Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 121–133

Physiological correlates of imagery-induced orgasm in women

  • Beverly Whipple
  • Gina Ogden
  • Barry R. Komisaruk

DOI: 10.1007/BF01542589

Cite this article as:
Whipple, B., Ogden, G. & Komisaruk, B.R. Arch Sex Behav (1992) 21: 121. doi:10.1007/BF01542589


Orgasm has been reported to occur in response to imagery in the absence of any physical stimulation. This study was undertaken to ascertain whether the subjective report of imagery-induced orgasm is accompanied by physiological and perceptual events that are characteristic of genitally stimulated orgasm. Subjects were women who claimed that they could experience orgasm from imagery alone. Orgasm from self-induced imagery or genital self-stimulation generated significant increases in systolic blood pressure, heart rate, pupil diameter, pain detection threshold, and pain tolerance threshold over resting control conditions. These findings provide evidence that orgasm from self-induced imagery and genital self-stimulation can each produce significant and substantial net sympathetic activation and concomitant significant increases in pain thresholds. The increases in the self-induced imagery orgasm condition were comparable in magnitude to those in the genital self-stimulation-produced orgasm condition. On this basis we state that physical genital stimulation is evidently not necessary to produce a state that is reported to be an orgasm and that a reassessment of the nature of orgasm is warranted.

Key words

orgasm imagery genital self-stimulation blood pressure heart rate pupil diameter pain thresholds women 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beverly Whipple
    • 1
  • Gina Ogden
    • 2
  • Barry R. Komisaruk
    • 3
  1. 1.College of Nursing, RutgersThe State University of New JerseyNewarkUSA
  2. 2.CambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Animal Behavior, RutgersThe State University of New JerseyNewarkUSA

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