I was wondering if it were possible for a man to tell if a woman has had an orgasm. If so, how noticeable is it to a man and is there a substantial amount of fluid involved in a woman's orgasm?
—an uniformed pre-orgasmic
Dear an uniformed pre-orgasmic,
Ooooohhhh! Aaaahhhh! Orgasms! Unfortunately, there is no exact way to tell if a woman has had an orgasm without asking. A partner can try to read reliable climax signals, i.e., a specific breathing pattern, body movements, vocalizations, muscle contractions, etc., if s/he's sure there's an orgasm attached to them. However, the chances of misreading these signs is high and just about anyone can "fake it" if they choose. Fluid release and/or vaginal contractions are not necessarily orgasm indicators, although either can be associated with an orgasm.
Your question, and this often unreliable detection method, point out the importance of sexual communication and trust. A woman can share whether or not she experienced an orgasm, what it felt like, how her partner can help, and whether or not orgasm is even her goal. Thanks to a discussion like this (which either partner can initiate), lots of pleasures short of orgasm can also be identified. Remember that it's not always about the big "O" for everyone.
Sometimes, it's easier to learn how to orgasm on one's own. Then a partner can share with her/his mate what s/he's learned, and they can practice reaching their orgasm goals together. If one strategy doesn't work, try, try again! The trick to producing a climax is as unique as the person. Explore, experiment, and explain to the partner. As noted above, strong communication (verbal and non-verbal) are all helpful in determining strategies for reaching and recognizing orgasms.
For more information, or simple curiosity, check out the Go Ask Alice! Orgasms section in the Sexual and Reproductive Health archives.Alice!