Reader Question: Am I Having A Clitoral Orgasm Or A Vaginal Orgasm?

Posted on January 2015  in 

Photo: @briabackwoods

Occasionally, I get a question from a reader that is compelling enough to become its own article. This is one of those questions.

Hi Ev'Yan,

Now that I've truly awakened my sensual self and am laying my sexual demons to rest, I am still having a difficult time achieving clitoral and/or vaginal orgasm... I think. And therein lies the problem.

Does clitoral and vaginal orgasm each feel different? Will it be a bigger sensation? A better sensation? Do all girls "squirt"?

My partner is wonderful, but he doesn't think I've orgasmed. I've never even THOUGHT about getting off during sex until this partner. He's tried a lot, and though I feel intense sensations, and have gotten that "Thumper" leg (like from Bambi). It's still not an end goal of mine to get off during sex, never will be, but please help! If you can!

Thank you,



Thank you for asking these great, juicy questions. I'm going to answer each of them individually, starting with the one that seems to be the most pressing (and was the subject line in your email to me) . . .

1. Am I orgasming?

Maybe! But it's very difficult to say absolutely because neither I (nor your boyfriend, I might add) can tell you whether you're coming or not. Only you will be able to know if you're having an orgasm.

Simply put, an orgasm is a series of fast, rhythmic, involuntary muscle contractions on the pelvic floor. These contractions—which can also be felt throughout the vagina, uterus, perineum, and even the belly muscles—just so happen to be translated as pleasurable by our brains and nervous system.

I'd say that it'd be pretty hard to miss if you were having one, but here are some clues that you might be heading into the direction of orgasm:

  • Erect nipples and plumper breasts
  • Heavier breathing
  • Body feels hot, flushed, and may be making involuntary jerking movements
  • Vagina gets wet and becomes swollen
  • Lips (both on your mouth and your vulva) are engorged and puffy

Of course, these orgasmic cues are just the tip of the iceberg. And every body is different.

2. Do all women squirt?

No, not all women can squirt, simply because not all women have vaginas. I would also add, though, that not all people with vaginas can squirt. Every body is different.

I like to think that people with vaginas are physiologically are capable of squirting, that our bodies contain this particular capacity of sexual release, but the reality is that most of us don't find ourselves in situations that foster that outcome.

Because for most, squirting—a.k.a., female ejaculation, gushing orgasm, ambrosia—is more than implementing a formula of "do this, and then that happens." To be able to reach that height of that kind of pleasure and release requires trust and surrender between the giver and the receiver, as well as total relaxation, certain breathing techniques, and lots of foreplay (i.e., some people need to be really aroused in order to squirt).

But, again, every body is different. Some people can squirt without penetration. Others need more direct and consistent stimulation to the g-spot. Some people gush lots of fluid. Others do more of a dribble thing. There's no right or wrong to squirt and those who do haven't unlocked a certain level of sexual enlightenment. It's all the same energy, just different method of release.

3. Do clitoral and vaginal orgasms each feel different?

The not-so-simple answer to this is Yes and No.

One the one hand, a "clitoral orgasm" (i.e., direct stimulation of the clitoris) are generally reported to feel more localized, and a "vaginal orgasm" (i.e., deep and internal stimulation of the vagina) feels "bigger" and more of a whole body experience. But (again!) every body is different and, truly, so is every orgasm. It's pretty difficult to speak to how others might be experiencing their orgasms, but I can speak to my own.

For me personally, the intensity of my orgasm depends on a lot of things: what's going on in my headspace and body; how I'm pleasuring myself and with what; who I'm sharing my body with and how comfortable and safe I feel to surrender to pleasure with them.

I've found that my orgasms are much more intense when I'm fully in my body, and less intense in sensation when I'm stuck in my head.

There are a lot of factors that come into play with orgasm, because we don't just come with our bodies—we come by way of our minds, too. So our orgasm doesn't solely depend on what's happening in our outer world‚what toys we're using, what porn we're watching, whether we're sitting or laying down—but also what's happening in our inner world: how we're feeling emotionally, if we're experiencing pleasure without shame, if we're fully present in our bodies, if we feel like we can safely and fully access pleasure with ourselves or the person we're with, etc.

