on social media, binge-watches that leave us wondering where weeks of our lives went, you get the idea.
But orgasms – those delicious rushes of transcendent sensation created by our own remarkable bodies – are good for us, and not just on a superficial level. Quality orgasms and plenty of them – solo or with a partner – have real wellness benefits. It’s both quantity and quality when it comes to getting off.
Orgasms can help with everything from headaches to period cramps to anxiety. They can help you sleep, and they can even give your skincare routine a boost! It might sound too good to be true, but science supports the health benefits of orgasm for women — and there may be more that are still undiscovered.
A Brief History of Orgasms
The way we treated orgasms in the past, especially the female orgasm, was often puritanical and repressive. (So is the present, unfortunately. We’re working on it.)
But even in the most puritanical and repressive times, people knew that the female orgasm must have been good for something. They were just a little off-base about exactly what that something was – or maybe a lot off-base.
According to numerous texts from the 1100s onward, medieval European scientists believed that conception couldn’t occur unless both the woman and the man had an orgasm.
This idea may have arisen as a way to explain why women don’t always get pregnant after intercourse at a time when that whole “ovulation” deal was still confusing. It was also grounded in some pretty wrong ideas about how female anatomy works.
We still like the thought that medieval husbands did their best to please their wives, though, even if the purpose was to produce an army of stout sons to till the soil.
Much later, in the Victorian era, scientific thought had advanced quite a bit – but still resulted in some pretty sexist ideas. For example, it was commonly believed that women (primarily middle- and upper-class women) were prone to a vague constellation of mental and emotional maladies known as “hysteria.” Fun fact — the word comes from a Greek word meaning “uterus.”
Being a woman in the Victorian era would have been enough to make anyone a little unbalanced. Luckily, the great minds of the time concluded that orgasms were an effective way to subdue the menace – leading to the invention of the vibrator.
Today, we have evolutionary psychology – and a plethora of clever explanations for why the female orgasm exists, from pair-bonding (sounds reasonable to us) to orgasmic muscle contractions “sucking” sperm towards the cervix (okay) to males proving themselves worthy partners by providing orgasms and therefore being more likely to propagate their genes (it’s not ALL about you, guys).
And as much fun as it can be to contemplate the “why” of the female orgasm, we think it’s MUCH more fun to consider the “what” – and what your orgasms can do for you.
What Are The Benefits of Orgasms?
Not every wonderful thing has to exist for self-improvement purposes, of course! The benefits of orgasm for women are the cherry on the pleasure sundae – but they are real, and if you need an excuse to have more orgasms, here’s a whole buffet.
Orgasms can help with sleep.
We have a whole big, fat, juicy blog on this subject, but in a nutshell, orgasms produce a rush of relaxing hormones, like oxytocin, dopamine, and prolactin, which can help make those elusive, restorative “zzz”s easier to access. Women can take longer to wind down after sex than men, but post-climax sleep is likely to be deeper and more restful.
Orgasms can help you achieve great skin.
In addition to releasing de-stressing hormones, orgasms actually reduce the presence of stress hormones like cortisol – a common cause of breakouts (and other nasty health conditions). That characteristic “sex flush” that accompanies climax is an expansion of genital arousal, an indicator of improved circulation throughout the body. Great circulation helps with that healthy glow, and orgasms lead to a spike in estrogen, which improves collagen production — a bonus for hair and nails as well. Plus, when you feel better about yourself, you want to have sex more. It’s the best kind of cycle.
Orgasms can help your immune system.
Orgasms reduce stress, and reduced stress improves immune health. Additionally, orgasms engage with your endocannabinoid system by elevating neurotransmitters necessary to achieve internal balance. And as if that weren’t enough, orgasms release a hormone called DHEA, which also supports immune health and cell repair. You're less likely to get sick when you feel better, and your stress level is low, and if you can get all that while also getting pleasure? Why wouldn’t you?
Orgasms can help relieve pain – including menstrual cramps.
The endorphins released during orgasm are the same ones your body uses as powerful natural painkillers. And if you’re troubled by menstrual cramps, the rush of blood to the entire pelvic area that’s caused by arousal and orgasm improves oxygenation to the area, helping to provide relief. Plus, it’s an excellent distractor from how much cramps can hurt! (We’re in favor of period sex in general, and we’re always happy to provide a little help. Don’t be fooled by the unfair stigma.)
Orgasms feel good… and they can help you feel good about yourself.
“Body positivity” is a hot term that usually applies to loving how our bodies look, no matter what anyone says. We think that’s a beautiful thing, and it’s about time. But another dimension of body positivity is loving what your body can do – and the head-swimming power of a righteous orgasm can make you feel like a superhero.
Just think about it for a second – your body is made to give you pleasure, and it belongs to you! Even if orgasms didn’t have amazing health benefits, setting aside day-to-day stressors and truly appreciating the marvel that is your body would be more than enough.
Glowing skin, a cheerful mood, and healthy sleep are just a bonus. Learning to love yourself is the real win.
How Often Should You Have an Orgasm?
The benefits of orgasm for people with vulvas are numerous, but how many orgasms do you need to have to start seeing them? Luckily, there’s no magic number of orgasms you should have a week, as long as you’re satisfied with how many you have!
Let’s be real, though. Studies have shown that people with female bodies tend to prioritize the sexual pleasure of their partner over their own. If that’s you — stop it!
There’s no reason that you and your partner can’t both get off. If your partner is having an orgasm and then rolling over and falling asleep without finishing you off, get a new partner (kidding! Start by talking to them first).
The great news is that you don’t have to rely on your partner to experience the delicious benefits of orgasm. You can and should take the time to get yourself off regularly. Not only does this help you feel better, but it can also help you teach your partner what works for you. Everyone wins!
How Do You Know if You’ve Orgasmed?
If you were born with a penis, it’s can be a bit easier to know whether or not you’ve had an orgasm (especially if said orgasm is accompanied by ejaculation. Unfortunately, it’s not as cut and dry with a vulva (although it definitely makes for easier cleanup — sometimes).
While we could point to changes in your heart rate or blood pressure, you probably don’t have the tools (or desire) to check that right after you’re done having sex. While everyone describes their orgasms differently, most people with vaginas describe them as a rush of pleasure and lubrication followed by noticeable involuntary rhythmic muscle clenching and releasing.
However, the best way to know what they feel like for you is to spend some time masturbating until you can reach orgasm on your own! Try an arousal oil to heighten your sensitivity if you still have trouble getting there, or talk to your doctor if you really can’t obtain orgasm at all.
The Bottom Line
The benefits of regular orgasms for women are more than just pleasure. Making sure you’re regularly getting off is absolutely good for your sex life, of course, but it can also reduce pain during your menstrual cycle, create better sleep, improve your skin and mental health, and support your overall sexual health and well-being.
If your partner isn’t doing it for you, talk to them about how they can pleasure you better (and do it yourself!).
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