What Does An Orgasm Feel Like? A Neuroscientist Explains

For all the time our society spends talking about sex, many women are still asking themselves this question: What does an orgasm feel like?

As a certified sex therapist turned neuroscientist, I get asked about orgasms a lot. In my new column for Glamour, I’m here to address your pressing questions about sex, love, and pleasure. With over three decades of experience studying the science of pleasure, I can say without a doubt that the ability to experience potent and satisfying pleasures like orgasm isn’t a luxury—female pleasure is a necessity for our health and wellbeing (something I talk about in much more detail in my new book Why Good Sex Matters out later this month).

The female orgasm is a fantastic thing: it can be triggered by stimulating the clitoris, vagina, nipples, cervix, or an out-of-this-world combination of all of the above. Here what you need to know about what an orgasm feels like, and how to prioritize having more of them.

For starters, what is an orgasm?

Although there’ve been many attempts to define and describe the elusive experience of the “big O,” my favorite, and simplest of all, was coined by Charles Kinsey, a pioneer in the study of human sexuality. In scientist speak, he nailed it: “The expulsive discharge of neuromuscular tensions at the peak of the sexual response.”

Here’s how that breaks down: “Neuro” refers to the nerves of the body and neurons of the brain, “muscular” refers to muscles, and explosive discharge, well, speaks for itself. An orgasm is an intensely pleasurable response to sexual stimulation.

Having one doesn’t necessarily involve the genitals. Case in point: “nipplegasms.” There are even some talented individuals who appear able to experience a “thought” or “imagery”-induced orgasm, without any physical stimulation at all. Lucky them.

My research has demonstrated that the “big O “is indeed a “big brain” event, increasing blood flow to a range of brain regions, which is good for brain health. In fact, having an orgasm may be better for your brain than doing crossword puzzles—not to mention, much more fun.

What should an orgasm feel like?

A study done back in the 1970s asked male and female college students to describe how their orgasms felt. Most of the descriptions involved a pleasurable release of built-up tensions, experienced as an explosion of sensation, sometimes bordering on the ecstatic, and finally a wave of warmth, peace, and relaxation.

The truth is, orgasms exist on a spectrum: There are orgasms, and then there are ORGASMS! Some are pleasant, but not earth-shattering, and others are screaming-laughing-crying episodes of pure ecstasy. Both are important and valid.

I tend to discourage people from “shoulding” on themselves or their experiences. When we evaluate how things should feel or how they should be, we take ourselves away from the experience. My book, Why Good Sex Matters is not entitled Why Great Sex Matters for an important reason; when we start evaluating our erotic lives, chasing and seeking great sex or super or multiple orgasms, we miss the point, likely sabotaging our own capacity for pleasure. Good sex involves being present to the experience we are having. And a good orgasm is any orgasm that comes along.

What is the difference between the female orgasm and the male orgasm?

One big difference is that males have a refractory period after orgasm, which shuts down the sex party, at least for a while. Females are not wired that way—women are capable of experiencing multiple orgasms during sexual activity. In a recent study using a nationally representative sample of 1005 women, a whopping 47% of women reported having multiple orgasms.

Chrissy Teigen Posts ‘Cheer’ Parody on Instagram

Hey, Monica Aldama, consider this Chrissy Teigen’s Navarro audition.

Teigen recently took to social media to share a parody she and her assistant made of Netflix’s Cheer, and honestly, the Instagram video is funny enough to land the celeb a coveted spot on the team.

In the hilarious clip, Teigen stretches her splits while her assistant, Christine, does crunches nearby. They both lament their chances of making it on mat (if you know, you know) before name-dropping everyone’s favorite “stunter” from the series, Jerry.

Teigen, like most of us, has grown completely addicted to Netflix’s newest docu-series which follows a cheerleading squad from Corsicana, Texas, as they prepare to win another national title. The sheer talent of the team is enough to get anyone, even cheerleading novices, hooked on the show, but it’s the awe-inspiring stories of each of the members that will have you bawling your eyes out by the time the squad competes in Daytona.

This isn’t the first time Teigen has shared her thoughts on the Internet’s current obsession. Earlier in the week, the cookbook author posted a throwback from her own high school cheerleading days claiming to have “sucked” at the sport (her splits would’ve fooled us).

