So what exactly happens to your brain when you have an orgasm?
The sexual response cycle has 4 phases:
Each phase activates different parts of the brain until we reach the big O and bask in the afterglow.
During the excitement phase, the genital sensory cortex is activated. The clitoris, vagina, and cervix stimulate different parts of the cortex. Stimulating all three can lead to a more intense and pleasurable orgasm.
As the excitement phase begins to build up, the hippocampus and the amygdala evokes dreamlike memories and intensifies emotions. Parts of your brain that are associated with fear, anxiety, judgement, and reason actually become less active. This is why women start to feel bolder and less inhibited. This makes sense because fear and anxiety can lead to decreased arousal and performance anxiety.
When we have an orgasm, there are also chemicals that are released. Dopamine, known as the pleasure chemical, is released. Oxytocin, called the bonding hormone, makes us feel closer to our partner and promotes affection. It also makes you less sensitive to pain during sex. This explains why spanking or hair pulling aren’t as painful and may be pleasurable. Prolactin is another major player that is responsible for that feeling of satisfaction that is associated with an orgasm.
Once an orgasm has occurred, the brain starts to slow down and churns out serotonin which is that afterglow feeling. In some, people will also feel tired and be ready for those post-coital cuddles and a nap.
As you can tell, there's more than what meets the eye when it comes to an orgasm. The next time you experience one, thank your body for putting all of the pieces into place so that you can reach that 'O' so good feeling!
Dr. Jodie Horton