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Abstract

In 2 studies with 10 women each, vaginal self-stimulation significantly increased the threshold to detect and tolerate painful finger compression, but did not significantly affect the threshold to detect innocuous tactile stimulation. The vaginal self-stimulation was applied with a specially designed pressure transducer assembly to produce a report of pressure or pleasure. In the first study, 6 of the women perceived the vaginal stimulation as producing pleasure. During that condition, the pain tolerance threshold increased significantly by 36.8% and the pain detection threshold increased significantly by 53%. A second study utilized other types of stimuli. Vaginal self-stimulation perceived as pressure significantly increased the pain tolerance threshold by 40.3% and the pain detection threshold by 47.4%. In the second study, when the vaginal stimulation was self-applied in a manner that produced orgasm, the pain tolerance threshold and pain detection threshold increased significantly by 74.6% and 106.7% respectively, while the tactile threshold remained unaffected. A variety of control conditions, including various types of distraction, did not significantly elevate pain or tactile thresholds. We conclude that in women, vaginal self-stimulation decreases pain sensitivity, but does not affect tactile sensitivity. This effect is apparently not due to painful or non-painful distraction.
... We have organized our review around three time scales relevant to the notion of sexual health benefits; short-term, intermediate-term, and longterm. An example of a short-term benefit is the increased pain threshold for a short period after female genital stimulation (Whipple & Komisaruk, 1985). An example of an intermediate-term benefit is the postponement of natural menopause (and the accompanying hypoestrogenism) in women with more frequent sex (Arnot & Mace, 2020). ...
... Many of the most obvious benefits of sexual activity and expression occur during or immediately after the sexual act. One example is the increased pain threshold after direct genital stimulation (Whipple & Komisaruk, 1985). With such stimulation, women show an immediate increase in their tolerance for pain. ...
... Sexuality might alleviate pain by providing a source of distraction, but there might be additional pathways. One study found that pressure stimulation of the anterior vaginal wall and self-stimulation of the clitoris had an analgesic effect, reaching maximum effect with orgasm (Whipple & Komisaruk, 1985). Endorphins might also explain the pain-reducing effect of sexual activity (Odent, 1999), along with oxytocin. ...
Article
Objective Sexual activity is a fundamental human function with short-term and long-term emotional, social, and physical benefits. Yet within healthcare, sexuality has been marginalized and many HCPs are unaware of its beneficial implications for immediate and long-term health. Methods To challenge this assumption we combined the data that already had been collected by the authors with an extensive search of articles on the various health benefits of sexual activity. The results of this process are displayed according to short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term benefits with some explanation about potential causal relationships. Results For the time being, it cannot yet be proved that “good sex promotes good health” since good health also favors good sex. Conclusions Despite lacking such convincing evidence, the article concludes with recommendations for the relevant professions. The balance of research supports that sexuality anyhow deserves greater attention among HCPs and that sexuality research needs better integration within health research.
... The authors of this review suggest examining the benefits of sexual expression, including sexual pleasure, in terms of time scales: short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term. For example, a short-term benefit is increased pain threshold for a period of time following female genital stimulation (Komisaruk & Rodriguez del Cerro, 2021;Whipple & Komisaruk, 1985). Other short-term benefits include, but are not limited to, improved functioning of the immune system, muscle relaxation, anti-inflammatory effects, decreased cortisol, sleep improvement, endorphinrelease, and pain reduction (for migraines, menstruation, endometriosis, etc.) (Gianotten, 2021). ...
... The intense activation at orgasm triggers the sympathetic system at some threshold, which in men activates the ejaculatory reflex and an inhibitory system that turns off the excitation and generates the refractory period (Levin, 2005). In women, the inhibitory system activated is sufficient to inhibit pain (Whipple and Komisaruk, 1985), but it is more gradual and fluctuating, so women can experience multiple orgasms and no obvious refractory period. ...
