A study claims to have identified three types of orgasm experienced by women, using data collected by a "biofeedback vibrator". Letting participants loose with a Bluetooth-connected "Lioness" dildo, researchers were able to classify orgasms into three distinct types: the wave, the avalanche, and the volcano.
Lioness, who make the vibrators, had previously identified these three types of orgasm back in 2017, but this research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine appears to validate their claims. The small-scale study asked 54 women who use the Lioness vibrator to allow their masturbation data to be collected during masturbation conditions and a "control" condition where the dildo was inserted but no self-stimulation took place.
"For the orgasm conditions, women were instructed to self-stimulate to one orgasm and then turn the unit off two minutes after orgasm was attained," the team wrote in their study. "This allowed a blind rater to determine when orgasms occurred in the outputs and to observe the type of changes in pelvic floor contractions that preceded and followed each orgasm."
The sex toys have sensors that detect pressure, as well as instruments to measure temperature, a gyroscope, and an accelerometer, all of which get transmitted to a server via Bluetooth. The data collected appears to show the three types of orgasm previously described by Lioness:
"A 'wave' (a short burst of pelvic contractions that were preceded by an entraining rhythm of pelvic floor tension and release), a 'volcano' (orgasm preceded by increasing upward pelvic floor tensions), and an 'avalanche' (higher pelvic floor basal contractions maintained throughout self-stimulation, but a downward contraction profile during and after orgasm)."
User-collected descriptions of the three types of orgasm collected by Lioness describe them in more detail. The "volcano" orgasm is reported as "almost every muscle in my body tenses up as the pleasure greatly intensifies, and then there’s a huge release. I know it’s over when I can relax," and the "avalanche" as “my body starts shaking, and then I suddenly explode into an orgasm. My body snaps and sort of spasms (a good spasm) over and over again until it eventually starts to calm down before finally letting my muscles rest.”
The most common type experienced by the women was the wave (26 out of 54), followed by the avalanche (17 out of 54), and then the volcano (11 out of 54). According to Lioness, the data shows that women only experience one type of orgasm.
"Someone with a volcano orgasm won’t also have an avalanche orgasm," they wrote in 2017. "That’s not to say that having multiple patterns is impossible (you never know!), but so far, we haven’t had a case of someone having multiple patterns or switching patterns, even over years of data."
An earlier version of this article was first published in August 2022.