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5 Ways You Didn’t Know People Could Orgasm

5 Ways You Didn’t Know People Could Orgasm: Fight Club, 20th Century Fox

Fight Club, 20th Century Fox

What causes an orgasm? To most of you reading this, the answer probably seems glaringly obvious: stimulation of the penis, vagina, or clitoris, of course. However, while genital action is indeed the most common technique for reaching orgasm, you may be surprised to learn that a lot of people can climax without having their genitals touched at all.

Believe it or not, sex scientists have discovered dozens of unique forms of sensory stimulation that have the potential to result in orgasm. Below, we’ll take a look at five of the most fascinating “non-genital orgasms” reported to date.


1. THOUGHT-INDUCED ORGASMS
Some people can quite literally think themselves to orgasm. In other words, they can get off just by bringing one of their favorite sexual fantasies to mind. If this sounds too good to be true, let me clarify that this has been scientifically verified. In a 1992 study, 10 women who reported the ability to think themselves to orgasm volunteered to show a team of scientists how it works. They were asked to both masturbate to orgasm and think themselves to orgasm while their physiological responses were recorded. It turned out that the bodily changes that took place—including increases in heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation and pain tolerance—were indistinguishable when comparing masturbatory to thought-induced orgasms.

2. NIPPLEGASMS
Stimulation of the nipples alone can lead to orgasm for some women. How is that possible? In a 2011 study, researchers recruited female volunteers who were willing to stimulate different parts of their body while lying inside an fMRI machine. What they found was that stimulation of the nipple activated the same region of the brain as stimulation of the clitoris, vagina and cervix—an area known as the genital sensory cortex. To the extent that the brain processes nipple and genital stimulation in a similar way, the existence of the so-called “nipplegasms” only seems logical.

3. ORAL ORGASMS
The premise of the classic 1970s porn Deep Throat is that actress Linda Lovelace’s clitoris is located in the back of her throat. As such, the only way she could reach orgasm was by performing oral sex—very deep oral sex on well-endowed men, to be precise. To many viewers of this film, the sheer idea that someone could reach orgasm simply by performing oral sex may have seemed a bit far-fetched; however, research suggests that orally-induced orgasms are indeed a thing and further, that they aren’t unique to women. Indeed, studies have found that both women and men have reported the ability to reach orgasm through oral stimulation alone, either by performing oral sex or by kissing. In explaining why, some psychologists have taken a somewhat Freudian perspective, arguing that the mouth is the “primary human sensory organ,” owing back to our days of breastfeeding during infancy.

4. HYPERSENSITIVE SKIN ORGASMS
Sexual difficulties are common following spinal cord injuries. Indeed, persons with such injuries often experience problems with becoming aroused and reaching orgasm through genital stimulation. Interestingly, however, some patients have reported that the skin near their injury site becomes hypersensitive and, if stimulated appropriately, can lead to orgasm. For example, in one study, a woman with an injury to her upper spinal cord stimulated the skin on her neck and shoulder with a vibrator while researchers recorded her physiological responses. Not only did they observe the characteristic heart rate and blood pressure changes that typically occur during an orgasm, but this woman also reported having orgasmic feelings, including a sensation of “tingling” in her vagina.

5. EPILEPTIC SEIZURE ORGASMS
Several people with epilepsy—both male and female—have reported that they experience orgasms just prior to the onset of a seizure. This phenomenon is apparently common enough that is has a name: the “orgasmic aura.” This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it because seizures sometimes originate in the sensory cortex of the brain—and when they do, these orgasms feel identical to those produced by stimulation of the genitals. Seizures that originate in other brain areas can also produce orgasmic auras; however, those seizures aren’t necessarily perceived as though they’re originating in the genitals. Interestingly, while some epileptics do not enjoy these feelings, others find them to be highly pleasurable. In fact, some epileptic patients have even refused treatment for their seizures because they don’t want to lose their orgasmic auras.

As you can see, our ability to reach orgasm and experience its corresponding feelings of pleasure aren’t limited to having our genitals touched in a specific way. The truth of the matter is that orgasms are fundamentally about the way our brains—not our genitals—are stimulated.


Justin Lehmiller, PhD is a sex educator and researcher at Ball State University, a Faculty Affiliate of The Kinsey Institute, and author of the blog Sex and Psychology. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLehmiller.


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