Scientists study mental orgasms through MRIs

Guest columnist Lydia Leavitt writes about sex and, oddly enough, social media. For more information on the latest intimate technology as well as the full interview with Kim Airs, check out

Click through to read the NSFW article.

Kim Airs speeds into Newark, New Jersey with her leather chaps on, riding her motorcycle decorated with dildos big and small. She’s here to meet Dr. Barry Komisaruk, an Associate Dean and researcher at Rutgers University where he is researching the female orgasm. Kim, a free spirit, founder of Grand Opening, and a Certified Sex Educator (PPLM), waltzes into Dr. Komisaruk’s lab only to be strapped into a MRI machine where she jokes “Oh, it’ll be like a bondage session. Won’t be my first, won’t be my last!” Kim has been chosen to participate in the doctor’s study on the female orgasm because she has a very unconventional talent: this woman can will herself to orgasm. Without toys. Without lube. Without another person. That’s right people, she can do it with her mind alone.

In our interview, Kim describes her unique skill:
I have pretty much always been multi-orgasmic and always thought: why just go for one? Orgasms are some of the best free entertainment one can have! So I had the basics of what it’s all about but never had the formal training until 1995, when I attended my first breath and energy workshop with the beloved (and amazing) Annie Sprinkle. Then I did quite a few workshops with The Body Electric that was a program developed by Annie that combines spirituality and sexuality but without any religious overtones (except maybe a few “Oh God! I’m coming!”s in it). Seriously, it does focus on breath work as well. I was part of the first intensive of the Body Electric for women held over several days in Northern California and when you’re focusing on breathing and moving energy for hours at a time (no kidding), you begin to get the hang of it. It wasn’t until 1997 that I really made all the connections to be able to do this without touching myself and being able to “think off.” I let it flow through me whenever it damn well pleases. It can be if a memory comes back to me and I close my eyes and my body slightly convulses, I usually get flushed in the face and yes, sometimes, people pick up on that when it happens. If I see someone that’s hot, I can pop one off then, too.

And this is exactly the type of woman Dr. Komisaruk, author of The Orgasm Answer Guide, wants to study. Why? Because the doctor is using MRIs to study brain activity during a female’s orgasm in an attempt to isolate the regions active during the big O. Someone who can will themselves off will not have any motor movements to skew the MRI results. During our interview, the doctor describes the female orgasm as a “remarkable phenomena,” explaining that it has been linked to reduced sensitivity to pain as well as increased feelings of joy and happiness…duh. The doctor hopes that by figuring out what’s happening in the brain during orgasm, researchers can use this information to develop better anti-depressants, better pain management drugs, and increase sexual satisfaction.

What the study has revealed thus far is that women who can will themselves to orgasm mentally, experience the same brain activity during orgasm as women who use stimulation to get off. If women can experience the same orgasm from stimulation as they can just through mentally willing it to happen, it proves just how large of a role the brain plays in female orgasm. This got Dr. Komisaruk thinking: if it’s not so much nerve stimulation as it is an action in the brain, can disabled women such as para or quadriplegics with zero sensitivity possibly experience orgasm? The answer is yes. He states that “we have identified a novel functional sensory pathway that conveys sensory activity from the vagina and cervix directly to the brain, bypassing completely the spinal cord.” What that means is that even women with spinal cord injuries who have no feeling in their lower body, have the potential to feel sexual satisfaction. Hooray! By better understanding the orgasm, the doctor hopes that scientists can develop better anti-depressant drugs, better pain management drugs, achieve better sexual satisfaction for the disabled, and BETTER more enhanced sex for the rest of us. Until a time when researchers can definitively explain and utilize the findings from studies such as Dr. Komisaruk’s, men will have to be content knowing that female orgasms are more mental than we ever thought before. Geez, good luck guys. Thankfully, Dr. Komisaruk has just been offered a grant to study the male orgasm.