Orgasm group sex

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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Although the literature on imaging of regional brain activity during sexual arousal in women and men is extensive and largely consistent, that on orgasm is relatively limited and variable, owing in part to the methodologic challenges posed by variability in latency to orgasm in participants and head movement. To compare brain activity at orgasm self- and partner-induced with that at the onset of genital stimulation, immediately before the onset of orgasm, and immediately after the cessation of orgasm and to upgrade the methodology for obtaining and analyzing functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI findings.

The first second epoch of orgasm was contrasted with the second epochs at the beginning of stimulation and immediately before and after orgasm. Separate analyses were conducted for whole-brain and brainstem regions of interest.

For a finer-grained analysis of the peri-orgasm phase, we conducted a time-course analysis on regions of interest. Head movement was minimized to a mean less than 1. Ten women experienced orgasm elicited by self- and partner-induced genital stimulation in a Siemens 3-T Trio fMRI scanner. Brain activity gradually increased leading up to orgasm, peaked at orgasm, and then decreased.

We found no evidence of deactivation of brain regions leading up to or during orgasm. The activated brain regions included sensory, motor, reward, frontal cortical, and brainstem regions eg, nucleus accumbens, insula, anterior cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, operculum, right angular gyrus, paracentral lobule, cerebellum, hippocampus, amygdala, hypothalamus, ventral tegmental area, and dorsal raphe.

Insight gained from the present findings could provide guidance toward a rational basis for treatment of orgasmic disorders, including anorgasmia. This is evidently the first fMRI study of orgasm elicited by self- and partner-induced genital stimulation in women.

Methodologic solutions to the technical issues posed by excessive head movement and variable latencies to orgasm were successfully applied in the present study, enabling identification of brain regions involved in orgasm. Extensive cortical, subcortical, and brainstem regions reach peak levels of activity at orgasm. Although the literature on imaging of regional brain activity during sexual arousal in women and men is extensive and generally consistent, the literature on orgasm is relatively limited and variable.

Orgasm group sex

During sexual arousal, multiple subcortical and cortical regions become activated. Amygdala activation at visual stimulation-induced sexual arousal was reported in women 1 — 3 and men, 1 — 5 and this activation was reportedly greater in men. Other brain regions that were reported activated during sexual arousal in response to visual erotic stimulation include the hypothalamus, 13511 anterior cingulate cortex, 3571112 and insula. The relatively less extensive literature on orgasm is more variable, perhaps owing to several factors, including the technical issues of head movement and variable latencies to orgasm, the latter of which present a greater difficulty for positron-emission tomography PETwhich requires minutes for preparing the radioactive tracer immediately before orgasm, than for functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRIwhich scans continuously.

During orgasm in men and women, activation was reported in the cerebellum, 414 — 16 anterior cingulate, 414 — 16 and dopaminergic pathway from the ventral tegmentum 4 to the nucleus accumbens. We considered that the difference activation or deactivation could be due to the methods used blood oxygen-level dependent fMRI or PET, respectively or whether the orgasm was induced in women by self-applied 15 — 1719 or partner-applied 2021 stimulation, respectively.

In the present study, we focused on brain activity during orgasm in relation to that before and after orgasm. We also addressed two methodologic issues raised by our reports: possible artifact generated by excessive head movement during orgasm and lack of correction for multiple statistical comparisons. Thus, for the present study, we developed an assembly using a custom-fitted thermoplastic whole-head mask that was molded to a neck brace and rigidly clamped to the scanner head cage; this limited head movement during orgasm to less than 1.

In addition, the fMRI data were corrected for multiple comparisons. The aims of the present study were i to compare brain activity at orgasm self- and partner-induced with that at the onset of genital stimulation, at an intermediate phase during the course of stimulation, immediately before the onset of orgasm, and immediately after the cessation of orgasm and ii to upgrade the methodology for obtaining and analyzing fMRI findings. Fourteen healthy women were recruited for this study by word of mouth. Data from two of the participants were excluded because they did not experience orgasm during the scanning session.

Two additional datasets were discarded because of technical problems with the scans. Each woman was interviewed before the scanning procedure to collect information about her sexual and relational histories for purposes beyond the scope of this study. Four women were married to their current partners. Five women reported having had children. Each of the 10 women was accompanied by a male partner to provide the clitoral stimulation for the partner-stimulation—induced orgasm component. Each male partner was prescreened to determine suitability for study participation and gave informed consent in accordance with the Rutgers University institutional review board.

