Podcast Episode: A Quickie On Pleasure And Orgasms

The Physiology Of Pleasure And Looking Beyond Orgasms

Podcast Episode: A Quickie On Pleasure And Orgasms

The Physiology Of Pleasure And Looking Beyond Orgasms

 
 

In this Quickie from our podcast Clitastic Chronicles, we talk with Dr Jess from InSync Medical about how pleasure works in our body, what an orgasm is and how to move away from a performance-based approach to sex for more fulfilling sexual experiences.

Episode Transcript

Smile Makers , 00:09
Hi everyone and welcome to Clitastic Chronicles, a pleasure positive podcast created by Smile Makers for people with a clitoris. I'm Cecile and today I'm speaking with Dr. Jess. Dr Jess runs a sexual health clinic here in Singapore. A general practitioner by training, she has developed a keen interest in female and sexual health. Her practice offers management of female health issues, and bridges the gap between regular GPs and gynaecologists, and sexual health specialists. Today, we’re talking about pleasure and orgasms. Orgasms tend to attract all the spotlight when it comes to sexual pleasure. But focusing on them is often an efficient way to make them go away! So with this episode, we move away from a performative approach to sex, and try to understand better what pleasure is and how it actually works. Let’s get started. Hi, Dr. James. Thanks for joining us today at Smile Makers. And today we want to talk about pleasure and orgasms.

Dr Jess , 01:23
Okay, sounds like fun.

Smile Makers , 01:26
And so the first question that I wanted to ask you is, why and how does our body feel pleasure in the first place? Like how does it work?

Dr Jess , 01:36
Well, its, it's really in a very complex menu of different actions that come together, and then culminate in a response that we know is pleasurable or pleasure. So in order for us to perceive pleasure, or conclude that something is pleasurable, first of all, there has to be activation centers in the brain. So you know, we have this we have this concept of Charles Runnels, so one of the creators of a procedure called the O shot, he coined a term called the orgasm system. And he says, our orgasm actually is an organ system, just like you know, you have your respiratory system for, your system for breathing. And then you have your cardiovascular system, which is your heart system. So in his opinion, the orgasm is a system, which involves several different organs that come together to create the function. So you do require things like your brain to activate. And then it sends these distant sex centers within our brain itself that sees things like an imagery or a sound, or a feeling or an emotion. And it processes that and sends signals all the way down our spine. And to our spine, then, certain other nerves will carry these signals down to areas that that we have, that are erogenous or stimulation areas of our body. For example, in women, it would be our vulvas. And these nerve signals that get sent down to the vulva carry information that says, hey, let's let's change the way the blood vessels dilate there a little bit. So that the area of the vulva becomes slightly more engorged. The glands around the vulva become more active to secrete juices, and the whole area then it gorges up and plums up, sort of like it's getting ready for something bigger. So, in by something bigger, I do not mean penetration, but it's getting ready for a potential pleasurable sensation. And so and then there is these direct touches, isn't it that one might receive around erogenous areas of our bodies be areas like the areola or your nipples, or be it your neck or be it your vulva in itself. So these areas when it receives direct touches, that also sends signals directly from nerves to the spine, and it creates a reflex response. And these reflex responses will then also go on to engorge our vulvas up with more blood and cause our glands to produce more secretions. And in that way, if all of these things come together, together with hormones that work in our body, so you know, we all are quite familiar with happy hormones, they call them oxytocin. Yeah, and levels of these start increasing in our body. And our brain just gets, gathers all these information, information from the brain in itself, information from what's happening at the level of the vulva and other erogenous areas of our body and it perceives it as a pleasure thing, taking into consideration you know, our experiences, our previous experiences. So for example, someone might be touched at the vulva and might enjoy it. But someone who's had a history of touch around the vulva and did not give consent to it, that touch will not be perceived as pleasure in them. Okay, that's because of past experiences that they have had, that blocks that experience from being translated as pleasure. So it's a very complex system.

Smile Makers , 05:29
Okay. And how is pleasure different from orgasms?

