The female orgasm explained

In case you missed it: This was one of Lifestyle's most popular stories of 2016
In an extensive review of sex studies, researchers concluded the female orgasm is not so elusive once a woman knows what turns her on. Photo / Getty
In an extensive review of sex studies, researchers concluded the female orgasm is not so elusive once a woman knows what turns her on. Photo / Getty

The female orgasm has long been a source of fascination.

For more than a century researchers have focused on two things: the vagina and the clitoris.

Some say a woman can climax with vaginal stimulation alone. Many say the clitoris has to be involved.

However, a new study calls to expand our understanding of how a woman can be aroused.

In an extensive review of sex studies, researchers at Concordia concluded the female orgasm is not so elusive once a woman knows what turns her on.

With the right kind of touch and rhythm, a woman can experience orgasms from the clitoral, the G-spot, the cervix - and even non-genital areas such as the lips, nipples, ears, neck, fingers and toes.

It is particular to each individual woman.

But partners should not get complacent once they have found "the formula", the researchers warn.

While a man's erotic body map does not change, a woman's "trigger zones" are constantly evolving over time.

Different partners, settings, sounds, and experiences also play a significant role in laying the foundations as a woman builds up to a climax.

"Unlike men, women can have a remarkable variety of orgasmic experiences, which evolve throughout the lifespan," said senior author Jim Pfaus, a psychology professor.

"A woman's erotic body map is not etched in stone, but rather is an ongoing process of experience, discovery and construction."

Pfaus was working with Concordia graduate students Gonzalo Quintana Zunino and

Conall Mac Cionnaith, as well as Mayte Parada from McGill University.

Together, they analyzed how the clitoris-vagina stimulation debate has developed since the Victorian times.

Fundamentally, they dismissed the idea that there is one set region for stimulation, and one set formula of how to arouse a woman.

How an orgasm affects the brain

Dr Adam Safron of Northwestern University has mapped how rhythmic stimulation alters brain activity.

In a nutshell, sexual stimulation focuses our neurons in such a way that we are sent into a trance, blocking out everything else and concentrating solely, intensely on the sensation alone.

We lose our usual self-awareness and consciousness of other noises, feelings, and smells around us.

No other natural stimulation could recreate this level of concentration.

Stimulating nerves in a particular way at a particular speed over and over again focuses our neurons.

They begin to synchronize their activity. This focusing process is called neural entrainment.

Eventually, if stimulation continues long enough, this synchronization can spread throughout the brain making us more focused than ever.

This may be crucial for allowing for a sufficient intensity of experience to trigger the mechanisms of climax.

- Daily Mail

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