10 things you didn’t know about orgasm | Mary Roach
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10 things you didn’t know about orgasm | Mary Roach

Alright. I’m going to show you a couple of images from a very diverting paper
in The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine. I’m going to go way out on a limb and say
that it is the most diverting paper ever published in
The Journal of Ultrasound in Medicine. The title is “Observations
of In-Utero Masturbation.” (Laughter) Okay. Now on the left you can see
the hand — that’s the big arrow — and the penis on the right.
The hand hovering. And over here we have, in the words of radiologist
Israel Meisner, “The hand grasping the penis in a fashion
resembling masturbation movements.” Bear in mind this was an ultrasound, so it would have been moving images. Orgasm is a reflex
of the autonomic nervous system. Now, this is the part
of the nervous system that deals with the things
that we don’t consciously control, like digestion, heart rate
and sexual arousal. And the orgasm reflex can be triggered
by a surprisingly broad range of input. Genital stimulation. Duh. But also, Kinsey interviewed a woman who could be brought to orgasm
by having someone stroke her eyebrow. People with spinal cord injuries, like paraplegias, quadriplegias, will often develop a very,
very sensitive area right above the level of their injury, wherever that is. There is such a thing
as a knee orgasm in the literature. I think the most curious one
that I came across was a case report of a woman who had an orgasm every time
she brushed her teeth. (Laughter) Something in the complex
sensory-motor action of brushing her teeth was triggering orgasm. And she went to a neurologist,
who was fascinated. He checked to see
if it was something in the toothpaste, but no — it happened with any brand. They stimulated her gums with a toothpick,
to see if that was doing it. No. It was the whole, you know, motion. And the amazing thing to me is that you would think this woman
would have excellent oral hygiene. (Laughter) Sadly — this is what it said
in the journal paper — “She believed that she was
possessed by demons and switched to mouthwash
for her oral care.” It’s so sad. (Laughter) When I was working on the book, I interviewed a woman
who can think herself to orgasm. She was part of a study
at Rutgers University. You’ve got to love that. Rutgers. So I interviewed her in Oakland,
in a sushi restaurant. And I said, “So, could you
do it right here?” And she said, “Yeah, but you know I’d rather
finish my meal if you don’t mind.” (Laughter) But afterwards, she was kind enough
to demonstrate on a bench outside. It was remarkable.
It took about one minute. And I said to her, “Are you just doing this all the time?” (Laughter) She said, “No. Honestly, when I get home,
I’m usually too tired.” (Laughter) She said that the last time
she had done it was on the Disneyland tram. (Laughter) The headquarters for orgasm,
along the spinal nerve, is something called the sacral nerve root, which is back here. And if you trigger,
if you stimulate with an electrode, the precise spot,
you will trigger an orgasm. And it is a fact that you can trigger
spinal reflexes in dead people — a certain kind of dead person,
a beating-heart cadaver. Now this is somebody who is brain-dead, legally dead, definitely checked out, but is being kept alive on a respirator, so that their organs will be oxygenated
for transplantation. Now in one of these brain-dead people, if you trigger the right spot, you will see something every now and then. There is a reflex called
the Lazarus reflex. And this is — I’ll demonstrate
as best I can, not being dead. It’s like this. You trigger the spot. The dead guy, or gal, goes… like that. Very unsettling for people
working in pathology labs. (Laughter) Now, if you can trigger
the Lazarus reflex in a dead person, why not the orgasm reflex? I asked this question
to a brain death expert, Stephanie Mann, who was foolish enough
to return my emails. (Laughter) I said, “So, could you conceivably
trigger an orgasm in a dead person?” She said, “Yes, if the sacral nerve
is being oxygenated, you conceivably could.” Obviously it wouldn’t be
as much fun for the person. But it would be an orgasm — (Laughter) nonetheless. There is a researcher
at the University of Alabama who does orgasm research. I said to her,
“You should do an experiment. You know? You can get cadavers