“Watching cheer on Netflix got me reminiscing about how i sucked at cheerleading almost as much as I sucked at doing my brows,” she captioned a shot of her posing in her red and white uniform, complete with pom poms. “Truly no idea how I made this team. The best part is they claimed there was no JV/varsity but one squad got to cheer for basketball and football and the other (mine) got volleyball and wrestling. I still remember my mat cheers though. Go fight win baby. Go fight win.”

Perhaps Teigen’s video will persuade Aldama, Navarro’s tough but loving coach, to start an all-celebrity squad. Cheering With the Stars, anyone?

Renée Zellweger Says She’s Open to Reprising Her Role as Bridget Jones

After a few years out of the spotlight, Renée Zellweger is back in our lives in a big way. The actor was just nominated for her fourth Academy Award, for her critically-acclaimed performance as Judy Garland in Judy. (She won for Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for Cold Mountain.)

The actor has played so many memorable roles over the course of her career but none is perhaps as beloved as Bridget Jones. Based on the best-selling novel by Helen Fielding, Zellweger made her onscreen debut as the titular character in Bridget Jones’s Diary in 2001, followed by Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason in 2004 and Bridget Jones’s Baby in 2016. And in a new interview with Vanity Fair, she said she’s open to revisiting the lovably messy character once again.

When asked if there would be another installment of the hit franchise, she said…maybe: “It would be fun, yeah. I know people are coy. I’m not. I promise I’m not. I just don’t know.”

“I mean, that’s a Helen [Fielding, the author] question, but I hope she would want to,” Zellweger continued. “I know she wrote a book , so maybe. I’m always the last to know. They’re already building sets, and they call me and say, “What do you think?” It’s fun. It’s so much fun. Man, I’d love the experience of revisiting her. I love her. I just think she’s so much fun. She’s the best. Sure, if I got invited to do that, that sounds like fun.”

Well, that sounds incredibly promising, doesn’t it? When last we left our dear Bridget on the big screen, she was a new forty-something mom and finally married to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Though the plot of Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (which was written before Bridget Jones’s Baby) offers up plenty of fodder for a possible new film.

And considering nostalgia-inducing reboots, revivals, and sequel are all the rage in Hollywood, we wouldn’t be surprised (but very thrilled) if this became a reality in 2020.

9 TV Shows and Movies to Watch the Week of January 19, 2020

I don’t know about you, but I just feel off this week. It’s freezing outside. I can’t believe it’s still January. Jennifer Lopez didn’t get an Oscar nomination. I need something to boost my mood—like some new TV shows and movies. Thankfully, this upcoming week has a great slate of pick-me-up entertainment, from the return of Shrill and The Bold Type to new comedy specials on Netflix.

So without further adieu, all the TV shows and movies to earmark for this week:

Sunday, January 19

26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards: Awards season continues with this acting-only awards show. Robert De Niro is slated to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. 8 P.M. ET on TNT/TBS

Monday, January 20

Spy Games: Read Bravo’s official description for the show, below. 10 P.M. ET on Bravo

“Inspired by the once-secret World War II government program known as “Station S,” in which civilians were assessed and trained to be spies, ten daring individuals come together to compete and attempt to outplay one another in living out the ultimate spy fantasy. Model and martial artist Mia Kang hosts the competition, with real-life intelligence experts assessing the contestants’ performances to determine who has what it takes to outwit the game and succeed at one of the world’s most mysterious professions.”

Tuesday, January 21

Fortune Feimster: Sweet & Salty: Fortune Feimster tackles sexual awakenings, her Southern upbringing, and more in this new comedy special. Streaming on Netflix

Wednesday, January 22

Riverdale: How many times will the male characters unnecessarily go shirtless? Only one way to find out: tune in. 8 P.M. ET on The CW

Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens: A new comedy series starring Awkwafina in which she plays Nora, a young woman living in Queens struggling with adulthood. 10:30 P.M. ET on Comedy Central

Thursday, January 23

Grey’s Anatomy: Will they address Alex Karev’s departure orrrrr? 9 P.M. ET on ABC

The Bold Type: Jane, Sutton, and Kat are back for more glossy shenanigans in New York City’s magazine world. 9 P.M. ET on Freeform

Friday, January 24

Shrill: Annie (Aidy Bryant) has faced her troll, quit her job, and gotten more serious with Ryan. So what’s next? We can’t wait to see. Streaming on Hulu

Saturday, January 25

Hearts of Winter: Read Hallmark’s official description for this movie, below: 8 P.M. ET on Hallmark

“An interior designer brings new life to the house of a widower and his daughter and finds love in the process.”

