For males, an orgasm involves semen (the fluid that carries sperm) being ejaculated from the penis. After ejaculation, the body relaxes and the penis goes back to its usual size. For females, an orgasm involves contractions of the muscles around the vagina, and sometimes around the uterus and anus. Although females don’t ejaculate in the same way that males do, some females experience a kind of ejaculation of vaginal fluid.

For reproduction purposes, the contraction of the vaginal muscles during orgasm is intended to pull ejaculated sperm up, deeper into the vagina to increase the chances that sperm will reach and fertilize an egg. But because it’s not always a female and male having sex, not to mention reproduction is usually not the goal of sex, the purpose of orgasm is more often for pleasure. It’s the part of sexual activity that feels the best. Some people associate it with the tension you feel when you’re about to sneeze. An orgasm is a release of that tension, but it feels a million times better.

I think it’s really important to explain to older children and teens that sex can be fun and feel good even without an orgasm. Also, more often than not, partners may not have an orgasm at the same time. Typically, males become sexually aroused and reach orgasm faster than females. But it also depends on other factors, such as arousal level, health issues, stress, how a person feels toward their partner, how tired they are, and whether they have consumed alcohol or cigarettes. And one partner may orgasm, but the other may not.

As for a woman having “a bunch” of orgasms in a row, many women can. And many women can’t. Coming from a preteen or teen, though, I can’t help but think this question stems from watching or at least hearing what happens in pornography. Again, let’s remind our kids that sex in entertainment usually doesn’t look like that in real life.

The easy answer to this question is, “They don’t always. Sometimes sex is very quiet and peaceful.” But children often get the impression that sex is noisy because of what they see on TV, in movies, and, unfortunately, in pornography. In these unrealistic portrayals, there’s a lot of noise, moans, heavy breathing, sweating, groaning, shouting, even screaming during sex. As a result, children have asked me, “Why does the lady scream when you do it to her?” “Why do people moan?” and sadly, “Why do you have to beat the lady before you do it?”

Please talk to your kids about the difference between entertainment and reality, and about how sex is exaggerated in entertainment to get viewers’ attention and money. Unfortunately, some people mimic what they see in media, thinking the Hollywood version of sex is the norm. For sexually mature adults in a healthy, consenting relationship, sex isn’t always dramatic; it’s not a competition, it’s not a marathon, and it doesn’t require academy award-winning performances. Amen to that!