21 Women Explain What Sex & Orgasms Feel Like For Them
Have you ever wondered about how sex feels for other people? We spoke with 20 women (including some nonbinary folks) about how sex feels for them. Their experiences show there really is no "normal," and everyone has their own approach to and experience of sex and orgasms. And while everyone is unique, it's also true that if you've ever wondered "Am I the only one to feel like this?" the answer is probably no!
"Like electricity running through my body."
"With the right person, and when I'm very turned on, sex feels like electricity running through my body in the first moments of touching or entering. I can feel my heartbeat down there. Goosebumps and tingles down my spine. It feels warm and relaxing. On the other hand, sex can be awkward and painful if I'm not aroused or wet..."
"More fun in theory than practice."
"Sex feels like this vulnerable, random experience that I feel for the most part is underwhelming. Lately, I've been finding it hard to stay interested and fully let go. Definitely finding sex more fun in theory than practice at the moment."
"The stimulation connects my entire body."
"Sex feels like I'm united with me; like every part of me, which are all me but which usually never interact, are suddenly connected in new crazy connections, which only ever exist during sex.
"Like: My nipple is sucked, and I feel an explosion-like sensation in that nipple, which makes sense, but at the same time I also feel that exact same sensation in my pussy, my ass, my hands, my toes—in a million places, which usually never feel the same way as my breasts.
"Or: My G-spot is stimulated persistently, and it feels like the entire area between my pussy and my throat is suddenly linked or has come together in one piece like a trunk. As if the stimulation connects my entire body and mental presence in that space, like the rhythmic pressure creates unison there, and all of me is stimulated by that touch, centered in that space, all while at the same time I go through a very wide range of emotions ranging from lust and pleasure to helplessness and fear to excitement, joy, and gratitude, or almost spiritual contact."
"Sex feels like a way to feel what someone else is feeling."
"On a good day, sex feels like a way to feel what someone else is feeling. On a bad day, sex feels like a reminder that only I can truly understand what it feels like to inhabit my body."
"Like you're being tickled."
"Sex feels like you're being tickled, but better and you don't want them to stop."
"I feel both exposed and at home in my body."
"Sex with another person—especially lesbian sex—feels like two (or more) bodies becoming one, where my pleasure becomes their pleasure, and their pleasure becomes mine. Not all sex feels like this, but this feeling indicates the kind of sex I'm always searching for. When I'm having sex, I feel both exposed and at home in my body, so getting to experience that with anyone, even if it's a casual encounter, is really special to me. I love the feeling of having an orgasm, but it's more than just the physical pleasure; it's how another person can impose that kind of pleasure onto me, how I can impose that kind of pleasure onto them, over and over again in one sitting. While orgasms are fleeting, sex to me isn't. It's the spiritual experience of climbing into another human's body and learning every inch, learning the smallest details that turn them on, learning what turns you on through their touch. I think it can be pretty magical."
"It's as if the forces of nature have gathered within me."
"My body experiences many sorts of orgasms, from small physical relief to earth-shattering climaxes. With the latter, it's as if the forces of nature have gathered within me—there's the sensation of an earthquake and then a tsunami. I usually reach this type of 'Big O' using a Satisfyer, which stimulates the clit while my partner uses their fingers to penetrate me. I can sometimes have similar-feeling orgasms through oral sex mixed with vaginal penetration. It's pure bliss!"
"Like the best kind of confusion."
"Honestly, orgasms feel like the best kind of confusion. I usually hate the unknown and unexpected, but when my body doesn't always know what to do or how to respond because it's feeling all the things—there's so much pleasure in uncertainty. Will it flinch, shake, come a little or squirt, or all of the above?" Everyone's surprised and happy in the end."
"Floating on air."
