Research reports on multiple orgasms in women date back nearly a century. Despite this, surprisingly little has been published on what women’s experiences with multiple orgasms are like. There’s also a lot of debate about what it actually means to have “multiple orgasms” (e.g., How much time passes in between each one? Do they have to happen back-to-back?).
A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research attempted to get a better understanding of this subject through a survey of 419 women ages 18-69.
All participants reported being multiorgasmic, with multiple orgasms being defined as “two or more orgasms in a single sexual session without significant breaks.” About two-thirds of the participants identified as heterosexual, and they reported having their very first orgasm, on average, at age 14, with their first multiple orgasm occurring around age 19.
When asked whether they felt they had control over multiorgasmic experiences, participants were roughly evenly divided: 47.5% felt they had complete control, whereas 52.5% felt their control was incomplete.
In terms of how many orgasms they had in a single session, the numbers varied considerably, ranging from 2 to 101. However, the modal (most common) numbers reported were 5 and 10 (reported by about 12% of women each).
Women were more likely to report having multiple orgasms with a partner than they were during masturbation, and they said they were more likely to have multiple orgasms when they were in a positive mood, felt close to their partner, and felt relaxed.
Participants were asked to describe their most recent typical experience with multiple orgasms. On average, women reported that their first orgasm occurred after about 11 minutes. Most (58%) said they continued stimulation immediately after this, with 33% taking a break of one to three minutes, and the remaining 9% taking longer breaks.
The second orgasm was reported to occur, on average, 3-4 minutes after the first one; however, women who continued stimulation reported that their next orgasm occurred faster than those who took any kind of break.
The single most common reason for ending their series of orgasms was “feeling satisfied” (reported by 62% of participants). For women who had a partner, the next most common reasons were their partner being tired (34%) and being tired oneself (28%). For those engaged in masturbation, the next most common reasons were feeling tired (31%) and feeling sensitive or sore (26.5%).
The most common means by which women reported having multiple orgasms involved manual clitoral stimulation for the first orgasm. For the second orgasm, clitoral stimulation remained the most common method for those who were masturbating; however, for those with a partner, it was vaginal penetration. That said, there was diversity in how women reported reaching their first and subsequent orgasms—some also mentioned using a vibrator, having oral sex, receiving anal stimulation, and/or having their breasts stimulated.
Lastly, the researchers found that there were at least four “types” of multiorgasmic women who varied in terms of their sexual motivation (e.g., how interested they are in sex and how sexually adventurous they are), their previous sexual history (e.g., their degree of sexual self-exploration), and the nature of their multiple orgasms (e.g., how many orgasms they typically have).
Of course, these data are limited in that they don’t come from a representative sample, so we can’t make inferences about how common any of these experiences are. Also, participants were reporting on previous experiences and were asked to estimate time to orgasm, specific number of orgasms, etc. Thus, recall bias is another potential issue.
That said, what can we take away from all of this? Several things. First, having “multiple orgasms” doesn’t necessarily seem to mean having back-to-back orgasms with continuous stimulation—on average, there’s a few minutes between orgasms, and it’s not uncommon for stimulation to briefly pause.
Second, there seems to be a lot of variability in multiorgasmic capacity. There’s a pretty big difference between having 2 orgasms and having 100+ orgasms. There was also a lot of variation in time between orgasms.
Lastly, there’s quite a bit of diversity in terms of how women come to have additional orgasms. In the words of the study’s authors, “contrary to popular belief, female multiple orgasm is not the result of a particular recipe.”
This point is important because there are a lot of books and “how-to” guides out there on this subject, and it seems that different things work for different women. So just because you’re following some guide and it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that you can’t have multiple orgasms; rather, maybe their preferred “recipe” just isn’t the right one for you.
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To learn more about this research, see: Gérard, M., Berry, M., Shtarkshall, R. A., Amsel, R., & Binik, Y. M. (2020). Female Multiple Orgasm: An Exploratory Internet-Based Survey. The Journal of Sex Research.
Image Source: 123RF/Piotr Marcinski
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