Are there really two kinds of female orgasm? Science weighs in.

By Seriously Science | March 12, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/mario

Photo: flickr/mario

There is a long-standing and heated debate in the scientific literature about whether or not there are two kinds of female orgasm. One side argues that orgasms stemming from penetration are fundamentally different from those arising from clitoral stimulation. The other side insists that they are really the same thing, and the only difference is how the clitoris is stimulated. Here, two scientists set out to test these two hypotheses by using ultrasound to track blood flow patterns and determine how the clitoris moves during different types of sex. Their results support the hypothesis that there are, in fact, different kinds of female orgasm. We’re just glad they didn’t use the acronyms from this study.

Pilot Echographic Study of the Differences in Clitoral Involvement following Clitoral or Vaginal Sexual Stimulation.

“INTRODUCTION: Women describe at least two types of orgasms: clitoral and vaginal. However, the differences, if any, are a matter of controversy. In order to clarify the functional anatomy of this sexual pleasure, most frequently achieved through clitoral stimulation, we used sonography with the aim of visualizing the movements of the clitorourethrovaginal (CUV) complex both during external, direct stimulation of the clitoris and during vaginal stimulation.

METHOD: The ultrasounds were performed in three healthy volunteers with the General Electric® Voluson® sonography system (General Electric Healthcare, Vélizy, France), using a 12-MHz flat probe and a vaginal probe. We used functional sonography of the stimulated clitoris either during manual self-stimulation of the external clitoris or during vaginal penetration with a wet tampon.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Functional and anatomic description, based on bidimensional ultrasounds, of the clitoris and CUV complex, as well as color Doppler signal indicating speed of venous blood flow, during arousal obtained by external or internal stimulation.

RESULTS: The sagittal scans obtained during external stimulation and vaginal penetration demonstrated that the root of the clitoris is not involved with external clitoral stimulation. In contrast, during vaginal stimulation, because of the movements and displacements, the whole CUV complex and the clitoral roots in particular are involved, showing functional differences depending on the type of stimulation. The color signal indicating flow speed in the veins mirrored the anatomical changes.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite a common assumption that there is only one type of female orgasm, we may infer, on the basis of our findings, that the different reported perceptions from these two types of stimulation can be explained by the different parts of the clitoris (external and internal) and CUV complex that are involved. Buisson O and Jannini EA. Pilot echographic study of the differences in clitoral involvement following clitoral or vaginal sexual stimulation.”

Related content:
NCBI ROFL: Colombo and the clitoris.
NCBI ROFL: An electrophysiologic study of female ejaculation.
NCBI ROFL: And the most awkward sex of all time award goes to…

  • Paul Byrne

    SeriouslySo I wanted to read this article in hopes of learning something, but with all the big words I nser. Thanks Seriously Science, I mean No thanks.

    • Rivergull

      Surely, the scientists who performed this study are men? Women KNOW there are two types of orgasms (both completely different) What a waste of money.

  • Funky Scientist

    This is research at its worst – THREE volunteers & the use of a wet tampon.
    I’m very surprised that this was even published.

    • Kalera Stratton

      It’s a pilot study, and therefore only of any use whatsoever for the purpose of showing that more research is warranted. It isn’t news, and it shouldn’t be making its way into news outlets.

  • Eric Scoles

    And yet they still haven’t taken the trouble to define what it means for them to be “different types.”

    If this is all there is to their hypotheses, then I submit that there are an INIFINITE number of “types” of orgasm, for both women AND men.

  • thebluebird11

    Wow I was just having this discussion with a friend of mine and I told her there is only one kind of orgasm: A GOOD one! I have never felt any difference one way or the other, and it’s like saying “Well, if your toes are stimulated at the same time, then that is another kind of orgasm.” Whatever. WET TAMPONS? SERIOUSLY?? What a colossal waste of whoever’s money funded this study.

  • bob

    My wife says there are two different kinds of orgasm, but this study seems ridiculous.

  • Rivergull

    For females, the “C” orgasm is direct contact with the third rail …a rocket ship of singular explosive ecstasy focused solely upon the woman. The “V” orgasm differs entirely, being more of an ’emotional’ ecstasy, resulting from the shared joy of complete, interlocking physical union. You could say, “c” is lightning, “v” is thunder. I might add …sex toys provide a poor substitute.

  • letstakealook

    This has to be a test to see how many people will read it. Of course there are different orgasms. Wet tampon?? Really, That would be a turn-off.

    What a colossal waste of money and time.

  • deane00000

    would just like to say that I was very disappointed in the comments
    below the article. I agree that it didn’t provide a whole lot of info,
    and some long words, but at least science is finally moving forward on
    the subject. I feel like this kind of research is exciting and that
    educating people on stuff like this can only make humankind happier (and
    more satisfied). People are so uptight!! It really worries me that
    public reaction such as this will hold up progress. I want to know all I
    can, even if it is a tidbit at a time. I have a feeling that they were
    so excited about what they learned, they wanted to get it out asap
    (well, a girl can hope, anyway). It seems to me that when doctors back
    in the day were treating “hysteria” in women, they would have realized
    the importance of knowing as much as they could. Instead, we moved
    backward instead of forward. Now, lets move on to learning more about
    male orgasm and the g-spot.

    And, I just can’t resist . . . So, not only do we have multiple
    orgasms, but it has been proven that we have more than one kind . .
    WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Of course, most women already knew that. Sorry


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