SCIENCE

Demystifying the Female Orgasm

13 March, 2021

Here’s something: 62% of women are orgasm challenged due to physiological or psychological barriers. The ‘orgasm gap’ is well documented: Men orgasm more than women - almost 95% of the time during sex compared to 65% of the time for heterosexual women. 

 

Why?

Women’s sexuality has a history of either being too taboo to discuss or simply ignored. But that’s changing.

A drive to better understand female orgasms — and a cultural shift around women’s sexual wellness — has led to pioneering research and investments in uncovering orgasm truths.

Shades of Grey Matter

The brain plays a huge role in the female orgasm. We know this because researchers used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure blood flow and neuron activity during female pleasure and orgasm. They found that the part of the brain that governs emotions, the Amygdala, gets switched on. While the Orbitofrontal Cortex (your behavioral compass), shuts down. The brain reward pathways light up when we orgasm the same pleasure center that responds when you have a glass of wine, listen to a song you love or enjoy a favorite meal.

Vaginal Versus Clitoral Orgasm

There’s really no evidence to suggest that a clitoral and a vaginal orgasm are two different things. Neuroscientist and sex researcher Nicole Prause says they are the same. “The clitoris and vagina can be distinguished in the somatosensory cortex, or the motor homunculus on the outside top part of the brain. Some people misinterpreted this as evidence that these areas can independently generate orgasm. There is not actually any evidence that can occur,” Prause said. The truth is it doesn’t really make sense to distinguish the two because they are inextricably linked, and most of us need our own unique mix of stimulationvaginal, clitoral, and otherwise for arousal and orgasm.

So Is the G-spot For Real?

Honestly, there’s a real lack of scientific evidence that a standardized G-spot exists for every woman in the same area. Some women feel a heightened sensitivity where the G-spot is supposed to be, while others feel nothing. Cosmopolitan even recently reversed their long-standing position on the G-spot saying: The G-spot doesn’t exist. Instead of all the hype over a G-spot, research fellow at the Kinsey Institute Debby Herbenick, PhD says, “The best predictors of sexual satisfaction are intimacy and connection.”

Most people can agree on this: when a woman is psychologically or physically stimulated, the reaction is visceral. Genital blood vessels dilate. Blood rushes to the vulva, and fluid passes through, increasing vaginal lubrication. The heart rate quickens. Breathing is faster. Blood pressure increases. Even breasts enlarge due to blood flow to the areola, the area bordering the nipple. The clitoris seemingly disappears as it retracts against the pubic bone. All of this happens simultaneously, including genital muscle contractions roughly .08 seconds apart. How long does a female orgasm last? Anywhere from around 13-51 seconds. And then the body returns to normal.

There you have it. Maybe the journey to orgasm is the destination.

Most people can agree on this: when a woman is psychologically or physically stimulated, the reaction is visceral.

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