If discussion of sexuality offends you, please skip this post
Welcome to the final part of this series. Although over the next year I plan to write similar articles here and there, I have no intention of turning this into a dedicated 'sex blog'. But if the subject of sexuality interests you, I hope you've been getting something from these posts. References in (red) at the bottom refers to books from which I’ve drawn information or used to back up my own writing.
As a man I won't presume to tell you what you may feel during orgasm, you know far better than I ever will. Instead I'll explore why these feelings occur.
The Psychology of Orgasm
After studying written accounts from both sexes, researchers have found that psychologically men and women experience orgasm very similarly. The series of circumstances that get us there however can be quite different. Before a woman can be sexually turned-on, part of her brain must be turned off. Impulses rush to the hypothalamus (click here for photo), the part of the brain which ignites erotic feelings, sexual fantasies and registers physical sensations felt in the erogenous zones. This is triggered by testosterone, a sex and aggression hormone which both men and women have in large quantities (men average ten to a hundred times more testosterone than women). Before this can happen though, the amygdala (the fear and anxiety centre of the brain) has to be deactivated. Otherwise any external worries can interrupt the journey towards orgasm.
Men experience this as well (I know I have) but to a lesser degree. That this extra step is needed can explain why it takes women an average of three to ten times longer than most men to reach orgasm. As discussed in my last post, it's been determined biologically that the reason males come more quickly is that females who orgasm after their partners ejaculate are more likely to conceive.
The nervous system is complex, but the connection to the brain is actually quite direct. Nerves in the tip of the clitoris communicate directly with the hypothalamus; when those nerves are stimulated they boost neurological activity until a threshold is reached. This triggers a burst of impulses which releases dopamine (excites the brain's reward receptors), oxytocin (an emotional bonding hormone which also plays a role in some women's experience of orgasm during breastfeeding), and endorphins (the body's natural pain-relievers). If during orgasm the sexual stimulation stops, orgasm abruptly stops with it.
Women deeply in love with their partners are more likely to experience easy orgasms. Not that I believe for a moment that emotional attachment is necessary, but trust is a huge factor in allowing the brain to get lost in the moment.
So there you go. I know there are more of you reading than have been commenting. Sexuality is an incredibly personal subject to talk about, believe me I get that. But if you're comfortable commenting anonymously I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything I've written in this series, or based on your own experience. Thanks for reading these posts!
(1) Why Women Have Sex by Cindy M. Meston, PH.D. and David M. Buss, PH.D.
(2) The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D.
Photo credit here "Maelstroms" by G.R. "exper" 2005