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Ladies…what is an orgasm?

“I give Rabbit vibrators to all my girlfriends. They scream when they unwrap it. The best gift I can give them is an orgasm” - Eva Longoria.

BY THE ROAM TEAM 4 MIN READ

WORDS TO KNOW
Orgasm GAP

the ‘orgasm gap’, a term coined by Dr Laurie Mintz to describe the disparity in orgasms between heterosexual couples

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For people who identify as women, orgasms can be elusive, yet when you have one, it can change your mood entirely. So what exactly are orgasms, what effects do they have on your body, and how can they be good for you? Here at Roam, we’re here to give you the lowdown, the showdown and the best orgasm of your life.

The Lowdown: what’s going on when we have an orgasm?

It probably won’t come as a surprise to most women that, like many other aspects of the female condition, orgasms haven’t been researched enough. But here’s what we do know about what happens when we climax.

When you come, electrical impulses are sent to your brain along three main paths: the pelvic, hypogastric and pudendal nerves. Very scientific, I know. But the important thing here is that these nerves connect to your spine, before moving towards the brain regions that respond to genital sensations, which is why women often feel like they can’t control what their body does when they orgasm. Other parts of the brain simultaneously kick in, until the intensity builds to such a peak that we experience a huge release, the vaginal equivalent of a huge sneeze. In fact, like a sneeze, an orgasm causes rhythmic contractions, this time in the uterus and vaginal wall, which can happen once per second for between five to eight times. On average, this seems to last between 20 to 30 seconds (no wonder it’s tiring!) and sometimes, but not often, we can ejaculate too.

The Showdown: how does the brain tie in?

We’ve all heard the classic stereotype that women want a cuddle after sex and men are happy to turn over and go straight to sleep. But neurological research has actually provided some answers to why this might be. For both men and women, orgasms release oxytocin and dopamine, hormones which can radically alter your neurological state at the time of getting down and dirty. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and desire…pretty straightforward, right? But oxytocin is different altogether, making us feel affectionate and close to others. Whilst both males and female brains release oxytocin at the moment of climax, female brains continue releasing it after sex, which might start to explain why you want to have a snuggle and your boyfriend is keen to get some shut-eye.

The brain can also explain some of our desires when we have sex (those moments that make you turn bright red remembering them on the bus the morning after). Clinical psychologist Daniel Sher used brain imaging to find that logic goes out of the window when you come; that part of the brain responsible for reason and value judgements clocks off for the day, meaning you’re more likely to have less inhibitions and feel bolder during sex. It’s also been found that the brain releases chemicals that make you less sensitive to fear and pain when you’re having a great time. Some research even found that there is a link between vaginal stimulation and a reduction in pain sensitivity, which could explain why hair-pulling and biting are only ever acceptable beneath the sheets…

The Added Benefits (as well as feeling f*cking amazing)

Celibacy has its place, sure, but orgasms have been proven to have a HUGE number of health benefits. First off, and one you might have noticed after a mid-afternoon sesh, is that coming makes you sleep better. The post-sex rush of the hormone prolactin helps you doze off more quickly, whilst oxytocin and vasopressin guarantees you a sound night sleep. So next time you get frisky on a lazy Sunday morning, treat yourself to another lie-in.

As well as making you nod off, oxytocin, that treasured chemical released when you come, has been shown to regulate anxiety, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, such as ovarian cancer. It’s called the ‘feel good’ hormone for a reason… Amidst the current mental health pandemic we are facing, taking some time to relax, reconnect and release through the power of sex can have far reaching benefits. So next time you reach for CBD or a pillow spray, why not have sex, masturbate and see what your body can naturally do to relieve stress.

Oxytocin also links to healthier hair and skin (would you believe?!). By increasing oxytocin and decreasing cortisol, you’re less likely to get rashes or breakouts if you’re regularly coming. Increased blood flow also gives you a gorgeous glowy post-coital look, an improvement in circulation which also will guarantee you stronger, shinier locks. Orgasm-glow up anyone?

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