Relationships among cardiovascular, muscular, and oxytocin responses during human sexual activity

Abstract

To determine the psychophysiological correlates of hormonal response during sexual activity, systolic blood pressure (SBP), anal electromyography (EMG), and anal photoplethysmography (APG) were monitored continuously throughout testing in 13 women and 10 men. Each subject completed two or more tests of self-stimulation to 5 min beyond orgasm. Blood samples were obtained continuously for measurement of oxytocin (OT) levels. In both men and women, very high positive correlations were observed between the percentage change in levels from baseline through orgasm of: OT and SBP; OT and EMG intensity prior to and during orgasm; APG and EMG. The number of anal contractions and duration of orgasm were also highly correlated. Two patterns of orgasm were defined by the presence or absence of a quiescent period between orgasmic contractions. EMG and APG amplitudes correlated with the pattern of orgasm. Subjective orgasm intensity correlated significantly with increased levels of OT in multiorgasmic women only. The positive correlations between measures are consistent with a possible functional role for OT in human sexual response.

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This research was supported by National Institutes of Health postdoctoral scholarship 5F332HD to M.S.C. and grant AG01437 to J.M.D.

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Carmichael, M.S., Warburton, V.L., Dixen, J. et al. Relationships among cardiovascular, muscular, and oxytocin responses during human sexual activity. Arch Sex Behav 23, 59–79 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01541618

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Key words

  • oxytocin
  • orgasm
  • sexual response
  • psychophysiology
  • pelvic contractions