Eight ways to know you’ve just had an orgasm

Reaching climax isn't always obvious for people with vaginas

If you're one of the 10-15% of women who haven't had an orgasm, you may be unsure what to expect. (Getty Images)
If you're one of the 10-15% of women who haven't had an orgasm, you may be unsure what to expect. (Getty Images)

You may be thinking it must be obvious if you’ve had an orgasm, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Especially if you’re just starting out on your sexual adventures, or you’re one of the 10-15% of women who have never had an orgasm – yet we say!

And for you people, we have nothing but envy since you have it all to come…’scuse the pun.

Check out these eight surefire signs…

1. It took a while to get there

The average time it takes for a woman to reach climax may be longer than you think.

“When they're with a partner, it takes people with vaginas an average of 20 minutes of clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm (it tends to be much faster when you're solo pleasuring)," explains Dorian Solot, sex educator and co-author of I ❤️ Orgasms: A Guide to More.

"However, up to an hour is not unusual, especially when you're still learning how and exploring.”

Man and woman kissing (Getty Images)
For women, the time taken to reach an orgasm is 20 minutes on average. (Getty Images)

2. Your chest and face are flushed

“Another sure sign that an orgasm has occurred is a sudden hot flush and sweating across the chest, head and face,” says Charlotte Johnson, sex and relationship expert for Megapleasure.co.uk.

During sex there's an increase in blood flow, meaning more of those blood cells carrying oxygen can reach your chest and face. When your blood vessels start to dilate, you get that rosy flushed look.

The increase in oxygen stimulates collagen production. Bonus!

Read more: Sex coach shocks Holly and Phil by claiming she can orgasm ‘on demand’

3. The sensation was way more intense than anything before

Having an orgasm is also called ‘climaxing’ for a reason; because it feels like you just reached the summit of that mountain.

As Solot explains, “When you're aroused, there can be small ‘surges’ of pleasure along the way that feel great. But when you're actually having an orgasm, the intensity of sensation is much stronger than those little pleasure surges along the way.”

That’s how you know it’s the big O.

Woman in bed in underwear (Getty Images)
The peak of an orgasm will feel far more intense that anything leading up to it. (Getty Images)

4. You felt your muscles contracting

“A physical sign you’ve had an orgasm is the feeling of muscle contractions or spasms in the genital area,” says Johnson. “They aren’t painful, it’s more a tickling sensation and feeling of muscle movement.”

Solot adds that how an orgasm feels can vary so much from person to person and also, orgasm to orgasm, making them even more exciting.

“While some people feel the muscles contract in their vagina, hands or feet, others don't feel any muscular contractions at all,” she says. “It might feel more like waves of sensation or pleasurable electric currents running through parts of your body.”

Read more: The 11 different types of female climax - and how to achieve them

5. You feel sleepy

Woman lying in bed, tired and happy (Getty Images)
The hormones we release during orgasm can make us sleepy afterwards. (Getty Images)

“As the body orgasms it releases hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin which create an increasing sense of pleasure and relaxation,” says Johnson. “Not only is this the reason that we feel muscle contractions in your genital area, but also the reason why some people feel very tired and sleepy post-orgasm.”

You’ve also done a helluva lot of exercise, so there’s that too.

Watch: Sex coach can 'orgasm on demand' – using only her mind

6. Afterwards, being touched feels different

One of the clearest signs you’ve had an orgasm, says Solot, is that stimulation suddenly no longer feels good.

“Whatever you were doing that brought on the orgasm (your fingers or your partner's, a toy, oral sex, etc) felt terrific – and then suddenly the exact same motion is unbearable and you have a strong urge to stop,” she says.

Don’t worry though, a little rest and you’ll hopefully be ready to go again.

Read more: The top 5 sex myths we still think are true

7. You feel a surge of happiness and want more

All those hormones like dopamine and endorphins which make you feel sleepy are also linked to improving mood, creating a feeling of real wellbeing and happiness.

“As sex is a physical activity, an orgasm also increases your heart rate and breathing, therefore burning fats and further releasing those endorphins,” says Johnson.

Because orgasm activates reward pathways in the brain, much in the same way as drugs, it can also produce a similar experience of addiction – leaving you wanting more and more.

Two women in bed (Getty Images)
Orgasm activates your brain's reward pathways, leaving you craving more. (Getty Images)

8. You have ‘squirted’

‘Squirting’, or female ejaculation as it is sometimes called usually happens at the same time as orgasm, but not always. Women can squirt but not have an orgasm (and of course also have an orgasm but not squirt).

However, “most of the time these things go together,” says Solot. “So if you experienced a sudden ejaculation of fluid around the time you also had an intense sensation of pleasure or release, there's a good chance you had an orgasm.”

Read more: Percentage of men and women who orgasm every time they have sex

Squirting is when fluid comes out of a woman's urethra during sexual arousal. Research studies vary, but in the survey Solot ran for her book, 38% of women said they had squirted.

“The substance that is ejaculated is not pee, though it can contain a trace of pee since it runs through the same pipes," says Solot. “The fluid is very similar to the fluid in semen, only without the sperm, of course.”

Don't worry either, it doesn’t have an unpleasant smell and is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about.