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You may be surprised at how your body and brain react to this type of pleasure.
- An orgasm is described as a feeling of intense pleasure that happens during sexual activity.
- By studying the brain activity of people experiencing orgasms, researchers have been able to pinpoint some of the key changes that occur.
- These changes include heightened sensitivity to areas of the brain that control how we feel pain, making us less sensitive to it.
What really happens in the brain during orgasm?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMjAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzk0MTg3N30.XMncIeu8myjL-bgF936p4NYAmXpCbI7dQl1AXuXBZc0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C93%2C0%2C94&height=700" id="aab53" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="309e980e413d58c454f6fed13596917f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="3D rendering of hypothalamus lighting up" />
The hypothalamus, which plays a key role in releasing hormones like dopamine and oxytocin, is one of the regions of the brain that lights up during orgasm.
Image by SciePro on Shutterstock<p><strong>Does the "logical" part of your brain shut down? That's hotly debated.</strong></p><p><strong></strong>There may be a reason why you feel bold and uninhibited during your climax.<br></p><p>"The lateral orbitofrontal cortex becomes less active during sex. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for reason, decision making, and value judgments. The deactivation of this part of the brain is also associated with decreases in fear and anxiety," explains clinical psychologist <a href="https://www.betweenusclinic.com/about-us/" target="_blank">Daniel Sher</a>. </p><p>However, not all experts in the field agree with this widely publicized study's findings. Recent (2017) research suggests otherwise, with results that show that these areas of the brain <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28986148/" target="_blank">did not deactivate within the 10 female participants of this study</a>.</p><p><strong>Parts of your brain associated with memories, touch, and movement may light up. </strong></p><p>Research has found that the hypothalamus, thalamus, and substantia nigra may light up during orgasm. "Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships" author <a href="http://kaytsukel.com/" target="_blank">Kayt Sukel</a> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2011/nov/16/orgasm-mri-scanner" target="_blank">was interviewed</a> for her work alongside researchers who studied the effect of an orgasm on the brain while she was in an MRI machine.</p><p>The thalamus helps integrate information about touch, movement, and sexual memories/fantasies. This could explain how you call upon sexual memories and fantasies (or why your imagination is able to be more active) during sexual arousal and peak. </p><p><strong>Oxytocin builds up and is released.</strong></p><p>Oxytocin is defined as a "bonding" hormone. The forming of oxytocin during sex happens in the pituitary glands and it is then released in the hypothalamus. The <a href="https://www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/hypothalamus" target="_blank">hypothalamus</a> plays a key role in many important functions including the releasing of other hormones (like dopamine), regulation of body temperature, controlling of appetite, and of course, the management of sexual behaviors.</p><p><strong>A surge of dopamine is released. </strong></p><p>During orgasm, your brain works hard to produce various hormones, like the aforementioned oxytocin. In that cocktail of hormones is dopamine, which is released at the moment of orgasm. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and desire and therefore acts as a motivation to keep experiencing those feelings of pleasure and desire. </p><p>Dopamine is formed <a href="https://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/d/d_03/d_03_cr/d_03_cr_que/d_03_cr_que.html" target="_blank">in the part of the brain</a> that receives information from several other areas in order to define if your needs (specifically your human needs) are being satisfied. </p><p><strong>The release of endorphins, oxytocin, and vasopressin make you less sensitive to pain during sex. </strong></p><p>For many, pain and sex go hand in hand. Many people enjoy a little bit of pain during sex, and there is actually a very good reason for this: you're less susceptible to pain during sex. The pituitary gland is activated during sex, which then frees your brain up to release all kinds of endorphins that are able to promote pain reduction. </p><p>An interesting thing to note is that some of the same areas of the brain that are active during sex are also active when you experience pain. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/4000685/" target="_blank">A very interesting 1985 study</a> looked at the correlation between vaginal stimulation and the elevation of pain. </p><p><strong>In people who are unable to feel genital stimulation, the brain may actually be able to "remap" itself. </strong></p><p>People who have suffered lower-body paralysis can still achieve orgasm through stimulation of other body parts such as the nipples. In this case, the brain actually creates new pathways to pleasure that doesn't involve our genitalia. <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/paralyzed-women-rediscover-orgasms/" target="_blank">This Seattle Times article</a> details paralyzed women who were able to rediscover their ability to orgasm through various other sensations.<br></p><p><strong>Having orgasms can keep your brain healthy. </strong></p><p>Because there is a significant increase in blood flow across multiple areas of the brain so dramatically when we achieve orgasm, it's entirely likely that orgasms may have developed in part to keep our brains healthy.</p>
What really happens in the body when you orgasm?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUzMjAzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTYyMzA2Nn0.-etGxz-ejxnP2n4CJ4OVoQy5KrrLL2uTxet7i-nBFZk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="4b6fe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="648070a56f9fea934d8780dba38bfb1f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="woman holding blanket in her hand" />
What really happens in the body when we orgasm?