Each woman participated in one experimental scan consisting of clitoral stimulation-induced orgasm under two sequentially counterbalanced conditions: self-stimulation and partner stimulation. Cues for the self-stimulation condition were presented visually on an fMRI-compatible computer projection screen.

Orgasm group sex

The women followed the same cues for the partner-stimulation condition with the exception of the stimulation procedure. He was cued when to start and stop stimulation by prerecorded auditory instructions delivered through headphones that were prompted by the responses button presses of the female participants.

The male partner remained in the scanning room throughout the two experimental conditions, although they participated only in this segment of the experiment. Head movement during genital self- and partner-induced stimulation and orgasm was decreased to an average of 1.

The cooling of the thermoplastic to rigidity takes approximately 2 minutes. The thermoplastic was gently pushed with the fingers, with the help of the participant, to form-fit to the forehead, side of the head, nose, cheekbones, mouth, chin, and front and under-chin portion of the collar, and its frame was brought to congruence with the frame of the thermoplastic mask that cradled the back of the head.

Several strips of strong tape were applied to gently squeeze the two frames together, thus immobilizing the head and neck. When the participant was placed onto the gurney of the fMRI scanner, a non-slip plastic mesh mat was placed on the bottom of the head cradle.

Orgasm group sex

The participant, with noise-attenuating ear plugs and head-immobilization assembly in place, lay supine in the Siemens Trio cradle, and the channel head cage cover with projection screen observation mirror was connected. Standard foam p used to restrict head movement were pressed in around the head-immobilization assembly, and then the two Siemens adjustable clamps mounted on the head cage were locked onto the head-immobilization assembly, further preventing its movement.

Orgasm group sex

Fourteen experimental scanning sessions were conducted with the goal of acquiring sequentially counterbalanced within-subject sets of partner- and self-stimulation—induced orgasms. Ten participants experienced orgasm in the two conditions during the course of the study.

Six of those underwent partner stimulation first and four underwent self-stimulation first. Three additional participants who underwent self-stimulation first experienced the self-stimulation—induced orgasm, but not the partner-stimulation—induced orgasm. After excluding two datasets because of technical problems, there was an uneven of counterbalanced datasets. ificant order effects were detected in preliminary analyses. The following preprocessing procedures were performed at the individual level: manual removal of skull and non-brain tissue elements from the anatomic and functional images.

The resulting outlier file was added as a confound variable. In addition, standard motion parameters were added to the model. For the self-stimulation—induced orgasm condition, group mean motion displacements were 1. For the partner-stimulation—induced orgasm condition, group mean motion displacements were 1. The data were spatially smoothed using a 5-mm isotropic full width at half-maximum Gaussian kernel with the exception of the brainstem analysis, in which the data were not spatially smoothed. For the brainstem, the analysis was carried out a second time with the exception of spatial smoothing.

Spatially smoothing a dataset enables the detection of larger clusters such as those found within the forebrain; however, the application of spatial smoothing to smaller areas, such as those within the brainstem, decreases the detection of smaller clusters. A challenge to the analysis of orgasm is the variability in the duration of the stimulation before orgasm, the duration of orgasm, and the duration of the recovery period.

The duration of stimulation ranged from 87 to seconds, and the duration of orgasm ranged from 10 to 59 seconds.

Orgasm group sex

We dealt with this variability by sampling, across participants, equivalent time points reflecting comparable phases in the stimulation, orgasm, and recovery periods. These equivalent epochs were used as the explanatory variables EVs in the analyses. The five EVs were early stimulation, mid-stimulation, late stimulation, orgasm, and recovery.

Thus, seven women had orgasms longer than 20 seconds, so the first 20 seconds of their early, mid, late, and recovery epochs, respectively, was selected. Three women had orgasms 10 to 14 seconds in duration, so their corresponding epochs were matched to those durations. First-level analyses were conducted with a high-pass filter cutoff set at seconds. The data were convolved using a Gaussian hemodynamic response function with temporal derivatives. The EVs were used as regressors to determine the average activity elicited by each condition.

A whole-brain analysis was conducted in which the FEAT files containing all contrasts from the first levels were passed up to the higher-level analysis. A two-group unpaired t-test was conducted with self-stimulation— induced orgasm inputs EV 1 and partner-stimulation—induced orgasm inputs EV 2. Two additional group analyses were similarly conducted, but with specific regions of interest.

