Healthy Living

The Big 'O': 10 Facts About Orgasms That Will Blow Your Mind

Orgasm facts
Stimulate your brain with these 10 offbeat facts about the big “O” — from orgasmic tooth-brushing sessions to orgasms after death — that will make your jaw drop. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The few seconds of pleasure in an orgasm let you and your partner know you’re both doing something right in between the sheets, even if short-lived. Although there is a plethora of information available on hitting the G-spot and the O-spot to reach sacred sexual bliss, there are things about the holy grail of sex, the big “O,” you probably don’t know. From climaxing after death to pig pleasure, Mary Roach, author of Bonk and science journalist, gives a lecture at TED Talks series presenting stimulating facts about orgasms that will blow your mind.

1. A Fetus Can Masturbate In Utero

Masturbation for men can begin as early as in the womb. Although babies of both sexes are known to masturbate in utero, boys are the only ones who can be caught while aroused via ultrasound. In a paper published in the Journal of Ultrasound Medicine, researchers found “The hand [of a fetus] grasping the penis in a fashion resembling masturbation movements."

2. You Don’t Need Genitals

Despite popular belief, you don’t need your genitals to reach an orgasm. People with spinal cord injuries, like paraplegias and quadriplegias, will typically develop a very, very sensitive area right about the level of their injury, says Roach, since an orgasm is a reflex of the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that deals with things we don’t consciously control. Digestion, heart rate, and sexual arousal are reflexes of the autonomic nervous system.

Roach uses the example of a woman who had an orgasm every time she brushed her teeth. This indicated there was something in the complex sensory-motor action of brushing her teeth that was triggering an orgasm. In the journal paper of the study, the researchers wrote: "She believed that she was possessed by demons and switched to mouthwash for her oral care."

3. You Can Have Them When You’re Dead

Science can agree there is orgasm after death. Spinal reflexes can be triggered in dead people, a certain kind of dead person, however: a beating-heart cadaver. This is someone who is brain-dead, or legally dead, but they’re being kept alive on a respirator so that their organs will be oxygenated for transplantation. If you trigger the right spot, you will notice a reflex called the Lazarus reflex. “Yes, if the sacral nerve is being oxygenated, you conceivably could,” Stephanie Mann, brain death expert, told Roach, regarding whether you can conceivably trigger an orgasm in a dead person.

4. They Can Cause Bad Breath

A slight seminal odor can be detected on the breath of a woman within about an hour after sexual intercourse, according to Theodoor van de Velde, a 1930s marriage manual author. Van de Velde wrote in his book, “Ideal Marriage,” you could differentiate between the semen of a young man, which has a fresh, exhilarating smell, and the semen of a mature man, which has a freshly floral scent. The marriage author wrote, "Remarkably like that of the flowers of the Spanish chestnut. Sometimes quite freshly floral, and then again sometimes extremely pungent,” is the distinct scent of a mature man’s semen.

5. They Can Cure Hiccups

A man in Israel was found to have a severe case of the hiccups, until he had sex with his wife and it went away. In a case report published by his doctor in a Canadian medical journal, the article suggests that unattached hiccupers try masturbation. It is not exactly known why sex helped cure the man’s hiccups.

6. Doctors Once Prescribed Them For Fertility

In the 1900s, gynecologists adopted an “upsuck” theory, which involves a woman’s contractions and a man’s semen. When a woman has an orgasm, the gynecologists believed the contractions served to suck the semen up through the cervix and sort of deliver it really quickly to the egg, thereby increasing the odds of conception. In the 1950s, researchers identified as Masters and Johnson tested the upsuck theory in a lab with women with cervical caps containing artificial semen. They found no evidence of the upsuck theory via an X-ray device.

7. Pig Farmers Still Do Use Them For Fertility

The Danish National Committee for Pig Production found farmers would witness a six percent increase in the farrowing rate — the number of pigs produced — if they helped the female pigs have an orgasm via sow vibrator while inseminating them. Pigs, like dogs, tend to use the upper half of their face, and the ears to express pain or pleasure.

8. Animals Orgasm More Than We Think They Do

Since animals don’t tend to register pain or pleasure on their faces the same way humans do when they reach orgasm, we are unable to tell when they are experiencing sexual arousal. As primates, we use our mouths more. Roach describes this as the “ejaculation face of the stump-tailed macaque.” Interestingly, she notes, this face has been observed in female macaques, but only when they’re mounting another female.

9. Artificial Coition Machine Developed To Study Female Orgasms

To figure out the entire human sexual response cycle, Masters and Johnson developed the artificial coition machine, a penis camera on a motor. This contained a clear acrylic phallus with a camera and a light source attached to a motor, and the women would have sex with it. The device has been dismantled after the Masters and Johnson study in the 1950s.

10. Kinsey Study Has Been Conducted To Measure Distance Semen Can Shoot

In an effort to calculate the average distance traveled by ejaculated semen, Dr. Alfred Kinsey got 300 men in his lab with a measuring tape and a movie camera to see whether the force with which semen is thrown against the cervix was a factor in fertility. The semen of three-quarters of the men just slopped out. However, Roach acknowledges, the record holder landed just shy of the 8-foot mark.

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