I'd also like to add that there are many, many, many types of orgasms out there, as people with vaginas have access to incredible amounts of pleasure with a complexity of ecstasy. I love this part in Sheri Winston's book Women's Anatomy of Arousal where she talks about the many orgasms that exist in our bodies, ranging from mini spasm to waves of seemingly endless pleasure to "fierce, clutching, driving" orgasms with aftershocks.

To know which is which (or whether you're coming at all), your task is to intimately learn your body and the way it responds to pleasure.

Do this by masturbating and trying different ways of stimulating yourself—with your fingers, with a vibrator, with a dildo, with lube, without lube, standing up, sitting down, penetrating yourself deeply, penetrating yourself shallowly, etc. 

Explore! Be curious!

OK, here's where it gets really interesting.

The "vaginal" orgasm is widely considered to be a myth. And I agree. This is why.

The term "vaginal orgasm" was created and perpetuated by cis male, misogynistic psychologists ages ago for the sole purpose of dumbing down female sexuality and to push their anti-woman sexuality agenda. These psychologists stated that a "real" orgasm was one that came through vaginal intercourse only and that any orgasm that came from clitoral stimulation alone was illegitimate and "immature."

For instance, views like this one are what started the whole vaginal orgasm myth:

". . . whenever a woman is incapable of achieving an orgasm via coitus, provided the husband is an adequate partner, and prefers clitoral stimulation to any other form of sexual activity, she can be regarded as suffering from frigidity and requires psychiatric assistance."

—Frank S. Caprio, M.D., from his book The Sexually Adequate Female, 1953


Some very interesting (and harmful) things came from the passing down of this inaccurate, sexist information. For one thing, the notion of frigidity was born, which originally was a word meant to describe any woman who could achieve vaginal orgasms. Back in those days, people with vaginas began to see themselves as fundamentally broken and sought psychological help, sometimes even surgery.

It is because of these very harmful beliefs that so many vagina-having people seek to find the "female equivalent of Viagra" to fix their sexual dysfunction. (Which, by the way, the "pink pill" doesn't appear to work.)

Similarities of the clitoris and penis; click to enlarge.

But the truth is that the interior of the vagina is not exactly primed for ultra-sensitive pleasure the way the clitoris is.

So, essentially, there is only one orgasm—clitoral. And essentially, this is where all vagina-having orgasms come from. 

It just might feel like they come from other areas (from deep within the vagina, for instance) because the clitoris happens to be more than a tiny little button but actually a vast sexual network that reaches up into your abdomen area and wraps itself around your vagina.

If that little tidbit of information did just blow your mind, I'll say it once more with feeling:

Your clitoral body is huge! Its erections easily rival that of a penis! Yes, that's right—you get erections, too! And they're enormous! 

(Which, since we're on the subject, I should point out that the clitoris is basically a penis.)

So, the vaginal orgasm is likely an internal clitoral orgasm.

This is powerful news because it means you've now got an even better understanding of how a vagina-having body experiences pleasure. It also means that our capacity for pleasure is much more vast than what we can see with our eyes.


So, in light of all of this interesting information, I'd like to encourage you to do a few things:

(1) Continue to explore your orgasm. Become an expert on how you get off. Listen keenly to the incredibly wise and intelligent voice that is your pwn body. Educate yourself on the amazingness that is your sexual organs. (See some helpful resources below to get you started.)

(2) Have a conversation with your boyfriend. Show him this post. He likely questions whether you're coming because of ages-old ideas and portrayals of what a woman's orgasm is "supposed" to look like. More people need to be educated about this, but cis men especially need to as they are often the unknowing perpetrators of the vaginal orgasm myth.

(3) Remember that your orgasm is your own. Ditch any notion that it should look or feel a particular way. I guarantee that you'll find orgasmic liberation by intimately knowing how your body responds and experiences pleasure.

. . .



© 2020 Ev'Yan Whitney / All rights reserved.