Orgasmic Anhedonia/ PDOD: Overview

Content Written By: Irwin Goldstein, MD

Orgasm is a neurologic response to sexual stimulation. Sensory input from smell, touch, in particular the external genitalia (clitoris, labia, vagina), 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 woman, brain scans show 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 vagina, urethra, female prostate, and clitoris. 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.

It is thought that women with pleasure dissociative orgasmic disorder or orgasmic anhedonia have a dysfunction in regulation of the brain neurochemical dopamine in the region of the brain’s reward center, the nucleus accumbens. This region of the brain is thought to play an important role in reward, laughter, pleasure, addiction, and music.

Find a Doctor

Enter your city, state or zipcode and find the nearest doctor in your area who specializes in treating: Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder (PGAD)

diagnostic tool teaser

Share your Story

shareDo you have a personal health story that you would like to share with others? Many people, especially when newly diagnosed, find comfort in knowing that others are having a similar experience. Our story areas are a place to share experiences about living with and treating sexual health issues.

Join the Forums

joinDo you have a question, want to share medical advice, or just need to discuss your situation with someone else having a similar experience?

The forums are a resource for everyone to share and discuss their health and medical needs with others, and get answers to medical questions from the leading experts in the field of sexual medicine

Stay updated with our monthly newsletter

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter—Get updates about advances in the field, new products and medical trials in your area. Your information will never be shared without your consent.

Leave this field empty