The Frontal Cortex

Dopamine and Orgasm

Remember a few years ago, when there were all these books that tried to explain the history of everything in terms of some seemingly minor subject, like “Cod” or “Salt”? I think it’s time to apply this publishing trope to neuroscience: we need a book on dopamine. That damn neurotransmitter is everywhere. Now it’s even being hailed as an orgasm accelerator:

Abundant evidence points to dopamine as the key neurotransmitter involved in stimulating orgasm in humans. Thus, administration of the dopamine precursor L-dopa, dopaminergic agonists (e.g. apomorphine), dopamine releasers (e.g. amphetamine), or dopamine reuptake inhibitors (e.g. cocaine or bupropion) facilitate the expression of orgasm in men and women. Conversely, administration of antipsychotics impair orgasm, by blocking postsynaptic dopamine receptors (see Komisaruk et al., 2006).

Dopamine-synthesising neurons that originate in the lower brainstem (specifically the ventral tegmental area) are activated during ejaculation in men, as measured by PET imaging (Holstege et al., 2003).

A major projection of the dopamine neuron axon terminals is to the nucleus accumbens of the forebrain. This nucleus is activated during orgasm in women, as measured by fMRI (Komisaruk et al., 2004).

Thus, activation of the dopaminergic system of the brain evidently participates in the production of orgasm in women and men, on the basis of pharmacological functional brain imaging, and neuroanatomical studies. Consistent with this role of dopamine, hypersexuality has been reported in cases of Parkinsonism treated with dopamine precursor or agonist drugs (Bowers et al., 1971). Acute administration of drugs that increase dopaminergic activity only occasionally induces orgasm in the absence of other factors. However, intravenous injection of cocaine, which rapidly increases the release of dopamine at its neuronal terminals in the forebrain, can induce the ‘cocaine rush’ that individuals report as feeling similar to genital orgasm (Miller & Gold, 1988)

Serotonin, by the way, is an orgasm brake, which is why SSRI’s often interfere with sex drive. But perhaps you can compensate for that neurotransmitter decrease with a little novelty (dopamine receptors love kinky new stuff). Here’s the NY Times:

Using laboratory studies, real-world experiments and even brain-scan data, scientists can now offer long-married couples a simple prescription for rekindling the romantic love that brought them together in the first place. The solution? Reinventing date night.

Rather than visiting the same familiar haunts and dining with the same old friends, couples need to tailor their date nights around new and different activities that they both enjoy, says Arthur Aron, a professor of social psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The goal is to find ways to keep injecting novelty into the relationship. The activity can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or something a little more unusual or thrilling — like taking an art class or going to an amusement park.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeremy
    February 12, 2008

    I gotta tell you, I was not a big believer in the practical application of neuroscience until I read in the New York Times about the fine folks at Stony Brook who blew the lid off of date night with brain scans. Who knew? I look forward to upcoming research about the evolutionary benefits of spooning and the chemical reactions that trigger foot rubs.

  2. #2 chris
    February 18, 2008

    I was put on Dostinex for some time for a tumor.
    Which I have to tell you did some pretty amazing things for my orgasm(s).. as in more than one, try four or five.
    Dopamine. Wow.

  3. #3 who, me?
    March 3, 2008

    > something a little more unusual or thrilling —
    > like taking an art class or going to an amusement park.

    Geez, my beloved and I spent our formative years together going hang gliding. Now what? Maybe rocket racing, or shark wrestling?

  4. #4 hgh
    March 24, 2008

    I’m not a big believer in the practical application.

  5. #5 Dana
    February 17, 2011

    I enjoyed your article. I have had the anterior lobe of my pituitary removed since 1994. I have finally found a doctor who put me on testosterone,and is giving me bioidentical hormones (I’m 55.) The problem, among others that go with this particualr problem are uninformed endocrinologists who want you to ” let your gyneocologist take care of that”.

    My husband of 35 years and I, lost our most-satisfying love life b/c of doctors who neither cared or were emabarassed when I tried to broach the subject. Perhaps they were uninformed. None the less..no excuse for what they didn’t and still don’t do. Maybe it just isn’t their problem.

    My prolactin recently showed an increase. The MRI showed no tumor growth. Thank goodness! However, that further complicates our attempts at having satisfactory relations.

    Perhaps I can force my endocrinologist to listen to possibilities by tying him to a chair! Perhaps some dopamine could work for us?

    Thank you for such informative material.

  6. #6 HGH Energizer
    April 23, 2011

    dopamine is somehow helpful in someways but let’s always remember that too much exposure to dopamine would also give us negative effects in our body that includes tolerance and addiction to the substance.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!