Why are my pants parts sending different messages to my sleep center?
November 3, 2009 5:58 PM   Subscribe

I Can't Believe I'm Going To Ask This Non-Anonymously Filter: Why do I fall asleep after a clitoral orgasm, but not after an orgasm of the vaginal variety?

Yep. That's about the size of it. Vaginal orgasms leave me WIDE AWAKE for a good hour or two, but a clitoral orgasm will knock me right out.

Why the difference? What kind of biochemical distinction is going on there? Wouldn't it be the same process in terms of hormones and what not?
posted by grapefruitmoon to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I don't know, but, uh, me too.
posted by mollymayhem at 6:09 PM on November 3, 2009

If there's one thing experience has taught me, as a man, it's these two things are very different. I think they come from very different places, so it wouldn't surprise me if they trigger different internal responses.

Is there an evolutional argument to be made for adrenaline being released after a vaginal orgasm?
posted by crickets at 6:15 PM on November 3, 2009

for me - clitoral orgasms are more of a long prolonged build up, with all the right muscles tensing and moving, to a vigorous climax and then immediate reduction of sensations. a vaginal orgasm can be given to me much easier and it seems like less of a (forgive the totally lame metaphor) choreographed dance. the clitoral is also a far more direct orgasm as compared to the vaginal.

that's what i've always chocked it up to - which is to say - me too. i get made fun of sometimes with just how quickly i can pass out after a clitoral orgasm.
posted by nadawi at 6:18 PM on November 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Is it psychological? Are you not "finished" unless you have a clitoral orgasm?

Is it just exhaustion? Does the process of, um, getting a clitoral orgasm take more effort or focus from you, after which your body or brain is more tired out?

While I'm a great fan and supporter of the clitoris, I don't have one of my own, so I'm guessing, but I do notice that an orgasm for me can go either way: it might knock me out so that I'm snoring five minutes later (male stereotype, I know), or it might wake me up and leave me so annoyingly alert that I can't stay in bed and I have to get up and work, or do something else. (Funnily enough, neither of those does much to impress the ladies.)

I've never noticed a pattern though, no way to predict which result I'll get.
posted by rokusan at 6:19 PM on November 3, 2009

More oxytocin release in the former than the latter? Oxytocin is released on orgasm, and it also plays a role in regulation of the sleep/wake cycle. Cite at pubmed and general overview of this fun little hormone/neurotransmitter at Wikipedia.
posted by killdevil at 6:22 PM on November 3, 2009

Well, damn. Me too. I always figured that since the VO is so elusive, I shouldn't complain. But for me, the clitoral orgasm requires so much...stuff and is so intense that it's exhausting. The vaginal orgasms just...happen, and they're like, "Whoah, that was...whoah." And then I lie awake thinking about life, the universe, and everything.

And I can't really complain. It's just...something that happens to me, and now I know that I'm not the only person.

(I know, seems eponysterical, but I swear, my handle is about language sounds...not about vaginas.)
posted by bilabial at 6:25 PM on November 3, 2009 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Is it psychological? Are you not "finished" unless you have a clitoral orgasm?

Not for me, no.

(And neither variety is elusive for me or takes any special amount of effort - I count myself as lucky.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:35 PM on November 3, 2009

Do you feel a different release of muscular tension between the two?
posted by Matt Oneiros at 6:36 PM on November 3, 2009

I'm loathe to post a "me too" here, since it's not really helpful, but.. Holy crap, ME TOO!
posted by VioletU at 6:37 PM on November 3, 2009

Yeah, not necessarily helpful here, but me too! For me, the clitoral variety definitely takes more effort, but just knocks me out, whereas the vaginal doesn't happen all that often but wakes me right up.
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:46 PM on November 3, 2009

I'm kind of astounded that any credence is still given to the idea of two types of female orgasm. That notion, which I thought was pretty firmly debunked 40 years ago, was started by Freud, whose knowledge of women---sexually or otherwise--- was extremely limited.
posted by WyoWhy at 6:47 PM on November 3, 2009 [7 favorites]

As a not-useful anecdotal data point... I am only able to come clitorally, but it definitely wakes me completely up (much to the chagrin of my boyfriend, whose orgasms knock him right out). So... not me too?
posted by brainmouse at 6:58 PM on November 3, 2009

You know what? I don't believe there's a difference between clitoral and vaginal orgasms. The clitoris is actually a pretty large organ (muscle?) that kind of wraps around the vaginal walls, making clitoral stimulation from inside the vagina the source of what we identify as vaginal orgasm.

I believe they're the same damn thing but you're feeling one more intensely than the other. The more intense variety releases more sleepy-time chemicals in your brain and the less intense variety primes you for more action. It's a matter of magnitude, not location.

