The first brain scans of men and women having sex and reaching orgasm have revealed striking differences in the way each experiences sexual pleasure. While male brains focus heavily on the physical stimulation involved in sexual contact, this is just one part of a much more complex picture for women, scientists in the Netherlands have found.
The key to female arousal seems rather to be deep relaxation and a lack of anxiety, with direct sensory input from the genitals playing a less critical role.
The experiments also revealed a rather surprising effect: both men and women found it easier to have an orgasm when they kept their socks on. Draughts in the scanning room left couples complaining of "literally cold feet", and providing a pair of socks allowed 80 per cent rather than 50 per cent to reach a climax while their brains were scanned.
The scans also show that while women may be able to fool their partners with a fake orgasm, the difference is obvious in the brain. Parts of the brain that handle conscious movement light up during fake orgasms but not during real ones, while emotion centres close down during the real thing but never when a woman is pretending.
August 26, 2006
The secrets of the orgasm
The Times have a story on research about male and female orgasm. Some interesting bits: