Last year, my boyfriend was fingering me and I felt like I was going to come, but instead, I just had this weird, singular vaginal twitch. It felt similar to an orgasm but less intense. After I started doing kegel exercises, these vaginal contractions got more frequent. They'd start a few minutes before orgasm and be spaced a few minutes or seconds apart, getting closer together over time. I only got them when I wasn't trying to climax. Googling "vaginal contractions without orgasm" told me nothing. I wondered if I was the only one to experience this.
A few months later, a friend IMed me to ask if I knew what the "mini orgasms" she was experiencing during masturbation were. They felt awesome but not like a grand finale, she explained. "I don't know what they are, but I think I've had them too," I said. If both of us experienced these, I thought, they can't be so rare.
So, I asked sex researcher Nicole Prause, PhD, if this was a documented phenomenon. And it turns out we weren't making it up! The scientific term is "increased vaginal motility with increasing arousal," Prause tells Bustle. Here's what we know about them.
They Happen When You're Super Turned On
"The vagina moves spontaneously with sexual arousal," says Prause. So, the more turned on you get without climaxing, the more likely you probably are to experience these. That's probably why I only get them if I'm not rushing toward climax — and why many women don't know about them.
"I suspect that many women do not reach very high states of sexual arousal," Prause adds. "Sexual interactions, including intercourse to orgasm, are reported to be very short, a few minutes on average. The spontaneous, early contractions may be partly a function of having a long period of arousal where your body is anticipating orgasm contractions, and also where women are going slow enough to be able to notice them happening."
They Could Be Your Body's Way Of Preparing To Orgasm
Early vaginal contractions could be almost like "pulling the gas lawnmower," says Prause. "The body might be increasing tone and getting ready to actually 'turn over' into an orgasm."
We May Not Hear About Them Because They're So Hard To Study
It's hard enough to measure sexual arousal in a lab, and even if we tried, it would be hard to measure these. Many women tense up intentionally to try to speed up orgasm, says Prause, which could easily be confused with these involuntary contractions.
Plus, A Lot Of Us Aren't Even Aware Of These Ourselves
Noticing the way your body reacts to sexual stimulation requires a certain amount of mindfulness during sex. Many people are just trying to rush to orgasm, so they miss out on all the sensations and movements in their bodies.
We Probably Have The Patriarchy To Thank For That
Along with not getting enough time to experience this stage of arousal, many women aren't even thinking much about their own pleasure — nor are their partners. "I suspect women continue not to pay much attention to the gritty details of their genitals and remain pretty concerned with their male's (when their partner is male) satisfaction," says Prause. "Women also report a much wider variety of motivations for engaging in sex than men do and have much lower orgasm consistency... so I suspect they are just not as interested, on average, in their own pleasure."
Let's change that. To try to feel these contractions, Prause recommends masturbating with a toy inside your vagina. I can feel them without a toy, though. The trick for me is to fight that impulse to tense up as you get close. Trust me: If you can hold out a bit, it'll be worth it. You'll still end with a grand finale — there'll just be a bunch of beautiful songs beforehand.