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Nocturnal orgasms: Females' perceptions of a ''normal'' sexual experience

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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to provide data concerning a sparsely studied topic in the field of human sexuality: Female nocturnal orgasms. The study utilized a series of self-report questionnaires completed by 245 female undergraduate and graduate students. No support was provided for the hypothesis that nocturnal orgasms and anxiety in females are related. Nocturnal orgasm experience was related to experiencing orgasms by other means, but not to virginity or sexual satisfaction. Among this sample, the circum stances under which nocturnal orgasms occur varied widely, and nocturnal orgasms were not common knowledge nor overwhelm ingly accepted. The major conclusion from the study is that female nocturnal orgasms are not a deviant form of behavior and are deserving of further study.

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... The clitoris and vagina (especially the anterior wall, including Halban's fascia and urethra) are the most common sites of stimulation, but stimulation of the periurethral glands [5], breast / nipple [3], mental imagery or fantasy [3], [6] or hypnosis [7] to induce orgasm. Orgasms have been observed to occur during sleep [2], [8], [9], so consciousness is not an absolute requirement. Cases of "spontaneous orgasm" have occasionally been described in the psychiatric literature in which no obvious sexual stimulus can be found [10]. ...
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Objectives: This paper addresses the disorder of orgasm in women, from an integrative-strategic point of view. Through this paper we summarize the impact of various aspects of individual life on sexuality, taking into account a multitude of variables related to self and self-construction, such as biological, behavioral, cognitive, existential, emotional, spiritual or psychodynamic. We are specifically interested in whether certain aspects of the individual's life affect sexual dysfunction. Method: The case study presents the case of a patient who requested psychotherapy stating that she does not have an orgasm. The psychotherapeutic model used was the integrative-strategic one, structured on the six psychological axes, in the approach of each axis specific therapeutic interventions learned in the training of the psychotherapist at the Association for Research, Counseling and Integrative Psychotherapy were applied. The working period was from August 2020 to December 2021. Results: The orgasm disorder may persist, being affected by the couple's life, family history, parental patterns, body image, self-esteem and various coping mechanisms. Conclusions: It is necessary to have several approaches and the continuation of psychotherapy, both individually and as a couple, in order to observe favorable results in disturbing the patient's orgasm.
... Ellis (1905) speculated that "involuntary sexual orgasm during sleep" could occur as a consequence of experiencing sexual excitation, but not orgasm, from activities such as using sewing machines (for women) or cycling (for men). Other scholars have indicated that sleep orgasm experience may be related to experiencing orgasms by other means, suggesting that the experience of sleep orgasm is positively correlated with the ease of orgasm during intercourse or other kinds of sexual stimulation (Kinsey et al., 1953;Wells, 1983). We were interested in possible connections between sleep orgasms and EIO as those who experience EIO have often described exercise orgasms as spontaneous, involuntary, surprising -in that way, similar to sleep orgasms (e.g., Herbenick & Fortenberry, 2011;Herbenick et al., 2018;Kinsey et al., 1948Kinsey et al., , 1953. ...
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Prior research has described women’s experiences with exercise-induced orgasm (EIO). However, little is known about men’s experiences with EIO, the population prevalence of EIO, or the association of EIO with other kinds of orgasm. Using U.S. probability survey data, the objectives of the present research were to: (1) describe the lifetime prevalence of exercise-induced orgasm (EIO) and sleep orgasm; (2) assess respondents’ age at first experience of EIO as well as the type of exercise connected with their first EIO; (3) examine associations between lifetime EIO experience and orgasm at respondents’ most recent partnered sexual event; and (4) examine associations between lifetime EIO experience and sleep orgasms. Data were from the 2014 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (1012 men and 1083 women, ages 14 years and older). About 9% of respondents reported having ever experienced exercise-induced orgasm. More men than women reported having experienced orgasm during sleep at least once in their lifetime (66.3% men, 41.8% women). The mean age for women’s first EIO was significantly older than men (22.8 years women, 16.8 years men). Respondents described a wide range of exercises as associated with their first EIO (i.e., climbing ropes, abdominal exercise, yoga). Lifetime EIO experience was associated with lifetime sleep orgasms but not with event-level orgasm during partnered sex. Implications related to understanding orgasm and recommendations for clinicians and sex educators are discussed.