Photo by NATNN on Shutterstock<p><strong>Your body swells and becomes more sensitive.</strong></p><p>While men experience the obvious swelling in the genitals due to increased blood flow, women can experience some forms of swelling during sex as well. From your breasts to your vulva, many women experience swelling during sexual arousal and release. </p><p><strong>Your heart rate quickens, which leads to euphoria. </strong></p><p>Of course, your heart rate elevates when you're experiencing orgasm, but along with that, you also experience a blood pressure rise and your breathing rate also increases. Both of these things are considered mild aerobic activity responses and could factor into the kind of euphoria you feel during sexual experiences - similar to a "runners high."</p><p><strong>Muscles in the vagina, anus, and uterus contract and release - like a workout.</strong></p><p>Not only is your pulse racing, but you may also be working out some of the muscles in your body (aside from the ones you're using to physically have sex). </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.bustle.com/p/9-things-that-happen-to-your-body-when-you-have-orgasm-that-you-never-realized-8487239" target="_blank">Bustle</a>, "Increased blood flow to the genitals during orgasm also maintains the integrity of the smooth muscle that lines the vagina, rectum and connective tissue between the penile shaft and scrotum."</p><p><strong>Orgasms may improve allergy symptoms or clear blocked nasal passages.</strong></p><p>"Orgasms can be effective at opening blocked nasal passages and can alleviate some allergy and congestion symptoms," according to sexologist and clinical professional counselor Dr. Laura Deitsch.</p>
While this has been a popular debate, the evidence suggests there isn't a strong link between pornography use and erectile dysfunction (ED).
- According to UW Health, around 5 percent of men that are 40 years old have complete erectile dysfunction. That number increases to about 15 percent by age 70.
- While there are many things that can cause or contribute to ED (such as high blood pressure, smoking, the use of drugs or alcohol, depression, and anxiety), there has been wide debate over the impacts of pornography use.
- Several studies outlined in this article look at the supposed link between ED and pornography use.
Can pornography really cause erectile dysfunction?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzUyMjIxMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODc3NDE0MH0.YIoVjpvc1V2X6viFQ0q62Bfr37dzWZGDb_JdfzpOlv8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C104&height=700" id="aeea4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cbb4798850bfefec88f62c3538741ba0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="naked man hiding behind a pillow" />
Is there really any evidence proving porn causes ED?
