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Men, Masculinities & Ecstasy-Part II: Male Orgasm & Ejaculation

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Male Orgasm & Ejaculation

Male Orgasm & Ejaculation - (Image Credit: Shutterstock); Author picture - (Image Credit: Author)

Orgasm and ejaculation are two separate physiological processes that are sometimes difficult to distinguish. Orgasm is a transient peak experience of intense pleasure creating an altered state of consciousness associated with various physical changes.

Orgasm, a common experience for most men, is surprisingly shrouded in mystery and myth, and is clearly under-researched.

But what exactly is orgasm? According to The Orgasm Answer Guide, “an orgasm is a buildup of pleasurable body sensations and excitement to a peak intensity that then releases tensions and creates a feeling of satisfaction and relaxation.” That is a bit general. A better working definition of orgasm is “the feeling one gets at the moment of sexual climax;”again, we’re left high and dry (no pun intended, guys). Most definitions I could find do not clearly distinguish male orgasm sufficiently from any other elevated state of erotosensual arousal, whether ecstasy or bliss.

One common physiological description comes from Alfred Kinsey and his famous study of 1948, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male; in this definition, the key outcome of orgasm is “the abrupt release of the extreme tension which preceded the event and the rather sudden return to a normal or subnormal physiologic state after the event.”

Another similarly physiologically focused definition is:”orgasm is the result of “cerebral neuronal discharge… elicited … by the accumulative effect on certain brain structures of appropriate stimuli originated in the peripheral erogenous zones.” Happily, most adults seem to know what an orgasm is without elaborate definition.

Given these rather esoteric, lofty definitions of orgasm, we can count ourselves lucky that most men know the difference between an orgasm and a rollercoaster ride.

Esoteric

In the West, particularly in the United States, men are burdened with many taboos and don’t spend much time analyzing their orgasms with their beer-swilling friends. Neither do men spend much time discussing their internal states with other men.

We can agree that orgasm is a pleasurable experience, however, and a man’s orgasm clearly differs from other sensory experiences. Even the particular features of the orgasmic experience can differ considerably even in the same person.

There is no standard definition of orgasm. Each scientific specialty such as endocrinology or psychology describes orgasm from its own perspective, and the situation is further complicated by the popular and online orgasm guru-s who do a great job of further confusing the subject.

While orgasm is generally associated with ejaculation, the two processes are physiologically different. Certain physiological features are associated with orgasm, including hyperventilation up to 40 breaths/min, a rise in heart rate, and an elevation in blood pressure; a more rapid heart rate was an indicator of “real” male orgasm during penetrative intimacy, differentiating it from “fake” orgasm.

Orgasm is also frequently correlated with the rhythmic and pleasurable pelvic muscle contractions (particularly involving the ischiocavernosus and bulbocavernosus), along with rectal sphincter contractions and facial expressions, all features of ejaculation. There is also an associated release and elevation in certain hormone levels before, during, and after orgasm.

Studies using positron emission tomography, which measures changes in regional cerebral blood flow, have identified specific areas of activation in the brain during orgasm, which supports the notion that orgasm is a brain event.

sexual stimulation

Quality and intensity of orgasms are variable. For instance, short fast buildup of sexual stimulation toward orgasm is associated with less intense orgasms than slow buildup. Orgasms of early life are less satisfying than orgasms in later adult life as the mature person learns to appreciate the complex pleasures associated with his orgasms. Lower levels of androgen are associated with less intense orgasms.

It has been suggested that pelvic muscle exercises, particularly the bulbocavernosus and ischiocavernosus muscles, through contracting those muscles 60 times, 3 times daily for 6 weeks will enhance the pleasure associated with orgasm. The effort and discipline associated with such exercises limit their utilization by most men.

The orgasm induced by deep prostatic massage is different from the orgasm attained by direct penile stimulation. Although penile stimulation orgasms are associated with 4–8 pelvic muscle contractions, prostatic massage orgasms are associated with 12 contractions.

Prostatic massage orgasms are thought to be more intense and more diffuse than penile stimulation orgasms, but they require time and practice, and most men won’t commit.

It appears also that even Masters and Johnson (1966) tended to conflate orgasm with ejaculation; the term “ejaculation” is simplistically used to describe all all components (emission, ejaculation, and orgasm) of the male ejaculorgasmic experience.

There is a distinction between ejaculation and orgasm, and this very distinction allows for male multiple orgasm, however. Moreover, physical ejaculatory sensations are not the essence of male orgasm as has often been represented in the popular and scientific press.

multiple orgasm

Orgasm includes a number of common features: body rigidity, muscle spasms, vocalizations, sweating, hyperventilation, rocking pelvic motions, and shuddering are experienced in both men and womem during orgasm.