"Undoubtedly, the best orgasms I've experienced have been with penetration and clitoral stimulation from a vibrator. My partner gifted me the Lelo Sona Cruise, and that really changed the game. ... Both of those actions at the same time made me feel warm, full, and like I was floating on air. When I orgasm, I feel it from the top of my head to my ankles. My stomach tightens and releases (I think that's where the root of my moaning is?), and sometimes my legs shake. I've often found myself repeating in my head 'ride the wave, ride the wave, let it come fully,' and that keeps me focused on the task at hand."
"Sex feels like connection."
"Sex feels like coming back to myself. Especially now, when I'm doing it with someone I love. When I look at her and she looks at me, it feels like I can breathe again. How cringey; sorry, but it's true! The rawness of emotion still scares me a bit, the vulnerability that's required is not my strong suit. But sex feels like connection, like a silent conversation, where, if you listen closely enough, you'll hear more than what's being said. Sex feels nice. It has become something I cannot wait to do, something I long for, instead of something I am terrified of. And all this is coming from [someone] who barely ever enjoyed sex before. Who would have thought?"
"A dopamine promise just beyond the ridge."
"Humming sounds, varying intensities draw the humdrum of the day into a comforting bliss, centralized sensations catapult and ripple outward, a dopamine promise just beyond the ridge.
"Changing angles as age renders wrists and forearms into wounded remnants of life's adventures and mishaps. Riding the rhythm of my clitoris's yearnings, my mind flips through scenes, each one a porn history tab earmarked, as coursing electricity rides a tie-dyed blend of sensations colliding with each other. I'm shivering, I'm saying 'God, yes.' Spirit is present in orgasms. That's how I decided God was real."
"My mind almost goes blank."
"During an intimate moment, it feels like my body is tingling all over. When it's really intense, my mind almost goes blank because I'm hyper-focusing on the sensations. I love dabbling in tantric sex [and] foreplay because it makes everything more intense and passionate versus just getting down to it. Anything from kissing to a finger going down the middle of my back will bring chills during sex. It feels like an otherworldly experience when your body is reacting to someone's touch or kiss that builds up to orgasm. It's as if when you orgasm, you become acutely aware of the cosmos for a blink until it's gone. Then the body is just shuddering, coming back to this reality."
"Light exploding throughout my body."
"Orgasms give me a floating sensation with tingling on my skin and visual explosions of light exploding throughout my body. How sex feels to me greatly depends on the context and the person. It can be an energetic exchange with magical undertones or just a physical activity that's an enjoyable way to pass time."
"Like our souls are colliding."
"Sex is a spiritual event for me. It is as close to worship as I can obtain with my partner. I have only been able to achieve orgasms through oral sex and fingering in particular. Just the thought of my partner exploring me and loving the taste and scent of me pushes me to the edge. When my partner feels the same way, the orgasms make it seem like our souls are colliding and becoming one, if only for a few moments in time."
"Like having my entire body bathed with warm washcloths."
"Physically it feels like having my entire body bathed with warm washcloths, simultaneously. I don't know if that makes sense, but it's like when you're cold, and someone covers you with a heated blanket...like that, but add the sensual pleasure of water...except we were never in the shower... Well, we were that one time...!"
"It feels like the millisecond before you sneeze."
"Typically when I use a vibrator and I'm on the verge of coming, there's a moment when my body goes numb and then into pure ecstasy. It's almost like my body goes into shock. I get really sad, then happy, then back to normal. It literally lasts for only 10 seconds, but it's intense... I've tried describing it before but couldn't. Now, if I had to describe it, I would say it feels like the millisecond right before you sneeze."
"All orgasms are on an intensity spectrum."
"For me, the most intense orgasms I experience start with vaginal sex and end with anal. All orgasms are on an intensity spectrum, and the longer you build up to it, the stronger and longer the orgasm will be. So, sometimes, after enough vaginal sex, additional stimulation is needed to get to climax. The feeling of anal does just that, providing the sensation of penetration but with an edge—perhaps it's a tiny bit of pain or just different nerve endings being stimulated. I'm not sure! I will make sure I don't overwork my clit early on so that it remains sensitive, and then will touch myself as he penetrates me anally. That's the formula for an earth-shattering orgasm in my book! It takes a bit more time than a quickie, for sure, but when the mood and timing are right, it's so worth it."
