5 Myths About Orgasms We Need To Put To Bed

When it comes to orgasms, there's a hotbed of myths surrounding them. The reason for this is because they're shrouded in mystery. To give you an example of just how mysterious the orgasm is, especially for those with vulvas, according to a 2005 study published in HHS Author Manuscripts, it wasn't until the mid-1990s that researchers, via MRI, discovered the clitoris has an internal component. The MRI also found that this inner part was far bigger than the exposed bulb and the clitoris has erectile tissue similar to that of a penis, giving some much-needed insight into the clitoris and how it impacts orgasms from the outside and inside.

What makes the orgasm for those with vulvas even more puzzling for researchers is that it's not necessary for pregnancy, unlike when someone with a penis orgasms and releases sperm meant to fertilize, resulting in conception. Our orgasm is essentially an enigma, per The New York Times. But where there's a mystery, rumors will follow. Here are five of the most common myths about orgasms that we're putting to bed right now.

Everyone should be able to orgasm through penetration alone

If ever there were a myth that needed to be debunked, shattered, and put out to pasture it's that penetration equals orgasm for everyone. If only it were that easy. Study after study has found that the majority of people with a vulva can't orgasm through intercourse alone. While those percentages vary based on the participants, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy found that 36.6% need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, while only 18.4% reported that penetration alone could bring them to climax.

But it's not only people with vulvas who need more than penetration to orgasm. Per a 2016 study published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, contrary to what we might have been taught, those with penises don't actually have a 100% orgasm rate during penetrative sex either — it's "[m]ore than 90%," according to the Scandinavian Journal of Sexology. Granted, that's pretty darn close to 100%, thereby illustrating that the orgasm gap is indeed legitimate, but it's important to realize that penetration alone simply doesn't do it for everyone.

Sex is only good if there's an orgasm involved

Because our culture puts so much emphasis on orgasms, we often forget that great sex doesn't have to involve them. Especially if you take into consideration the fact that some people struggle to orgasm or don't orgasm at all. If we reduce sex — in all its forms — to just achieving orgasms, then we all lose. Just as much as intercourse isn't the only type of sex one can have, orgasm isn't the only result of sex that can be experienced.

"There are a million reasons why we choose to be sexual, ranging from wanting intimacy, for excitement, to relieve boredom and to feel attractive," psychosexologist Dr. Karen Gurney tells Refinery 29. "Many of these motivations can give us pleasure without getting anywhere near orgasm ... The psychological and physical processes which result in orgasm involve a complex interplay between receiving bodily sensations that we enjoy, situations which we find erotic, and our ability to focus our attention on all of these things."

When we put too much importance on having an orgasm, we miss out on properly enjoying the ride. Sex is a journey, from beginning to end, with a lot of different sensations and methods to experience arousal along the way. In fact, concentrating so much on coming can make it even harder to achieve.

There's only one type of orgasm

When we hear the word "orgasm," we tend to immediately think of climax that results from clitoral stimulation or, if you have a penis, when ejaculation occurs. But, and this might be some of the most exciting news you'll read in a long time, there are several types of orgasms.

In addition to the clitoral orgasm, there's the vaginal orgasm (also known as the G-spot orgasm) as well as the blended orgasm, which is experiencing both the clitoral and vaginal orgasms at the same time. There are also multiple orgasms; the anal orgasm; and the nipple orgasm (yes, some people can climax from nipple stimulation!) With the hotly debated squirting orgasm, fluid (not urine) is released from the urethral glands. The coregasm is induced by core-focused exercise, while skin orgasms, also known as music orgasms, are usually dismissed as goosebumps. Sleep orgasms are those delightful no-effort orgasms that we have while getting some proper shuteye. The U-spot orgasm results from urethral stimulation, while the A-spot orgasm has to do with the anterior fornix, which is located roughly a couple of inches above the G-spot.

Not only are there so many types of orgasms that can be experienced, but there are different intensities that can be felt with each. If that weren't enough, genital orgasms can be broken up into three categories: avalanche, volcano, and wave. According to a 2022 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, these orgasms are the result of the tension being held in the pelvic floor — in case you needed another reason to practice your Kegel exercises regularly. Fun fact: a strong pelvic floor means stronger and even longer orgasms.

Using sex toys on a regular basis will desensitize your genitals

Sex toys have finally become mainstream, and are no longer something that one should feel shy about purchasing or owning. Sex toy innovation has reached extraordinary heights and with so many pleasure companies being owned by people with vulvas, these products are being created to help close that aforementioned orgasm gap.

Sex toys of all kinds are great for not just orgasms, but experimentation and self-exploration. Because, after all, you never really know what gets you off until you try something new. But despite this, a rumor persists that using sex toys, vibrators in particular, too often is going to desensitize the genitals (most notably the clitoris) making orgasm more difficult to achieve — especially during partnered sex. Simply, that's not how the body works.

"What actually happens with a vibrator is that you tend to reach the climax faster because you are being intensely stimulated, more so than a finger or hand," sex therapist Rachel Hoffman tells Insider. "Therefore, when you compare a session with your vibrator to a session with a partner (without a vibrator) it might feel very different, creating the myth of desensitization."

Different types of stimulation create different types of sensations. But if your clitoris has started to rely more on your vibrator for orgasms than other types of stimulation — for example, your partner's hands or tongue — then you can take a sex toy break. However, desensitizing your genitals just isn't a thing.

If you can't orgasm, there's something wrong with you

Short answer: this is absolutely, positively not true. According to a 2000 study published in Current Psychiatry Reports, 10% to 15% of those with vulvas experience anorgasmia — the inability to orgasm. Anorgasmia is a disorder that isn't just the complete absence of orgasms after sexual arousal, but it can also result in delayed climax, or rare and less intense orgasms (via Mayo Clinic).

For some, anorgasmia can be a lifelong disorder in which an orgasm is never achieved, or it can be something that comes about over one's lifetime, or it can be situational in that you have a million other things on your plate and your head just isn't in the game. But no matter the reason, the inability to orgasm isn't a flaw, nor does it mean you're broken or can't enjoy sex. It means you enjoy sex differently than those who are able to orgasm.

As much as orgasms are a wonderful experience, it's paramount to keep in mind that pleasure looks and feels different for everyone. If your main mode of satisfaction is an orgasm, that's great. But keeping in mind just how complicated human sexuality is, it's also essential to know that orgasms don't hit the spot for everyone in the same way.