How Can I Tell If I've Had an Orgasm?

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I’m in my first year of college and most of my friends are sleeping around a lot. They all talk about having orgasms which sound mind-blowing. I’ve never been that comfortable with my body, I don’t even masturbate, but I’ve had sex a few times and I think I felt something like an orgasm, but it wasn’t anything like what my friends are describing. Is there some test that can tell me if I’ve had an orgasm or some way of knowing for sure?


There's one thing all of us can do to improve our sex lives immensely.  It doesn't require technique, encyclopedic knowledge, it doesn't even require a partner.  If you can only do one thing to improve your sex life my number one suggestion is to try and stop comparing yourself and your experience to that of other people.

This isn't easy.  We're encouraged to make meaning of our lives based on everyone else, so it can feel natural to compare.  But in the long run I promise you’ll be happier and you’ll have so much extra time for sex when you don't have to spend so much time worrying and being anxious about the comparison.

What really matters isn't how you compare to others.  What matters is what sex is like for you.  And I suppose if you're a caring person we can also say that what matters is how the people you're having sex with feel about it too!

As for how to tell if you've had an orgasm or not, there isn’t a test you can take.

After all, orgasm is not just a physical experience, it happens in your body, your mind, possibly even your spirit. And there is no single definition of orgasm. So what would the test measure?

There are however some tell tale signs of what we could call an orgasmic response. This includes things like:

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • increased muscle tension
  • a flush of your skin
  • a release of tension followed sometimes by a feeling of deep relaxation

Of course each of these events is relative to the individual. And you might experience one or several of these things and not feel like you had an orgasm.

So how can you tell if you’ve had an orgasm? Most people would probably respond by saying “you’ll know when you’ve had one”. This always sounds a little condescending to me, and if you’ve never had one, how could you know?

Instead I would just ask you whether or not the sex play you’re having is pleasurable. Does it feel good? Does it feel like something you want to do more? Are there times during sex when you want to say or do something but you hold yourself back? Holding back is one way you might be reducing the pleasure you’re feeling, including orgasms.

Trying to figure out if you’ve had an orgasm can also be a dead end, because if you’ve had one, does that mean you stop exploring other ways of feeling good or having orgasms? It’s a cliché that sex is about the journey not the destination. But it's not wrong.

Focusing on orgasm is like driving down a one way street that stops at the river.

There's no mystery to how it will end, even if you do end up wet. 

If you focus instead on sexual pleasure, on how you respond and what you can feel, you don’t have to stop at the river bank; you get to jump in the river and float with the current, and you never know where you’ll end up.