The little death. Jouissance. Climaxing. Coming. Whatever you call it, orgasm is, for many, the peak of a sexual experience. People have all different experiences with orgasms: For some, orgasms come easily, while for others, they're more elusive. For some people, orgasm is the primary goal of sex, while others can take them or leave them. Some people have never even had an orgasm, while others have had them since before they knew what they were.

Whatever your own experiences with orgasms, let's get down to the basics that might help you understand and improve your own orgasms as well as your partners'.

What is an orgasm?

An orgasm, defined scientifically, is a peak in sexual pleasure accompanied by a series of rhythmic contractions in the pelvic muscles. The famous sex researchers Masters and Johnson measured that these contractions start out at approximately 0.8-second intervals and gradually decrease in speed and intensity. (In a lab, these contractions are typically measured by putting a probe in the vagina or anus.) Other potential signs of orgasm include vocalizations, flushing, body tension and increased heart rate.

Others, however, use an expanded definition of orgasm that includes any