Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Male Orgasm

Although an orgasm results in “rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region” and other physical effects, the orgasm itself takes place in the nervous system.  As many young people discover for themselves, it is possible to fantasize oneself into an orgasm with no physical stimulation at all, and people with spinal injuries who have no sensation below the waist can still have orgasms.

Sometimes this is generalized to “orgasms happen in the brain,” but that’s not quite accurate. The parts of the brain involved in orgasms are richly connected to sensory nerves that extend throughout the body, and there is no neat barrier that says we “think” with the nerve cells in our brains and “feel” with the nerve cells in our bodies. In fact, they are all one system, and we think and feel with all of them, in a highly interdependent fashion. Just as there is a large and growing body of research that shows that we think with our bodies as well as with our brains, there is a great deal of research that demonstrates just how much we sense the world around us with our brains as well as our bodies.

However, there are two kernels of truth in the phrase “orgasms happen in the brain.” The first is that the sensory stimulus for the orgasm can be supplied by nerves located anywhere in the body, or indeed by memories or by the imagination.  And the second is that the discharge of sexual tension is triggered within the brain, even if we associate the pleasure it creates with the muscle contractions that happen in the pelvic area at the same time. This is especially important in understanding the distinction between the male orgasm and ejaculation.

Orgasm and Ejaculation

As arousal builds toward climax, one of the last precursors in the male is often the contraction of the scrotum, bringing the testicles firmly up against the base of the penis.  Several drops of clear fluid may also appear at the tip of the penis.

The male orgasm itself begins with a cascade of electrical activity that spreads rapidly through the whole brain.  After 1 to 3 seconds, this normally triggers a signal down the spinal column to the pudendal nerves in the pelvic area that cause a series of pulses, beginning at the anal sphincter and traveling to the tip of the penis, that increase in speed and intensity.  As these reach a peak, they are usually accompanied by:
  • Contraction of the urethral sphincter, closing the urethra off from the bladder
  • Contractions of the prostate, seminal vesicles, and other glands, which force semen into the urethra
  • Contractions of the bulbospongiosus muscle, which expel the semen from the urethra
The bulbospongiosus muscle is one of the so-called PC muscles. It wraps around the base of the penis, including the internal part of the penis. It squeezes the last urine out of the urethra after urination and plays a role in creating and maintaining an erection. During the male orgasm and ejaculation, signals from the perineal nerve (a branch of the pudendal nerve) cause this muscle to contract repeatedly, forcing the semen down and out of the urethra.

The ejaculation process itself usually takes 3 to 10 seconds, and the male orgasm typically lasts 10 to 15 seconds, but it can last longer, particularly after extended arousal, as most Tantric men can attest.

[Note:  For a much more detailed look, see Understanding the Male Orgasm.]

Myths About the Male Orgasm

The conventional wisdom about the male orgasm is that it is comparatively simple and straightforward, and that:
  • It requires an erection.
  • It always involves ejaculation.
  • It is always followed by a “refractory period” during which erections and orgasms are impossible.
The first point is false. Most men with erectile dysfunction can still have orgasms with no erection or only a partial erection. And many men can have an orgasm with ejaculation and then have one or more additional orgasms with only a partial erection.

The second point is also false. Boys can have orgasms before they are old enough to ejaculate, and some men retain (and most can relearn) the ability to have an orgasm without ejaculation. Hartman and Fithian recorded 33 men – more than 14% of their adult male subjects – who demonstrated in the lab that they could consistently choose to have orgasms without ejaculation.

The third point is false as well. As several of the Tantric men I interviewed pointed out, pre-ejaculatory boys can be just as multi-orgasmic as girls.  They don’t automatically lose their erections after an orgasm, and they can have many orgasms in a row without long delays or “refractory periods.”

A very small number of men also have the natural ability to have multiple ejaculatory orgasms in a row, without any loss of erection.  More importantly, many men can learn to have orgasms without ejaculating, which allows them to maintain their erections and have additional orgasms without a refractory period.  (I will describe how to learn to do this in some later posts.)

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