if you work at a university.” I said, “You should actually do this.” She said, “You get the human subjects
review board approval for this one.” (Laughter) According to 1930s marriage manual author, Theodoor van De Velde, a slight seminal odor can be detected
on the breath of a woman within about an hour
after sexual intercourse. Theodoor van De Velde was something
of a semen connoisseur. (Laughter) This is a guy writing a book,
“Ideal Marriage,” you know. Very heavy hetero guy. But he wrote in this book,
“Ideal Marriage” — he said that he could differentiate
between the semen of a young man, which he said had a fresh,
exhilarating smell, and the semen of mature men,
whose semen smelled, quote, “Remarkably like that of the flowers
of the Spanish chestnut. Sometimes quite freshly floral, and then again sometimes
extremely pungent.” (Laughter) Okay. In 1999, in the state of Israel,
a man began hiccupping. And this was one of those cases
that went on and on. He tried everything his friends suggested. Nothing seemed to help. Days went by. At a certain point, the man,
still hiccupping, had sex with his wife. And lo and behold, the hiccups went away. He told his doctor,
who published a case report in a Canadian medical journal
under the title, “Sexual Intercourse as a Potential
Treatment for Intractable Hiccups.” I love this article because
at a certain point they suggested that unattached hiccuppers
could try masturbation. (Laughter) I love that because there is like a whole
demographic: unattached hiccuppers. (Laughter) Married, single, unattached hiccupper. In the 1900s, early 1900s, a lot of gynecologists believed
that when a woman has an orgasm, the contractions serve to suck
the semen up through the cervix and sort of deliver it
really quickly to the egg, thereby upping the odds of conception. It was called the “upsuck” theory. (Laughter) If you go all the way back to Hippocrates, physicians believed that orgasm in women was not just helpful
for conception, but necessary. Doctors back then
were routinely telling men the importance of pleasuring their wives. Marriage-manual author and semen-sniffer
Theodoor van De Velde — (Laughter) has a line in his book. I loved this guy. I got a lot of mileage
out of Theodoor van De Velde. He had this line in his book that supposedly comes
from the Habsburg Monarchy, where there was an empress Maria Theresa, who was having trouble conceiving. And apparently the royal
court physician said to her, “I am of the opinion that the vulva
of your most sacred majesty be titillated for some time
prior to intercourse.” (Laughter) It’s apparently, I don’t know,
on the record somewhere. Masters and Johnson: now we’re moving forward to the 1950s. Masters and Johnson were upsuck skeptics, which is also really fun to say. They didn’t buy it. And they decided,
being Masters and Johnson, that they would get to the bottom of it. They brought women into the lab
— I think it was five women — and outfitted them with cervical caps
containing artificial semen. And in the artificial semen
was a radio-opaque substance, such that it would show up on an X-ray. This is the 1950s. Anyway, these women
sat in front of an X-ray device. And they masturbated. And Masters and Johnson looked to see
if the semen was being sucked up. Did not find any evidence of upsuck. You may be wondering,
“How do you make artificial semen?” (Laughter) I have an answer for you.
I have two answers. You can use flour and water,
or cornstarch and water. I actually found three
separate recipes in the literature. (Laughter) My favorite being the one that says — you know, they have
the ingredients listed, and then in a recipe
it will say, for example, “Yield: two dozen cupcakes.” This one said, “Yield: one ejaculate.” (Laughter) There’s another way that orgasm
might boost fertility. This one involves men. Sperm that sit around in the body
for a week or more start to develop abnormalities that make them less effective
at head-banging their way into the egg. British sexologist Roy Levin
has speculated that this is perhaps why men evolved to be such enthusiastic
and frequent masturbators. He said, “If I keep tossing myself off
I get fresh sperm being made.” Which I thought
was an interesting idea, theory. So now you have an evolutionary excuse. (Laughter) Okay. (Laughter) All righty. There is considerable evidence
for upsuck in the animal kingdom — pigs, for instance. In Denmark, the Danish National Committee
