Publication

Pontine Control of Ejaculation and Female Orgasm

Huynh, H. K., Willemsen, A. T. M., Lovick, T. A. & Holstege, G., Dec-2013, In : Journal of Sexual Medicine. 10, 12, p. 3038-3048 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

IntroductionThe physiological component of ejaculation shows parallels with that of micturition, as both are essentially voiding activities. Both depend on supraspinal influences to orchestrate the characteristic pattern of activity in the pelvic organs. Unlike micturition, little is known about the supraspinal pathways involved in ejaculation and female orgasm.

AimTo identify brainstem regions activated during ejaculation and female orgasm and to compare them with those activated during micturition.

MethodsEjaculation in men and orgasm in women were induced by manual stimulation of the penis or clitoris by the participants' partners. Positron emission tomography (PET) with correction for head movements was used to capture the pattern of brain activation at the time of sexual climax.

Main Outcome MeasuresPET scans showing areas of activation during sexual climax.

ResultsEjaculation in men and orgasm in women resulted in activation in a localized region within the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum on the left side and in another region in the ventrolateral pontine tegmentum on the right side. The dorsolateral pontine area was also active in women who attempted but failed to have an orgasm and in women who imitated orgasm. The ventrolateral pontine area was only activated during ejaculation and physical orgasm in women.

ConclusionActivation of a localized region on the left side in the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum, which we termed the pelvic organ-stimulating center, occurs during ejaculation in men and physical orgasm in women. This same region has previously been shown to be activated during micturition, but on the right side. The pelvic organ-stimulating center, via projections to the sacral parasympathetic motoneurons, controls pelvic organs involved in voiding functions. In contrast, the ventrolateral pontine area, which we term the pelvic floor-stimulating center, produces the pelvic floor contractions during ejaculation in men and physical orgasm in women via direct projections to pelvic floor motoneurons. Huynh HK, Willemsen ATM, Lovick TA, and Holstege G. Pontine control of ejaculation and female orgasm. J Sex Med 2013;10:3038-3048.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3038-3048
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Volume10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2013

    Keywords

  • Ejaculation, Orgasm, Micturition, Pelvic Organ-Stimulating Center, Pelvic Floor-Stimulating Center, Onuf's Nucleus, PET Scanning, LUMBAR SPINOTHALAMIC NEURONS, PENILE VIBRATORY STIMULATION, MOTONEURONAL CELL GROUPS, HUMAN SEXUAL-RESPONSE, MEDIAL PREOPTIC AREA, SPINAL-CORD, MICTURITION CENTER, BRAIN-STEM, MALE-RATS, ELECTRICAL STIMULATION

ID: 5998418