Article
We present herein an exploratory essay on sexual pleasure, in support of the objective of developing an evidence base of knowledge for the WAS Declaration of Sexual Rights. We have attempted to account for the feeling of erotic sexual pleasure, in terms of what is known about neuronal function. The brain regions that are activated during women’s orgasm, and their perceptual and physiological roles, are compared with brain regions related to chemically induced euphoria and craving. The brain regions that are activated at orgasm match those that are activated by both euphoria and craving. Based on these findings, we propose that erotic, sensual feeling is a simultaneous activation of euphoria plus craving. The importance of sensory stimulation, proprioception, sensations, and feelings is emphasized by evidence that their disruption leads to pathologies. The process of buildup of excitation to a peak and then resolution is proposed as a basic “orgasmic” property of the nervous system shared by multiple systems, as in a sneeze, which we consider to be a non-genital orgasm. We postulate a process by which an excitation pattern feels pleasurable and – at higher intensity – euphoric, if it is congruent with an unconscious dynamic “template,” but aversive and at higher intensity painful, to the extent that it is incongruent with the template. Under this formulation, peak neuronal excitation that is congruent with the unconscious, simultaneously “getting what is craved,” generates orgasmic, erotic, sexual pleasure.
... The importance of sexual pleasure in the well-being of individuals is suggested by several lines of empirical evidence (Field et al., 2013;Glasier et al., 2006;Whipple et al., 2007). Sexual pleasure and gratification have been shown to relate to a variety of positive physical health outcomes, such as greater longevity (Davey Smith et al., 1997;Palmore, 1982), and decreased sensitivity to, and greater tolerance of, pain (Whipple & Komisaruk, 1985, 1988Whipple et al., 2007). Furthermore, involvement in romantic relationships, particularly those of high quality, is an important factor associated with psychological well-being (Argyle, 2001;Demir, 2008;Hinde, 1997;Myers, 2000;Reis et al., 2000); romantic relationships are intimate relationships that are characterized by the potential for erotic, sensual interaction with one's partner (Aron & Westbay, 1996;Regan, 2004;Sternberg, 1986). ...
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Two studies examined the proposal that implicit and explicit sexual motives are associated with the experience of pleasure in sexual situations, as well as with seeking out sexual pleasure. In Study 1, implicit and explicit motive scores of 145 heterosexually identified women and 152 heterosexually identified men were demonstrated to be independently associated with the experience of pleasure in response to videos of female–male sexual behavior, more consistently so for women than men. The implicit and explicit motive scales were also associated with the frequency of viewing erotic materials in daily life. The experience of pleasure within sexual relationships was additionally shown to be associated with sexual motives, although primarily implicit motives. In Study 2 involving 139 women and 65 men, implicit motive scales were associated with ratings of interest in a potential romantic partner. The results support the conceptualization of the two instruments as measures of sexual motivation. The difference between implicit versus explicit measures in the pattern of correlations involving acquainted versus non-acquainted individuals is consistent with research on ideal partner preference.
... Our group previously reported that pain thresholds are increased more than 100% during orgasm. 36 In the present study, we observed significant activation of the dorsal raphe nucleus (which releases serotonin) and the nucleus cuneiformis, 37 which are major brainstem components that mediate endogenous analgesia 38 and which could account, at least in part, for the painattenuating effect of orgasm. ...
... There is a possibility that pain, and orgasm may be using similar or the same spinothalamic pathways, a neurophysiological mechanism which can explain why some women and men enjoy mild pain and pleasure/orgasm together in BDSM sessions. Also, it is shown that female orgasm is analgesic [63][64][65][66], probably due to the release of oxytocin, which has also analgesic effects, and endogenous opioids. This can also explain how mild pain and orgasmic pleasure can be interchangeable with each other. ...