There is a prevailing assumption that a male’s orgasm tends to be more abrupt and explosive, but I think that is an unfortunate generalization, as many of my readers can attest.

Descriptions of Orgasm: The Human Orgasm Model
The Human Orgasm Model uses more than 20 different descriptors of the orgasm experience. There are three main themes in the Model representing the sensory, evaluative, and affective component of orgasm.

According to the Human Orgasm Model, sensory aspects of orgasm include:

  • Buildup of Tension: rising, building, and swelling
  • Release of Tension: relieving, releasing, erupting, and exploding
  • Spreading Sensations: flowing, spreading, and radiating
  • Whole-Body Involvement: trembling and shuddering
  • Ejaculatory Sensations: oozing, spurting, and shooting
  • Rhythmic Sensations: quivering, pulsating, and throbbing
  • Thermal Sensations: cool, warm, and hot, and
  • Miscellaneous Sensory: tickling, tingling, and flushing

Evaluative aspects of the orgasm include:

  • Feeling of Inevitability: inevitable
  • Temporal Evaluation: quick, long, and unending
  • Intensity: mild, moderate, intense, and powerful
  • Physical Effects: relaxing, engulfing, and exhausting
  • Depth: deep, full, and complete
  • Global Pleasure: pleasant, enjoyable, pleasurable, and incredible;
  • Sensual Pleasure: soothing, sweet, sensual, and exquisite
  • Satisfaction: satisfying, gratifying, fulfilling, and cathartic, and
  • Excitement: exhilarating, exciting, and wild.

The third theme represents affective/emotional aspects, which include:

  • Emotional Intimacy: close and loving
  • Joy- Peacefulness: peaceful, blissful, and tender
  • Joy-Elation: elated, ecstatic, euphoric, rapturous, and passionate
  • Emotional Excitation: abandoned and uncontrolled
  • Emotional Fusion: immersing, merging, and unifying
  • Suspension: suspended and soaring
  • Unreality: light-headed, and dizzy
  • Lack of Awareness of Surroundings: detached, oblivious, and unreal, and
  • Miscellaneous Affective: melting and vulnerable.

How would you describe your orgasm experiences using the terms from the Model?

Psychosocial factors may be the principal catalysts of the subjective feelings of orgasm. Men’s experience of orgasm has been given less attention than women’s, but evidence suggests that men’s orgasmic experiences are also subject to psychosocial influences.

Passion/intimacy may create specific feelings of pleasure that can influence how an individual interprets the intensity of his orgasm. Conversely, anxiety about the sexual act a man is engaged in can affect his erotic interest; anxiety about the consequences of sex (sexually transmitted diseases etc.), or performance issues can affect a man’s response to stimulation and arousal. Only a few studies focus on the psychological aspects involved in men’s orgasms.

A widespread assumption in the field of sexual research is that there are significant differences between a man’s experience of orgasm and a female’s experience of orgasm but the actual differences may be in the descriptions that men and women use to describe their orgasms.

I believe that a man’s ability to describe his orgasm is impaired by cultural conditioning and socialization, and most men simply don’t have the vocabulary to describe such experiences. Psychology even has a term for the situation: alexothymia/dyslexothymia.

Generally, most men acknowledge that they experience orgasm. Differences in orgasm experiences may not occur strictly between sexes, however; it is possible that the experience of orgasm actually differs from individual to individual; one man’s experience can differ greatly from another man’s experience.

The sexual context in which orgasm occurs, i.e., through masturbation (solitary) or sexual interaction (partner/group), may also influence the orgasmic experiences. Only a few studies have focused on this dimension. For example, Mah and Binik (2002) used participants’ subjective ratings by of the extent their orgasm experiences, during both masturbation and penetrative partner intimacy. Participants rated satisfaction, overall pleasure, emotional intimacy, shooting sensations, and rhythmic sensations (that is, general spasms) as more extensive in penetrative intimacy than in masturbation.

Masturbation

Most men describe similar experiences of orgasm and mention intensity and ejaculatory sensations. Proportionally, more men who engaged in partner or group intimacy mention satisfaction, general pleasure, shooting sensations, rhythmic sensations, emotional intimacy, and emotional fusion, compared to participants who masturbated. Masturbation, it would appear, lags far behind partner/group intimacy in terms of quality of orgasm.

In the final part of this series I will be writing about specific types of male orgasms and how they fit in the Homoerotic Tantra:Mascul-IN-Touch℠ and Mascul-IN-Timacy℠ programs and philosophy of masculinities and intimacy.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. The content on our website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or therapy. You should NEVER disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment due to something you have read on our website and we will not be held responsible for any adverse health condition or injury that occurs as a result of doing so.
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Daka Karuna T.

Psychospiritual Care Provider

Dāka Karuṇā T. (दाक करुणा तान्त्रिक) is a psychospiritual care provider...

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