Your Horoscope for the Week of January 20, 2020

Whether your flag is freak or geek (or something else), fly it—your individual mix is a beacon that attracts your people as we enter the high-voltage season of Aquarius. Play me love songs as Venus in Pisces encourages us to see the good in all. Give peace a chance this week by connecting on the commonalities we share and appreciating the differences. Read on to discover what’s in store for your sign during the week of January 20 through to January 26, 2020, and double down by getting to know your rising sign.

Aries | Aries rising

Attention and influence are flowing both ways in your broader zone of friendships, peers, and people on your wavelength. This is your month to network with a wide-ranging scope. Your original outlook and contribution is an asset this week, yet your values may come into conflict if you attempt to water yourself down. Revisit your worth to shore you up, stay true to what’s important to you, and it will resonate with the right people so you find a fit where you shine. Preaching to the converted may feel great; in the end it’s not going to get your message to people that need to hear it. Trail-blaze with truth, Aries, and don’t be afraid to step up into exciting new arenas. Get geeky with friends that share your interests and find your audience, Aries—they’re ready and waiting.

Taurus | Taurus rising

This week’s new moon manifesting is all about career growth for you, Taurus. Get clear on what you’d like to achieve, how you’ll get there, and for what you want to be known. It’s essential to update your vision, and your concept of what you believe is possible, before it can manifest. Check your mind-set and the stories you tell yourself, especially if they’re based on outdated gender-binary roles or are unfamiliar to your social strata. Dial in progressive people that share your heartfelt need to make a difference through your vocation. If you need to revolutionize your career or reset the image you stand for at work, this is your week to tweak your mission statement. As Oprah says, the intention is everything. Set your compass and get tracking.

Gemini | Gemini rising

It’s not the usual run of intel, connections, and deliveries this week, Gemini. As the sun lights up your philosophical zone, cast your net worldwide and watch the gaps between the dots make bridges of meaning. If you need inspiration, listen to an insightful speaker or get on a plane to run new tracks in your neural network. This month is about expanding your mind, starting with your beliefs, so get the highest and broadest perspective you can on subjects that come up for discussion. No topic is too far-out under these stars. Set your intentions for what you want to learn or teach, finding ways to liberate your mind because what we believe we see, and there’s our reality in the making.

Kim Kardashian Is Releasing a Documentary About Her Fight for Criminal Justice Reform

In 2018, Kim Kardashian turned her massive platform toward an unexpected cause: criminal justice reform. That year, Kim Kardashian petitioned President Trump to commute the prison sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a woman who’d been incarcerated since 1996 for a nonviolent drug charge. Kardashian’s lobbying led to Johnson’s full pardon, but her fight for criminal justice reform hasn’t stopped since then—and audiences will soon get a much closer look at her work.

The reality star is releasing a documentary, Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project, that will take viewers behind-the-scenes of her work in criminal justice reform. Viewers will follow Kardashian and a team of legal experts as they examine four cases in which prisoners may have been unfairly sentenced. The two-hour documentary premieres on Oxygen on April 5 at 8 p.m.

“There are a lot of people who deserve a second chance, but many do not have the resources to make it happen,” Kardashian said in a statement released by Oxygen. “I want to help elevate these cases to a national level to effect change, and this documentary is an honest depiction of me learning about the system and helping bring tangible results to justice reform.”

From what we’ve seen so far, the documentary is a revealing look at the effort that goes into pardoning unfair sentences, and how far Kardashian has gone to learn about the issue. In the trailer, the KKW mogul speaks with prisoners who had been handed life sentences for nonviolent offenses. She also lobbies public officials and collaborates with legal teams to facilitate earlier releases. (You’ll have to watch to find out if she’s successful.)

The documentary is only two hours, but it covers a life-changing experience for Kardashian. “I went into this knowing nothing, and then my heart completely opened up,” she says in the trailer. “People deserve a second chance.”

