Multiple Orgasms for Women and Men: What You MUST Know


Although a few men have been found to be able to ejaculate repeatedly in a row, most men cannot have multiple orgasms*. For reasons not well understood by scientists, men have what’s called a refractory period – the time between a man’s last ejaculation and his ability have another one.

Women, on the other hand, sometimes find that they can experience multiple orgasm (the ability to have one orgasm after another, without losing sexual arousal). These orgasms may be separated by seconds or by several minutes. They may be of a similar intensity or level of pleasure or they may differ (and no, the second or third is not always better or worse than the first; there’s no real order or hierarchy to multiple orgasms).

It’s also important to note that women and their partners can’t “tell” if a woman is capable of multiple orgasm. Potentially, any woman might be capable of multiple orgasm. She may find that after years or having single orgasms (or even having no orgasms) that one day something happens and she experiences multiple orgasms.

So what changes for women? What takes a woman from having single orgasms to multiple orgasms?

1. An openness to experience. Orgasm – whether single or multiple – is often helped by an openness to experience and a willingness to explore how sex might be experienced. Rather than getting to set or rigid in one’s thinking that sex or orgasm has to happen a certain way, try embracing a mindset that is focused on pleasure rather than orgasm as a goal, and a mindset that values exploration rather than a rigid routine.

2. Relaxation. Pleasure and orgasm tend to be supported by relaxation. It may seem trite, but relaxation is key to many women’s and men’s quality of sexuality experience. This may mean feeling physically relaxed, which can be encouraged by a warm bath, spending time cuddling before starting to have sex, or trading sensual massages prior to starting sex. It can also mean emotional relaxation, such as feeling loved, cared for, valued, able to trust one’s partner and able to feel as though you can let go during sex, whether alone or with a partner.

3. Intense or ongoing arousal. Some sex therapists recommend that sex be held off until two people cannot stand it anymore to not be having sex – until an erection is so hard, a vagina feels so wet and pulsating, and emotional arousal feels so incredibly intense that the people involved feel enormously excited about and ready for sex. That type of arousal help to create a sexual experience that feels more pleasurable and potentially orgasmic. During sex itself, try to maintain arousal by moving your bodies together in ways that feel good (physically and emotionally). 

4. Continued arousal. If a woman would like to have a second orgasm, then after the first orgasm, arousal often needs to be maintained. That  doesn’t mean immediately… sometimes she may need a break of 10 seconds or a minute to calm down and enjoy the afterglow of her orgasm. Even if she feels slightly less aroused than a moment earlier, her physical sexual arousal is likely still heightened and so taking a break before resuming with continued arousal can often still lead to a second orgasm.

Have fun exploring! And remember: try not to pressure yourself or your partner, or to pursue orgasm at the expense of pleasure or enjoyment.

Other related MSP articles of interest:
- Why is her clitoris so sensitive after orgasm?
- Mysteries of the Female Orgasm (e.g., multiple orgasm, nipple orgasm, average time to orgasm, quicker orgasm)
- Coital Alignment Technique (CAT); a sex position that’s been shown to make it easier for women to orgasm

[Image via phantomx/Flickr Creative Commons.]

*Technically ejaculation and orgasm are separate processes, but for most men, they go together. A small percentage of men teach themselves to separate ejaculation and orgasm so that they can experience the pleasure of orgasm without the physical release of ejaculate. Though I’ll be posting more about this in the future, in the mean time you can check out resources related to tantra, which often reference this. [On a related note, some men experience ejaculation without orgasm and wish they had a pleasurable experience of orgasm; if this happens to you and is a concern, consider meeting a trained sex therapist who can help you to address the issue.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at