You don't need anyone to tell you that orgasms are magical. It's possible, though, that you don't know just how vital they are to our lives outside the bedroom. Women especially have a complex network of pelvic nerves that branch from the clitoris, vagina, and cervix to the spinal cord, and then up to the brain. In her revolutionary book Vagina: A New Biography, which should be mandatory reading for both genders, cultural critic and journalist and general powerhouse Naomi Wolf delves into scientific research that shows how every cis woman's wiring down there is different; no two are the same. (Cis men, on the other hand, house a penile nerve that is quite uniform and distinctly laid out in a grid system.)
Because this tangled bunch of sensitive neural pathways is so complicated and strongly connected to our brain and central nervous system, we arguably have more to gain from orgasms than men do. We're aware of their physical benefits by now, like increased blood flow and spikes in happy chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin. The next step, then, is understanding how this melting pot of pleasure manifests in our daily life, our careers, and even our art.
The right kind of orgasms (yes, there are countless different kinds) can make us more powerful, more determined, and this happens when the body and mind are working together in perfect harmony. Not that you needed anymore reasons to jump in the sack and visit pleasure town, but here are five ways orgasms are scientifically proven to improve your life.
1. They Help You Make Better Decisions
Dopamine is perhaps the most powerful chemical our brain naturally produces; it's responsible for the part of the brain called "the pleasure circuit," which accounts for the euphoric mood you might feel post-coitus. It also pops up quite a bit amongst drug addicts, gamblers, and adventure seekers. Dr. Jim Pfaus of Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, has conducted research on the lasting effects of natural, healthy rushes of dopamine, and he claims that it gives your brain the flexibility in decision making. You can more easily adapt to the ever-changing world around you and choose what's best when you're well-stocked on dopamine.
It makes you feel more open to new challenges that may have frightened you before. On the physiological level, dopamine also activates blood flow, which, in turn, fights depression and stimulates motivation. Suddenly, you're more assertive, and you can focus more efficiently on the task at hand.
Because we have multi-orgasmic powers that men lack, Wolf contests, we are theoretically able to reach a major brain high after good sex that carries us through the rest of the day. It's no wonder dopamine has been called the ultimate feminist chemical.
2. They Stimulate Creativity
The most influential female writers and poets and artists from the Victorian and Edwardian era constantly gave us hints in their work about the sexual awakening that accompanied their incredible productivity in the arts. Georgia O'Keefe's groundbreaking paintings of vulva-like flowers, which were released at the height of her career, coincided with a mind-blowing affair she was having at the time with Alfred Steiglitz. Gertrude Stein's best novels came along during her first memorable tryst with a lesbian lover.
With all the dopamine and oxytocin stomping around in our bodies after orgasm, women often become more intuitive, more positive, and more energized after orgasm. Wolf says, "For creative and revolutionary women, their passionately sexual feminine nature inspires and drives them." Amen, sister.
In fact, many women who temporarily lose their ability to orgasm — perhaps due to sexual assault or a physical injury — report seeing everything around them as flatter, less colorful, and less interesting than before. It's nearly impossible to flourish creatively if the world around you has lost its magic.
3. They Make You More Social
Let's go back to dopamine, the chemical that is proven to increase confidence — sometimes dangerously so if it is abused through addiction or drugs. When there is a healthy balance of it, your body naturally wards off depression, making you more likely to engage in social situations with a pleasurable attitude and a strong ego. Oxytocin, another orgasm-friendly chemical, is also attached to prosocial behavior, as Dr. Helen Fisher, anthropologist and author of Anatomy of Love, found in her research.
Studies suggest that subjects with low levels of dopamine and oxytocin, such as Parkinson's patients, are introverted, stoic, and usually uninterested in seeking out new experiences. Keep up your regular orgasms, though, and you won't find yourself lacking either one of these happy, natural drugs.
Testosterone is also another hormone released mid-O, and it encourages us to speak up, no matter how strong our opinions may be. This potpourri of chemicals, as Wolf puts it, literally raises the female voice when we find ourselves in a group of people.
4. They Help You Meditate
Yes, there's some concrete material out there that supports the notion that the right kind of sexual arousal has the ability to take us into an altered state of consciousness.
This happens because we are taken over by the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is the part of the body that involuntarily controls the sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) systems. It sends signals that make you feel safe — foreplay helps us achieve that sense of security — so you can enter a transcendental state. One part of the brain, the limbic system, is particularly heightened during orgasm, which, incidentally, is the same part that lights up during deep meditation.
Wolf believes that women are more likely to be spiritual mystics than men precisely because we can reach a trance-like state through our complex neural system. Indeed, those earth-shattering orgasms are compared to meditative states, where we are unaware of the world around us and all we know is bliss.
Indeed, history reveals that the vagina used to be considered a portal to enlightenment; it was an extremely sacred symbol of spirituality. There were countless Egyptian and Sumerian goddesses who represented all that was holy and pure in the universe, so although mainstream society often doesn't recognize this connection anymore, it's not a far-fetched concept.
5. They Encourage You To Trust Your Emotional Intuition
Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a Stanford-trained physician who works with brain-vagina neuroscience, tells Wolf in Vagina that humans have developed a part of the brain throughout evolution called the neocortex. It's responsible for judging people and measuring up our environment; it's been dubbed "the vigilance center" because it always needs a problem to fix. (An even worse nickname is the calorie-counting portion of our minds.) Dr. Lakshmin says orgasms temporarily shut down the neocortex, however, and you can actually feel more. You then become more trusting to others around you, including and especially your partner, because your brain is spending less time sizing everyone up.
The "cuddle hormone" released following orgasm — oxytocin — is also useful for survival because it bonds us to others and allows us to see the relationships more clearly. Research suggests that it also helps us infer others' emotional states clearly, so you're more likely to know who is trustworthy and who isn't. It's the chemical that heightens your emotional powers and paves the way for more fulfilling partnerships and friendships.
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