... Despite the variety of factors that can inhibit orgasm, the ability to experience orgasm should never be ruled out pre-emptively. The literature describes women who can experience orgasm during sleep, 254,255 through non-genital stimulation, through fantasy alone, 256 and through cervical stimulation. 257 Reports of women who retain the ability to reach orgasm after spinal cord injury 258 and clitoridectomy 259,260 illustrate how resilient this function can be even in the face of substantial physiologic or anatomic changes. ...
Article
Introduction: Since the millennium we have witnessed significant strides in the science and treatment of female sexual dysfunction (FSD). This forward progress has included (i) the development of new theoretical models to describe healthy and dysfunctional sexual responses in women; (ii) alternative classification strategies of female sexual disorders; (iii) major advances in brain, hormonal, psychological, and interpersonal research focusing on etiologic factors and treatment approaches; (iv) strong and effective public advocacy for FSD; and (v) greater educational awareness of the impact of FSD on the woman and her partner. Aims: To review the literature and describe the best practices for assessing and treating women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, and female orgasmic disorders. Methods: The committee undertook a comprehensive review of the literature and discussion among themselves to determine the best assessment and treatment methods. Results: Using a biopsychosocial lens, the committee presents recommendations (with levels of evidence) for assessment and treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder, female sexual arousal disorder, and female orgasmic disorders. Conclusion: The numerous significant strides in FSD that have occurred since the previous International Consultation of Sexual Medicine publications are reviewed in this article. Although evidence supports an integrated biopsychosocial approach to assessment and treatment of these disorders, the biological and psychological factors are artificially separated for review purposes. We recognize that best outcomes are achieved when all relevant factors are identified and addressed by the clinician and patient working together in concert (the sum is greater than the whole of its parts). Kingsberg SA, Althof S, Simon JA, et al. Female Sexual Dysfunction-Medical and Psychological Treatments, Committee 14. J Sex Med 2017;14:1463-1491.
... Women are able to attain orgasm through a variety of methods, most commonly direct clitoral and vaginal stimulation but also and not infrequently reported through breast/nipple stimulation, mental imagery, fantasy and hypnosis, and may occur during rapid eye movement sleep. 49,50 Brain changes with orgasm have been documented via functional MRI and PET, demonstrating increased activation in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, periaqueductal gray region of the midbrain, hippocampus, and cerebellum in women with spinal-cord injury. 51 Genetic factors have been associated with the ability to achieve orgasm during intercourse and masturbation with a hereditability of 34% and 45%, respectively. ...
Article
Female sexual dysfunction can drastically diminish quality of life for many women. It is estimated that in the United States 40% of women have sexual complaints. These conditions are frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated. Terminology and classification systems of female sexual dysfunction can be confusing and complicated, which hampers the process of clinical diagnosis, making accurate diagnosis difficult. There are few treatment options available for female sexual dysfunctions, however, some interventions may be of benefit and are described. Additional treatments are in development. The development of clear clinical categories and diagnostic guidelines for female sexual dysfunction are of utmost importance and can be of great benefit for clinical and public health uses and disease-related research.
... Orgasm does not require consciousness as it can occur during sleep (Wells, 1983) nor does it necessarily require consensual sexual arousal (Levin and van Berlo, 2004). Unlike men, women can experience multiple serial orgasms and unlike the saying that 'nothing is as good as the first time', subsequent orgasms after their first can often be of greater pleasure (Masters and Johnson, 1966;Levin, 2009). ...
Article
The female orgasm has been examined over the years by numerous scientific disciplines yet it still has many secrets to be disclosed. Because its physiology, especially its neurophysiology, is sparingly understood its pharmacology is necessarily limited based mainly on the side effects of drugs. Few published studies have used a placebo group as controls. The paucity of focussed studies is well illustrated by the fact that there still is no approved medication to treat female orgasmic dysfunction. The present brief overview examines the mostimportant aspects of its biology and especially its physiology highlighting the many questions that need answering if we are to have a comprehensive pharmacology of the female orgasm.
