The health benefits of orgasms aren't all that well known, in large part because big, controlled studies haven't been done (researchers aren't usually willing to ask subjects to masturbate while being monitored). For most of the existing studies, scientists either ask participants to report their orgasmic history – not always the most dependable data – or find subjects willing to orgasm in a controlled lab environment. Because of this, much of the information that's out there about what happens to our bodies during and after sex is still fairly preliminary.
But what data we do have strongly suggests that orgasm are very good for us. "The bottom line is that orgasms are probably better for your health than they are worse for your health," says Barry R. Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University who specializes in behavioral neuroscience and sexual health. Here's a close look at the orgasm – and how it impacts our health.
In his research, Komisaruk has used a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI) to monitor what happens in the brain during climax. "What we see is a very widespread increase in the functional brain activity at orgasm," says Komisaruk. "So, if there's an overall increase in blood flow and oxygen utilization that is probably good for the brain." The blood flow reactions Komisaruk observed indicate that orgasms bring extra nutrients and oxygen to the brain. The mental exercises some people do to train their brains are often intended to increase this type of brain activity but orgasm seems to do it in a larger portion of the brain.
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