Thanks to Bitchery reader KS Augustin for the following link, which was all over the new Urban Baby alternative, YouBeMom discussion boards this weekend: according to Scientific American, which is examining the intricacies of that heavenly moment, that little death, women are emotionless during orgasm. No, seriously. Beginning with a discussion of what women find arousing as compared to men, the article reveals research findings regarding what goes on in women’s brains during orgasm. We’ve talked about the language romance novels use to describe that Big O – and I’m still, for the record, not over the whole “burst like a ripe melon” bit because omg, ew and yuck. There’s no shortage of purple prose describing orgasms: the waves, the stars, the peaks, the flying away, the exploding, the shattering, the inflation like a hot air balloon, that sound you hear when you pull a fruit roll-up from its plastic cellophane.
But according to the neuroscientists quoted in the article, orgasm from a brain scan perspective looks like complete cessation of brain function:
To find out whether orgasm looks similar in the female brain, Holstege’s team asked the male partners of 12 women to stimulate their partner’s clitoris—the site whose excitation most easily leads to orgasm—until she climaxed, again inside a PET scanner. Not surprisingly, the team reported in 2006, clitoral stimulation by itself led to activation in areas of the brain involved in receiving and perceiving sensory signals from that part of the body and in describing a body sensation—for instance, labeling it “sexual.”
But when a woman reached orgasm, something unexpected happened: much of her brain went silent…. [Neuroscientist Gert Holstege of the University of Groningen] went so far as to declare at the 2005 meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Development: “At the moment of orgasm, women do not have any emotional feelings.”
Dude. No wai. Not that you wanted to know this much about me, but there are times with the big O has made me laugh out loud, which poor Hubby is never sure how to interpret.
While the article also mentions the pharmaceutical efforts being made to restore libido in women, I’m fascinated by the idea that my brain goes quiet and I have no emotions when I soar past the highest peak to bust open a melon in the sky. Augustin, in her email, asked a very salient question: “Is intense pleasure an emotion? Is the French term for orgasm “le petit mort” actually correct, in that there is no emotion in death, as in orgasm?”
Excellent question. I’m curious what you think – and also, I am fully expecting the next round of erotic romances to focus on the orgasm zombies.