The Science Behind What Actually Happens to Your Brain When You’re Having An Orgasm

We all know how it goes. The clothes come off, the slightest touch by your partner sends tingles and sparks… As things really start to heat up, your body does also, your heart begins to race and the tingles and sparks work their way towards your genitals, and suddenly your toes are curling and you can no longer control the ways in which your body reacts as you being to orgasm. While there is no real way to fully describe in one sentence how an orgasm feels, the understanding is that it is an intensely pleasurable experience for all.

But what is it that is actually happening to your brain during orgasm?

Well, medical professionals and scientists alike, regularly monitor, test and push the human brain to see what it is capable of, and no – they did not stop with orgasms.

I know what you’re thinking… an orgasm in the name of science? Yep, me too. I’d jump straight into an MRI machine JUST to have an orgasm for science, also.

During an MRI scan, an MRI machine (a magnetic imaging machine used in radiology to form pictures of the anatomy) can show brain activity, and more specifically, how, why and what parts of the brain react (or light up) to different stimulus and sensations. Studies conducted have shown what happens to the brain during an orgasm and let me tell you, the brain (as expected) lights up like the fucking harbour bridge on New Year’s Eve.

As with any activity, the brain acts as a control centre to inform us what feels good, what hurts, where it hurts and much more. The different nerves within the human genitalia, directly communicate with the brain about the sensations it is experiencing. A French Medical Study that I have been researching, indicates that women can experience two types of orgasms – clitoral orgasms and vaginal orgasms, with both differing in blood flow, the sensitivity of area and sensations. The clitoris, which extends through the clitoral legs down either side of the vulva, becomes erectile during heightened arousal, due to it having more than 8,000 nerve endings. Incredible, right?

During an orgasm, for both men and women, there are four types of nerves responsible for sending signals to the brain. The hypogastric nerve transmits signals from the uterus and the cervix in women, and from the prostate in men, while the pelvic nerve transmits signals from the vagina and cervix in women, and from the rectum in both sexes. At the same time, the pudendal nerve transmits signals from the clitoris in women, and from the scrotum and penis in men, while the vagus nerve transmits from the cervix, uterus, and vagina in women.

The inundated blissfulness during and post orgasm can be accredited to the nerves sent to the brain’s control centre. The sexual arousal felt in the human body flood the brain with neurochemicals that control other emotions also, like feelings of love. The areas of the brain impacted by sexual arousal include the amygdala, nucleus accumbens, ventral tegmental area, cerebellum, and the pituitary gland.

While there is a running joke that men are far easier to turn on than women, it can be seen that the male and female brain work very similarly during arousal.

 

How To Turn On a Guy and Girl Funny Meme Photo
Image: How To Turn On a Guy and Girl

 

According to the Journal of Neuroscience, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, or rather, the brain region located behind the left eye, shuts down during an orgasm in both men and women. Therefore, it is said that during an orgasm, the brain is said to look not dissimilar to an individual who has taken heroin.

As for the not-so-cute facial expressions and toe curling, well that comes down to the activity within your cerebellum, which increases and is solely responsible for muscle stiffness and tension during orgasm.

And then, finally, the crescendo, the main course, the first meal after the famine, the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens, which produce the final brain responses during orgasm, are activated. Your heart begins to race, your pupils dilate and you begin to breathe heavily.

During orgasm, your brain releases a chemical called Oxytocin. This is a hormone and neurotransmitter produced by the hypothalamus. In many women, oxytocin can trigger strong uterine contractions that pulse follows throughout their orgasm/s. You may have heard before that reaching orgasm before or during menstruation, can cause a menstrual cycle to pass quicker, or maybe you have heard that if you have an orgasm while menstruating, you may experience cramps after – this is due to the uterine contractions that occur during orgasm.

And then?

Your brain rewards you with that sweet, sweet dopamine.

 

Dog on Floor Happy
Photo: Happy Dog

 

Check out this incredible video of a female brain during orgasm and you’ll see what I mean by the fireworks!

About the author: Chloe is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

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Sexpert is our resident full time sex blogger. Having successfully owned and managed a number of blogs relating to women's lifestyle, she easily blended into her role as chief blogger of the Adultsmart Blog. She is in a long term relationship with her boyfriend. She also runs Good Girl Guide, a sexual lifestyle blog.

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