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Multiple Orgasms: What It Means

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 26, 2021

For many people, orgasms are the main goal of having sex. Orgasms feel good, after all. Many sex manuals and advice columns focus on how to have better orgasms or more of them. A common goal for these guides is to help people achieve multiple orgasms: several orgasms close together. The general idea is that one orgasm is good, so more is better. 

Orgasms are a little more complicated than that, however. Not everyone is capable of having several in a row; if you or your partner do not have multiple orgasms, that is not a problem. It may simply be how your brain is wired. The time it takes to reach orgasm after you’ve just had one varies between genders and even individual people. This time is known as the refractory period, and it is a well-studied brain and body phenomenon. 

It’s possible to explore the body to find out whether you or your partner can have multiple orgasms.

What Is the Difference Between Multiple Orgasms and Tantric Orgasms?

Some people who practice tantric sex claim to experience orgasms that last significant lengths of time, sometimes as long as half an hour. While these claims have not been scientifically proven, there are many people who claim to have experienced these long-lasting orgasms. However long an orgasm lasts, though, it’s still just one orgasm. Multiple orgasms are something else entirely. 

A common definition of multiple orgasms is that the first orgasm ends and there is an explicit, short period when the person is not having an orgasm. Then, typically due to continued or renewed stimulation, another orgasm happens soon after. There are a number of ways to try to make that happen, including but not limited to tantric sex.

Myths and Misconceptions about Multiple Orgasms

There are two main myths about multiple orgasms: that everyone with a clitoris can have them, and that no one with a penis can have them. Neither are true. Some people with clitorises have a longer-than-average refractory period or simply get too sensitive for continued sexual contact. As a result, they may not experience or desire multiple orgasms. This is completely healthy and normal.

On the other hand, some people with penises, especially people under the age of 30, have short refractory periods and can achieve orgasm multiple times in a matter of minutes. This is also healthy and normal. There is no right or wrong way to have an orgasm as long as everyone involved is able to consent. 

How to Explore Multiple Orgasms (Solo or with a Partner)

If you would like to experience multiple orgasms, you can try to achieve them on your own or with a partner. Some people find that it is easier to achieve multiple orgasms with someone else’s help, because they find it difficult to continue stimulation on their own after one orgasm.

On your own, it may be easiest to use sex aids like a vibrator to help reach and maintain a level of stimulation high enough to cause multiple orgasms. It may take several sessions to find the conditions your body needs for multiple orgasms, and that’s okay. Time and patience will help you.

The same holds true if you are trying to have multiple orgasms with a partner. Clear communication will help you understand your partner’s body and how it reacts to different stimulation. Every person’s body is different, so what worked with a previous partner may not work for the next. Be open to exploration and you will have a much better time.

Safety Advice and Special Considerations

The biggest concern regarding multiple orgasms is the risk of overstimulation in one form or another. Sexual stimulation during the refractory period can be unpleasant and even painful because the genitals become temporarily hypersensitive. If you are attempting to help a partner achieve multiple orgasms, listen to them during the process and stop if they seem uncomfortable. 

Similarly, prolonged stimulation can also have physical consequences. Even without hypersensitivity, continued stimulation after orgasm can lead to risks of chafing and bruising of the genitals. Use additional lubrication if anything feels uncomfortable, and don’t increase pressure or force unless your partner requests it. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Aeon: “Anti-climax.”

BJU International: “Evolving ideas about the male refractory period.”

Insider: “5 ways to have multiple orgasms for intense, longer-lasting sex.”

International Society for Sexual Medicine: “What are multiple orgasms? How common are they?”

International Society for Sexual Medicine: “What is the refractory period?”

Merriam-Webster: “Multi-orgasmic.”

Sexual Medicine Reviews: “Multiple Orgasms in Men-What We Know So Far.”

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