... Similarly, men's nocturnal erections (Kinsey et al., 1948) are usually associated with REM sleep (Hirshkowitz & Moore, 1996). The induced sexual arousal can generate spontaneous orgasms in females (Kinsey et al., 1948;Kinsey Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953;Wells, 1986) and orgasm and ejaculation (socalled "wet dreams") in males (Kinsey et al., 1948). Suggested functions of this sexual activity during sleep range from releasing pressures from accessory glands (especially in males) to acting as a "compensatory" function for abstinence or reduced sexual outlet. ...
Article
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Reinterprets studies on the physiology of human female sexual arousal (SA) previously reviewed by R. J. Levin (1980; 1983; 1991; see also PA, Vol 67:3016). It is argued that advances have slowed considerably since the burst of activity between the late 1970s and 1980s. The reasons are those that have bedeviled serious studies of human SA and orgasm, namely (1) strong taboo and hostility against the laboratory study of human genital function during SA, (2) the lack of support for such studies, and (3) the lack of an appropriate animal model. Additional topics discussed include genital changes during SA, measuring hemodynamic changes in the genitalia in the assessment of SA, and the relevance of specific genital structures to orgasm. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
... The clitoris and vagina are the most usual sites of stimulation, but stimulation of the periurethral glans, breast/nipple or mons, mental-imagery or fantasy or hypnosis have also been reported to induce orgasm [1][2][3][4]. Orgasms have been noted to occur during sleep in the able-bodied, hence consciousness is not an absolute requirement [5][6][7]. Rare cases of so-called true "spontaneous orgasm" have been described in the psychiatric literature where no obvious sexual stimulus can be ascertained [8]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Orgasm is a sensation of intense pleasure creating an altered consciousness state accompanied by pelvic striated circumvaginal musculature and uterine/anal contractions and myotonia that resolves sexually-induced vasocongestion and induces well-being/contentment. In 1,749 randomly-sampled U.S. women, 24% reported an orgasmic dysfunction. To provide recommendations/guidelines concerning state-of-the-art knowledge for management of orgasmic disorders in women. An International Consultation in collaboration with the major urology and sexual medicine associations assembled over 200 multidisciplinary experts from 60 countries into 17 committees. Committee members established specific objectives and scopes for various male and female sexual medicine topics. The recommendations concerning state-of-the-art knowledge in the respective sexual medicine topic represent the opinion of experts from five continents developed in a process over a 2-year period. Concerning the Disorders of Orgasm in Women Committee, there were four experts from two countries. Expert opinion was based on grading of evidence-based medical literature, widespread internal committee discussion, public presentation and debate. Female Orgasmic Disorder, the second most frequently reported women's sexual problem is considered to be the persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm following a normal sexual excitement phase that causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty (DSM-IV). Empirical treatment outcome research is available for cognitive behavioral and pharmacological approaches. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anorgasmia promotes attitude and sexually-relevant thought changes and anxiety reduction using behavioral exercises such as directed masturbation, sensate focus, and systematic desensitization treatments as well as sex education, communication skills training, and Kegel exercises. To date there are no pharmacological agents trials (i.e., bupropion, granisetron, and sildenafil) proven to be beneficial beyond placebo in enhancing orgasmic function in women diagnosed with Female Orgasmic Disorder. More research is needed in understanding management of women with orgasmic dysfunction.
... Similarly, men's nocturnal erections (Kinsey et al., 1948) are usually associated with REM sleep (Hirshkowitz & Moore, 1996). The induced sexual arousal can generate spontaneous orgasms in females (Kinsey et al., 1948;Kinsey Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953;Wells, 1986) and orgasm and ejaculation (socalled "wet dreams") in males (Kinsey et al., 1948). Suggested funct i o n s of t h i s s e x u a l a c t i v i t y d u r i n g sleep r a n g e from r e l e a s i n g pressures from accessory glands (especially in males) to acting as a "compensatory" function for abstinence or reduced sexual outlet. ...
Article
The review examines the physiological roles of human sexual arousal in the mechanisms of reproduction in males and especially in females.