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CORRECTED PROOF: In sexuality research and sex therapy, it is generally very difficult to define “the normal” and to differentiate variations, mild and harmless fantasies, sexual games and fantasy role play from paraphilia. In DSM classifications, there are still dilemmas, misinterpretations, contradictions and controversies to define paraphilias and what pathology is and what is not. There are new definitions and terminology in sexuality research, such as “Expanded Sexual Response” (ESR), “status orgasmus” “Never Ending Orgasms (Super Orgasms)”, “Deep Vaginal Erogenous Zones” (DVZ),”Sexual Pleasure Objects” (SEPOs), “Hypersexuality” “Non-genital orgasms” and “soft-non-pathological BDSM” etc. In this review novel definitions of some new notions are given and it is discussed why those sexual behaviors cannot be regarded as a pathology or paraphilia, such as “Hypersexuality” and soft-BDSM; a unified definition of paraphilias is proposed. Sometimes, ESR women are often confused with pathological hypersexuality. ESR is defined as: “being able to attain long lasting and/or prolonged and/or multiple and/or sustained orgasms and/or status orgasmus that lasted longer and more intense than the classical orgasm patterns defined in the literature”. Lately a research performed in United Kingdom revealed that the research team had discovered more than 500 women who were having more than 30 to 50 orgasms in one or two hours (see: You Tube, “Never Ending Orgasm” documentary). We have concluded in many publications that during an ESR orgasm and status orgasmus, some women can have trains of tens of orgasms in a given love making session. Women can be trained to achieve ESR orgasms and it is a learned phenomenon. Although defined recently in medical literature, the notion of ESR is as old as history, starting from the Dionysus Cult Era and Far Eastern sexual traditions descending from Early Ages and Tantra and Taoist cultures. At the turn of 21st Century, Female Orgasm is still a mystery and we only know the tip of the Orgasmic Iceberg of Females. Keywords: Sexual pleasure objects; Fantasy; Variations; Soft-BDSM; ESR; Hypersexuality; Nymphomania; Paraphilia; DSM-5; Normal; EQ; Sexual intelligence; SEPO
Article
This national web-population study from Norway (N = 4,148) assessed 1) the prevalence of BDSM and role-play interests and behaviors, 2) the socio-demographic characteristics of the BDSM-oriented participants, and 3) the associations between a) BDSM and b) role-play interests and behaviors, and sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and relationship closeness. Over one in three study participants endorsed at least one BDSM interest or behavior variable. There were no gender nor educational level differences between the BDSM-oriented participants and their traditional "vanilla" (non-BDSM-oriented) counterparts, though BDSM and interests were more common among younger and self-identified LGBQ+ participants. Sexual satisfaction was positively associated with role-play and BDSM behaviors while interest in role-play (but not having previously engaged in it) was negatively associated with this outcome. Lower relationship closeness was associated with an interest in role-play (but not having tried it). No BDSM-related variables were significantly associated with relationship closeness. The findings suggest that BDSM interests and behaviors are relatively common and are linked with sexual and relationship satisfaction.
Article
Female sexual dysfunction is both a symptom of depression and exacerbated by treatments for depression. Ketamine, a novel treatment for depression, has been shown to enhance, whereas fluoxetine has been shown to impair sexual motivation. Sexual experience leads to more robust partner preference and paced mating behavior in female rats. Whether acute ketamine and fluoxetine similarly affect sexual motivation and mating behavior in sexually experienced female rats is unknown. Sexually experienced female rats received 10 mg/kg i.p. of ketamine or saline vehicle (Experiment 1) or 10 mg/kg i.p. of fluoxetine or water vehicle (Experiment 2) 30 min before a 10-min No-Contact partner preference test followed immediately by a 15-intromission paced mating test. Partner preference and paced mating behavior did not differ between ketamine- and saline-treated rats. In contrast, rats treated with fluoxetine spent significantly less time with either stimulus animal and were less active during the partner preference test than water-treated rats. Additionally, contact-return latency to ejaculation was significantly longer in fluoxetine-treated rats and they spent less time with the male during paced mating in comparison to water-treated rats. Thus, even with sexual experience, fluoxetine disrupts sexual function whereas ketamine has no detrimental effects on sexual behavior in female rats. A growing body of evidence suggests that ketamine is an encouraging new approach to treat depression particularly because it is not associated with sexual dysfunction.
Chapter
Sexual activity has not only a wide range of emotional and social but also physical consequences.
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Kegel's theory (1952a) concerning the sexual importance of the pubococ‐cygeus muscle was combined with Singer's theory (1973) of “uterine” orgasms to produce the hypothesis that women who ejaculate at orgasm have stronger pelvic muscle contractions under voluntary control than women who do not ejaculate. The vaginal myograph and a new “uterine myograph” developed for this project were utilized to measure EMG levels in 47 women. Ejaculators were found to have significantly stronger pubococcygeal muscle contractions and significantly stronger uterine contractions than non‐ejaculators. The Grafenberg spot, an area of exceptional sexual sensitivity located in the anterior wall of the vagina, was identified in every subject. Hartman and Fithian's version (1974) of Kegel's theory of vaginal sexual sensitivity at “4 and 8 o'clock” was not supported; sexual sensitivity was focused at 12 o'clock in 90 % of the subjects. Kaplan's description (1974) of two “phases” of orgasm (in males) is expanded to account for ejaculation in both males and females. Female ejaculation is hypothesized to be a component of some women's “uterine” orgasms. The limitations and problems of research on orgasmic response are discussed.