Photo by PrinceOfLove on Shutterstock<p>Over the years, there have been multiple studies with conflicting results when it comes to this controversial question.</p><p><strong>A 2012 study links porn and erectile dysfunction in men ages 20-40 but says it is only "one piece of the puzzle."</strong></p><p>According to a <a href="https://www.webmd.com/sex/news/20170512/study-sees-link-between-porn-and-sexual-dysfunction#1" target="_blank">HealthDay News study</a>, porn-addicted men are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and are less likely to be satisfied with sexual intercourse. This was determined based on a survey of 312 men between the ages of 20-40. Of men surveyed, 3.4 percent said they preferred masturbating to pornography over sexual intercourse, but the researchers found a statistical relationship between porn addiction and sexual dysfunction.</p><p>According to lead researcher Dr. Matthew Christman (staff urologist with the Naval Medical Center in San Diego), the rates of organic causes of ED in this age cohort are extremely low, so the increase in erectile dysfunction needs to be explained. "We believe that pornography may be one piece to that puzzle. Our data does not suggest it is the only explanation, however."</p><p><strong>A 2016 study has also been cited as proof that pornography use causes ED, however the study itself explains that more research is needed to prove this theory.</strong> </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5039517/#B9-behavsci-06-00017" target="_blank">According to this study</a>, 1 in 4 participants who sought help for new-onset ED were younger than 40, which was highly unusual. The conclusion of this study was that traditional factors that once explained sexual difficulties in men appear insufficient to account for the sharp rise in sexual dysfunctions and low sexual desire in these men."Both the literature and our clinical reports underscore the need for extensive investigation of Internet pornography's potential effects on users, ideally by having subjects remove the variable of internet pornography in order to demonstrate potential effects of behavioral modification," the authors wrote.</p><p><strong>An Italian study suggests men could suffer from "sexual anorexia" after pornography use. </strong></p><p>A survey of 28,000 users suggests many Italian males started an "excessive consumption" of porn sites as early as 14 years of age. The study uses the term "sexual anorexia," which is referred to in this case as a pathological loss of appetite for romantic-sexual interactions. </p><p>This particular study has been cited in multiple articles that claim ED is directly linked to pornography use. However, the study, listed in ANSA, outlines "daily use" for people in their early-mid 20s, and how individuals <em>may </em>become "inured to even the most violent images" in porn. </p><p>"It starts with lower reactions to porn sites, then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection," <a href="https://www.ansa.it/web/notizie/rubriche/english/2011/02/24/visualizza_new.html_1583160579.html" target="_blank">explains Carlo Foresta</a>, head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAMS). </p><p><strong>A 2019 study that analyzed porn watching and ED risk suggested there isn't likely to be a link. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.seksuologen-vlaanderen.be/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Grubbs-Gola-2019-J-SEX-MED-no-causal-link-pornography-and-ED-2.pdf" target="_blank">According to this study</a>, which sampled 877 American men between the ages of 18-60, porn-watching and ED were not likely to be linked. While it was true that some porn-watching men in the study did report ED, researchers found "very little evidence that mere pornography use is associated with changes in erection function."</p><p><strong>While porn may have some impact on ED, that impact isn't always negative.</strong></p><p>"ED is a biopsychosocial phenomenon, meaning there are many factors that can contribute to it," Christene Lorenzo, a therapist specializing in sexual health and relationships, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/experts-debunk-new-survey-claiming-watching-adult-videos-causes-ed#What-sexual-health-experts-think" target="_blank">explains to HealthLine</a>. </p><p>There are many possible physiological, psychological, and relationship factors that impact ED that most surveys arguing the impacts of pornography of erectile function don't take into account. <span></span></p><p>Additionally, while porn-induced erectile dysfunction is possible, porn may also actually help with ED in some cases. Erectile dysfunction is a complex health issue that has both physical and mental health components, according to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317117" target="_blank">Medical News Today</a>. </p><p>"A <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/sm2.58" target="_blank" style="">2015 study</a> found that men who reported more time spent viewing pornography had greater sexual responsiveness to a partner in a laboratory setting. This suggests that pornography might help prime the brain or body for sex, potentially improving intercourse with a partner." </p>
Nutrisystem is a smarter weight-loss program that users enjoy.
- The societal and economic consequences of obesity cannot be ignored.
- The economic impact is up to $190 billion every year in America.
- Americans spend up to $2.5 billion each year on popular weight-loss programs.
