In terms of reaching the BigO, the most importantaction is in your brain, not your body. Nerve impulses travel from the clitoris, vagina and cervix via the spinal cord to the sensory cortex of the brain. Using functional MRIbrain scans, which measure changes in neural blood flow, Rutgers University behavioral neuroscientist Barry R. Komisaruk, PhD, and his team have observed sequential activation in 80 brain regions as a woman masturbates, eventually reaching orgasm through clitoral stimulation. Here’s a sketch of the trajectory: As clitoral arousal increases, the hippocampus, the seat of memory, and the amygdala, which is involved with processing emotions, light up. The woman, says Komisaruk, coauthor of The Orgasm Answer Guide, may be recalling emotional memories or fantasizing. Just before and during orgasm, the cerebellum, which controls muscle tension, begins to burn bright. And as the woman climaxes, the hypothalamus shoots out the hormone oxytocin,which sparks uterine contractions, and the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s pleasure center, hits its activity peak.
“There’s a very powerful emotional response at orgasm. We see a tremendous activation of the brain,” says Komisaruk. Surprisingly, pain sensitivity is greatly diminished. This happens whether the orgasm springs from vaginal or clitoral stimulation. “Pressure in the vagina produces powerful pain blockage,” he says. “The blockage gets stronger if the woman experiences that as pleasurable and still stronger if she reaches orgasm.”
Photo courtesy of Sebastian Kaulitzki Gallery/Shutterstock.com
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