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Building a Better Orgasm

Ten Tips for Expanding Your Orgasmic Potential

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Updated October 29, 2011

It’s a happy fact that orgasms beget orgasms. Meaning that most people find the more orgasms they have, the more easily they orgasm in the future. Whether you’re looking for immediate gratification or long-term payoff, learning more about your orgasmic potential will likely bring satisfaction on several levels.

The idea of “building” a better orgasm isn’t meant to make you feel like there is anything wrong with the orgasms you’re currently having. If you’re trying to improve your sex life to meet someone else's expectations or because you’re feeling pressured, you won’t get far. But if your interest in having better orgasms comes from personal desire or curiosity, then you’ll probably find a few tips below to help you on that journey.

Here are a few caveats to keep in mind as you explore:

  • What’s “better” is only what’s better for you; there’s no comparing orgasms with others.
  • You are the measure of orgasmic success. If you’re happy, that’s what matters.
  • There is no right way to have an orgasm; whatever works for you is good enough.
  • If it feels good, and no one's getting hurt, there are no wrong orgasms.

Before starting any sexual exploration, consider that many of us have had negative and traumatic sexual experiences in the past, including being abused or assaulted. Whenever you begin to explore a new sexual avenue, issues may come up related to these past experiences. If you’re going to explore, you should try to have some support in place (a partner, a friend, or a counselor) to help you process anything that might come up as you explore. All of us need to take care of ourselves when we open up to a new experience. Having had a traumatic experience in the past doesn’t mean you can’t have great sex in the future - it just makes the need for support that we all have a little more obvious and pressing.

1. Start by Breathing

Orgasm has the potential to be a full body experience, and breath provides the foundation of the experience. You can build on your orgasms by playing with your breathing. Start by paying attention to your breath during sex:
  • Do you find yourself holding your breath and tensing up?
  • Do you notice that your breath changes from a slow and deep to short and quick?
Next, experiment with the depth and pacing of your breath. Try to intentionally change your breath as you feel yourself approaching orgasm. Some people find that longer and deeper breathing at the point of orgasm can expand their awareness of the orgasm in other parts of their bodies. If you find yourself losing steam you can also try short quick breaths (being careful not to hyperventilate!). Read more about breathing, sex, and orgasm.

2. Move Your Body

Moving your body may be an obvious part of having sex, but when it comes to orgasm, a lot of us tense up and hold ourselves almost still, which can get in the way of having an orgasm or having a bigger orgasm. You can change your orgasm by changing how much you move and what parts of your body you move. Start by paying attention to how your body moves during sex and at the point of orgasm.
  • Are there parts of your body you aren’t moving at all that you could be moving?
  • Are you self-conscious about how you move your body during sex?
Now experiment during masturbation with different sex positions and different kinds of movement. If rocking your hips doesn’t work for you try shaking your arms or legs or just letting your whole body writhe. If you are self-conscious about trying this with a partner, start with the lights off, or under the covers. Make a game of it and agree to have sex once while trying to move as many different parts of your body as possible. As you do this pay attention to see if one or more movements feel particularly good.

3. Find Your Line, Then Mess with It

Our obsession with orgasms often means we’re in such a hurry to get there that we lose out on the build-up. Many people report that orgasms resulting from a slow build-up or arousal are more powerful than quickie orgasms. Start by figuring out where your line is: that point at which you go over the top and have an orgasm.
  • Can you always tell when you’re about to have an orgasm?
  • What are the signs that you feel in your body that happen just before orgasm?
Your next step is to prolong the period before orgasm. It’s much easier to try this by yourself. Masturbate however you normally would and just when you get to the brink of orgasm, slow things down. Keep the stimulation going, but let yourself step back from the line a bit. Then start again until you get close to the line. Try this three or four times before letting yourself orgasm. The authors of I Love Female Orgasm describe their version of this game which they call "The Magic of Ten." In this version, you get yourself to the point of orgasm and then switch position and kind of stimulation. Do this ten times before letting yourself go.

4. Exercise Your Pelvis

This tip won’t work for everyone, but if you have movement in your pelvis and don’t experience pelvic pain, you can try to build better orgasms by strengthening the pelvic muscles called the pubococcygeus muscles. Strengthening exercises for the PC muscles are called kegel exercises, and doing these increases blood flow to the pelvic area. Some people report that stronger PC muscles result in stronger orgasms. Simply doing the exercises also increases awareness of your pelvis which itself can lead to more intense orgasms.

5. Think Outside Your Box

If you're looking for bigger orgasms you need to think beyond your genitals. It’s not that the vulva, clitoris, penis, and scrotum aren’t key players in the orgasm orchestra, but your body is full of nerve endings just waiting to be aroused, and orgasms can come from unexpected places. Sometimes stimulating another part of your body while bringing yourself to orgasm can really change the way the orgasm feels. Next time you’re having sex, alone or with a partner, spend some time playing with other parts of your body. Don’t just think of this as foreplay, really concentrate on where feels good, and when you’ve found a spot, experiment with different intensities of stimulation. Read more about discovering your sexual anatomy.

6. Tense and Relax

When you have an orgasm, muscles throughout your entire body are engaged. But often during sexual arousal and orgasm, we unintentionally isolate parts of our body, and tense or relax only those parts. One way to build better orgasms is to start integrating your whole body into the experience, including your muscles. Start by taking note of those parts of your body where you feel muscle tension and relaxation before, during, and after orgasm. If you find yourself tensing up at the point of orgasm, try to use your breath to relax your muscles. If you find that only one part of your body tenses up, intentionally tense up another part and see how that feels during orgasm. Play with the tension of muscles by tensing up, holding for a few seconds, and then relaxing.

7. Good Fantasies and Bad Fantasies

Using fantasy to build better orgasms can be both a help and a hindrance. Fantasy is great if helps you “let go” and follow your erotic thoughts. If you’re someone who finds it hard to get aroused, fantasy can be a crucial first step. But some of us use fantasy as a way of staying outside our bodies and distracting ourselves from what we’re feeling. If you’re someone who relies on fantasy most of the time, you may want to experiment with not fantasizing and focusing on what your body is feeling. If you never allow yourself to fantasize then it may be time to give it a try and see how it can change the way your orgasms feel. Read more about sexual fantasy.

8. Play With Toys

Sex toys, vibrators in particular, are often the easiest and fastest way to an orgasm, and the kinds of orgasms you have when you play with toys can feel very different. Sex toys are not essential for good sex or great orgasms, but they can be great both for the added stimulation they offer and for the way they remind us that sex is play. Using sex toys can also facilitate sexual fantasies, and if you’re using toys for penetration, it offers the chance to choose your size (something we don’t always get to do with our real life partners). Learn more about choosing sex toys.

9. Get Wet

If store-bought sex toys aren’t your thing, try using water. Rushing water from a shower head or from a bathtub faucet offers strong and consistent stimulation that is very different from the stimulation of a hand, or rubbing against fabric or furniture and can result in a very different kind of orgasm. Try masturbating in the shower or bath. Playing in the tub is also an easy way to alleviate concerns about sex being too messy or wet, either alone or with a partner.

10. Check Your Health

If you’re just looking for a way to expand orgasms that you’re already happy with, it’s unlikely that there are any health concerns you need to consider. But if you are having difficulty experiencing orgasm or not feeling orgasms the way you used to, it could be the result of a medical condition or medication. While our sexual response is an intricate blend of mind and body, having a check up and talking with your doctor about any concerns you have about sex is an important part of building better orgasms and taking responsibility for your sexual health and pleasure. Find a sexual health clinic near you.
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