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This is how orgasms could affect the brain

Orgasms are a relatively under-researched topic. Studies often revolve around its evolutionary function, but why sex and orgasm feel the way they do is rarely explored.


It’s for this reason that Adam Safron, Ph.D., at Northwestern University set out to explore how this intense feeling of sexual pleasure affects the brain.

After looking at studies and literature around the brain and body’s response to sex, the researcher discovered that intense and prolonged rhythmic stimulation essentially induces a sort of sexual trance, through neural movements in the brain - a process he calls "neural entrainment".

Safron says his findings aren’t necessarily something new and "the idea that sexual experiences can be like trance states is, in some ways, ancient." But understanding that orgasms send the brain in to a ’sexual trance’ could, in theory, change the way people view their sexuality:

"Sex is a source of pleasurable sensations and emotional connection, but beyond that, it’s actually an altered state of consciousness."

Music and sex
Interestingly, he also discovered the way our brains react to sexual stimulation is similar to the way it reacts to music and dance, and said that music and dance have served a key part of sexual relations for hundreds of millions of years. Safron says:

"I wasn’t expecting to find that sexual activity was so similar to music and dance, not just in the nature of the experiences, but also in that evolutionarily, rhythm-keeping ability may serve as a test of fitness for potential mates."

He adds:"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."

While he admits much more study needs to be done, Safron hopes his research – published in Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology – encourages others to look at how orgasms affect the brain in greater detail.

Jimirasire

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