What Happens to Your Body During Orgasm

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Although the reason for sex can be very varied and complex, reaching orgasm, in general, is the main goal. Every human being is created unique and different, therefore, to describe in one sentence what is orgasm is impossible. One thing that many agree is that reaching orgasm is a pleasant yet intense experience.

So, what is an orgasm? When in doubt, open the dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary defines an orgasm as “a movement of a sudden, a seizure, contraction, or vibration a surge of sexual arousal.” Merriam-Webster describes this sexual experience in more detail, stating that orgasm is, ” an explosive discharge of neuromuscular at peak sexual arousal that is usually accompanied by the ejaculation of semen in men and vaginal contractions in women.

Many people know what it takes to reach orgasm, but why some people cannot reach a climax, why we have this sexual response and what happens physically when we are undergoing this experience are not know about.

Three stages of the body’s reaction towards orgasm

Quoted from WebMD, William Masters and Virginia Johnson (two well-known sex therapist) coined the term “response to the sexual cycle” to describe the sequence of events through which the body when its owner is sexually stimulated and participate in activities that stimulate sexually (penetrative sex, masturbation, foreplay, etc.).

Sexual response cycle is divided into four stages: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. There is no clear boundary where a stage begins and ends – all of this are a continuous process of sexual response. Keep in mind that this cycle is a very general outline of what happens to the body each time we become sexually aroused. There is a lot of variation between individuals, and between different sexual events.

Both men and women go through four phases, the difference is time. Men typically reach orgasm first during intercourse, while women can take up to 15 minutes to reach the same point.

What happens to your body when you feel excitement

This phase usually begins within 10 to 30 seconds after erotic stimulation and can last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours.

Men: The penis becomes slightly erect. A man’s nipples may also become erect.

Women: Vaginal lubrication begins. The vagina expands and lengthens. The outer lips, inner lips, clitoris and sometimes breasts begin to swell.

Both: Heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing are all accelerated.

At the same time, your brain is welling up with powerful hormones: dopamine and oxytocin, in particular. Dopamine, which comes first, triggers feelings of motivation – like, I really want to get this person naked. Oxytocin, which comes later, makes you feel bonded (which is why it’s called the “cuddle hormone”).

As a pair, the two neurotransmitters explain why we feel instantly – if momentarily – bonded to our partner when we start to feel turned on. According to Barry Komisaruk, PhD, who has studied orgasms in a neurology lab at Rutgers University, the geography of the brain lights up like fireworks during arousal: Half a dozen parts of the brain become activated, including the amygdala (associated with emotions), the hippocampus (associated with memory management), and the anterior insula (helps process physical feelings).

Men and women’s brains don’t always respond the same way to arousing stimuli. In a study published last year, men and women watched a series of erotic videos while researchers examined their brains using an fMRI. Both men and women reported feelings of arousal while watching the videos, but researchers noticed that men showed more brain activity in the amygdala while women showed hardly any. And, research has noticed that in women, the vagina, clitoris, and nipples all correspond to the same precise area of the sensory cortex – meaning that all of those areas register as erogenous – not that you needed a scientific study to tell you that.

What happens to the body when the plateau phase

The changes that started in the excitement phase continue to progress.

Men: The testes are drawn up into the scrotum. The penis becomes fully erect.

Women: The vaginal lips become puffier. The tissues of the walls of the outer third of the vagina swell with blood, and the opening to the vagina narrows. The clitoris disappears into its hood. The inner labia (lips) change color (although it’s a bit hard to notice). For women who’ve never had children, the lips turn from pink to bright red. In women who’ve had children, the color turns from bright red to deep purple.

Both: Breathing and pulse rates quicken. A “sex flush” may appear on the stomach, chest, shoulders, neck or face. Muscles tense in the thighs, hips, hands and buttocks, and spasms may begin.

During the plateau phase, the stimulus passion can achieve the highest levels, can disappear, and then reappears several times. Once you reach the top of the plateau phase, orgasm will follow. During orgasm, all the sexual tension is released. Only just before orgasm, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and muscle tension reached their highest peak.

Orgasm is the climax stage of the fourth series of the sexual response cycle. This stage is also the stage of the sexual response shortest, usually only lasts for a few seconds.

What happens to the body during an orgasm

This is the climax of the cycle. It is also the shortest of the four phases, usually only lasting a few seconds.

Men: First, seminal fluid collects in the urethral bulb. This is when a man may have the sensation that orgasm is certain, or “ejaculatory inevitability.” Next, semen is ejaculated from the penis. Contractions occur in the penis during the orgasmic phase.

Women: The first third of the vaginal walls contract rhythmically every eight-tenths of a second. (The number and intensity of the contractions vary depending on the individual orgasm.) The muscles of the uterus also contract barely noticeably.

Both: Breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure continue to rise. Muscle tension and blood-vessel engorgement reach a peak. Sometimes orgasm comes with a grasping-type muscular reflex of the hands and feet.

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

Differences in male and female orgasm

Although both sexes tend to engage in different behaviors during sexual activity, male and female brains are not too different. During orgasm, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex – a brain region behind the left eye – switches off during orgasm. The area is considered to give a logical reason and control behavior. The brain of both men and women during orgasm is said to look like the brains of people who are affected by heroin, from the Medical Daily reported, according to a study from the Journal of Neuroscience.

Women are more emotions and a sense of security, men consider sex as a casual activity

The difference between the sexes lies in the periaqueductal gray (PAG) – part of the brain that is activated when a woman engages in sexual intercourse. PAG is a part of the brain that controls the response of fight-or-flight, and it was not activated in men when they reach orgasm. The study also found that women experienced a decline in activity in the hippocampus amygdala and when they reach orgasm, which helps to control fear and anxiety.

What difference does it mean this? The researchers theorize that the parts of the brain are active this is because women need to feel safe and relaxed in order to achieve orgasm, something that may not be important to the male orgasm. The researchers also believe that the men may not be too affected by oxytocin (chemical bonds), which is released during orgasm.

Oxytocin can inspire feelings of closeness, affection, and intimacy, and some people theorize that this is the reason why women may be more prone to be carried away after sex. The researchers showed that brain levels of testosterone in men may fight oxytocin and make men less affected by feelings of affection, make dating and casual sex has a plain meaning for them.

Women can achieve orgasm multiple times, men needs time to recover

After a phase of orgasm, the couple will enter a resolution or recovery phase, marked by the return of normal function of the body. Swelling recedes, any sex flush disappears, and there is a general relaxation of muscle tension. This phase is characterized by a general feeling of happiness and comfort, increase intimacy and, often, fatigue.

In addition, the main difference between the phases of orgasm in women and men is that far more women than men have the ability to achieve orgasm multiple times in a short time without having to “fall” into plateau. However, having multiple orgasms will depend on continuous stimulation and sexual interest of each party.

On the other hand, after ejaculation, men will enter a recovery phase called the refractory period. During the refractory phases, further orgasm or ejaculation is physiologically impossible. The duration of the refractory period varies from one man to another, and usually will become longer with age. However, some people can learn to achieve orgasm without ejaculation, making it possible to achieve multiple orgasms.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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