... Orgasms have been noted to occur during sleep in the able-bodied [31,[81][82], hence consciousness is not an absolute requirement. Rare cases of so-called true "spontaneous orgasm" have been described in the psychiatric literature where no obvious sexual stimulus can be ascertained [83] and which are different from the not uncommon "hyperesthesia sexualis" (orgasm following an extremely variable group of tactile, visual, auditory stimuli). ...
Article
Full-text available
An orgasm in the human female is a variable, transient peak sensation of intense pleasure, creating an altered state of consciousness, usually with an initiation accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic striated circumvaginal musculature, often with concomitant uterine and anal contractions, and myotonia that resolves the sexually induced vasocongestion and myotonia, generally with an induction of well-being and contentment. Women's orgasms can be induced by erotic stimulation of a variety of genital and nongenital sites. As of yet, no definitive explanations for what triggers orgasm have emerged. Studies of brain imaging indicate increased activation at orgasm, compared to pre-orgasm, in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, periaqueductal gray of the midbrain, hippocampus, and the cerebellum. Psychosocial factors commonly discussed in relation to female orgasmic ability include age, education, social class, religion, personality, and relationship issues. Findings from surveys and clinical reports suggest that orgasm problems are the second most frequently reported sexual problems in women. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anorgasmia focuses on promoting changes in attitudes and sexually relevant thoughts, decreasing anxiety, and increasing orgasmic ability and satisfaction. To date there are no pharmacological agents proven to be beneficial beyond placebo in enhancing orgasmic function in women.
Article
Female sexual dysfunction can drastically diminish quality of life for many women. It is estimated that in the United States 40% of women have sexual complaints. These conditions are frequently underdiagnosed and undertreated. Terminology and classification systems of female sexual dysfunction can be confusing and complicated, which hampers the process of clinical diagnosis, making accurate diagnosis difficult. There are few treatment options available for female sexual dysfunctions, however, some interventions may be of benefit and are described. Additional treatments are in development. The development of clear clinical categories and diagnostic guidelines for female sexual dysfunction are of utmost importance and can be of great benefit for clinical and public health uses and disease-related research.
Article
Orgasm frequently occurs from sexual and/or genital stimulation but has been documented outside these contexts and may be better conceptualized as a set of neuropsychological processes. Objective: To document a range of orgasm experiences. Methods: A content analysis of 687 anonymously posted online comments related to nonsexual orgasms. Results: Orgasm types include those related to exercise, sleep, drug use, riding in vehicles, breastfeeding, eating, auditory stimulation, and childbirth, among others. Conclusions: Orgasm is experienced in association with varied forms of sensory stimulation. This study provides information about the diversity of human orgasm, informing sex education, therapy, and practice.
Article
Variables predicting the reported occurrence and frequency of nocturnal orgasms among women are reported. Undergraduate and graduate women (N = 245) from a large midwestern university volunteered to complete nine self‐report scales and inventories. Thirty‐seven percent of the sample reported they had experienced nocturnal orgasm, and 30% reported having had the experience in the past year. The predictors accounted for a statistically significant amount of variation in each of the dependent variables: 33% of “ever experienced nocturnal orgasm,” 44% of “experienced nocturnal orgasm in the past year,” and 27% in the case of “frequency of nocturnal orgasm in the past year.” Positive attitudes toward and knowledge of nocturnal orgasms, sexual liberalism, and waking sexually excited from sleep (without experiencing orgasm) were the most important predictors of nocturnal orgasm experience. The reported incidence of nocturnal orgasms in this sample is higher than in comparative samples of previous studies.
Article
This critical review presents a synthesis of the available theoretical and empirical literatures on human orgasm. Findings from both normal and clinical human populations are included. Two major trends in the literature, the dichotomization of biological and psychological perspectives and the assumption of gender differences, are highlighted. A new multidimensional model of the psychological experience of orgasm is described with a view to futhering a biopsychological approach applicable to both sexes. Clinical applications of this new model are discussed.
Article
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The review examines whether unsolicited or non-consensual sexual stimulation of either females or males can lead to unwanted sexual arousal or even to orgasm. The conclusion is that such scenarios can occur and that the induction of arousal and orgasm does not indicate that the subjects consented to the stimulation. A perpetrator's defence simply built upon the fact that evidence of genital arousal or orgasm proves consent has no intrinsic validity and should be disregarded.
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