Anhedonia/PDOD: Overview

Content Written By: Michael A. Perelman, PhD

Orgasm is a neurologic response to sexual stimulation. Sensory input from smell, touch (in particular, the penis), taste, sight and hearing passes along sensory nerves to specialized portions of the brain, called the limbic system. The limbic system influences the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system and is highly interconnected with the brain's emotion center, behavior center and pleasure center, all of which play a role in sexual function. When sufficient input messages are received in limbic brain centers, in particular, the thalamus, there is a release of a large amount of neurochemicals that induces an orgasm. During orgasm in a man, brain scans showing a temporary deactivation in the metabolic activity of a large part of the left cerebral cortex with increased metabolic activity in the right brain in particular the limbic area of the brain.

During orgasm, there are downward motor signals that result in quick cycles of muscle contraction in the pelvic muscles that surround the pelvic floor. Orgasms are often associated with other involuntary motor actions, including muscular spasms in multiple areas of the body resulting in body movements and often vocalizations are expressed.

In addition, during orgasm there are upward neurologic signals to the cerebral cortex. These signals result in a general euphoric sensation that is characterized by an intense pleasure.

Men who have pleasure dissociative orgasmic disorder or orgasmic anhedonia know they are having an orgasm but do not have the ability to experience any sense of pleasure from the orgasm.

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