Article
Using radioimmunoassay technique β-endorphin levels were measured in the plasma of women undergoing labour and partirition and in the plasma of their neonates. The level of immunoreactive β-endorphin in the plasma of women undergoing labour was found to be significantly elevated (mean values: 38–135 fmoles/ml) above the levels found in non-pregnant women (mean values: 5–10 fmoles/ml). After birth, the level of β-endorphin-like immunoreactivity in maternal venous plasma was significantly higher than that in the umbilical vein and artery plasma of the new-borns, but there was no arterio-venous difference in the neonatal plasma. Since the antiserum used displayed the same avidity for human β-endorphin and β-lipotropin chromatographic separation of the immunoreactive components was performed by gelfiltration. Both peptides were found in the plasma of non-pregnant women, in maternal plasma and in the plasma of the neonates. In addition, high amounts of both peptides were found in the fetal pituitary gland showing that the fetus can probably produce its own peptides.
Article
Probing against the vaginal cervix (CP) suppresses responses to noxious stimulation in rats. The first experiment rules out the possibility that this effect is due to CP-induced immobilization. All rats first learned to press a panel, thus terminating noxious skin shock. Then they either received CP (experimentals) or did not (controls) when they pressed the panel during skin shock that was inescapable. The controls soon showed extinction of the panel-press response, whereas the experimentals continued pressing the panel and obtaining CP, for significantly more trials. The rats thus performed an operant response for CP at a time before CP could have blocked their movement. The second experiment argues against the possiblity that CP exerts its effect by "distracting" the rats from the skin shock. The rats received inescapable skin shock which continued for 7 sec after each panel-press response. During this shock one group received CP, and another received perineal probing ("distraction" control). The panel-press latency was significantly shorter in the CP group than in the perineal group. Latency in a control group, in which shock was terminated as soon as the rats pressed the panel, did not differ significantly from the CP group. Latency in another control group, in which the shock persisted for 7 sec after the rats pressed the panel with no probing being applied, was not significantly different from that of the perineal-probing group but was significantly longer than latency in the CP group. Thus the present studies suggest that CP is indeed analgesic and that this effect of CP is mediated by neither movement inhibition nor distraction.
Article
The present studies extend previous findings that probing the vaginal cervix of rats blocks withdrawal reflexes and induces immobilization44. In the present studies, we report that this effect is apparently not due to an action on the final motor pathway, for limb or facial movement induced by electrical stimulation of the pyramidal tract was not suppressed by the probing. In contrast, the sensory response of neurons in the ventrobasal complex of the thalamus to noxious pinch stimulation was markedly attenuated by probing the vaginal cervix. However, the response of these neurons to gentle tactile stimulation was not attenuated, indicating a selective antinociceptive effect of the probing. The antinociceptive effect was not necessarily related to changes in arousal. These findings were supported by behavioral studies in which probing the vaginal cervix blocked vocalization in response to tail shock, and elevated the current threshold for eliciting vocalization in response to tail shock. Furthermore, during the probing, the rats were found to be capable of vocalizing in response to presumably non-noxious (lifting) stimulation, even though their vocalization response to noxious tail shock was suppresed. These studies suggest that probing the vaginal cervix rats exerts an analgesic action.
Article
The lordosis posture in female rats (elevation of the rump and head and depression of the back) is a hormone-sensitive reflexive response to tactile stimulation of the flank region. It is normally elicited by the rapid pelvic thrusting movements of the male. After the male dismounts, the female maintains the lordosis posture longer if an intromission occurred than if one did not (Kuehn and Beach, 1963; Diakow, 1974). This finding suggests that stimuli provided by genital tract stimulation facilitate the lordosis response. If the genital tract is denervated, the prolongation of lordosis resulting from intromission does not occur (Diakow, 1970). The following studies, which focus on the effect of genital tract stimulation on lordosis, demonstrate not only that genital tract stimulation (a visceral stimulus) facilitates the effect of flank stimulation (a somatic stimulus) on lordosis, but also that this facilitating effect persists for several hours after the cessation of the stimulus. In contrast to the facilitating effect, the same genital tract stimulation abolishes different skeletal reflex responses (e.g., leg withdrawal to foot pinch). Furthermore, it blocks behavioral and neurophysiological responses to painful stimulation.
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Recordings of neuronal activity in the pudendal, genitofemoral, and pelvic nerves indicate that the sensory fields of these three nerves are the perineum, the caudal abdomen, and the vagino-cervical area and rectum, respectively. The sensory field of the pudendal nerve was significantly larger in estrogen-treated ovariectomized female rats than in uninjected controls. This effect of estrogen was not mediated by pudendal efferents.