They’re often considered the peak of pleasure, yet until now, there hasn’t been an official definition of the female orgasm.
While males usually ejaculate when reaching orgasm, females have very different bodily sensations when they climax.
Now, scientists from the University of Ottawa have set out to measure the female orgasm for the first time.
Their findings suggest that female orgasms should be defined as ‘pleasurable satisfaction’ – while moaning should be removed as a measure entirely.
They hope the findings could be used to improve interventions for women who are unsatisfied with their orgasm experiences.
Scientists from the University of Ottawa have set out to measure the female orgasm for the first time. Their findings suggest that female orgasms should be defined as ‘pleasurable satisfaction’ – while moaning should be removed as a measure entirely (stock image)
The Orgasm Rating Scale
In the study, the researchers set out to answer the question – how do you measure the female orgasm?
In their study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, the researchers, led by Amy Elizabeth Webb, wrote: ‘Orgasm, particularly in older women, remains a poorly understood aspect of female sexual response partly because of a lack of validated self-report measures.’
The team surveyed 637 women about their experiences with orgasms – both in a solitary context, and with a partner.
The survey included questions on both the Orgasm Rating Scale (ORS), and the Bodily Sensations of Orgasm Scale (BSOS).
‘The ORS is a 28-item self-report measure used to assess the experience of orgasm on cognitive-affective and sensory dimensions,’ the researchers explained.
The 28 items include loving, throbbing, spurting, flushing, quivering, pulsating, shuddering and peaceful.
‘The BSOS is a 22-item self-report measure used to assess the perceived bodily and physiological sensations experienced with orgasm, with context unspecified,’ the researchers added.
The 22 items include faster breathing, goosebumps, clitoral pulsation, sweating, facial tingling and reddening of the skin.
Across the different factors, the women were asked the degree to which they experienced each sensation during orgasm.
In terms of BSOS items, extragenital sensations, genital sensations and spasms, and nociceptive sensations and sweating responses were the most common items (stock image)
The results revealed that across pre-, peri- and post-menopausal women, pleasurable satisfaction was reported as the most common ORS item.
In contrast, emotional intimacy and shooting sensations were the least common ORS items.
In terms of BSOS items, extragenital sensations, genital sensations and spasms, and nociceptive sensations and sweating responses were the most common items.
However, anal contractions and moaning were the least common, with the researchers even suggesting they should be removed from the scale entirely.
‘We recommend that the item “moaning” be removed from the measure permanently,’ the researchers wrote.
‘All other items appear to relate to involuntarily responses occurring throughout the orgasm experience.’
Overall, the findings suggest that the ORS and BSOS are effective measures of the female orgasm – albeit with moaning removed.
‘With valid measurement options, it is anticipated that we will learn more about women’s orgasm experiences and ultimately be able to provide more effective clinical services for women who experience difficulties with orgasm or find the experience lacking in satisfaction,’ the team concluded.
The Bodily Sensations of Orgasm Scale
Increased heart rate
Heart beating stronger
Overall muscle tension
Choppy/ shallow breathing
Increased blood pressure
Lower limb spasms
Tightness in chest
Cranial pulsation/ headache
Reddening of skin or rash