Written by Tunde Ajaja - Nigeria
Sexual intercourse can be mind-blowing. In fact, it is said to be one of the sweetest things on earth, perhaps because of the level of excitement and pleasure that comes with it.
In the build-up to the sexual act, some people tend to skip their breaths, some have faster heartbeats, quicker breathing and in certain cases, shiver or pant, depending on the level of anticipation and excitement.
But the height of this enjoyable act is orgasm. It is a super state of ecstasy, simply defined as a feeling of intense sexual pleasure and the pinnacle of sexual excitement, usually centred in the genitals, often characterised by some release of fluids in the genitals.
It is worthy of note that men often reach orgasm faster than women. For men, it is evidenced by ejaculation, which is the discharge of semen (sperm) from the body, while for women, it also comes with some vaginal discharge, but it might require nipples or clitoral stimulation or some intense thrusting before they could reach that destination. Regardless, it is the destination people having sex aspire to get to and those who manage to get there do have their confidence rekindled.
Orgasm is even more so important now that there is a National Orgasm Day, slated for July 31 every year, for the purpose of celebrating climax for men and women.
However, beyond the sexual fulfilment, orgasm has been found to offer some more benefits which are considered good for the body, according to a report on healthista.com.
Of paramount mentioning is that orgasm could make people look younger. In a survey by a British clinical psychologist, Dr. David Weeks, in which he surveyed 3,500 people, it was found that people who have more orgasms look younger than those who do not.
Weeks tied the findings to the fact that sex is a physical activity and that a vigorous sex life (accompanied by orgasms) could be said to be the second most important determinant of how young a person would look. He pointed out that sex is first of all a physical activity that offers the benefits derivable from an exercise.
According to a cosmetic dermatologist in the United Kingdom, Dr. Mervyn Patterson, orgasm also helps to have a glowing skin, regardless of the person who does the bulk of the work during the sexual activity.
He said, "The post-sex glow is a real phenomenon in about 75 per cent of women. Orgasm causes increased blood flow to the skin because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing blood vessels in the skin to open up, giving the face a glowing look.
"Over time, regular orgasms can help the carrying around of nutrients in the blood to the skin, but beyond that, in the run up to sex, the body releases loads of Dehydroepiandrosterone, an anti-ageing steroid hormone often sold in supplements and purported as the fountain of youth, which orgasm produces for the body naturally."
In another development, some researchers found that orgasm is the second activity that wholly stimulates a woman's brain. Using a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner during the sexual activity, the researchers found that certain parts of the brain that ordinarily would not have been active came alive during orgasm. Thus, it boosts brain power.
They explained that the surge would start from the sensory cortex, an area related to the genitals, through the limbic system and to the hypothalamus, which would release the powerful, bonding hormone, oxytocin (which has been found to relieve pain from body aches and enhance bonding).
Meanwhile, a New York-based neurologist, Dr. David Linden, found (through the scanning of men and women's brains) that the pleasure derivable from orgasm could be likened to that of winning large sum of money, drinking alcohol and taking cocaine.
He said, "There is a pleasure circuit in the brain activated by orgasm. The result is a surge in the feel-good reward chemical dopamine in the brain, the same chemical active in drug users. 'It's the reason sex and orgasm can become so addictive."
Also, a study had found that the more men reach orgasm, the less likely they are to have prostate cancer, noting that men who ejaculate more often, like 21 times a month, are 22 per cent less likely to have the disease.
The explanation given by the researchers was that orgasm tends to rid the prostate (in men) of cancer-causing chemicals, and that if sperm is released from time to time, it would erase the chance of old cells turning cancerous.
Furthermore, orgasm helps to tackle people's inability to sleep just as sleep has been found to come knocking after reaching orgasm because the brain becomes flooded with sleep-inducing chemicals such as oxytocin, serotonin and prolactin. This is more applicable to men than women.
While some studies have argued that semen, the fluid released when men ejaculate, has some anti-depressants, another claimed that it boosts the immune system. A study actually found that women who had flesh-to-flesh sex during which the man ejaculated were found to have lesser symptoms of depression, compared to women who used condom or abstained from sex.
The researchers explained that sperm has some hormones, like prostaglandins, which when absorbed into the woman's bloodstream, have an antidepressant effect.
In the same vein, a British scientist, Dr. Lisa Turner, argued that orgasm helps to guard against heart attack, adding that people who have orgasms feel better and confident about themselves.
For couples who are still battling to reach orgasm, simple things, as pointed out by some studies, that could help reach that destination include having a bath together, undressing each other, kissing, massaging, sharing sexual preferences with each other and exploring each other's bodies.