One analysis masked the frontal lobe and the other masked the temporal lobe using standard masks from the Montreal Neurological Institute Structural Atlas to determine whether there were any deactivations activity ificantly lower than the global baseline in these specific regions. All group were corrected for multiple comparisons with a cluster-forming threshold set at z equal to 2. of first levels for the self-stimulation—induced orgasm group and partner-stimulation—induced orgasm group were combined by passing up the respective FEAT files to the higher-level group analysis using a single group average to create the combined orgasm group.

Two additional group analyses targeting the frontal and temporal lobes, respectively, were conducted for the combined orgasm group and for each group separately to determine whether there were any deactivations activity ificantly lower than the global baseline in these regions of interest observed for the basic contrasts. A separate brainstem analysis of the combined orgasm group also was performed using a brainstem mask from the Harvard-Oxford Subcortical Structural Atlas.

Masks were created for the brainstem, the secondary somatosensory cortex combined bilateral regions of the operculum [OP1—4]cerebellum, insula, paracentral lobule, frontal cortex, hypothalamus, left and right amygdala, left and right nucleus accumbens, and left and right hippocampus. The output text files containing the time-course values were moved to Excel Microsoft, Redmond WA, USA for a group calculation of TR by TR 2 seconds comparison of the percentage of change from a second resting baseline.

Comparison of frontal cortical activity greater than baseline between partner-induced orgasm and self-induced orgasm showed no ificant difference between groups for any brain regions. Furthermore, there was no ificant deactivation of the frontal cortex, temporal cortex, or any other brain region. The only ificant difference between the two groups was found during the stimulation period: the self-stimulation group showed more activity during mid-stimulation, whereas the partner-stimulation group showed more activity during late stimulation.

Because there were no ificant differences between the orgasms in the two groups, we combined the data of the two groups and analyzed the sequential activity leading up to, during, and after orgasm. These brain regions include the nucleus accumbens, hippocampus, operculum SIIinsula, anterior and cingulate cortices, paracentral lobule, and cerebellum.

Additional regions listed in Table 1 also were ificantly activated, including the hypothalamus mammillary bodiesamygdala, and frontal cortical regions, including Broca area BA 44 and BA Regional activation at orgasm compared with early stimulation. The following regions were ificantly activated, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, insula, operculum, cingulate gyrus, cerebellum including the vermis, hippocampal formation, and right angular gyrus. Additional activations included the paracingulate gyrus, caudate, thalamus, putamen, left BA 44 and 45, and posterior cingulate gyrus Table 1.

Regional activation at orgasm compared with recovery.

Orgasm group sex

To ascertain whether there were brain regions whose activity levels were uniquely related to orgasm, we contrasted the activity during the first 20 seconds of orgasm with the activity during the 20 seconds immediately before orgasm. Thus, the data for the high level of preorgasmic arousal activity were subtracted from the data for actual orgasmic activity. Using a cluster-forming threshold of z equal to 2. To explore the differences between these two similar conditions, we analyzed these data using a less stringent cluster-forming threshold of z equal to 1. Based on this criterion, brain regions showed ificantly higher activity during orgasm than immediately before orgasm provisional presented in Figure 3.

These included, all on the right side, the operculum secondary somatosensory cortex regions 1—4 and the angular gyrus and the precuneus, BA 44 and 45, pre and post central gyri, and other regions of the frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital cortices Table 2. Exploratory analysis and brainstem : ificant findings with coordinates of max z-score. Figure 4 shows several lower brainstem regions that were activated at orgasm compared with early and late stimulation ie, ventral tegmental area, substantia nigra, dorsal raphe, and nucleus cuneiformis.

Lower brainstem regions activated during orgasm. For a finer-grained analysis of this peri-orgasm phase, we plotted the activity in selected brain regions every 2 seconds during the second period immediately before orgasm and during the first 10 seconds after the onset of orgasm. Figure 5 depicts this activity, showing that in most regions analyzed, there was a gradual increase that became more abrupt at the onset of orgasm and continued to increase for the next three 2-second periods.

Marked activation was observed in the nucleus accumbens and hypothalamus starting at the onset of orgasm and continuing during orgasm. Composite view of the activity of selected brain regions in the 10 seconds immediately before and the 10 seconds immediately after the onset of orgasm. Activity in these brain regions increased at different rates during late stimulation.

Some regions had a high level of activity overall, including the cerebellum, lower brainstem, secondary somatosensory cortex, and frontal cortex, with further increases at orgasm.

Orgasm group sex

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