Credit: Nutrisystem<h3>The economics of obesity</h3><p>The obesity crisis in America has profoundly changed the health of our nation. Two-thirds of American adults are now <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4770258/" target="_blank">overweight or obese</a>. Excess body weight creates numerous health problems, <a href="https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight" target="_blank">such as</a> increased risk for heart disease, hypertension, cancer, sleep apnea, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Tragically, the steep rise in obesity rates can, in large part, be traced back to the surge in processed foods made with filler ingredients, questionable preservatives, and excessive sugars. </p><p>That's part of what makes losing weight so difficult. Supermarket shelves are stocked with processed foods. A whopping 74 percent of packaged foods contain <a href="https://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/hidden-in-plain-sight/#.Xx3ly_hKhTY" target="_blank">added sugars</a>, which are conveniently disguised under 61 different names, including dextrose, maltose, and treacle. You shouldn't have to play detective every time you go to the grocery store. </p><p>Obesity has real-world consequences. Every year, up to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html" target="_blank">$6.38 billion is lost</a> in productivity costs due to obesity-related absenteeism. That number only accounts for people taking off of work. Overall, obesity-related costs in America are estimated to be <a href="https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/91/5/1520S/4597467" target="_blank">$147 billion</a> every year. One <a href="https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-consequences/economic/" target="_blank">study</a> shows that cost was $190 billion in 2005. </p><p>Overweight citizens are also <a href="https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/conference-highlights/aaic-2015-coverage/mental-illness-and-obesity/" target="_blank">more likely</a> to suffer from poor mental health. The combination of poor self-image, social stigma, lack of exercise, and biological issues due to obesity increase the likelihood that someone will be anxious or depressed. This creates a crippling feedback loop: diets high in sugars and carbohydrates, which are fueling the rise in obesity, are <a href="https://bigthink.com/21st-century-spirituality/your-diet-might-be-causing-anxiety-and-depression" target="_self">also linked</a> to poor mental health. </p><p>Many people want a solution that works. In 2014, Americans spent <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4446719/" target="_blank">roughly $2.5 billion</a> on commercial or proprietary weight loss programs. As a society, we pay the price of obesity in the form of work absenteeism, inflated health care costs, and mental health issues, and we pay trying to solve it. Finding a solution to this problem is of utmost importance. </p>
The study was only conducted with already healthy men, however.
- A new study at the University of Bath found that binge eating on occasion doesn't have major metabolic consequences.
- 14 healthy young men were instructed to eat pizza until full or to keep going until they couldn't eat another bite.
- Their blood sugar levels were similar to having eaten normally and blood lipids levels were only slightly higher than normal.
Marion Nestle: Why Do We Overeat?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a4fbcf29b074691a19c6b391813e48f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Qn8XjZQa5-0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lead researcher Aaron Hengist <a href="https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/all-you-can-eat-pizza-study-shows-body-copes-surprisingly-well-with-one-off-calorie-indulgence/" target="_blank">says</a> the results showed the resilience of our body during times of excess.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our findings show that the body actually copes remarkably well when faced with a massive and sudden calorie excess. Healthy humans can eat twice as much as 'full' and deal effectively with this huge initial energy surplus."</p><p>Of course, these were all young, healthy men, which will skew the outcome. Still, they expected more of a metabolic impact. </p><p>The researchers also focused on mood. Four hours after eating maximally, overeaters had no desire to eat sweet foods. This contradicts previous research that shows the brain's reward centers are food-specific—pizza shouldn't change cravings for sweets. The overeating groups also felt lethargic after their binge, which is to be expected. </p><p>The researchers are not giving a pass for overeating. Caloric intake remains the main driver of obesity. Signaling hormones are altered with continued overeating, making it difficult for the obese to know when to stop. Regular overeating changes body composition, metabolic rates, and mood. </p><p>In the past, humans had to stock up on food when they found it while hunting and foraging. We are equipped to handle the occasional caloric overload. James Betts, who was also involved in the study, says that an occasional binge for healthy people is not necessarily a bad thing. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This study shows that if an otherwise healthy person overindulges occasionally, for example eating a large buffet meal or Christmas lunch, then there are no immediate negative consequences in terms of losing metabolic control."</p><p>Acknowledging the study's limitations of age, health, and gender of participants, the researchers are planning on investigating the metabolic and mood effects of operating on women, obese volunteers, and the elderly. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
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