What is really going on in the female brain before, during, and after an orgasm?
This week on The Science of Sex, Joe and I talk to Dr. Nan Wise, a licensed psychotherapist, cognitive neuroscientist, certified sex therapist, board certified clinical hypnotherapist, and certified relationship specialist with three decades of experience. Her research at Rutgers University has addressed gaps in the scientific literature regarding the neural basis of human sexuality, and has as a result, garnered international attention.
This fall, Dr. Wise published a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine that disputed past research of brain scans of women during orgasm. Originally, researchers found deactivation of brain regions leading up to or during orgasm, but this recent study found that this might not be true. Instead, across 10 female participants that were either masturbating or being stimulated by their male partners while in the fMRI machine, brain activity gradually increased leading up to orgasm, peaked at orgasm, and then decreased. The activated brain regions included sensory, motor, reward, frontal cortical, and brainstem regions.
During Foreplay, we discussed the sexual misconduct allegations made against Louis C.K. by five women. The comedian issued an apology, but top networks, including FX, Netflix, TBS, and HBO, have cut ties with him, and The Orchard, the distribution company for his film, I Love You, Daddy, dropped the film just one week before its scheduled release. We also touched on the allegations made against Roy Moore, the Senate candidate from Alabama. The Washington Post reported that a woman claims that Roy Moore had sexual contact with her when she was 14 years old and he was a 32-year-old district attorney in 1979. Three other women told the Post that Moore, who’s now 70, pursued them when they were teenagers, one of them 16, another 17 and another 18, and he was in his early 30s. Finally, according to a new study, you shouldn’t be fooled by the movie and TV scenes through the years where a character dies from a heart attack during sex. There’s almost NO CHANCE it’s going to happen to you. Doctors studied 4,557 cases of sudden cardiac arrest between 2002 and 2015. And they found that only 34 of those happened during sex or within an hour afterward. That’s 0.7%. And only two of the 4,557 cases were women.
In Afterglow, we talked about Harvard’s annual “Anal Sex 101” class, where participants got to learn the ins and outs of anal sex. The class instructor Natasha told the future leaders of America, “Not all men have penises, not all women have vaginas … the butthole is the great sexual equalizer. All humans have a butthole…” We couldn’t agree more!
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