The famous surrealist Salvador Dali claimed to have had his first orgasm while he was scrambling up a tree. He also claimed to have fallen in love with the tree. Most people think he shouldn’t have been trusted, but actually Dali was on to something with this statement, and it all has to with what happens when we experience an orgasm.

Whatever you may call it, having an orgasm is not something the average person would turn down. Phrases and words such as “getting it off”, “coming”, and “climaxing” are just some used to describe an orgasm. Some people say “oh my God” and others use their partner’s name (get it right or you’ll be in trouble) as they reach orgasm. Either way, whatever you’re style, an orgasm is unique to each of us as our own personal way of expressing and experiencing pleasure.

We usually spend quite a while enjoying the desire and arousal part of a sexual experience, and all for the briefest phase of sexual response… but O, is it worth it! Men and women have a similar experience when they orgasm in that we both experience rhythmic muscular contractions of about 0.8 seconds, 3-10 times. Generally, the difference comes in that men ejaculate whereas only some women do, and a woman’s orgasm lasts a lot longer than a man’s. Generally men need a break after an orgasm (known as the refractory period) yet most women can have multiple orgasm (lucky aren’t we). Hollywood seems to have created this perception that women orgasm in a minute while making a lot of noise and that men can keep going all night. Sure, this may be true for some people out there but is not the general status quo. So what exactly is going on when we orgasm and what it is about this experience that we all seek out from a sexual experience?

 It’s chemistry

When we experience an orgasm, either by ourselves or with a partner, our brain releases a multitude of hormones and chemicals that contribute to the warm, fuzzy feeling we get post-O.

  • Endorphins – a neurotransmitter, that when released by our brains, makes us feel much happier by blocking pain and increasing the sensation of pleasure.
  • Immunoglobulin – this is increased by an orgasm and helps boost our immune systems to stop us from getting sick.
  • DHEA – a hormone that is associated with improved aging, decreasing the risk of cancer, and increasing sexual performance.
  • Oxytocin – this hormone is responsible for washing away our stress and increasing the bond we feel with another person (this, coupled with endorphins, means we are overall happier people. It was even found in a recent study that people who masturbate are less depressed).
  • Dopamine – this chemical increases pleasure and our motivation to repeat a behavior.

Furthermore, an orgasm has the following positive effects on our health:

  • In men, ejaculating ‘cleans the tubes’ if you will, lowering the risk of prostate cancer, as well as reducing a man’s chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
  • An orgasm releases a chemical that makes us want to sleep and helps us sleep better… just one of the reasons why people often masturbate or have sex before bed.
  • Orgasms relieve pain – period pain, sore muscles, headaches etc. (and yes, having sex is actually good for your headache so try not to use this as an excuse to not have sex)!
  • Sex and an orgasm get the heart rate up and drop your blood pressure, like any form of exercise, and as we all know exercise is good for you! So if the gym isn’t your thing, make sure you’re having lots of sex!