January 1, 2001

Q&A: Female Orgasm, Throbbing And Sensation

Dr. Debby Herbenick answers a reader's question about throbbing in the vagina and the relationship to orgasms alone or with a partner.

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Question: Sometimes when orgasming, my vagina will “throb” (it feels like a steady pulse for about 10 seconds) but other times, it will not. I have noticed that it is more likely to “throb” if I am having intercourse and my g-spot is being stimulated but it has also “throbbed” from only clitoral stimulation. My boyfriend thinks that I am not orgasming unless I am “throbbing.” He thinks I am just stopping because my vagina becomes too sensitive. So my question is, what causes this “throbbing” and is this “throbbing” necessary to have an orgasm?

If the throb is what I think you’re referring to, it’s your cervix and vagina contracting in pulsing waves. Orgasm is typically associated with this sensation, but not necessarily.

Indicators of Orgasm

There are a couple of reasons you might not feel the pulses. For example, it might be that your cervix and vagina are contracting and you just don’t feel it.

Many OTHER sensations are also associated with orgasm – body flush, racing heartbeat, muscle tension in the abdomen and thighs, et cetera – and whole-body sensations may dominate or overwhelm genital sensations. Another reason might be that they are not contracting.

Orgasm is not DEFINED by these contractions. The contractions are an indicator of orgasm; orgasm is a much bigger physiological experience encompassing the whole body. The throb is not necessary for you to categorize your experience as “orgasm.” If it feels like a peak of sexual pleasure, it’s an orgasm.

Orgasms Are Different

Another important thing to keep in mind is that, while many times male and female orgasms are very similar experiences, sometimes they’re different.

They are often similar because male and female genitalia are neurologically similar. They are sometimes different because Western culture trains us to stimulate certain parts of a man and certain parts of a woman.

For example, there is male equivalent the the g-spot – the prostate. You can stimulate it internally through the anus or externally through the perineum. Has your boyfriend ever had an orgasm with prostate stimulation? It might be that his orgasm with that sort of stimulation would not include pulses.

Your boyfriend can feel good about connecting with you well enough to bring you so much pleasure. Your orgasmic experience does not need to be the same as his in order to be real. Enjoy your bodies and each other’s pleasure!