This documentary won’t be the last we see of the star’s work in criminal justice reform. In an interview with Vogue last April, Kardashian revealed that she plans to become a lawyer and will take the bar exam in 2022. She made the decision to pursue law after seeing a “really good result” with her work on Johnson’s case. “I’ve always known my role, but I just felt like I wanted to be able to fight for people who have paid their dues to society,” she told Vogue. “I just felt like the system could be so different, and I wanted to fight to fix it, and if I knew more, I could do more.”

Watch the trailer for Kim Kardashian West: The Justice Project below.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are ‘No Longer Working Members of the Royal Family’

After days of negotiations, the royal family has decided what’s next for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The verdict? They are indeed stepping down from their senior royal positions and are “no longer working members of the royal family.”

Sussex Royal, the official Instagram account of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, released a written statement from Queen Elizabeth on Saturday, January 18. In it, Queen Elizabeth says that, “I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.”

She continues, “I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life. I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth, and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of our family.”

The details for Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s new arrangement were outlined in a separate statement from Buckingham Palace. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will still be referred to as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, but they will no longer use “HRH” titles. The couple are officially no longer working members of the royal family and can no longer formally represent the Queen. However, the couple assures that “everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.”

Financial arrangements were also shared in Buckingham Palace’s statement. The couple will repay the taxpayer money that contributed to the refurbishment of their royal residence, Frogmore Cottage. They’ll also stop receiving public funds for royal duties.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s new arrangement will go into effect sometime this spring, per the statement from Buckingham Palace. “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.”

This story is developing, but we’ll continue to update this post with details.

Meghan Markle, a True Friend, Volunteered for Airport Pickup Duty

Meghan Markle is currently laying low in Vancouver while Prince Harry negotiates with his family about the couple’s decision to step down from senior royal duties. And, apparently, she’s really leaning into commoner life.

The Duchess was spotted picking up her friend, pilates instructor Heather Dorak, from Vancouver’s Victoria International Airport on Thursday (January 16). Markle didn’t arrive at Arrivals in a motorcade—in fact, the The Daily Mail obtained pic of Markle driving herself and a security guard to the airport. (She was wearing a very casual black beanie and chic sunglasses for the trip.)

The rest of the encounter was as low-key as you’d expect from a woman who’s consciously uncoupling from royal life. Markle and Dorak were photographed smiling and sharing a quick hug in the car before Markle drove away. We’d be just as happy if we touched down for a visit with the Duchess of Sussex and didn’t even need to call an Uber.

Details about Dorak’s visit to Markle’s Vancouver residence haven’t been shared. But we can only assume her visit will include plenty of face time with Baby Archie, yoga (Markle’s favorite workout), and a Suits marathon for old time’s sake.

Dorak and Markle have been friends since the time when the Duchess still operated her personal Instagram account. The pair met in Los Angeles, where Markle reportedly took classes through Dorak’s Pilates Platinum brand. Dorak was also among friends including Priyanka Chopra and Serena Williams who attended Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding in 2018.

Markle has only been seen a handful of times since she and Prince Harry made their big announcement. On Tuesday (January 14), she visited Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre to discuss “issues affecting women in the community.” And Reports from Us Weekly say Markle has been spotted running errands in Vancouver. Markle was seen pulling into a drugstore parking lot, once again driving herself, on Sunday (January 12).

Despite the change in their royal status, the couple still has major plans for the future, including launching a new “charitable entity,” as well as splitting their time between the U.K. and North America.

Joe From ‘You’ Is a Murderer, But Some Women Would Date Him

Brittani, a 30-year-old nurse, says she would “Absolutely not” go out with Joe. (“He murders people at the drop of a hat. No thank you.”) But she says she enjoys hearing his inner monologue and “brutally honest” opinions. “I also admire how smart and organized he can be,” she says. Other women describe Joe as “sexy” and “ready to do anything for loved ones,” even knowing what they know about the character.

And many women say that Joe reminds them of men they’ve already dated, who they describe as stalkers and abusers. One woman I spoke to said of Joe, “Knowing what I know, I wouldn’t even look [Joe’s] way. I wouldn’t even want to associate with him for fear of not only my life but anyone I know, as well.”

