What happens in our brain during orgasm?

What happens in our brain during orgasm?

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Women are able to fake an orgasm, but men can fake an entire relationship.

The orgasm It is the great dining room of words. It only allows the groan, the howl, the subhuman expression, but not the word.

Psychology analyzes the behavior of people and the world of analysis goes from the everyday, passing through the bizarre until reaching the sublime. However, it would be a very closed position, to think of our discipline as the only one capable of understanding the wonderful world around us. To assume an epistemologically more open and transdisciplinary strategy, puts us in the universe to understand and complement with other disciplines the understanding of human behavior such as sex and particularly orgasm.


  • 1 A social neuroscientific approach
  • 2 The importance of sex in our lives
  • 3 The physical effects of orgasm
  • 4 Phases of arousal to reach orgasm
  • 5 Orgasm in the brain
  • 6 Studies on orgasm
  • 7 The similarities of male and female orgasm
  • 8 Differences in male and female orgasms
  • 9 What intensifies orgasm?
  • 10 The different routes to achieve an orgasm
  • 11 Benefits of having orgasms

A social neuroscientific approach

The approach used in this article is based on social neuroscience, which studies the relationship between brain neurological processes and social processes. This analysis not only emphasizes how the brain influences social interaction, but also how social interaction can influence the brain (Franzoi, 2007).

Our thoughts, emotions, feelings and behaviors influence us to act in different ways, but also the environment is shaping our way of perceiving and facing reality.

The importance of sex in our lives

Sex is the lever that moves the world, the axis around which all human acts revolve and are sustained, from the most resonant and international consequences to the smallest and most local. Sex, among mortals, is the source of immense joys and also of great catastrophes (Dubois, 1999).

There are activities that catch people in general: eating, sleeping, drugs, music and sex. If we didn't have sex, we would be extinct on this planet. The importance of sex in our life is vital, although some people can live without it.

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, conducted a curious experiment in 2010 with men and women. With a sample of 2250 people, he placed an application to ask the subjects of the study in random times, what were they doing at that time and how happy they felt? 0 being the minimum and 100 the maximum welfare. Some activities and their scores are listed:

  • Work 61
  • Read, watch TV and take care of children, 65,
  • Shopping, 68
  • Listen to music and talk, 74
  • Exercising, 77
  • Having sex with a partner, 92

The conclusion was obvious: sex is the activity that makes us happier, at least temporarily (Estupinyà, 2013).

The physical effects of orgasm

Orgasm is one of the four stages of the human sexual response. The paths to reach orgasm are multiple, as can be seen below: by way of stimulation of the erogenous zones, by conditioning as it happens with some paraphilias (looner porn and podophilia, will be explained later), by training as it happens in some mystical practices as in the tantric sex, by oxygenation or electrical stimulation of the sacral nerve pathway (a dead person can experience an orgasm by stimulating this route, it is known as the Lazarus reflex) and even have a brain remapping (touching the knee and reaching an orgasm ).

The experience is so fascinating that August 8 marks the world day of female orgasm. According to international studies, with sexual maturity orgasm is reached more easily and quickly (Diario Libre, 2016).

During an orgasm, not only do areas of the brain turn on and off, they also oxygenate and produce chemicals capable of strongly influencing our behavior. The chemical messengers that occur in specialized areas of the same strongly influence social behavior. Hormones are influenced by neurons, but it is a reciprocal influence and they are also influenced by the environment around us as social neuroscience points out.

Through the neuroimaging techniques you can study the brain in detail, both in terms of structure and brain function, ”as Richard Haier, Neuroscientist, Mind Research Network, Univ. New Mexico points out (We can read the mind, 2011). These techniques generate "maps" of the brains of living people by examining their electrical activity, structure, blood flow and chemistry (Cunningham et al, 2003).

Phases of arousal to reach orgasm

Since the time of the classic studies of Masters & Johnson, the same conclusion has been reached. In women, a cannon shot, an explosion, female orgasm is devastating, as described by Sophia Jeaneau (2014), in her film her orgasm.

The APA dictionary (2010) defines a orgasm as the climax of sexual stimulation or activity, when the maximum point of pleasure is reached, which is characterized by the release of tension and rhythmic contractions of the perineal muscles, the anal sphincter and the pelvic reproductive organs. In men, orgasm is also accompanied by the emission of semen (ejaculation); In women, it is accompanied by contractions of the wall of the outer third of the vagina.

