100 Women: Doctors Reveal Secrets Of The Female Orgasm

100 Women: Doctors Reveal Secrets Of The Female Orgasm
100 Women: Doctors Reveal Secrets Of The Female Orgasm

Video: 100 Women: Doctors Reveal Secrets Of The Female Orgasm

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BBC World Service

We are accustomed to the fact that knowledge about the female orgasm can be gleaned more from glossy magazines than from data from scientists. In the meantime, the more researchers pay attention to this issue, the more obvious it becomes that the advice from the journals is far from reality. The problem also lies in the fact that, unlike the male body, the female body is much less studied.

“I called it a ring of fire. I was constantly itching and burning in the perineum, and when I had sex or using tampons, I felt incredible pain, like someone was cutting me with a knife,” says Callista Wilson, stylist from San Francisco.

She first experienced this pain when she was 12 years old, when she first tried using a tampon. When Callista went to the doctor, she was already over 20 years old.

"The doctor was very confused and did not understand what might be wrong. She said:" You look completely healthy, so I advise you to see a therapist, because the cause of these pains is most likely in your head, "recalls Callista …

And only 10 years later, the girl was able to find out why she was experiencing such pain.

According to her, the sexual problems she faced during this time influenced her entire life and led to depression and breakdowns in relationships with men. Finally, after visiting 20 doctors, she ended up in the waiting room of Andrew Goldstein, head of the Center for Vulvovaginal Disorders in Washington DC.

Goldstein explained to the girl that she was born with an abnormal number of nerve endings (30 times more than normal) in the vaginal area - as a result of which any touch felt like a burn.

The solution to the problem was an operation, during which Goldstein removed a patch of skin at the entrance to the girl's vagina. After that, she was able to have sex without pain for the first time.

Callista's diagnosis sounds like "neuroproliferative vestibulodynia" - and it's not uncommon.

But only recently, scientists have come to the conclusion that the characteristics of the nervous system in the pelvic region are different for each woman.

Deborah Coadi, a gynecologist from New York, began studying this issue and found out that science knows everything about the location of nerves in the pelvic region in men, while there is no information about women.

Coadi teamed up with a team of surgeons and engaged in research that led to interesting results.

"We came to the conclusion that there are no two identical women when it comes to the structure of the pudendal nerve, - explains the gynecologist. - The differences in sensitivity of different areas in different women depend on how the branches of this nerve move through the body."

It is the pudendal nerve that plays a key role in achieving orgasm - it connects the genitals with the part of the brain responsible for the response to touch, pressure and sexual activity.

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In addition, Cody found that every woman has a different number of nerve endings in the five erogenous zones in the genital area - the clitoris, vaginal opening, cervix, anus, and perineum.

"This explains why some women have a more sensitive clitoris area, while others have a more sensitive vaginal opening," says the gynecologist.

And that's why all the general advice about sex that you can read in women's magazines is often completely useless.

"Fifty percent of women can experience the sensations that are described in gloss," says Coadi. "But this may have nothing to do with a huge number of women - because of their anatomy and the location of the nerve endings."

Another popular myth has been debunked in the orgasm lab led by Cindy Meston at the University of Texas at Austin.

When we think of a laboratory, we think of bright light, white tables, and microscopes. But the orgasm lab looks a little different - in it, research participants recline on purple leather sofas and watch other people have sex on large TV screens.

Meston, sitting in the next room, at this time monitors their pulse and blood flow to the genitals using a vaginal photoplethysmograph. This device, which is inserted into the vagina, resembles a tampon in shape and size. When turned on, it emits light and then measures how much light has been reflected.

Based on these indicators, scientists can measure the volume of blood in the vaginal tissues - that is, how sexually aroused a woman is at that moment.

And the results of these studies strongly contradict our usual ideas.

"For so many years we have been told to calm down, take a warm bath, do breathing exercises, listen to relaxing music before having sex," Meston says. "But my research proves the opposite: a woman must be active to have sex."

“So you can go for a run with your partner, watch a scary movie together, ride a roller coaster, or even have a good laugh. When you laugh, it activates a sympathetic nervous system response,” she adds.

The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the uncontrolled contraction of muscles that puts the body into what is called a "fight or flight" state (the body's response to stress - BBC note), accompanied by an increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Meston's studies have shown that before sex, the same processes are activated in a woman's body, because she must react to what is happening more violently and rapidly.

And this is significantly different from what men experience.

For many years, it was believed that men and women respond to sexual arousal in the same way, but Meston's research proves that this is not the case. This is agreed by Andrew Goldstein, who since the institute believed that the female body and female sexuality are very little studied.

“I completed my obstetrics and gynecology residency - 20,000 hours of training. Of these, only one 45-minute lecture was about female sexual function, and most of what was said was completely wrong,” he says.

"Any sexual problem in women is given much less attention than any sexual dysfunction in men - and this is clearly a situation of double standards. When men have sexual problems, erectile dysfunction, this can be seen, while a woman in a similar situation unfortunately, they get stigmatized. They are told that the problems are in their heads, "adds Goldstein.

I completed my residency in obstetrics and gynecology - the training lasted 20 thousand hours. Of these, only one 45-minute lecture was devoted to female sexual function.

Andrew Goldstein

Meston says it's hard to find funding to study female sexuality - female orgasm is not considered "a serious enough social problem." In addition, she notes that there is a puritanical disapproval of research in this area in the medical community.

"There are a huge number of conservative officials who believe that federal funds should not be spent on researching sexual problems. Therefore, all scientists involved in these issues have to get out," says Meston.“For example, I was directly told that the word“sex”should be removed from the description of my project:“You can talk about family well-being, but calling orgasm and sexual arousal the end point of your research will reduce your chances of getting funding.”

We all came out of the vagina, so why don't we want to know more about it?

Callista Wilson

Meston was once invited to speak to a group of retired scientists, but then the invitation was withdrawn when his topic - female sexuality - became known.

"Discussion of female sexual gratification is so terrifying and reluctant that I was overwhelmed and offended by it," she says. "To be honest, it made me incredibly upset. It seemed to me that our society has not had such prejudices for a long time."

How does Callista Wilson feel when he hears about the difficulties scientists face to carry out the research that has helped her get rid of years of pain?

“We all came out of the vagina, so why don't we want to know more about it?” She wonders. “Why don't we want to invest in researching this issue - in the end, both men and women will benefit from it.”

Special project "100 women"

As part of the BBC's annual 100 Women special project, we talk about the lives of women in the 21st century in different countries: the challenges they face every day and the opportunities they face.

Over the course of three weeks, we will share inspiring examples of women who have become leaders in sports, music, politics and other areas of life, as well as lead discussions about feminism and other issues.

The BBC's 100 Women project runs until December 9th.

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