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What Happens in Women’s Brains During Orgasm?

Nov 07, 2017

They recruited 10 women between the age of 29 and 74 (average age 44) who were willing to have orgasms in a clinical setting. Each woman had a male partner.  The women were asked to have two orgasms, if possible, during a brain scan – one though masturbation and the other by having their partner stimulate them.

During each session, the woman pressed a button to indicate when stimulation began, when the orgasm started, when the orgasm ended, and when she had “recovered” from climax. In a nearby control room, the researchers measured brain activity in 20 second units.

The researchers did not find any significant differences between self- and partner-stimulated orgasms. Generally, the women’s brains gradually became more active as stimulation increased. This activity peaked during orgasm, then declined.

During orgasm, areas of the brain associated with sympathetic activity, pleasure, reward, and addiction were activated. There was also more activity in areas that are thought to raise pain tolerance during orgasm.

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