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  • The human body is a wonder, but perhaps the most curious and quintessential aspect of the human experience is the orgasm.

  • The body's sexual response is typically broken down in four stages:

  • excitement, plateau of arousal, orgasm, and resolution.

  • Following arousal, the brain stimulates bloodflow to the genitals, your heartbeat and breathing increase,

  • and the central nervous system is fully engaged, sending signals of enjoyment to the brain's reward system.

  • These thousands of nerve endings constantly relay pleasure signals to the brain, resulting in an orgasm.

  • For men, the orgasm includes rapid contractions of the anal sphincter, the prostate, and the muscles of the penis.

  • In conjunction with ejaculation, which sees the release of sperm and other seminal fluid,

  • the whole process for men involves around three to ten seconds of intense pleasure.

  • This is followed by a refractory period for minutes to hours in which another orgasm cannot be achieved.

  • Women, on the other hand, do not experience a refractory period,

  • allowing them to experience multiple consecutive orgasms.

  • On avarage, these last for around twenty seconds (but sometimes much longer) and consist of

  • rhythmic contractions between the uterus, vagina, anus, and pelvic muscles.

  • But it's the brain that takes control -- or rather, lack thereof -- during orgasm.

  • Using functional MRI scans, scientists are able to see brain activity in over 30 discrete regions.

  • It's flooded with the anticipatory and feel-good chemical dopamine which makes you crave the feeling again.

  • This is in tandem with the release of oxytocin; a hormone that mediates bonding and love between mates.

  • PET scans show (surprisingly) that brain activity during an orgasm is the same between men and women.

  • In both genders, the lateral orbitofrontal cortex is turned off which controls self-evaluation, reason, and control.

  • Makes sense, as you often lose control during orgasm.

  • This shuts down fear and anxiety, which is seen as the most essential aspect leading up to orgasm.

  • The relaxation of the amygdala and hippocampus in women further reduce emotions,

  • producing a trance-like state, while in men, it dampens aggressiveness

  • Many areas of a woman's brain are shut down completely during an orgasm.

  • These effects are less striking in men, likely because of the shorter duration

  • and difficulty with measuring during brain scan.

  • In women, an area called the periaqueductal gray (or PAG) is activated, stimulating the flight or fight response

  • while the cortex -- which is associated with pain -- lights up,

  • suggesting that there is a connection between pain and pleasure.

  • Following this climax and muscle contraction, the body experiences deep relaxation,

  • and heart rate slows to a resting pace.

  • Who knew science could be so sexy?

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The human body is a wonder, but perhaps the most curious and quintessential aspect of the human experience is the orgasm.

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