The facts are still coming – knowledge of the orgasm is yet to climax anytime soon

As they seek to document and demystify one of life’s great thrills, scientists have run across some real head-scratchers.

How, for example, can they explain the fact that some men and women who are paralyzed and numb below the waist are able to have orgasms?

How to explain the “orgasmic auras” that can descend at the onset of epileptic seizures — sensations so pleasurable they prompt some patients to refuse antiseizure medication?

And how on Earth to explain the case of the amputee who felt his orgasms centered in that missing foot? No one — no sexologist, no neuroscientist — really knows.

For a subject with so many armchair experts, the human orgasm is remarkably mysterious. But today, a few scientists are making real progress — in part because they’re changing their focus. To uncover the orgasm’s secrets, researchers are looking … to the place behind the scenes where the true magic happens. They’re examining the central nervous system: the network of electrical impulses that zip to and fro through the brain and spinal cord.

In an orgasm orchestra, the genitalia may be the instruments, but the central nervous system is the conductor. Armed with new lab tools and fearless volunteers, scientists are getting first-ever glimpses of how the brain lights up (and, in places, shuts down) when the orgasmic fireworks go off.

They’re tracing nerves and finding new pathways for pleasure that help explain how people with shattered spinal cords can defy sexual expectations.

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