Dr Jess , 05:35
Well, orgasm is a manifestation of pleasure. Pleasure is a is a perception is a feeling though, orgasms, sometimes you might feel a lot of pleasure, you might have a lot of feeling of goodness, hey this feels really good, this this is pleasurable, I perceive it as pleasure. However, my body doesn't seem to translate this into an orgasm. There is no exact clear definition of what an orgasm is. And as humans, we are very, very, very, we hold on very strongly to the basis of evidence, everything needs to be evidence based. Show me the evidence of an orgasm. Some women have orgasms. And what happens during their orgasms is that the they get an arguing of their bodies, they get a spasm or a pulsation in their genital area. And for them, that's an orgasm, or it's a super feel good feeling. Commonly, during an orgasm, what happens is that you have such a heightened sense of pleasure that your body takes over and creates this physical manifestation. So you get, spams in your muscles, contractions, pulsative movements that happen, and it's brief. It's a brief period of this peak building that's getting big, it's translated into actual physical changes in your body. And during this moment, you lose complete awareness of what's happening around you, so you lose a sense of reality. And then once that orgasm is released, you go on a you de-escalate from that orgasm, and then you return back to reality. Okay, and you're fully aware of what's happening around you.

Smile Makers , 07:13
Okay. You've explained how pleasure works like that were like that touch, or sensation activating specific areas in the brain. What causes orgasms for people with vulva?

Dr Jess , 07:27
What causes orgasms in people with vulva? So it's, it's a combination of first the pleasurable factors have to be there, isn't it? And you have to allow yourself to then feel these different individuals stimuli whether it's touch, whether it's a sound, whether it's an erotic story that you're hearing, whether it's a sight, or whether it's emotion and how you feel about the situation or about a particular person that you might be attracted to, that then internally creates spontaneously within you sensations. And if you allow yourself to feel it, it then gets translated into a perception of pleasure. And if this is allowed to heighten to a point where you get a certain sensitivity around areas like your clitoris, you get certain engorgement in your vulva, it just hits a peak where you will feel spasms and in your in the area of the vulva and then that produces orgasms. And it's a super feel good feeling. It doesn't have to be, it can simply be by a thought you know the different different types of orgasms. The one that we commonly know of is you know, oh, clitoral orgasms. We know a lot of women have clitoral orgasms meaning if they touch the clitoris, or if there is any involvement of the clitoris, physical touches around the clitoris, then they can orgasm that way. Some women have vaginal orgasms, which is not as common in women, meaning if the vagina is touched a certain way in a specific part of the vagina. And some of us commonly know it is maybe around the G spot, but there are a lot of other spots in the vagina, where you have certain tissues or like tissues that can expand and engotge with blood and those areas are stimulated, then you get a vaginal orgasm. But then there's other more complex orgasm higher level orgasms, things like a brain-gasm you know, where a thought being in a state of absolute relaxation and just an erotic thought or a fantasy triggers you off and gives you an orgasm without you even touching yourself. Hmm.

Smile Makers , 09:32
But does that mean physiologically, like anatomically on the body, is there a specific area that like you were saying evidence base, like if we were looking at it, we would see it experiencing the orgasm like would it be the clitoris, the vagina and how would it physically manifest itself?

Dr Jess , 09:50
Well, I don't think you physically see an orgasm, because similar touches can be done to individual people, one might have that intensity of pleasure, that time leads into an orgasm, but another one might just have pleasure. Whereas another one will go "hey, it's doing nothing for me. I don't even get good sensations from it". So you don't actually physically see it. But yes, answering your question, there are certain changes that can can be obvious if you were to monitor what's happening. Let's say we talk only about the vulva, you monitor what is happening around the vulva. So one might notice and we spoke about, you know how the area gets engorged, it receives signals from nerves and it starts filling up with blood. So you might notice that the vulva appears more cushion more plump. Other things are the clitoris, the clitoris starts to increase in size, and you can't increase you know, many, many, many fold into this 30 fold in size,the actual clitoris is. So you might find that the clitoris gets engorged and it actually growsso almost is likened to a penis, like you know, a penis grows, when when a man feels aroused, he gets an erection. Similarly, we've got your erectile tissue in the clitoris that allows it to grow in size as it gets engorged with blood. These are some of the changes that you can expect to see around the vulva. Not when one is just having an orgasm. But when one is having pleasure as well as one is getting good sensations. And often after an orgasm, these changes then fade away, they sort of disappear over time, the blood leaves the clitoris and it starts to deplete, and comes back to its normal place.

Smile Makers , 11:33
I feel that we are, we tend to be very focused on orgasms when it comes to sex. Like that's really like the end goal. Like that's, that's where we want to be and like it's very performance driven. How do you guide your your patients to explore pleasure instead of being so focused on orgasm? Like what are little things that we can actually do to be more pleasure focused?

