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BERLIN – Inner tension mounts. Heart rate increases, breathing is faster, small body hairs stand on end. Sudden muscle contractions, spasms, indescribable feelings of pleasure: an orgasm, over relatively quickly for men but sometimes lasting up to 30 seconds for women.
Along with intense feelings of release following an orgasm, come feelings of happiness and blissful exhaustion. Some couples laugh with joy, and this is the moment for whispering, “I love you.”
The main reason this sexual experience is sought over and over again is that it is such fun.
And as far as men go it serves a clear-cut purpose: as American neuro-psychiatrist Louann Brizendine writes in her book The Female Brain, the more often a man sows his seed, the greater the chance of passing down his genes to future generations.
So why is there such a thing as a female orgasm? Women can after all conceive without one. Gynecologist Johannes Huber, a specialist in reproductive medicine speaking at a conference on sexuality in Salzburg, says that female orgasm is helpful to conception. With researchers at the University of Vienna, he has shown that female orgasms lead to the release of high amounts of the neurotransmitter oxytocin.
Getting these results “wasn’t so easy,” he explains. “The molecule has a half life period of only a few minutes. So within a two-minute time frame we needed to take blood from a post-orgasmic female subject and centrifuge and deep-freeze it to get reliable measurement results.” In doing so, the researchers were able to establish what role oxytocin plays with regard to orgasm.
For one thing, the neurotransmitter effects muscle contractibility on the pelvic floor. For another, large amounts of oxytocin increase concentration of the luteinizing hormone (LH) that causes ovulation. “When a woman near ovulation has an orgasm it triggers ovulation. So female orgasm is helpful to conception,” Dr. Huber says.