A 33-year-old woman with vaginismus trained herself to spontaneously orgasm with only her mind, a new case study reports.
Vaginismus is a condition that occurs when the pelvic floor is involuntarily contracted. This can cause a great deal of pain during penetrative sex, but it doesn't mean those with vaginismus can't experience sexual pleasure.
While many female orgasms are achieved by touching erogenous zones, there's another route to rapture that is often overlooked.
During sleep, for instance, our brains can lead us to orgasm through our dreams, and some people say they can reach climax simply by fantasizing while awake. Phantom orgasms are also commonly reported among paraplegic men and women.
Like any brain pathway, it's easier to get there with practice. Previous studies have shown yoga and tantric meditation can enhance sexual arousal, desire, and orgasm by bringing attention to the mind and the body.
The woman in the current case study is an example of how successful this training can be. After a decade of tantric yoga practice, she proved she could not only attain orgasm whenever she wanted and with only her mind, she could also control the duration of the blissful state for up to 10 minutes.
Her skills were recently put to the test. During an experiment, the woman was asked to lie down on an examination table and either partake in 10 minutes of continuous orgasm, 5 minutes of continuous orgasm or, as a control, 10 minutes of reading a book. The orgasms were either achieved through self-touch or her mind.
Researchers could objectively tell the woman was orgasming because of a marker in her blood known as prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain, which faithfully spikes in the bloodstream following orgasm. The magnitude of this spike also coincides with how much pleasure the person is feeling.
Testing the participant's blood before and after the trial, researchers noticed a clear change. In this case, the woman's prolactin levels shot up by 25 percent after 5 minutes of non-genitally stimulated orgasm (NGSO), and 48 percent after 10 minutes of non-genitally stimulated orgasm.
These levels were nearly on par with the woman's prolactin levels after genitally stimulated orgasm (GSO). Book reading, meanwhile, caused no change to the woman's prolactin whatsoever.
"Subjectively, the NGSOs were as pleasurable as external or internal GSOs (eg. clitoral orgasms), and produced a relatively similar set of sensory experiences," the authors conclude.
However, they note, the woman reported feeling less emotional intimacy from the NGSOs. In other words, touch seems to add an extra level of feeling, though not necessarily a better one.
To train her brain circuits for a more mindful sexual climax, the woman in this case study spent years learning body postures and breathing techniques to become more aware of bodily sensations. Now, she can access those feelings through thought alone.
"In addition, I did pelvic floor exercises, breast massage practice, and practices to release shame and guilt," she told the authors of the study.
"I learned to relax and let go, accepted body image, and brought increased mindfulness also to daily life in general."
The case study is certainly unusual, although it's not unprecedented. Researchers have been studying people who can orgasm through thought alone for decades, and it's likely something that can be learnt, though women are typically more successful in their attempts.
The case study should offer hope to those with vaginismus or others who cannot or do not wish to partake in penetrative sex. With the right brain training, sexual pleasure doesn't have to be penetrative or painful. You might not even have to move a muscle.
The study was published in Sexual Medicine.