Dr Jess , 11:57
You know that is so true, what you just said. And this boils down to our need to have evidence, isn't it? Yeah. For men, it's like you know, or if you ejaculate, then you've had your orgasm, when it can be two very different things and ejaculation can just be an ejaculation, but he hasn't quite had his orgasm. And similarly, for women, oh, you must get really wet. And then that that's that evidence of your orgasm, or you must produce a certain sound a certain way, your body has to act a certain way, and then you deduct from there, then you've had your orgasms. So we're out there seeking evidence, we're out there going for gold, when sometimes we don't need that, sometimes just having a nice relaxing feel this pleasure moments, little bits of that is good enough, or in fact might be might be more satisfactory, because you don't have to aim for something and have it positive oriented, everything is work, I've got to hit a target, I've got to hit a target. What we do to ourselves is that we make intimacy work as well, when intimacy should really be centered around the basis of relaxation. And if it allows you to relax, unwind, and just be who you are, then that's the kind of intimacy you want. And often we do tell our patients look, focus on touch. And when you focus on touch, and you have the concept of your orgasms, and your pleasure is your responsibility, it's not your partner's, it makes it very easy for you to just keep that sensation centered around yourself rather than be worried about what your partner is feeling, and whether what you're doing for your partner is adequate. And when you are touching, then you completely get wrapped up in the moment of what that touch feels like when you're caressing your partner. And you're touching over his neck right down to perhaps his chest area. You know, have this exercise of going through your head and going oh, you know his neck feels really soft so I can feel the you know the bristles of the hair on his on his face such as you the bristles of his beard that feels a little bit sharp. glide down the neck. Just ask yourself does it feel warm? Does it feel cold? Does it feel rough? Does it feel smooth? Is it hard? Is it soft to the touch? You know, these are the things you need to focus on because it allows you to hone in on a sensation and then translate that to "do I like that feeling touching you there?". Not about "hey, I'm touching you now I'm looking at to see what you my partner's response is" because then your focus is on your partner, you know, not yourself. And if your partner does that, too, can you imagine you've completely taken away that responsibility, ofbeing responsible for somebody else's pleasure and orgasm and you've just kept it self-focused. And when each of you responsible for yourself, you automatically create a scenario where you are actually, without realizing, through a concept of serendipity, just accidental discovery, looking after each other

Smile Makers , 15:02
Let's end the episode on that note, because that's very inspiring. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Clitastic Chronicles and found snippets of wisdom that you can apply to your own sexual health. If you like this podcast, share it around with your friends and give us a 5 star review on Apple podcast or wherever you’re getting your podcasts from. That will help us make it easier to find! For more sex positivity, connect to our website at SmileMakersCollection.com.

In this Quickie from our podcast Clitastic Chronicles, we talk with Dr Jess from InSync Medical about how pleasure works in our body, what an orgasm is and how to move away from a performance-based approach to sex for more fulfilling sexual experiences.

Episode Transcript

Smile Makers , 00:09
Hi everyone and welcome to Clitastic Chronicles, a pleasure positive podcast created by Smile Makers for people with a clitoris. I'm Cecile and today I'm speaking with Dr. Jess. Dr Jess runs a sexual health clinic here in Singapore. A general practitioner by training, she has developed a keen interest in female and sexual health. Her practice offers management of female health issues, and bridges the gap between regular GPs and gynaecologists, and sexual health specialists. Today, we’re talking about pleasure and orgasms. Orgasms tend to attract all the spotlight when it comes to sexual pleasure. But focusing on them is often an efficient way to make them go away! So with this episode, we move away from a performative approach to sex, and try to understand better what pleasure is and how it actually works. Let’s get started. Hi, Dr. James. Thanks for joining us today at Smile Makers. And today we want to talk about pleasure and orgasms.

Dr Jess , 01:23
Okay, sounds like fun.

Smile Makers , 01:26
And so the first question that I wanted to ask you is, why and how does our body feel pleasure in the first place? Like how does it work?

