Why You Should Keep Your Socks On In Bed

Why You Should Keep Your Socks On In Bed
Sex

The first brain scans of men and women having sex and reaching orgasm have revealed striking differences in the way each experiences sexual pleasure.

While male brains focus heavily on the physical stimulation involved in sexual contact, this is just one part of a much more complex picture for women, scientists in the Netherlands have found.

The key to female arousal seems rather to be deep relaxation and a lack of anxiety, with direct sensory input from the genitals playing a less critical role.

The scans show that during sexual activity, the parts of the female brain responsible for processing fear, anxiety and emotion start to relax and reduce in activity. This reaches a peak at orgasm, when the female brain’s emotion centers are effectively closed down to produce an almost trance-like state.

The male brain was harder to study during orgasm, because of its shorter duration in men, but the scans nonetheless revealed important differences. Emotion centers were deactivated, though apparently less intensely than in women, and men also appear to concentrate more on the sensations transmitted from the genitals to the brain.

This suggests that for men, the physical aspects of sex play a much more significant part in arousal than they do for women, for whom ambiance, mood and relaxation are at least as important.

“Men find it more important to be stimulated on the penis than women find it to be stimulated on the clitoris,” Gert Holstege of the University of Groningen said. “We know from these images that each sex experiences stimulation differently.”

The experiments also revealed a rather surprising effect: both men and women found it easier to have an orgasm when they kept their socks on. Drafts in the scanning room left couples complaining of “literally cold feet,” and providing a pair of socks allowed 80 percent rather than 50 percent to reach a climax while their brains were scanned.

The scans also show that while women may be able to fool their partners with a fake orgasm, the difference is obvious in the brain. Parts of the brain that handle conscious movement light up during fake orgasms but not during real ones, while emotion centers close down during the real thing but never when a woman is pretending.

In the study, a team at the University of Groningen led by Gert Holstege scanned the brains of 13 women and 11 men using a technique called positron emission tomography (PET), while they manually stimulated to orgasm by their partners. All were heterosexual and right-handed, the latter to ensure that all their brains could be easily compared.

The subjects’ heads were restrained in the PET scanner during the procedure, as it only works if the body area being scanned remains still. The dimensions of the scanner and the need for stillness also explain why the researchers were unable to study intercourse itself.

In both sexes, activity in the amygdala, which processes fear and anxiety, was reduced during stimulation. Women, but not men, showed lower activity in the hippocampus, important for memory, as well.

In men, greater activity was seen in the insula, which deals with emotion, and particularly in the secondary somatosensory cortex, which rates the significance of physical sensations. This suggests that the sensory input coming from the genitals is being judged highly important and pleasurable by the brain.

Women, however, show very little increased brain activity, and only in the primary somatosensory cortex – which registers purely that a sensation in the genitals is there.”In women the primary feeling is there, but not the marker that this is seen as a big deal,” Dr Holstege said.”For males, touch itself is all-important. For females, it is not so important.”

As orgasm lasts much longer in women than in men, it is easier to study using PET – male ejaculation is over so quickly it is hard to get a reliable reading. The scans showed that in the female orgasm, activity is reduced across all the brain regions – conscious and subconscious – that handle emotion, including the amygdale, medial prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex.

What this means is that deactivation, letting go of all fear and anxiety, might be the most important thing, even necessary, to have an orgasm, Dr Holstege said.

Elite.

Share Tweet
React
Like Us On Facebook
Like Us On Facebook

Anthony Selden

Anthony is a New York-based writer and a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a passion for exploring the cooler things in life. Always eager to inform, Anthony is the lifestyle editor at Elite Daily and is knowledgeable about pretty much anything within the walls of awesomeness: from the latest Lamborghini, to the most absurd burgers around. He also enjoys spontaneous skateboarding sessions on New York City's Upper East Side. Much like writing, it's what keeps the guy alive.

More In Sex

Sex Joe Welkie

Why Women Might Be Responsible For The Creation Of The Hook-Up Culture

It seems that every day I read a new article about a new progression in the dating landscape. Recently, I have noticed that women are upset about the current trends of hooking up. Many women believe that this “hook-up culture” has made dating impossible because guys only want to hook up. Some women feel that […]

Sex Sabrina Cugliari

Why Hook-Up Culture Is Not The Problem With The Gen-Y Dating Game

If I never hear the term “hook-up culture” again, it will be too soon. Everything that is seemingly wrong with our generation has been attributed to the above phrase. Do you have a fear of intimacy? Are you unable to take responsibility for your actions? Blame it on the hook-up culture. A certain moral panic has […]

Sex Paul Hudson

The Torture Of Loving A Person Who Doesn’t Love You Back

The first woman I ever fell in love with didn’t feel the same way about me. This wasn’t some sort of crush either. I really did fall in love and she really didn’t care for me that much. Sure, we would see each other pretty regularly. She was happy to see me, but not exactly […]

Sex Bridget Boland

Is It Time To Call It Quits? When To Know A Relationship Is Over

We are the generation twice removed from the Cleavers; the aftermath of the rise in divorce rates. We have seen all kinds of relationships modeled for us. In some ways, this transparency of what happens in other marriages is helpful, but it also creates uncertainties when trying to create our own. Being a member of Gen-Y can feel like you […]

Also On Elite

Nightlife

The Guide To A Perfect Night Out According To Jäger

Life is about living, and living is about partying and partying is most definitely about Jäger. In the bustling metropolis known as New York City, there will always be somewhere to go, someone to see and some Jäger to be poured. We’re young, we’re alive and we never want to forget these perfect nights. At […]

Sports

The Mini Golf Version Of The Masters Would Make The Tournament Much Cooler

The Masters are wrapping up today, and while the leaders at Augusta may have shown us why they’re some of the best golfers in the world, everyone knows that a Green Jacket is basically worthless if your skills don’t translate to the miniature golf course. It doesn’t matter if you can drive the ball 400 […]

Dating

The One: 10 Traits Your Ideal Soul Mate Should Have

Finding your soul mate is basically finding that one person (arguably one of several) who has the right traits – traits that are relevant to you as an individual. In other words: You have to find a person whom you can put up with and who, more importantly, can put up with you. Plus all […]