for Pig Production found out that if you
sexually stimulate a sow while you artificially inseminate her, you will see a six-percent increase
in the farrowing rate, which is the number of piglets produced. So they came up with this five-point
stimulation plan for the sows. There is posters they put in the barn,
and they have a DVD. And I got a copy of this DVD. (Laughter) This is my unveiling,
because I am going to show you a clip. (Laughter) So, okay. Now, here we go, la la la, off to work. It all looks very innocent. He’s going to be doing things
with his hands that the boar would use
his snout, lacking hands. Okay. (Laughter) This is it. The boar has a very odd
courtship repertoire. (Laughter) This is to mimic the weight of the boar. (Laughter) You should know, the clitoris
of the pig is inside the vagina. So this may be
sort of titillating for her. Here we go. (Laughter) And the happy result. (Applause) I love this video. There is a point in this video,
towards the beginning, where they zoom in for a close up
of his hand with his wedding ring, as if to say,
“It’s okay, it’s just his job. He really does like women.” (Laughter) Okay. When I was in Denmark,
my host was named Anne Marie. And I said, “So why don’t you just
stimulate the clitoris of the pig? Why don’t you have the farmers do that? That’s not one of your five steps.” I have to read you
what she said, because I love it. She said, “It was a big hurdle just to get farmers to touch
underneath the vulva. So we thought, let’s not mention
the clitoris right now.” (Laughter) Shy but ambitious pig farmers, however,
can purchase a — this is true — a sow vibrator, that hangs on the sperm
feeder tube to vibrate. Because, as I mentioned,
the clitoris is inside the vagina. So possibly, you know,
a little more arousing than it looks. And I also said to her, “Now, these sows. I mean,
you may have noticed there. The sow doesn’t look to be
in the throes of ecstasy.” And she said, you can’t make
that conclusion, because animals don’t register
pain or pleasure on their faces in the same way that we do. Pigs, for example, are more like dogs. They use the upper half of the face;
the ears are very expressive. So you’re not really sure
what’s going on with the pig. Primates, on the other hand,
we use our mouths more. This is the ejaculation face
of the stump-tailed macaque. (Laughter) And, interestingly, this has been
observed in female macaques, but only when mounting another female. (Laughter) Masters and Johnson. In the 1950s, they decided,
okay, we’re going to figure out the entire human sexual response cycle, from arousal, all the way through orgasm,
in men and women — everything that happens in the human body. Okay, with women,
a lot of this is happening inside. This did not stop Masters and Johnson. They developed an artificial
coition machine. This is basically
a penis camera on a motor. There is a phallus, clear acrylic phallus,
with a camera and a light source, attached to a motor
that is kind of going like this. And the woman would have sex with it. That is what they would do.
Pretty amazing. Sadly, this device has been dismantled. This just kills me,
not because I wanted to use it — I wanted to see it. (Laughter) One fine day, Alfred Kinsey decided to calculate the average distance
traveled by ejaculated semen. This was not idle curiosity. Doctor Kinsey had heard — and there was a theory going around
at the time, this being the 1940s — that the force with which
semen is thrown against the cervix was a factor in fertility. Kinsey thought it was bunk,
so he got to work. He got together in his lab 300 men, a measuring tape,
and a movie camera. (Laughter) And in fact, he found
that in three quarters of the men the stuff just kind of slopped out. It wasn’t spurted or thrown
or ejected under great force. However, the record holder landed just shy of the eight-foot mark,
which is impressive. (Laughter) (Applause) Yes. Exactly. (Laughter) Sadly, he’s anonymous.
His name is not mentioned. (Laughter) In his write-up
of this experiment in his book, Kinsey wrote, “Two sheets were laid down to protect
the oriental carpets.” (Laughter) Which is my second favorite line
in the entire oeuvre of Alfred Kinsey. My favorite being, “Cheese crumbs
spread before a pair of copulating rats will distract the female,
but not the male.” (Laughter) Thank you very much. (Applause) Thanks!