“I’ve had many men become obsessed with me in my lifetime and it’s not fun,” she says. “In fact, it can turn scary real quick!” These men, she says, “go to extreme lengths” to keep other people from being close to you. “Maybe [they haven’t] killed anyone in a literal sense but they slowly kill who you are and your other relationships,” she says.

Another You fan I interviewed spoke about how she’s currently reconsidering her relationship with her husband, who she says exhibited “similar behavioral traits” to Joe at the beginning of their relationship.

“The writer was brilliant in making the character Joe,” she says. “They made him exhibit loyal behaviors most women (or men, for that matter) long for in a self-absorbed world. People justify Joe’s wrongdoing because it’s morally intertwined with a justified feeling from their perspective.”

Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg on ‘You’Beth Dubber/Netflix

Shymaa agrees. “The writer gave people what they wanna see in themselves,” she says. “It’s a criminal reflection of most people’s true selves…especially women. I mean, don’t we just love ‘light stalking’ our partners sometimes?” To many people, identifying with the characters on the show, and particularly lusting after Joe, is crazy. But a lot of female fans made it clear that they are able to see even the bloodiest storylines as allegorical, even while acknowledging that those same storylines (stalking, killing, sex crimes), however dramatized on You, are very real threats in their lives.

Watching their own worst nightmares come true on screen—the same way huge numbers of women devour true-crime podcasts and binge SVU episodes—is how women have always experienced entertainment. At least, many seem to be saying, let the made up perpetrator be really, really hot.

Badgley has claimed that interest in Joe, interest even in You, is a sign of our own moral corruption. “In a more just society, we would all see Joe as problematic and not be interested in the show, but that’s not the society we live in,” he said.

But the women who professed love and desire for Joe seem perfectly aware that he’s problematic. They’re used to problematic men. They’re used to risking violence when they go on dates.

They’re chasing desire in an unjust world. An anavrin, as the show puts it—a twisted, backwards, nirvana.

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. Follow her on Twitter @JeanValjenny.

Buttercream Blond Is the Prettiest New Hair Color for 2020

If the new year has you itching to make a hair change, consider going over to the light side. While winter is generally reserved for going darker, stylists say there’s been an uptick in requests for warm, buttery golds and rich champagnes this season. The coolest takes on the trend (which Popsugar officially dubbed “buttercream blond”), is the easiest way to get in on it.

Essentially, buttercream blond is a natural, creamy blonde with tons of dimension. Because of the mix of colors, it looks naturally sun-kissed, and the mix of warm and cool highlights means it’s flattering across different skin tones. Instead of a harsh, bright, one-note blond, buttercream swirls ribbons of champagne, honey, and baby blond for an easy-lived in look.

While it’s easiest to get the shade if you’re already a blond, it’s not impossible to incorporate elements of the shade into darker hair as well. Below, hairstylist Lauren Grummel breaks down three variations on the trend.

Bright and light

Lauren Grummel 

“This color works best if you’re already naturally light and in the blond family,” says Grummel of this look that’s bright blond from root to tip and heavier on the cream than the butter. She explains that this shade can be done in one sitting if you’re already blond, but be prepared to be in the chair for a couple hours. To keep the buttery dimension, she says to ask your stylist for a full highlight with bright pops throughout: “Tone it more neutral or cool to get a few white pieces to really pop.”

Buttery Blond

Lauren Grummel 

This is a true buttercream blond with a mix of warm highlights with a few pops of brightness. Grummel says this is a great entry into blond if you have light or medium brown hair. For this particular shade, Grummel lightened the base color to start, and then added full highlights for the brighter pieces, leaving some of her natural color for dimension. If you’ve previously colored your hair, it can effect the time it takes to transition to blond, so Grummel recommends really planning with your stylist before making the jump.

Warm Buttercream

Lauren Grummel 

“This shade of buttercream is great for clients who want a little something and don’t want to commit to blond all over,” says Grummel of this warmer blond-dipped look. She loves this shade because it’s very low maintenance, and it’s easy to transition to if you’re brunette. Ask your stylist for “brighter pieces around your face with pops of lightness through your ends, plus lived-in highlights through your crown.”

Scroll on for more of our favorite buttercream blond hair ideas, and get ready to call your salon.

Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.