Orgasm is a part of four phases that manifest in both men and women and differ only in aspects determined by the male or female anatomy:


  • Women The vaginal lips swell and vaginal lubrication appears.
  • mens: An erotic stimulus awakens the libido. A vasocongestion occurs and the corpora cavernosa fill with blood. This causes penile erection. It takes about eight seconds for young men, while for older men it is slower and gradual. The skin of the scrotum and the testicular bag thickens and the testicles increase in size.
  • It lasts between several minutes and several hours.


  • Women: The uterus rises, the vagina expands and the vaginal lips change color. Women need at least 20 minutes of sexual stimulation to enter the climate and reach maximum pleasure.
  • mens: The excitation becomes constant and uniform. The glans take on a purple hue, because the vasocongestion increases. The testicles continue to rise and prepare for the next ejaculation, and their size increases to be one and a half times larger than usual. Cowper's glands secrete a few drops of seminal fluid, to lubricate the tip of the penis. During this stage, 25% of men experience effects such as: the skin of different parts of the body covered with reddish spots; similar to an eruption, loss of control over the gestures of the face, breathing accelerates until sometimes the point of gasping.


  • Women: Contractions of the uterus and anus, and vaginal earthquake. Orgasm in a woman lasts 6 to 10 seconds, although it can last 20 in some cases.
  • mens: It is marked by ejaculation in men. Orgasm in men is four to five seconds.


  • Women: The uterus descends and the vagina returns to normal. It can last only a few seconds.
  • mens: Lasts between 15 minutes and one day. The tissues of the genital organs are emptied of blood, so half the penile tension is lost (Jeaneau, 2014; APA, 2010; Silva, 2017; Diario Libre, 2016).

Described by women, an orgasm is a surge of pleasure, an intense sensation, it is the climax of pleasure, you feel heat and everything swells a little (breasts, sex), they are many very pleasant sensations, you feel it for all Body. "I scream and I have the feeling that it's like a song”. “It is the union with the other, it is when you feel that you are in communion with the other person”.

Orgasm can come in different ways (clitoris, vagina, nipples, stimulating desire, emotions and fantasies, self-control of the vaginal walls, stimulation of the G-point - at the beginning of the vaginal canal -, by stimulating point A - At the end of the vaginal canal, it is the one that provides an anal orgasm-,) and all of them are interpreted by the brain as an orgasm.

Desire is essential for orgasm, it is neurologicalwhen someone desires ardently the brain releases dopamine that increases pleasure (Jeaneau, 2014).

Orgasm in the brain

The brain has developed a response to fear to keep us out of danger, but it is also endowed with a strong sexual drive to ensure the survival of the species. Helen Fisher mentions that:Orgasm is one of the strongest experiences for humans, so scrutinizing the mind and discovering how the brain produces that state of ecstasy is exciting. You get a torrent of dopamine, dopamine is the same chemical compound that activates when you use cocaine and other stimulant drugs. It is an overwhelming experience of ecstasy and energy”(The human brain, 2016).

Studies on orgasm

The experience of analyzing orgasm in male and female brains is not exclusive to a single researcher, and in this titanic work fortunately many bright minds have intervened to unravel their mysteries.

In Holland, neuroscientist Greg Berns, began to make his way a few years ago in research on orgasm, showed for the first time what happens in the brain of man and woman, in a "PET" scanner, blood flow is seen brain at the time of achieving it. The brain has many kilometers of blood vessels (if we could form all the arteries and capillary veins of a person, it would go around the earth twice and a half) and when the cells are working they need a large amount of energy-laden blood rich in oxygen, when they are not working they need very little. And you can see what parts of the brain are active during ejaculation or orgasm.

The similarities of male and female orgasm

  • We have similarities and differences at the brain level when we reach an orgasm, the most important coincidence is that both generate dopamine before the expectation of orgasm and the consummation of it. And, control is taken by the autonomic nervous system, activating the brain stem. In addition to being the oldest part of the human brain, it is the area that controls the dopamine release in the brain (dopamine, is known as the pleasure hormone, regulates motivation and desire and causes us to repeat behaviors).
  • Also at the end of orgasm in both oxytocin is released, the hormone of calm, love and healing.
  • Fear and anxiety decrease or disappear and the cerebral tonsil Enter sleep mode.

