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Spotlighting women’s experiences of orgasm


Speaker: Jim Pfaus, PhD, IF

Neuroscience researcher and psychologist


Content and aim:

Why are female orgasms still shrouded in mystery?  Why does there continue to be an apparent dichotomy between clitoral and vaginal orgasms?  Are all orgasms the same?  Can all women experience them?  Must they serve an obvious reproductive purpose to be considered “valid”?  How do arousal and experience play a role in orgasm function and dysfunction?

This webinar will examine female orgasms from different perspectives: historical, subjective, and objective, and will take a neurobiological approach in humans and animal models to help understand what stimulation induces them, their typology, why they can be felt as localized or diffuse, and what they activate in the body and brain, anatomically and neurochemically. Their role in the induction of pleasure, intimacy, and preference, and the neuroendocrine reflexes that conditionally enhance pregnancy, will be highlighted.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To define orgasms subjectively and objectively.
  2. To understand the history of clitoral invalidation and revaluation.
  3. To understand the sensory role of the external and internal clitoris and cervix in orgasm.
  4. To examine the cardiovascular, spinal, supraspinal, and neuroendocrine circuitry of orgasm.
  5. To understand the role that arousal and experience play in orgasm function and dysfunction.


Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, with a research appointment at the Institute for Brain Research, Universidad Veracruzana, in Xalapa, México. Dr Pfaus got interested in the neurobiology of sex at an early age.  For over 30 years, he has conducted extensive research into the brain mechanisms of sexual arousal, desire, pleasure, and inhibition, working with both laboratory rats and humans.  This work has revealed how sexual experience alters these systems’ function, which has helped to identify potential pharmacological treatments for desire, arousal, and orgasm disorders. Dr Pfaus has authored over 220 peer-reviewed scientific papers and book chapters and has received numerous research awards.  He is the current Editor-in-Chief of the journal Current Sexual Health Reports, Associate Editor of Sexual Medicine Reviews, is a past-president of the International Academy of Sex Research, and a fellow of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health.

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