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Are Male and Female Orgasms Different?

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Question: Are Male and Female Orgasms Different?
I doubt you'll be able to answer this question, but my girlfriend and I were arguing about the difference between men's orgasms and women's orgasms, and I wanted to know if there are any proven differences.
Answer:

There is still so much we don’t know about orgasms, but even as we discover more, this will always be a difficult question to answer. For one thing, if you’re comparing orgasms, what are you comparing exactly: Physical response? Psychological experience? Emotional reactions? Secondly, how can we compare, or what is your point of comparison? Thirdly, what do we mean by men and women? While we still live in a world that pretends otherwise, we know that there are more than two genders and more than two sexes. So the idea of simply comparing male orgasms and female orgasms is, in fact, too simple.

As a general rule I would say that understanding any phenomenon through the lens of a binary gender difference (a fancy way of saying men vs women) is going to be less interesting than other lenses. There's no part of sexual experience that is only physical or only mental. Everything (including emotional and cognitive experiences) are still experienced in our bodies. So I'm much more interested in looking at diversity across all people then in artificially dividing people up based on what we think their genitals look like.

Nonetheless, the research that's been done in this area pretty much exclusively looks at cisgender people, so we can review what we know about that.

If you’re defining orgasm as the physical sexual response then I guess you could say that male and female orgasms are different because most men and women have different body parts. But even considering those differences, the physiological processes (like increased heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, etc...) are very similar in male and female orgasm. And when we consider orgasm as a whole experience, there is little reason to suspect that male orgasm and female orgasms are experienced differently. Here are some ways people explain the difference, or lack thereof.

In The Science of Orgasm authors Barry Komisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, and Beverly Whipple cite two studies that are relevant to this question, although neither provide a concrete answer.

In one study, researchers had male and female college students write out descriptions of their personal experience of orgasm. Then they removed any terminology that would reveal the gender of the person who wrote the description (substituting the word genitalia for the word penis, for example). Finally they had male and female judges try to determine from the written descriptions which ones were men and which were women. They found that people were not able to tell the difference. The authors also cite the research of Kenneth Mah and Irving Binik which suggests that people focus more on how an orgasm feels than where in the body they feel it. Given this it seems less likely that the anatomical differences between men and women would amount to a lot in terms of whether male and female orgasms are experienced as different.

I also turned to a different kind of expert with your question. Buck Angel is a well known adult performer and an outspoken transsexual speaker and activist who was born female and has transitioned to male. Buck talks a lot publicly about his experiences living in the world as a woman and as a man. I posed your question to Buck, and here was his response:

Well, as someone who was born female but is now male, I am uniquely qualified to provide some input on this question.

Since I began taking testosterone I became more masculine and finally evolved into the man I am today, my orgasms have changed considerably. A big part of it is that I am more comfortable with myself now, and I think that makes a difference in the...quality of my orgasms. That is clearly where part of the emotional/mental aspects are involved. I would say my orgasms are more intense than before. And now I can usually only have one, whereas before I could have many in a row. Also, now after I have an orgasm I fall right to sleep, which is how everyone knows I'm really a dude.

However, I can only answer from the perspective of a man who has a usual amount of testosterone, but does not have a penis, testicles, sperm, etc. So, I don't ejaculate the way men do, so I suppose that my orgasm is in some way different from that of a biological male, but also different from that of a biological female.

One of the things I appreciate about Buck's comment is how he points out that the change in orgasms may be as much about his comfort level as it is about his gender. If you want to know more about Buck you can visit his website or check out his videos at any of the finer sex shops in your neighborhood.

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