The differences in male and female orgasms

However, the differences are fascinating:

  • Dr. Gert Holstege discovered that women's orgasms involve activity in the nucleus accumbens, the previous cingulate, the hippocampus, the hypothalamus and the preoptic area, while in male orgasms the ventral tegmental area, the thalamus and the visual cortex (Wheatley & Puts 2015). In both, different dopamine routes are activated.
  • The experiment showed that in men the blood flow decreased in areas related to anxiety, but other areas remained alert. In men there is a tonsil deactivation, of the areas that have to do with anxiety or fear.
  • Deactivation in women, was the most important finding, there was a great deactivation in areas of the brain that have to do with anxiety, fear and vigilance. Apparently women abandon themselves, they may lose consciousness during orgasm.
  • Dopamine accompanied by euphoria before orgasm is a common feature in both. However, later in men, it simply disappears and in women it goes down, but it does not disappear (The human brain, 2016).
  • A recent study showed sexual differences in the pituitary (it is called the master gland, because it controls many of the functions of other glands) during orgasm, with the female orgasm being associated only with increased activity in that region of the brain. The highest pituitary activation in women was interpreted by the authors to mean higher plasma concentrations of oxytocin (peace hormone, relationship and rest), a hormone that is released from the pituitary and is found in much higher plasma concentrations in women than in men after orgasm (Wheatley & Puts, 2015). If, after orgasm, the pituitary and oxytocin release are activated more in women, it may well be the cause of asking the couple to continue with kisses and caresses after reaching the climax.
  • The oxytocin It is also known as the hormone of calm, love and healing. Dr. Kerstin Uvnäs Mober, is recognized worldwide as an authority on oxytocin and points out: Certain studies in humans have shown the dramatic increase in the rate of oxytocin in blood of both sexes at the time of sexual contact, which peaks during orgasm. After intercourse we often feel relaxed, or even numb. Sometimes it is at that moment that we feel more in intimacy with our partner, and nothing matters more than being with the loved one (Uvnäs, 2009).

It is not surprising that in men and women areas of the brain are deactivated so that they do not feel anxiety or fear and simply concentrate on orgasm. Evolutionary psychologists believe that this difference between men and women can have its origins in prehistory when we were hunter gatherers. Women could disconnect materially, but men had to be alert even after mating so as not to be eaten by some beast.

What intensifies orgasm?

Moving from a somewhat mechanical physiological reaction to a highly pleasant sensation in orgasm, can be intensified through the following aspects:

  • Unlike the penis, the only one Purpose of the clitoris is to provide pleasure. It does not intervene with the reproductive process.
  • Between 50 and 80% of women who reach an orgasm, they do it by clitoral stimulation, with or without vaginal penetration.
  • Con the time the clitoris gets bigger. At 35, she is four times larger than when the woman was 15. After 45, seven times larger than at birth. That is why older women reach orgasm faster.
  • The clitoris It is not the only area of ​​female orgasm in and around the vagina. G spot (inside the vagina), is directly connected to the clitoris and is also a source of orgasms.
  • It is the most sensitive female sexual organ, orgasm switch par excellence.
  • The outer part of the clitoris (glans, stem and body) contains more than 8 thousand nerve endings that connect with a network of more than 15 thousand more nerve endings in the pelvic region. The penis has only 4 thousand nerve endings.
  • The Orgasms of the clitoris are not inferior to the vaginal ones, on the contrary, they have the same intensity and, strictly speaking, all orgasms occur because they connect to the clitoris through nerve endings.
  • In 1998, the Australian Helen O'connell managed to obtain the complete anatomy of the clitoris thanks to magnetic resonance imaging studies done to volunteers. Before that date, only the outer part of the clitoris was shown and the actual volume of the erectile tissue was unknown (Meraz, 2014).

The different routes to achieve an orgasm

Orgasm is a reflection of the autonomic nervous system, is part of the nervous system that deals with the things of which we have no conscious control; such as digestion, heart rate, sexual arousal. And the orgasm reflex can be triggered by a surprisingly wide range of stimuli (Roach M. (2009).

Experience an orgasm; It can be done alone, as a couple, accompanied by accessories or utensils, accompanied by more people or even animals or other objects for some of us unconventional, the paths are as personal as you choose, the possibilities are almost endless. And, they are experienced even by stimulating areas of the body that have nothing erogenous.

It is clear that orgasms are related to the reward system that generates dopamine. However, these neurons can respond when they are associated with some non-erotic stimulus and you are they also respond with an unexpected reward. In psychology this is known as conditioned stimulus and is to associate a neutral stimulus as it did Ivan Pavlov by ringing a bell and associating it with the presence of food from their dogs. If this activity continued to occur repeatedly, then the dog began to salivate with just the ringing of the bell and then there was talk of a conditioned stimulus. The sound of the bell associated with the presence of food, made the dog salivate and then wait to be fed.

In simple words the routes to reach an orgasm can be associated with any neutral stimulus (dogs, feet, armpits, hair, urine or feces, etc.) which, associated with the production of dopamine and sexual contact, naturally produce a conditioning in behavior. If this is done repeatedly, when a neutral stimulus is presented and it is associated with sex in some modality, as we can see later, a paraphilia or a different way of obtaining dopamine associated with sex or an orgasm is presented.