Dr Jess , 01:36
Well, its, it's really in a very complex menu of different actions that come together, and then culminate in a response that we know is pleasurable or pleasure. So in order for us to perceive pleasure, or conclude that something is pleasurable, first of all, there has to be activation centers in the brain. So you know, we have this we have this concept of Charles Runnels, so one of the creators of a procedure called the O shot, he coined a term called the orgasm system. And he says, our orgasm actually is an organ system, just like you know, you have your respiratory system for, your system for breathing. And then you have your cardiovascular system, which is your heart system. So in his opinion, the orgasm is a system, which involves several different organs that come together to create the function. So you do require things like your brain to activate. And then it sends these distant sex centers within our brain itself that sees things like an imagery or a sound, or a feeling or an emotion. And it processes that and sends signals all the way down our spine. And to our spine, then, certain other nerves will carry these signals down to areas that that we have, that are erogenous or stimulation areas of our body. For example, in women, it would be our vulvas. And these nerve signals that get sent down to the vulva carry information that says, hey, let's let's change the way the blood vessels dilate there a little bit. So that the area of the vulva becomes slightly more engorged. The glands around the vulva become more active to secrete juices, and the whole area then it gorges up and plums up, sort of like it's getting ready for something bigger. So, in by something bigger, I do not mean penetration, but it's getting ready for a potential pleasurable sensation. And so and then there is these direct touches, isn't it that one might receive around erogenous areas of our bodies be areas like the areola or your nipples, or be it your neck or be it your vulva in itself. So these areas when it receives direct touches, that also sends signals directly from nerves to the spine, and it creates a reflex response. And these reflex responses will then also go on to engorge our vulvas up with more blood and cause our glands to produce more secretions. And in that way, if all of these things come together, together with hormones that work in our body, so you know, we all are quite familiar with happy hormones, they call them oxytocin. Yeah, and levels of these start increasing in our body. And our brain just gets, gathers all these information, information from the brain in itself, information from what's happening at the level of the vulva and other erogenous areas of our body and it perceives it as a pleasure thing, taking into consideration you know, our experiences, our previous experiences. So for example, someone might be touched at the vulva and might enjoy it. But someone who's had a history of touch around the vulva and did not give consent to it, that touch will not be perceived as pleasure in them. Okay, that's because of past experiences that they have had, that blocks that experience from being translated as pleasure. So it's a very complex system.

Smile Makers , 05:29
Okay. And how is pleasure different from orgasms?

Dr Jess , 05:35
Well, orgasm is a manifestation of pleasure. Pleasure is a is a perception is a feeling though, orgasms, sometimes you might feel a lot of pleasure, you might have a lot of feeling of goodness, hey this feels really good, this this is pleasurable, I perceive it as pleasure. However, my body doesn't seem to translate this into an orgasm. There is no exact clear definition of what an orgasm is. And as humans, we are very, very, very, we hold on very strongly to the basis of evidence, everything needs to be evidence based. Show me the evidence of an orgasm. Some women have orgasms. And what happens during their orgasms is that the they get an arguing of their bodies, they get a spasm or a pulsation in their genital area. And for them, that's an orgasm, or it's a super feel good feeling. Commonly, during an orgasm, what happens is that you have such a heightened sense of pleasure that your body takes over and creates this physical manifestation. So you get, spams in your muscles, contractions, pulsative movements that happen, and it's brief. It's a brief period of this peak building that's getting big, it's translated into actual physical changes in your body. And during this moment, you lose complete awareness of what's happening around you, so you lose a sense of reality. And then once that orgasm is released, you go on a you de-escalate from that orgasm, and then you return back to reality. Okay, and you're fully aware of what's happening around you.

Smile Makers , 07:13
Okay. You've explained how pleasure works like that were like that touch, or sensation activating specific areas in the brain. What causes orgasms for people with vulva?

Dr Jess , 07:27
What causes orgasms in people with vulva? So it's, it's a combination of first the pleasurable factors have to be there, isn't it? And you have to allow yourself to then feel these different individuals stimuli whether it's touch, whether it's a sound, whether it's an erotic story that you're hearing, whether it's a sight, or whether it's emotion and how you feel about the situation or about a particular person that you might be attracted to, that then internally creates spontaneously within you sensations. And if you allow yourself to feel it, it then gets translated into a perception of pleasure. And if this is allowed to heighten to a point where you get a certain sensitivity around areas like your clitoris, you get certain engorgement in your vulva, it just hits a peak where you will feel spasms and in your in the area of the vulva and then that produces orgasms. And it's a super feel good feeling. It doesn't have to be, it can simply be by a thought you know the different different types of orgasms. The one that we commonly know of is you know, oh, clitoral orgasms. We know a lot of women have clitoral orgasms meaning if they touch the clitoris, or if there is any involvement of the clitoris, physical touches around the clitoris, then they can orgasm that way. Some women have vaginal orgasms, which is not as common in women, meaning if the vagina is touched a certain way in a specific part of the vagina. And some of us commonly know it is maybe around the G spot, but there are a lot of other spots in the vagina, where you have certain tissues or like tissues that can expand and engotge with blood and those areas are stimulated, then you get a vaginal orgasm. But then there's other more complex orgasm higher level orgasms, things like a brain-gasm you know, where a thought being in a state of absolute relaxation and just an erotic thought or a fantasy triggers you off and gives you an orgasm without you even touching yourself. Hmm.

