08 February, 2008

Why do orgasms feel good?

There are some natural phenomena whose wonder only deepens upon scientific investigation.

Take the orgasm. Scientists know it involves muscle contractions. They know it makes your pupils expand, and heart rate and blood pressure surge.

But why do orgasms feel good?

I was surprised to find that this is still something of a scientific mystery - though one that a few intrepid researchers are just starting to unravel.

"Really and truly, people don't know," says Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research and coauthor of Becoming Orgasmic.

Right now, says Heiman, there's a big debate over how the female orgasm evolved. Researchers would also like to know just how different the female kind is from the male.

"Why is it easier for women to have multiple orgasms than it is for men?" Heiman asks. "How does it interact with attachment issues?"

There are lots of other questions, she says, but oddly, in our supposedly sex-obsessed society, it's nearly impossible to get funding for sex research.

Another complication: The orgasm question touches on some profound mysteries about how feelings and consciousness can emerge from the brain.

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