If there’s one thing that seven months of economic shutdowns, global pestilence and political meltdowns have made clear, it’s that intentional relaxation and self-care are a crucial part of not losing your shit. And by “intentional relaxation and self-care,” I obviously mean cumming.
We know there are wide-ranging mental and physical health benefits of orgasm, including but not limited to: increased immune response, better sleep, higher levels of serotonin and other happy brain chemicals, and in my unscientific but perfect and correct opinion, a generally more chill vibe.
Most importantly, though, orgasms feel good. Er, sometimes they do. Every so often, of course, you have a life-changing one that leaves you seeing stars in a sweaty, satisfied heap, but once in a blue moon, you rub out a real dud. Its intensity is low, its climax doesn’t thrill and the satisfaction you get from it barely beats winning $5 from a scratch-off gas station lottery ticket. Aside from every Netflix documentary I’ve ever watched, I cannot think of anything more disappointing, yet massively intriguing. Why are some orgasms earth-shattering, and others are kinda shitty? And is there some sort of magical way to make sure that each time we cum, it feels as amazing as we wish it would?
The internet offers a lot of orgasm wisdom, but to cut through the noise, I turned to Reddit, otherwise known as the quintessence of the world wide web. Redditors across multiple threads post endlessly about climaxing, and from them, I learned that orgasms that don’t feel good are called anhedonic orgasms. I also learned of the dangers of “death grip,” otherwise known as “getting so used to cumming via masturbation that cumming via partnered sex no longer feels good.” (Don’t worry it’s curable — I checked.)
Reddit’s suggestions for orgasm optimization range from the perfunctory to the profound. “Try zinc vitamins,” redditor Nadialy5 glibly suggests. Another redditor — who I imagine sits calmly behind his screen, fingers touching in a meditative tent — suggests that you could “also learn to achieve multiple non-ejaculatory orgasms via prostate massage, tantra, KSMO [Key Sound Multiple Orgasms] and Taoist practices.” A third, MyBustersWorld, generously provides readers with such methods as “rubbin’ sticks” (hands on the sides of the penis, rub as if you’re trying to start a fire by using two sticks), as well as “dipping your balls in a cold or warm glass of water while doing it.” On yet another thread, a redditor suggests that orgasms intensify when you tense your leg muscles right before you climax.
Despite the ingenuity and inventiveness of techniques, these tips speak to a certain novelty that many people chase in the effort to make their orgasms feel better. Novelty, though, is a finite resource, and as such, it’s only a short-term solution to the problem of less-than-earth-shaking orgasms.
For a more professional take, I turned to the experts. Both the O-Man, an anonymous and reclusive orgasm coach who’s been known to bring women to orgasm 46 consecutive times, and Jamila Dawson, an expert sex and relationship therapist, were quick to identify the origin of our disappointing orgasms.
“Orgasms,” the O-Man tells me,“are a byproduct of a strong and active deep core” whose intensity depends on “spinal stability, hip positioning [and] whether or not you’re breathing deeply.” And bad orgasms? Those are caused by stress. “A lot of people are stressed, that’s the biggest thing,” he continues. “Anxiety can truly affect the way the body’s holding itself, which can affect the way we orgasm.” Anxiety is also a large part of what he says can lead to “very underactive, underutilized, choked off pelvic floors,” the likes of which can seriously inhibit pleasure during climaxes.
The intensity of orgasms is also influenced by the presence — or lack thereof — of certain neurochemicals. When you orgasm, neurotransmitters like oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine are released, so, as the O-Man explains, bad orgasms are also due to low levels of these hormones in the brain. They can be lacking in our body for numerous reasons, but chief among them, according to Dawson, are “poor diet, not enough sleep [and] not enough water.” It’s also important to note, she continues, that we only have so many neurochemicals that we produce in a day. That means there’s a good chance of diminishing returns in the pleasure of each subsequent climax we have.
As for how you can avoid the aforementioned pitfalls? “Massage and circulation,” says the O-Man. “Finding the areas that are tight, [and] making sure there’s blood flow getting to them — especially the feet, especially the lower back. The more circulation you can get to your loins, the deeper orgasms you’ll probably have.”
Putting something in your butt also helps. “The root of your deep core muscles are in your butt,” he continues, explaining that gluteal muscles often contribute to unconscious processes like orgasm. So, if someone has problems orgasming, or they’re not feeling the full range of pleasure they’re capable of, putting a butt plug in them to “stabilize their sacrum or tailbone” may help them cum harder and more fulfillingly. (I personally have been advocating this strategy to friends, strangers and anyone I speak to for more than six minutes for a long time, so to hear an anonymous orgasm guru suggest the same technique is incredibly vindicating.)
Oh, and just for laughs, I asked the O-Man about that “flex your thigh muscles right before you cum” technique. Turns out it’s real. “You’re shutting off the things that would inhibit your pelvic floor activation,” he says. “[By flexing your thighs, you’re] putting your hips into external rotation so basically your back can track the way it’s supposed to, and you can tuck your pelvic floor forward so your hips are more underneath your spine and your lower back stretches.”
Dawson was hesitant to “hack” orgasms, because, in her words “all orgasms are beautiful.” However, she did have some advice for those looking to enhance the way they feel pleasure. “Take more deep breaths.” she advises. “It allows you to feel everything you’re feeling. That way you’re more aware of how erotic or how sensual your body is. Breathing, exploring their body, trying different hand movements, or different toys can help create a more intense experience.”
Exercise, too, is a way to boost those aforementioned good neurochemicals, which can make cumming feel better. “When we exercise, our endorphins kick in, dopamine’s running and we have a higher sense of wellbeing. Exercise feels good, and we’re in our body,” she says.
Finally, slowing down and enjoying the ride can help nix the problem of lackluster climaxes. Dawson suggests dialing back the speed and intensity of stimulation in order to elongate things and focus more on the sensations — that way, you can use more parts of your body and incorporate that into a stronger orgasm later on. “Most people are like, ‘Press the button! Press the button!’ or they’re just working on the shaft of the penis and that’s it,” she says. “But the more you layer in multiple things, the stronger it’s going to be.” This is colloquially known as edging, and is probably the most accessible and surefire way to increase the intensity of an orgasm.
All that said, don’t sweat it if you have a tiny, dull cum every now and then. If every orgasm you had was incredible, that would get boring. And, more importantly, maybe your bad orgasms can serve to contrast and highlight your more amazing ones.
Though, it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever be anything but amazing if you’re dipping your balls in cold water while clenching your thighs with something in your butt. Nothing — nothing — could be better than that.