The first scan revealing exactly what happens inside a woman’s brain when she has an orgasm has been developed by scientists.Got all that?
They have discovered that sexual arousal numbs the female nervous system to such an extent that she doesn’t feel as much pain – only pleasure.
American researchers found that the orgasm affects up to 30 different parts of the brain including those responsible for emotion, touch, joy, satisfaction and memory.
The team from Rutgers University, New Jersey, now hope to be able to map what typically happens inside a woman’s brain when she has an orgasm.
This could enable them to pinpoint what is going wrong among those with problems of sexual dysfunction or low libido.
They also want to build up a similar picture for men so they can compare how the sensation affects the male and female brains.
Evidence suggests women experience longer orgasms than men, and can have several in quick succession.
The researchers asked eight women to stimulate themselves while lying under a blanket inside an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, a tunnel-like machine often used to detect brain tumours.
Most women took less than five minutes to reach an orgasm although some took as long as 20.
During that time, the MRI scanner took images of their brain every two seconds to show which parts became active during the orgasm.
The scientists found that two minutes before the orgasm, the brain’s reward centres become active, the areas usually activated when eating food and drink.
Immediately before they reached the peak, other areas of the brain became affected such as the sensory cortex, which receives ‘touch’ messages from parts of the body and the thalamus, which relays signals to other parts of the body.
Once the orgasm has started other parts of the brain are activated such as those responsible for emotion - the cingulate cortex and the insula.
The final part of the brain to be activated is the hypothalamus, the ‘control’ part of the brain which regulates temperature, hunger, thirst and tiredness.
At the same time another area responsible for pleasure is activated - the nucleus accumbens - as well as the caudate nucleus, which is responsible for memory.
Barry Komisaruk, professor of psychology at Rutgers University, in New Jersey, said: 'In women, orgasm produces a very extensive response across the brain and body.
'In one experiment we asked women to self-stimulate and then raise their hands when they orgasmed.
'Some women raised their hands several times each session, often just a few seconds apart.
'So the evidence is that women tend to have longer orgasms and can experience several in rapid succession.'