Tensing to orgasm?

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Q: I am a 45 yr old female and have been with my husband for 15 years. The missionary position is the only position I can have an orgasm. I tense everything up in order to have an orgasm. I have always done this. I’m in pretty good physical shape, but my hips are always sore the day after we have sex. I’ve tried to stay relaxed and it either takes much longer or doesn’t happen. I’m not complaining, but just curious. My question is: Why do we tense up our muscles in order to orgasm?

(heterosexual female)

A: First and foremost – it’s AMAZING that you’re having orgasms during intercourse! Many women cannot, so kudos!

Let me preface this by owning that I am not a Doctor or medical professional. However, I am a woman with a vulva/vagina, and I research and read about sexuality for both personal AND professional reasons, so there’s that…#sexgeek.

Most people actually DO tense up as they build to orgasm! You are not experiencing anything abnormal or uncommon, whatsoever. Self disclosure: I am the same way! There are a few reasons this might be the case. First, when our bodies are aroused and working towards orgasm, blood flow increases to our genitals. By tensing our muscles, it helps that process happen faster. Many people (penis AND vagina owners) tighten their muscles – often from the waist down. There are, however, people who find themselves tensing their upper body as well!

On a totally different and possibly unscientific note (aka: me just speculating and making something up that COULD be true): When a woman tightens her Kegel muscles (think, the muscle that can stop us from peeing midstream), the glans of her clitoris (the man in the boat that we all see on the outside) sort of retracts a tad. I’ll give you a sec to try it…

Ok…we’re back. Now, follow me here for a hot minute…

Sometimes, if the pressure of the stimulus (tongue, fingers, toy, etc.) is too much for the clitoris and you clench to retract it a bit, the clitoral hood sort of buffers the stimulation to make it more tolerable to receive the clitoral stimulation.

How amazing are orgasms, right?! It’s as if our body innately does what it needs to do for our specific orgasm – “specific” being the definitive word. Women (with vaginas) tend to differ greatly in the manner in which they orgasm. From what arouses them, to the environment that needs to be created, to the actual mechanics. And it’s allllllll good!

In terms of your hips being sore, that is most likely from the constant tension during arousal while you’re working towards an orgasm. That may mean you’re tensing your butt as well (also super common) as one of the muscle groups to aid in orgasm. By tensing your butt muscles, your hips sort of drive forward as well.

Because I am not there in person to see how your hips move during sex, my other thought is how you’re moving your hips (or if you are moving them at all). Women often like to grind against the pelvic region of their partner during penetrative sex to make clitoral contact. If that’s the case, you may want to try asking your husband if he can position himself differently where HE is doing the grinding of his pelvis on your clit, versus the other way around.

Lastly, you could experiment with allowing yourself to go back and forth between tensing and then relaxing, versus staying tense consistently. It depends on how uncomfortable your hips are, and how much you want to change that outcome. I understand wanting to cut down on the time it takes, but if your sore hips are bothering you enough to want to switch things up a bit, then go for it!

Regardless of what you choose to try, just know that each of us has our own unique “orgasm formula”, and the ONLY goal is to make it work for YOU. It sounds like you’re ahead of the game! ENJOY!

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