What science knows — and doesn’t — about orgasm.
Orgasms are an autonomic reflex — part of the nervous system responsible for behaviors we don’t consciously control, explains science writer Mary Roach (TED Talk: 10 things you didn’t know about orgasm). Yet unlike other reflexes, the anatomy of orgasm is still controversial terrain. To learn about more coital curiosities, read the list below and watch this TED Talks playlist about sex.
G marks the spot
Named after gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, the G-spot remains surprisingly elusive in scientific research, although many women can verify its existence. Some researchers argue that this erogenous zone is linked to the urethral sponge and the female prostate, while others uphold that the G-spot is a female human anatomy myth. Read more about the debate.
What science didn’t know about male anatomy
There are some basic facts about the human body that science is still figuring out. For example, how does the male erection work? Biologist Diane Kelly explains in her TED Talk: What we didn’t know about penis anatomy.
A fluid debate
Scientists also don’t agree on whether human female ejaculation is a real thing. Some researchers claim that the fluid secreted by Skene’s glands, located in the front of the vaginal wall, is merely diluted urine.
Another reason to exercise
A 2011 study out of Indiana University found that some women orgasm when they work out. These exercise-induced orgasms, a.k.a. EIOs, were triggered most often by abdominal exercises, but also by climbing a pole or rope or by lifting weights. “Self-consciousness during exercise was commonly reported by women in the EIO group,” the study authors write in their abstract. “However, sexual thoughts or fantasy related to EIO were only rarely reported.” The mechanism might trace to the fact that pelvic and ab exercises put pressure on the clitoris, as a Popular Science article explains, and/or that working out increases blood flow to the vagina. Like many of these non-genitally triggered orgasms, women appear to experience them more often than men.
The eyebrow stroke
Sex researcher Alfred Kinsey once interviewed a woman “who could be brought to orgasm by having someone stroke her eyebrow,” says Roach in her talk. In Bonk, she elaborates, explaining that “presumably other body parts had been stroked or blown just prior,” such that the eyebrow-stroking “merely, as Kinsey put it, ‘provided the additional impetus which is necessary to carry the individual on to orgasm.’”
Featured image via iStock.