Pontine control of ejaculation and female orgasm

Huynh, Hieu K., Willemsen, Antoon T. M., Lovick, Thelma A. and Holstege, Gert (2013) Pontine control of ejaculation and female orgasm. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 10 12: 3038-3048. doi:10.1111/jsm.12300

Author Huynh, Hieu K.
Willemsen, Antoon T. M.
Lovick, Thelma A.
Holstege, Gert
Title Pontine control of ejaculation and female orgasm
Journal name Journal of Sexual Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1743-6095
Publication date 2013-12-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/jsm.12300
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 10
Issue 12
Start page 3038
End page 3048
Total pages 11
Place of publication West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell
Language eng
Subject 2748 Urology
2729 Obstetrics and Gynaecology
2743 Reproductive Medicine
Formatted abstract
Introduction: The physiological component of ejaculation shows parallels with that of micturition, as both are essentially voiding activities. Both depend on supraspinal influences to orchestrate the characteristic pattern of activity in the pelvic organs. Unlike micturition, little is known about the supraspinal pathways involved in ejaculation and female orgasm.

Aim: To identify brainstem regions activated during ejaculation and female orgasm and to compare them with those activated during micturition.

Methods: Ejaculation in men and orgasm in women were induced by manual stimulation of the penis or clitoris by the participants' partners. Positron emission tomography (PET) with correction for head movements was used to capture the pattern of brain activation at the time of sexual climax.

Main Outcome Measures: PET scans showing areas of activation during sexual climax.

Results: Ejaculation in men and orgasm in women resulted in activation in a localized region within the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum on the left side and in another region in the ventrolateral pontine tegmentum on the right side. The dorsolateral pontine area was also active in women who attempted but failed to have an orgasm and in women who imitated orgasm. The ventrolateral pontine area was only activated during ejaculation and physical orgasm in women.

Conclusion: Activation of a localized region on the left side in the dorsolateral pontine tegmentum, which we termed the pelvic organ-stimulating center, occurs during ejaculation in men and physical orgasm in women. This same region has previously been shown to be activated during micturition, but on the right side. The pelvic organ-stimulating center, via projections to the sacral parasympathetic motoneurons, controls pelvic organs involved in voiding functions. In contrast, the ventrolateral pontine area, which we term the pelvic floor-stimulating center, produces the pelvic floor contractions during ejaculation in men and physical orgasm in women via direct projections to pelvic floor motoneurons. Huynh HK, Willemsen ATM, Lovick TA, and Holstege G. Pontine control of ejaculation and female orgasm.
Keyword Ejaculation
Pelvic Floor-Stimulating Center
Onuf's Nucleus
Pelvic Organ-Stimulating Center
PET Scanning
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
Official 2014 Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 9 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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