Why Can't Some Women Orgasm? Neuroscience Might Finally Have an Answer

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Five to 10 percent of women cannot orgasm, and nobody really knows why. In fact, scientists hardly know anything at all about the mechanisms behind how people climax. But researchers may have discovered a link between brain function and sexual gratification that might explain the phenomenon. By using an fMRI to track the brain activity of women pleasuring themselves, scientists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have drawn a connection between orgasms and the part of the brain known as the left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), which suggests that women who tend to have trouble letting go when it comes to other areas of their lives might also have trouble in the bedroom:

Georgiadis argues that the OFC may be the basis of sexual control - and perhaps only by letting go, so to speak, can orgasm be achieved. He suggests this deactivation may be the most telling example of an "altered state of consciousness" and one not seen, as yet, during any other type of activity.

"I don't think orgasm turns off consciousness but it changes it," he says. "When you ask people how they perceive their orgasm, they describe a feeling of a loss of control." Georgiadis suggests that perhaps orgasm offsets systems that usually dominate attention and behaviour. "I'm not sure if this altered state is necessary to achieve more pleasure or is just some side effect," he says. It is possible that the inability to let go and reach this altered state may be what prohibits individuals with anorgasmia from reaching climax.

Read the full story at New Scientist.

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Rebecca Greenfield is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was formerly on staff at The Atlantic Wire.

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