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Glossary

To get a more in-depth description of any terms in the Glossary, as well as a list of articles that relate to the term, just click on the term name in the list of terms below. You will be taken to a page that contains the terms, the longer description, and a list of the articles related to that topic.

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Orgasm (from Greek οργασμός orgasmos, from organ to mature, swell, also sexual climax) is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual tension during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by an intense sensation of pleasure.


Experienced by males and females, orgasms are controlled by the involuntary or autonomic nervous system.


They are often associated with other involuntary actions, including muscular spasms in multiple areas of the body, a general euphoric sensation and, frequently, body movements and vocalizations are expressed.


Discussions of the female orgasm are complicated by orgasms in women typically being divided into two categories: clitoral orgasm and vaginal (or G-Spot) orgasm.


The concept of "vaginal orgasm" as separate from clitoral orgasm was first postulated by Sigmund Freud. In 1905, Freud stated that clitoral orgasms are purely an adolescent phenomenon and that upon reaching puberty, the proper response of mature women is a change-over to vaginal orgasms, meaning orgasms without any clitoral stimulation.


While Freud provided no evidence for this basic assumption, the consequences of this theory were considerable. Many women felt inadequate when they could not achieve orgasm via vaginal intercourse alone, involving little or no clitoral stimulation, as Freud's theory made penile-vaginal intercourse the central component to women's sexual satisfaction


The first major national surveys of sexual behavior were the Kinsey Reports.   Alfred Kinsey was the first to harshly criticize Freud's ideas about female sexuality and orgasm when, through his interviews with thousands of women, Kinsey found that most women could not have vaginal orgasms.


He criticized Freud and other theorists for projecting male constructs of sexuality onto women and viewed the clitoris as the main center of sexual response and the vagina as relatively unimportant for sexual satisfaction, noting that few women inserted fingers or objects into their vaginas when they masturbated.


He concluded that satisfaction from penile penetration is mainly psychological or perhaps the result of referred sensationMasters and Johnson's research into the female sexual response cycle generally supported Kinsey's findings about the female orgasm,which inspired feminists such as Anne Koedt to speak about the "false distinction" made between clitoral and vaginal orgasms and women's biology not being properly analyzed.

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