As a female, does orgasm affect my health?

Our evidence-based analysis features 27 unique references to scientific papers.

Written by Kamal Patel
Last Updated:

Fancy biochemistry science

What contributes to sexual desire?

It is noted that, scientifically, its pretty hard to adequately define sexual arousal,[1] although it can be looked at through both an objective portion (empirical changes in body heat, breathing rates, increased sensitivity of the genitalia) and subjective portion (self-report)[2] whereas orgasm is defined a bit more accurately as a transient, intense, peak of pleasure and euphoria and altered state of consciousness, usually paired with an induction of well-being and contentment.[3]

Although context is important for female arousal there are also neurotransmitters and hormones that mediate or are responsive to this process.[4] Like men, female arousal seems to be mediated by hypothalamic dopamine[4] and androgens like testostereone,[5][6] insofar that a case study has noted lack of sexual desire in a woman suffering from a deficiency of a certain androgen.[7]

Externally, the scent of the desired gender appears to influence libido as smelling androgens seems to stimulate heterosexual females and smelling estrogens seems to stimulate both heterosexual men and lesbians,[8][9] even going as far to increase testosterone in men.[10] That being said, the study of human pheromones is young and needs more research.

What happens in my body when I orgasm?

Although dopamine, androgens, and noradrenaline further sexual desire;[11] it seems that orgasm is highly related to serotonin.[12]

Estrogens are not highly related to the neurology of sex, but are more involved with regulation of female sexual anatomy.[13][14][15]

Various brain regions are important for female arousal and orgasm.[2] 

Can I take anything to enhance orgasm?

At the moment, no compound has a large body of evidence behind it suggesting enhancement of female orgasm; merely promising routes that await more research.[16] Most research to this date has been in preventing a decline in sexual desire that is induced by anti-depressant medication, the results of which may not apply to healthy women.[17][18]

Straight-up Answer: Does it affect health?

Frequent orgasms are highly correlated with an increased quality of life,[19] yet this correlation is positive for sex and negative for non-sexual forms of orgasm[20][21] and anal.[22] Although not necessarily causative, numerous studies have found similar results.

Sex appears to be good for health, not necessarily orgasm.

A note on studies looking at female orgasm

There have been differences noted between primate and non-primate sexual control, so it is questionable as to whether mice and rats (rodent models) are an accurate model for humans in this regard.[2][23]

Additionally, one of the main research techniques to induce sexual arousal (showing pictures and videos of the sex(s) that the subject reports to enjoy) seems to be more effective in males relative to females.[24][25][26] Context appears to be important as well, with videos labelled 'erotic' eliciting more excitement than videos labelled 'documentaries'.[27]


  1. ^ Basson R, et al. Revised definitions of women's sexual dysfunction. J Sex Med. (2004)
  2. ^ a b c Salonia A, et al. Physiology of women's sexual function: basic knowledge and new findings. J Sex Med. (2010)
  3. ^ Meston CM, et al. Disorders of orgasm in women. J Sex Med. (2004)
  4. ^ a b Pfaus JG. Pathways of sexual desire. J Sex Med. (2009)
  5. ^ Traish AM, et al. Androgens in female genital sexual arousal function: a biochemical perspective. J Sex Marital Ther. (2002)
  6. ^ Kingsberg SA, Simon JA, Goldstein I. The current outlook for testosterone in the management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in postmenopausal women. J Sex Med. (2008)
  7. ^ Riley AJ. Life-long absence of sexual drive in a woman associated with 5-dihydrotestosterone deficiency. J Sex Marital Ther. (1999)
  8. ^ Berglund H, Lindström P, Savic I. Brain response to putative pheromones in lesbian women. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2006)
  9. ^ Savic I, et al. Smelling of odorous sex hormone-like compounds causes sex-differentiated hypothalamic activations in humans. Neuron. (2001)
  10. ^ Miller SL, Maner JK. Scent of a woman: men's testosterone responses to olfactory ovulation cues. Psychol Sci. (2010)
  11. ^ Hull EM, et al. Hormone-neurotransmitter interactions in the control of sexual behavior. Behav Brain Res. (1999)
  12. ^ Meston CM, Frohlich PF. Update on female sexual function. Curr Opin Urol. (2001)
  13. ^ Levine KB, Williams RE, Hartmann KE. Vulvovaginal atrophy is strongly associated with female sexual dysfunction among sexually active postmenopausal women. Menopause. (2008)
  14. ^ Genazzani AR, et al. The European Menopause Survey 2005: women's perceptions on the menopause and postmenopausal hormone therapy. Gynecol Endocrinol. (2006)
  15. ^ Maclaran K, Panay N. Managing low sexual desire in women. Womens Health (Lond Engl). (2011)
  16. ^ Brown AD, Blagg J, Reynolds DS. Designing drugs for the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. Drug Discov Today. (2007)
  17. ^ Safarinejad MR. Reversal of SSRI-induced female sexual dysfunction by adjunctive bupropion in menstruating women: a double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized study. J Psychopharmacol. (2011)
  18. ^ Stryjer R, et al. Trazodone for the treatment of sexual dysfunction induced by serotonin reuptake inhibitors: a preliminary open-label study. Clin Neuropharmacol. (2009)
  19. ^ Brody S, Weiss P. Simultaneous penile-vaginal intercourse orgasm is associated with satisfaction (sexual, life, partnership, and mental health). J Sex Med. (2011)
  20. ^ Brody S, Costa RM. Satisfaction (sexual, life, relationship, and mental health) is associated directly with penile-vaginal intercourse, but inversely with other sexual behavior frequencies. J Sex Med. (2009)
  21. ^ Tao P, Brody S. Sexual behavior predictors of satisfaction in a Chinese sample. J Sex Med. (2011)
  22. ^ Brody S. The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. J Sex Med. (2010)
  23. ^ Effects of Mating on c-fos Expression in the Brains of Male Macaques.
  24. ^ Rupp HA, Wallen K. Sex-specific content preferences for visual sexual stimuli. Arch Sex Behav. (2009)
  25. ^ Polan ML, et al. Female sexual arousal: a behavioral analysis. Fertil Steril. (2003)
  26. ^ Tsujimura A, et al. Sex differences in visual attention to sexually explicit videos: a preliminary study. J Sex Med. (2009)
  27. ^ Park K, et al. Blood-oxygenation-level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging for evaluating cerebral regions of female sexual arousal response. Urology. (2001)