Wave, Avalanche Or Volcano: What Kind Of Orgasms Are You Having?

ILLUSTRATED BY TWISHA PATNI
It would seem few things are as misunderstood in this world as the female orgasm. While we’ve come far in dismantling stigmas around sex and pleasure, little research has been conducted about our sexual satisfaction. And with nothing but comical representations to go off of, it's not that surprising that there's a significant orgasm gap — hell, one survey even found that nearly half of men couldn't correctly identify the location of the clitoris. But as researchers strive to gain a deeper insight into sexual pleasure, we're constantly learning more. While there are a million and one ways to get it on, a recent study from Charles University in Prague has confirmed that there are three kinds of orgasms: waves, avalanches and volcanoes.
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Headed by James Pfaus, a professor of neuroscience, the study found that upon analysing bodies during orgasm, pelvic floor movements corresponded with three different kinds of motions during the build-up and the release of tension at orgasm — and were named for being reminiscent of these natural phenomena.
For the examination, 54 women were asked to use a Bluetooth vibrator (named The Lioness) which was used to detect the force of pelvic floor contractions via sensors. The women used the Lioness to masturbate over several days, while data on their muscle movements were collected through the device at the point of climax. What the researchers found was that orgasms could be classified in three different ways.

The Wave

The wave, which was found to be the most common type, occurred when people experienced “undulations or successive contractions of tension and release.” Nearly half of the participants recorded 'wave' orgasms.

The Volcano

A volcano orgasm, as the name suggests, is more ‘explosive’ than the steady build-up of a wave, with a lower pelvic floor tension which then can more suddenly tense and release at the point of orgasm. These were the least common kind of orgasm, with only eleven participants shown to have experienced these movements.

The Avalanche

And finally, the avalanche orgasm is one that has a higher pelvic floor tension which then lowers during climax — but not in an anti-climatic way, if that's what you're thinking. Seventeen people were found to have experienced this kind of orgasm.
About the findings, Pfaus' hopes are that the Lioness could be used ‘like a Fitbit’ to help those with orgasm disorders or to guide those who want to know more about what's going on with our bodies when we're having a good time. “It is essentially a pelvic floor biofeedback instrument that, because of its shape and intended purpose, can be used to give women instant feedback on the pelvic floor movements that accompany orgasm,” he said.
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While it’s a small study, with plenty of more research to be explored in this area, Pfaus acknowledges that this is just the beginning. As somatic sexologist Stella Anna Sonnenbaum tells Cosmopolitan, sexual pleasure is far too nuanced and subjective to be reduced to a science.
“As a sex educator, what I’m teaching is involving as much of the body as possible in sexual arousal, and also letting go of the genital focus,” she says. “It seems shallow to define the quality of orgasms simply via pelvic floor contractions.”
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