Ever Wondered?

Are there different kinds of female orgasm?

No, we don’t mean fake and not fake

October 18, 2011

A while ago, Robert King was studying the female orgasm. He went to women and asked them: “Describe an orgasm.” And their responses surprised him. Often, they would reply, “Well, what kind do you mean?” King’s response: You tell me.

Using the data from those surveys, King and his colleagues at the University of East London tried to sort out the variety of ways in which women describe their orgasms. What they found was that their accounts tended to sort into two distinct categories.

Now, you might have heard that there are two kinds of female orgasm: clitoral and vaginal. That’s not entirely true, King says. He and his colleagues did find two kinds of female orgasm, but instead of defining them as clitoral and vaginal, they sorted them into surface and deep orgasms.

This alternate classification is important for a number of reasons. First, calling something a clitoral orgasm isn’t particularly useful, King says, since the clitoris is involved in all kinds of orgasms. While we commonly think of the clitoris as just the small button-like region we can see, the actual organ is about four inches long and extends on both sides of the vagina. Second, many experts avoid the clitoral/vaginal distinction because it has been used to stigmatize women for having “the wrong kind” of orgasm. Freud, for example, thought the clitoral orgasm was immature and masculine.

So King’s classifications of surface and deep orgasms try to avoid any of that kind of judgment. One isn’t any better than another, he says. “It might be quite arbitrary what turns a surface orgasm into a deep orgasm. It might be a little bit like the difference between a low explosive and a high explosive — sometimes you want a low explosive and sometimes you want a high explosive.”

Okay, so what’s the difference between a surface and a deep orgasm? It has to do with the ways in which women described their physical and emotional states. Deep orgasms are associated with internal feelings like floating and internal pulsing. Surface orgasms are described as more intense, but located in the outer region of the vagina.

So it seems to be true, there are indeed two kinds of female orgasm. But you’ll have to turn to some other magazine for tips on how to make them happen in your girlfriend.

About the Author

Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a B.S. in ecology and a minor in writing. She spent the last four years there poking around in labs, studying krill, climbing trees, riding bikes and perfecting her fish doodles. A sucker for being lost in strange places, she recently wandered her way through Costa Rica, Portugal, Tokyo and Bonaire and is excited to take her wandering to the epicenter of strange places, New York City.



bobby says:

actually, there are at least three types of orgasms…the third one is ejaculation, a phenomenon which i have observed with several women in my life.
it is possible that ejaculation is an extension or an addition to the other two types of orgasms cited in your article…i do not know how to tell, as two or even three types of orgasms may be going on simultaneously.
ejaculation involves the expulsion of fluid…it may be small amounts of fluid, or it may be prodigious amounts–even up to a pint or possibly a quart over a several minute period of time.
this i know.

clumsygirl says:

come on, women don’t have two kinds of female orgasm.

women only have only one orgasm just like men. don’t be silly anymore.

women can’t have the ability to get multiple orgasms. because women also have refractory period after every real orgasm, they also need sleep immediately.

Brenda says:

Yes, I would say this research is going in the right direction. My partner and I use the Deliberate Orgasm practice. With it, every woman is orgasmic and can experience orgasm at the first touch. We use Deliberate Orgasm together and he gives me orgasm every day with it. So now I can start to compare and see the difference in the orgasms I am having and it is really fun. I wish everyone would know about this deliberate orgasm practice because it is so easy to experience orgasm and makes everything more fun, including experiencing different kinds of female orgasm. I love it.

Jean says:

Rock on, Robert King. When I studied the two apparent types of orgasm, clitoral and vaginal, in human sexuality, I felt like something was missing. It’s not like pressing that little button (aka, the clitoris) automatically results in one thing, and that throbbing against a woman’s interior, another (though many partners have seemed to think this is the case). Rather, for me at least, it certainly does seem as though orgasms can be cultivated in many different ways, using many different parts (or specifically, lots of different parts of the body, simultaneously). Doing this can result in either the described ‘deep’ or ‘surface’ feeling. I think the clitoris, especially the interior bits, or ‘legs’, while playing a role in ‘surface orgasm’, can definitely contribute to the ‘deep’ orgasm as well. When in doubt, gentlemen (and ladies!) go for both types of orgasm; one or the other–or at least lots of very pleasant sensation–is bound to happen.

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