It is the climax of s*xual excitement, characterised by intensely pleasurable feelings that are centred in the genitals.
In men, orgasm is experienced as an accompaniment to ejaculation.
Indeed, orgasm is so powerful such that when it happens, an individual may experience a rise in blood pressure, an increased heart rate, heavy breathing, and rhythmic muscular contractions.
But then, would you know that orgasm also affects the human brain?
A researcher at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA, has discovered how orgasms affect the brain.
Described as a powerful, pleasurable release of accumulated sexual tension, the orgasm is perceived as the epitome of sexual pleasure for both men and women.
But while the signs and sensations of an orgasm might be clear, the underlying mechanisms of this sexual response, particularly its neurophysiological effects, remain uncertain.
Study author, Dr. Adam Safron, says most research relating to the orgasm has focused on its evolutionary functions, especially the female orgasm, which is believed to play a role in ovulation.
The Safron research, reported in the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology, aims to gain a better understanding of how the human orgasm affects the brain.
Safron says rhythmic sexual stimulation, if intense enough and if it lasts long enough, can boost neural oscillations at correlating frequencies, a process called “neural entrainment.”
This process may be responsible for what Safron describes as a “sexual trance,” where sole focus is on the immediate sensation experienced.
He says, “The idea that sexual experiences can be like trance states is in some ways ancient. Turns out this idea is supported by modern understandings of neuroscience.
“In theory, this could change the way people view their s*xuality. S*x is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it’s actually an altered state of consciousness.
“Before this paper, we knew what lit up in the brain when people had orgasms, and we knew a lot about the hormonal and neurochemical factors in non-human animals, but we didn’t really know why sex and orgasm feel the way they do.
“This paper provides a level of mechanistic detail that was previously lacking.”
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