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Anatomy Could Be a Key to Orgasm

Anatomy Could Be a Key to OrgasmFor many people, reaching orgasm is one of the goals of a sexual experience. But not everyone gets there, even with the “right” amount of stimulation and excitement. Many factors can be involved, including relationship stress, depression, and side effects of medications. However, a recent study published in Clinical Anatomy suggests that a person’s physical makeup plays a role, too.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the Indiana University School of Medicine reviewed medical studies to see just how anatomy affected orgasms.

In a press release, lead author Dr. Elizabeth Emhardt posed the research question: “Sexual experiences are assumed to be in your control based on your attitude: your confidence, your ability to trust, your openness. What if variations in sexual anatomy actually set the foundation for differences in sexual experience, and we aren't in control of our sexual experiences as much as we once thought?”


Might your anatomy be one key to a satisfying orgasm? (Click to tweet)


The scientists found that for men to achieve orgasm, two types of nervous systems need to be in balance. One is the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes called the “rest and digest” system), which controls the body’s functions while at rest. The other is the sympathetic nervous system, from which the “fight or flight” response originates. When these two systems are not aligned, men can experience sexual problems, sure as premature ejaculation.

For women, orgasms seem to depend more on physical structures. Many women reach orgasm with stimulation of the clitoris, a small genital organ full of sensitive nerves. The clitoris moves closer to the vaginal wall during sex. But if it doesn’t get close enough, the likelihood of orgasm is reduced.  

Similarly, the size of the clitoris can be important too. Research published in 2014 found that women with a smaller clitoris had more trouble reaching orgasm.

Ultimately, people are individuals with a number of anatomical variations. And orgasms are complex. Couples may need to experiment with different sexual positions and activities to discover what works best for them. Understanding each other’s anatomy may be one place to start.


“Do Differences in Anatomy Matter for Achieving Orgasm?”

(Press release. April 5, 2016)

Clinical Anatomy

Emhardt, E., et al.

“Anatomic variation and orgasm: Could variations in anatomy explain differences in orgasmic success?”

(Full-text. April 4, 2016)

“Parasympathetic vs. Sympathetic Nervous System”

Medical Daily

Dovey, Dana

“The Big O: Physiological Reasons Why You May Have Orgasmic Dysfunction”

(April 8, 2016)

“Size and Location of Clitoris May Affect Orgasm”

(November 12, 2014)