Orgasm Faces. We all have them. We all see them. Most of us, unfortunately, are a bit embarrassed about them. Thanks to Hollywood – the orgasm face has been glamorized and sexualised through films like When Harry Met Sally and the infamous television series Sex in the City. Who could forget the infamous scene where Meg Ryan shows the world her orgasm face and the power of the female orgasm in an all-American diner?
In the world of pornography, the female orgasm is framed as a mix of moans, squeals, trembling legs and excessive lip biting. It is impossible to escape the link between sexual pleasure and glamour, as they show the world their orgasm face in pornography. According to Holly Richmond, the standard that is set by these visuals of the female orgasm in the media increase the prevalence of these concerns in women, who want to live up to the ‘glamorised’ orgasm. The inundation with glamor and pleasure may also lead to an increase in performance anxiety and gender dysphoria for both women and men, she warns.
Even for those who are not comparing themselves with pornography and Hollywood, there are still concerns surrounding our orgasm face. In fact, for some people, the idea of our sexual partners gazing deeply into our faces as we lose control in the moment is horrifying to say the least. This is because an orgasm is a highly complex, sensual and neurotic experience, where your body is experiencing several physical, emotional and sexual messages. The collision of chemicals and hormones in your body during an orgasm may lead to an inevitable strain on your facial muscles resulting in squeezing, smiling, laughing or contortion. Whilst it is easy for us to get lost in the moment when enjoying sex, many people do not want to feel like their face is betraying them.
So why are people so ashamed of their orgasm faces? How can people be so scared about their natural reaction, as they enjoy pleasure and intense stimulation? Is that not something we should be proud of?
According to Richard Wagner, a registered clinician and sex therapist, the internalisation of sexual prejudices in society means that some people still make connections between their orgasm and feelings of shame or guilt. This means that when people think about their orgasms, these thoughts are also coupled up with negative emotions surrounding sex and masturbation that they have so far tried to repress. This can also result in people ‘over-thinking’ about their orgasm face.
Another reason that we might feel ashamed of our orgasm face is it exposes our vulnerability. It is a well-known fact that having an intimate sexual experience with someone can involve us being ashamed or embarrassed. After any sexual encounter, it can be easy to reflect on our performance, and how we may have looked to our sexual partners. However, according to a sexpert and author Tracey Cox, most men are intensely motivated and turned on by the orgasm face, and find it particularly helpful for guiding their partners pleasure. As Tracey notes: “Most men are more turned on during sex by a women’s face than anything else.” It’s the best way to display our arousal.
Another reason that people fear the dreaded orgasm face, is that they liken the way in which your face looks during orgasm to that of our pain faces. When we are in pain, we tend to reciprocate some of the expressions and use the same facial muscles in order to show the emotions on our face. The way we look when we are in pain can translate feelings of embarrassment or shame, that we associate with hurting ourselves or having an accident. Many people have been led to believe their orgasm face and pain face are incredibly similar.
Science has long debated whether there is a link between pain and pleasure in our facial expressions. However, recently, there have been significant advances in science which have suggested that there is no link. In a recent study by researchers from Spain and the UK, they found that there are huge differences between the faces we make when we are experiencing either pain or pleasure. Essentially, this means that the way humans understand and analyse facial expressions and social clues is far more advanced than our fears would allow us to believe. The study concluded that the distinctions were easily detected and they so nobody should spend their time worrying about what their orgasm face looks like. In a similar study by researchers at the University of Glasgow, they also found distinct comparisons between our pain and orgasm faces.
Thanks to science, we now know our partners will always be able to read our face, it’s simply a human connection. And it cannot be denied that nobody should have any concerns about how they look during sex; prioritise your pleasure and let science take care of the rest.