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The (Surprising) Science of Orgasms

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Orgasms are surprising.

As I was digging into the research, I happened upon some fascinating pleasure science.

And, of course, I had to share it with you.

1. Orgasm Explained Through Cartoon

YouTube video

First, this video explains what happens in the body and mind during orgasm.

2. Orgasms = Bonding

Orgasms aren’t just for fun…they contribute to our sense of connection in a relationship. University of California, San Francisco found that Oxytocin is released during orgasm. Oxytocin is nicknamed the “cuddle hormone” or the “connection hormone” because it is the tiny little chemical that makes us feel connected and loyal to someone. So when we orgasm, this bonding hormone is released, spurring researchers to believe that if a partner can make you orgasm, a connection should be made. In other words, if someone encourages you to orgasm…they might be a keeper.

3. She’s Faking It, But that Could Be Good

You are NOT going to believe this, but it’s true: If a woman loves you, she is more likely to fake her orgasm. Dr. Farnaz Kaighobadi, at Columbia University in New York City, surveyed 453 heterosexual women in long-term relationships and found that 54 percent of them admitted to faking an orgasm. Researchers believe that this is a mate-keeping strategy; subconsciously, women want their partner to feel like a good lover or they’re in love with them enough to fake it.

4. Our Pupils Get Enlarged Too

Our nether regions aren’t the only areas of our body that enlarge during love-making. When we are turned on, our pupils dilate. Researchers think this is because when we are seeing or experiencing something that makes us feel good, our eyes literally want to take in more of the experience and enlarge to see more.

5. Orgasms Are Harder for Single Women

Women are half as likely to come during casual sex as they are in long-term relationships (at a rate of about 40 versus 75 percent). “In this study of 600 college students, they found that women were half as likely to orgasm from oral sex or intercourse during a casual hookup than when they were in a serious relationship. This backs earlier research by New York University sociologist Paula England, which showed that just 40% of the 24,000 college aged women she studied over five years at 21 colleges reached orgasm during a hookup while 80% of men did. Nearly 75% of women who were in a relationship, on the other hand, had an orgasm during sex.” See Time article here.

6. The Brain Stays On

Popular myth has it that the brain shuts down during orgasm. This is not actually the case. One study, where researchers scanned people’s brains during orgasm, found that the brain is quite active. This was easier to see in women where their brains were active in regions especially related to emotion. As for men…the researchers had this to say: “The effect was less striking in men, but that may be because male orgasms are so short they are hard to detect in a brain scan.”


Mialon, Hugo M., The Economics of Faking Ecstasy (October 25, 2010)

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