"If done slightly wrong, it can be quite painful."
"In terms of oral sex, I actually—up until really recently—told myself I just don't like oral sex. I have a super sensitive li'l babe down there, and if done slightly wrong it can be quite painful/very uncomfortable and not sexy at all. Like tongues can easily feel like horrid scratchy cat tongues, and I just want them away! Like I have to use the hood, and I cannot stand the actual clit being touched 'cause it's just painful. But I know I don't dislike clitoral stimulation because when I play with myself it's fine, so clearly the people doing it just aren't pleasing me in the right way. This is across the board for both men and women I've had sex with, though, to be fair, the times I've had sex with women it's been drunken one-night stands so we've not really had time for feedback.
Using strap-ons is a recent thing I've done, and I find that a really new and rewarding dynamic to sex, that I can please my partner in a different way to how I usually do. There's no physical sensation there for me, so that's all psychological, getting off on them getting off, and that's really enjoyable, though there is a lot of mental pressure that comes with that. Since I can't actually feel anything, I can't tell if I'm hurting them or have any physical connection or feedback on how it feels for them, so I have to rely heavily on verbal communication there."
"Sex toys become an extension of your partner."
"When you're with someone that you feel no apprehension, no inhibitions with...and they want to use [sex toys] on you, it changes things. It creates a whole new level of intensity with your orgasm. It gives them control over you in a new way and creates a different kind of connection I didn't anticipate. I think the reason I was never a fan of toys is that they just didn't create the kind of sensations I wanted. They always felt too fake for me. But over time what I found was that having a toy used on you by someone who has spent time learning just the right way to make you orgasm, it becomes something different. It becomes an extension of your partner. It makes the toys feel more intense, more alive, more intuitive to your body. Somehow the orgasm becomes more powerful because of the control your partner has over it."
"It feels like an out-of-body experience."
"A good orgasm feels like an electrical current working its way through my body. It starts slowly, with a buildup that makes my legs twitch, then my abs clench and instinctually I want to pull away; but at the same time, I want to draw deeper into it. The deeper it goes, the more my senses feel heightened. I can feel everything—the sheets under me, the air being drawn into my lungs, the impending cramp in my left leg, the arch in my back, my teeth in my lip. Sometimes, on the really good interactions, it even feels like an out-of-body experience. I can almost see myself from above giving in to the vulnerability of the orgasm. It's like I've been separated into two entities—one enjoying physical pleasure and another enjoying mental clarity. And once the act of sex or playing with vibrators is over, the orgasm itself isn't gone. It lingers, slowly leaving my body with every breath. As my muscles relax, my body twitches, my eyes glaze over, and before I know it, I'm back together as one, and I have the most relaxing sleep a woman could want."
"I wish I could access this awareness of my body in other moments of my life."
"When I think about being on the edge of release—of not knowing how long I can hold on for; when the only sounds I can make are guttural, and I feel a kind of warmth that only someone else's tongue could bring; I think of how I wish I could access this awareness of my body in other moments of my life. Sometimes sex feels like the ability to move awareness around my body. Like some electric force is roaming up and down my spine and connecting all the different parts of me. I think of how teeth grazing across an ear sparks something in my thighs, or pinching a nipple makes my toes curl, and how all of my body is connected and switched on."
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity, and some names have been changed.
Kesiena Boom, M.S., is a sociologist, writer, and poet. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Manchester and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Lund University. Her work has been featured at Slate, Buzzfeed, Vice, Autostraddle, and elsewhere. Her writing focuses on sex, pleasure, queer experience and community, feminist theory and practice, and race and anti-racism.