Smile Makers , 09:32
But does that mean physiologically, like anatomically on the body, is there a specific area that like you were saying evidence base, like if we were looking at it, we would see it experiencing the orgasm like would it be the clitoris, the vagina and how would it physically manifest itself?

Dr Jess , 09:50
Well, I don't think you physically see an orgasm, because similar touches can be done to individual people, one might have that intensity of pleasure, that time leads into an orgasm, but another one might just have pleasure. Whereas another one will go "hey, it's doing nothing for me. I don't even get good sensations from it". So you don't actually physically see it. But yes, answering your question, there are certain changes that can can be obvious if you were to monitor what's happening. Let's say we talk only about the vulva, you monitor what is happening around the vulva. So one might notice and we spoke about, you know how the area gets engorged, it receives signals from nerves and it starts filling up with blood. So you might notice that the vulva appears more cushion more plump. Other things are the clitoris, the clitoris starts to increase in size, and you can't increase you know, many, many, many fold into this 30 fold in size,the actual clitoris is. So you might find that the clitoris gets engorged and it actually growsso almost is likened to a penis, like you know, a penis grows, when when a man feels aroused, he gets an erection. Similarly, we've got your erectile tissue in the clitoris that allows it to grow in size as it gets engorged with blood. These are some of the changes that you can expect to see around the vulva. Not when one is just having an orgasm. But when one is having pleasure as well as one is getting good sensations. And often after an orgasm, these changes then fade away, they sort of disappear over time, the blood leaves the clitoris and it starts to deplete, and comes back to its normal place.

Smile Makers , 11:33
I feel that we are, we tend to be very focused on orgasms when it comes to sex. Like that's really like the end goal. Like that's, that's where we want to be and like it's very performance driven. How do you guide your your patients to explore pleasure instead of being so focused on orgasm? Like what are little things that we can actually do to be more pleasure focused?

Dr Jess , 11:57
You know that is so true, what you just said. And this boils down to our need to have evidence, isn't it? Yeah. For men, it's like you know, or if you ejaculate, then you've had your orgasm, when it can be two very different things and ejaculation can just be an ejaculation, but he hasn't quite had his orgasm. And similarly, for women, oh, you must get really wet. And then that that's that evidence of your orgasm, or you must produce a certain sound a certain way, your body has to act a certain way, and then you deduct from there, then you've had your orgasms. So we're out there seeking evidence, we're out there going for gold, when sometimes we don't need that, sometimes just having a nice relaxing feel this pleasure moments, little bits of that is good enough, or in fact might be might be more satisfactory, because you don't have to aim for something and have it positive oriented, everything is work, I've got to hit a target, I've got to hit a target. What we do to ourselves is that we make intimacy work as well, when intimacy should really be centered around the basis of relaxation. And if it allows you to relax, unwind, and just be who you are, then that's the kind of intimacy you want. And often we do tell our patients look, focus on touch. And when you focus on touch, and you have the concept of your orgasms, and your pleasure is your responsibility, it's not your partner's, it makes it very easy for you to just keep that sensation centered around yourself rather than be worried about what your partner is feeling, and whether what you're doing for your partner is adequate. And when you are touching, then you completely get wrapped up in the moment of what that touch feels like when you're caressing your partner. And you're touching over his neck right down to perhaps his chest area. You know, have this exercise of going through your head and going oh, you know his neck feels really soft so I can feel the you know the bristles of the hair on his on his face such as you the bristles of his beard that feels a little bit sharp. glide down the neck. Just ask yourself does it feel warm? Does it feel cold? Does it feel rough? Does it feel smooth? Is it hard? Is it soft to the touch? You know, these are the things you need to focus on because it allows you to hone in on a sensation and then translate that to "do I like that feeling touching you there?". Not about "hey, I'm touching you now I'm looking at to see what you my partner's response is" because then your focus is on your partner, you know, not yourself. And if your partner does that, too, can you imagine you've completely taken away that responsibility, ofbeing responsible for somebody else's pleasure and orgasm and you've just kept it self-focused. And when each of you responsible for yourself, you automatically create a scenario where you are actually, without realizing, through a concept of serendipity, just accidental discovery, looking after each other

Smile Makers , 15:02
Let's end the episode on that note, because that's very inspiring. We hope you enjoyed this episode of Clitastic Chronicles and found snippets of wisdom that you can apply to your own sexual health. If you like this podcast, share it around with your friends and give us a 5 star review on Apple podcast or wherever you’re getting your podcasts from. That will help us make it easier to find! For more sex positivity, connect to our website at SmileMakersCollection.com.
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