100 thoughts on “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm | Mary Roach

  1. Those pig farmers need to not use that method. 6% increase?!?? That’s nothing. Perhaps the increase is simply due to the pigs being extra cleaned and handled by humans to accommodate the human. Not enough ROI to justify this manhandling. It’s not justified ethically, but certainly not justified from a business perspective. On an emotional level, I found it disgusting.

  2. Well I'm TOOTHLESS. A toothbrush won't work for my 48 year old a**. However, Seatbelts in vehicles rubbing across my lower abdomen near my navel though!

  3. This is actually a very interesting topic but a) is too much aimed at entertainment, rather than education, and thus panders to the lowest sensibilities of the audience b ) shows how many prudes have watched this (presumably the preponderance of the downvotes, I would think & hope). Overall, I upvoted it, nonetheless. (Oh, yes….I did not laugh even once, nor wince).

  4. Someone quoting a disgusting paedophilie like Kinsey is either an idiot or someone perverse. Funny that the first person she quoted with these twisted ideas was a Jew.

  5. These experiments are so basic level, and you wasted so much time of your life for it.
    I have known people who have performed more advanced practical experiment.
    Feel free to contact me. I may share few information or contact details, based on your research goals.

  6. I'm pleased I subscribed to TED Talks as they do cover some interesting topics and deliver them in a humorous way which makes watching them a whole lot more nicer to watch.

  7. I never had one.
    I had a tire blow right near fatal ejection of critical parts.
    I also had a heavy duty diesel engine battery literally explode on simple input of starting.
    Reverse orgasmic response.
    This literally shook me.

  8. That pig rape is disgusting. The person doing it is disgusting. Why would any normal man want a job like that? Also what was the point of touching and pulling the pigs nipples? The male pig doesn't do that, he has trotters. I'm sorry but it is gross and the audience should not laugh at that. Oh, and he didn't have rubber gloves on!! Pervert.

  9. The moment someone quotes or makes reference to Alfred Kinsey in a positive way you can be assured that you are dealing with a heavily indoctrinated or depraved individual or possibly both….

  10. Well that’s great! And I’m not kidding that’s really great! Women don’t need men, that’s what they’re always saying. Now after seeing this as long as they have eyelids and teeth to brush then really what need of a man do they have? So gentlemen, the next time you’re at a tavern or a pub and a woman walks up to you and bats her eyelashes and flashes her teeth in a smile, you know that she doesn’t need you except for that drink she wants to freeload off of you!!!

  11. I bought these glasses when they were first sold , and still have and ware them. Excellent glasses. Would not buy any other.

  12. n Ex girlfriend of mine once said she was having trouble with her "Volva", i pointed out to her that it was about time she bought a new CAR anyways!

  13. Wow, I actually have that book (Ideal Marriage.) It's a very very old copy which I found in an old bookstore. So obscure, I never thought I'd hear it mentioned by somebody else.

  14. This reminded me of

    Two nuns cycling down a cobbled street, the one nun doesnt recognise any of the buildings and asks, "have you come this way before?"

    The second nun says "Not often, normally I just sit on the washing machine when its on a spin cycle"

    Excellent speaker though, absolutely loved her way of talking, it was both easy to listen to and understand whilst also being kept light and comical

    That said however, she is also quite attractive which given the subject matter was a bit distracting lol, so I just played a game while listening, problem/distraction solved 🙂

  15. I felt the 'up-suck' with my Japanese wife and she was saying "You move my mother material!" – and she fell pregnant quickly.

  16. Kinsey was an entomologist without a degree in psychology of medicine. He used prisoners and that was 70 years ago. Why do these people keep citing him? Is the per'son really dead if they can respond like that? How reassuring that they keep "live cadavers" oxygenated so they can harvest their organs.

  17. I'm completely enamoured with this woman. She's physically not my type in any way other than a very nice smile but I'm like falling in love over here.

    Next level personality and charisma I guess.

  18. she'd be a lot of fun at parties 😁 👍 probably duck away for a secret quicky but she'd be liked
    "you're getting me there first before I even touch it"

  19. Greetings, G Spot is a myth. CyberAudience: Plz contribute with data. It's too suspicious the G Spot was not represented in any Anatomical model or at least an area of Tissue/Cell differentiation. Studies have proven there aren't Messner's Corpuscles away from the clint (clitoris). G Spot is a Lie.

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