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Ask the Loveologist: The Orgasmic Brain

Have you ever had trouble reaching orgasm with your partner? If so, know that you are in good company. Some 40% of women have had a problem with climaxing at some point in their lives. Also, it is much more common for women to be able to orgasm by themselves than in their partnerships. Many couples struggle with this reality and long for a solution to sharing intimacy and pleasure.

Understanding a bit of the brain functioning when it comes to orgasm might shed some light on what happens when the arousal process turns off during your intimate times. One important study of the brain’s process during orgasm shows that when a woman reaches orgasm, something unexpected happens: much of her brain goes silent. Brain regions responsible for everything from her sense of self control, moral reasoning and judgment, all get turned down in the moments of intense arousal.

“Fear and anxiety need to be avoided at all costs if a woman wishes to have an orgasm; we knew that, but now we can see it happening in the depths of the brain,” said Holsteger, a researcher at the 2005 meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Development. “At the moment of orgasm, women do not have any emotional feelings.”

While some brain areas get shut down, others are activated. The production of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone, jumps fourfold at orgasm. The researchers also found heightened activity in the critical part of the brain’s reward circuitry that may mediate orgasmic pleasure in women. Such activity may connect a female’s sexual pleasure with the emotional bond she feels with her partner.

Getting your brain to prepare and release you for this remarkable experience is more of a surrender activity than it is a push. Many know from experience that trying only makes it less available. Use your partner’s interest to your advantage. Rather than making your time centered on the orgasm, spend the time exploring what feels good. Oral sex is usually one of the first doorways for women to experience orgasm with a partner. Even mutual hand stimulation can open your eyes to what feels really good.

Like most things, when you take your eye off the goal and get really involved in the process, the goal ends up being just part of the journey.