Although science has made many advances in orgasm research, experts are still learning about men and women during sexual peak.

According to a new survey of 1,000 U.S. men, 22% — almost a quarter — admitted that they had faked an orgasm. And:

divorced men are 67 percent more likely to simulate an orgasm than are single men.

Meanwhile, in a different series of studies taking place over the last century or so, researchers have discovered that a few men — and lots of women — are capable of "spontaneous orgasm."

As William Broad writes for The New York Times:

In 1948, Alfred C. Kinsey of Indiana University and his colleagues published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.” That groundbreaking study looked at thousands of cases but noted only two in which men “could reach climax by deliberate concentration of thought on erotic situations.”

But the team’s follow-up report on women, published in 1953, surveyed 2,727 women, and the researchers found that 2 percent of the interviewees — 54 women — reported an ability to reach orgasm by “fantasy alone.”


In the '70s, Dr. Gina Ogden focused her studies on this kind of hands-free orgasm.

In 1980 she mentioned her research while giving a talk at a conference on women’s issues and was astonished when half the audience came up afterward to volunteer. “There was a stampede,” Dr. Ogden recalled. Of the 50 women she interviewed, 32 — or 64 percent — reported that they could reach orgasm by imagination alone.


By the '90s, researchers were doing bran scans on these subjects, and found "pleasure centers lit up more or less identically whether the women reached sexual highs by hand stimulation or by erotic thoughts." And more recently, Dr. Barry R. Komisaruk and Nan Wise at Rutgers have done more brain scans:

Women who simply thought about the stimulation of their breasts and genitals, the scans revealed, lit up the brain’s corresponding sensory areas.

“That’s not the traditional view of the sensory cortex,” Ms. Wise said recently, alluding to how sense organs are usually seen as responsible for the cortical responses.


It's interesting that as much as we know about sex, as much as humans continue to have all kinds of sex, sexual behavior can still surprise us, and there are still lessons to be learned.

[NBC News, NYT]

Image via Sebastian Tomus/Shutterstock.