And, they can result in a mixture of pleasure, pain, surprise, love, passion, eroticism, desire or just sex without love:

  • By means of the masturbation or autoerotism (caressing, having fantasies, stimulating the clitoris)
  • With body control, some women can produce an orgasm by contracting the muscles of their vagina (Jeaneau, 2014).
  • With oral sex or cunnilingus
  • Through the experience of some paraphilia, such as looner porn, people who inflate balloons (conditioned stimulus), play with them, or simply take them to the maximum point of resistance until they burst and thereby achieve an orgasm.
  • Experiencing a sexual partialism (erotic attraction for a part other than the genitals, but with the same desire): podophyllias or fetishism by the feet, maschalagni or attraction by the armpits, nasophilia or erotic desire for the nose, trichophilia or attraction for the hair and pygofilia or erotic desire for the buttocks, masochism or experiencing pleasure and pain (physical or psychological) at the same time, urophilia or yellow rain is experienced by putting the couple in contact with the urine, coprophilia or meteor shower is fetishism by putting the couple in contact with the excrement, eproctophilia a variety of coprophilia, is fetishism or taste for the couple's gases (Roble, 2017). Zoophilia or bestialism sexual excitement of contact with animals, somnophilia or attraction to caress and perform oral sex to a sleeping person until waking up, olfactophilia excitation due to the smell of perspiration especially from the genitals, narratophilia sexual excitation only when listening to erotic narratives, hirsutophilia attraction for hair dysmorphophilia sexual arousal by deformed people, choreophilia experience sexual arousal when dancing, agonophilia excitement coming from fighting with the couple, allergy excitement coming from fantasizing during sexual intercourse with another person other than the couple (Galamoth, 2012), and the list continues.

The diversity of reaching orgasm has more amazing paths and makes us know more and more.

Those who practice tantric sex can achieve an orgasm just by concentrating and breathing exercises. Which requires preparation. Men even have something that they call retrograde ejaculation and can last much longer in sexual intercourse than an average human being has on average.

The psychologist and science popularizer Mary Roach (2009) in her TED TALKS talk mentions other different routes to reach orgasm, which corresponds to a cerebral remapping but activates the same routes of pleasure at the cerebral level:

  • He mentions a woman who achieves orgasm when someone caresses her eyebrow.
  • It indicates knee orgasms reported in the specialized literature.
  • A woman who had orgasms every time she brushed her teeth, performing this sensory-motor action. If I had this condition, I would surely have a very white denture.
  • Another surprising fact is that a dead person can experience an orgasm as a reflex act, it is known as a Lazarus reflex. The explanation is as follows: The main headquarters of orgasm along the spinal cord is something we call the sacral nerve pathway. If one provokes it, if it is stimulated with an electrode at the precise point, an orgasm is caused.

Benefits of having orgasms

  • It almost completely disconnects women's brains.
  • Partially disconnect men's brains.
  • May cure the hiccups (Roach M. (2009).
  • Tea relax.
  • Having orgasms and ejaculating according to British sexologist Roy Levin, could promote fertility and needs to be renewed a week before it begins to develop abnormalities for fertilization.
  • It improves blood flow, relaxes and oxygenates the blood.
  • Generate endorphins (natural painkillers), and by improving blood flow and oxygenating our torrent decrease pain head, menstrual, toothache and many others.
  • It makes us happier by releasing dopamine and then allowing us to analyze problems more objectively and calm emotions (makes us emotionally more intelligent).
  • Generate one feeling closer with the couple by releasing oxytocin (the hormone of peace, love and healing).
  • By increasing dopamine levels against subtracting the stress hormone (cortisol) and improves serotonin levels also fighting depression.
  • For the effort that is made, having it burns calories (from 127 to 500) and helps fight insomnia. Produces postcoital narcolepsy and sleep as an angel, and responsible for this effect are the large amounts of oxytocin that are released in the blood.
  • To the improve blood microcirculation, improves the condition of the skin and the functioning of our genitals. As well as, oxygenation of the brain.
  • It generates close ties with the couple.
  • Improve our self-esteem.
  • Men who ejaculate more regularly have an incidence minor prostate cancer.
  • A study conducted at the University of Wilkes in Pennsylvania found that people who reach orgasm had an antibody that helps strengthen the immune system (Hermosilla, 2012).

Watermelon, garlic, blueberries, shellfish, bitter chocolate, citrus fruits and nuts help to have more intense orgasms (Diario Libre, 2016).


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