I could, however, be entirely incorrect. I'm not a ob/gyn or any kind of medical professional. But I am a chick.
posted by dchrssyr at 7:07 PM on November 3, 2009 [10 favorites]

Yeah, NOT me too also. I'm the opposite. Clitoral orgasms get me alllll ramped up and definitely in no mood to sleep, vaginal has sort of meditative aftershocks that drift into sleep pretty quickly.

The vaginal orgasms just...happen, and they're like, "Whoah, that was...whoah." And then I lie awake thinking about life, the universe, and everything.

Like this, except for the lying awake part.
posted by desuetude at 7:19 PM on November 3, 2009

To carry on from dchrissyr's point.... when I have a little bit of morphine, it wakes me up and I'm very, very alert and thoughtful'(incoherent, but thoughtful none the less). A small amount of morphine is like uber-caffeine.

But....when you give me a horse's dose, it eventually makes me sleepy.

Wondering if it's the same thing. Just a thought.
posted by taff at 7:37 PM on November 3, 2009

My school's online copies of the journal don't go back this far, so I can't check from here at home, but this might be relevant if anyone else can find a copy.

Biol Psychiatry. 1985 Jul;20(7):758-63.
Sexual activity and sleep in humans.

Brissette S, Montplaisir J, Godbout R, Lavoisier P.

Polysomnographic recordings were obtained in 10 subjects (5 men and 5 women) for three conditions: following masturbation with orgasm, following masturbation without orgasm, and after reading neutral material. The analysis of several sleep parameters did not reveal any effect of masturbation on sleep. These results suggest that physiological changes that occur during masturbation, with or without orgasm, have no major effect on sleep organization. Other factors associated with sexual activity and potentially responsible for sleepiness after orgasm are discussed, and further strategies to study the interrelationship of sexual activity and sleep are proposed.
posted by vytae at 7:59 PM on November 3, 2009

maybe you guys want to take the "you're not feeling what you think your feeling" derail over to metatalk.
posted by nadawi at 8:08 PM on November 3, 2009

My friend asked me to share that she has experienced both sleepiness and wide-awakeness after the same form of stimulation. She is curious to know why this is so, and suggests that this may be a data point for those arguing that the distinction between kinds of orgasms is perhaps not as useful as it seems.
posted by prefpara at 8:20 PM on November 3, 2009

I'm kind of astounded that any credence is still given to the idea of two types of female orgasm. That notion, which I thought was pretty firmly debunked 40 years ago...

I thought so too, right up until I started having both. And that's a little judgmental for AskMe, no?

grapefruitmoon, I don't have a definitive response, but I seem to have the same experience. To add a point, if I have them simultaneously there's no sleeping for hours after; it wakes me right up; not like adrenaline, though. It's totally different.
posted by heyho at 8:24 PM on November 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Maybe's it's less the type of orgasm, and more the actions accomplished to achieve that type of orgasm, that are changing your reaction afterward? I don't know if you're talking about sex with a partner or not, but either way, different actions are taken to achieve orgasm through different means, right? Maybe you're stretching muscles and using different angles and balancing in different ways, one of which is conducive to getting your nap on and the other of which lends itself more towards energizing you? Basically I'm thinking it might be a bit like certain yoga poses having certain uses, be it for relaxation or energizing oneself. Only, with sex in the middle.

This is total postulation on my part, because I have pretty much the same reaction to all my different orgasm-sources, and that's "well, that was nice, now why won't my brain still shut up?" and then I lie around for about an hour in a haze of not bothering to get up but also not being able to sleep. You lucky people, with your magic clitoral sleep-buttons!
posted by Mizu at 3:12 AM on November 4, 2009

Response by poster: I'm kind of astounded that any credence is still given to the idea of two types of female orgasm.

I'm kind of astounded that you have never interacted with a woman who can tell you that there are distinctly two types of female orgasm which are completely different in sensation if not causation.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:06 AM on November 4, 2009 [5 favorites]

Wow, the neurology of sexual and orgasm is really poorly understood. The best thing I could find was this part of this article,

"To find out whether orgasm looks similar in the female brain, Holstege’s team asked the male partners of 12 women to stimulate their partner’s clitoris—the site whose excitation most easily leads to orgasm—until she climaxed, again inside a PET scanner. Not surprisingly, the team reported in 2006, clitoral stimulation by itself led to activation in areas of the brain involved in receiving and perceiving sensory signals from that part of the body and in describing a body sensation—for instance, labeling it “sexual.”

But when a woman reached orgasm, something unexpected happened: much of her brain went silent. Some of the most muted neurons sat in the left lateral orbitofrontal cortex, which may govern self-control over basic desires such as sex. Decreased activity there, the researchers suggest, might correspond to a release of tension and inhibition. The scientists also saw a dip in excitation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which has an apparent role in moral reasoning and social judgment—a change that may be tied to a suspension of judgment and reflection.

Brain activity fell in the amygdala, too, suggesting a depression of vigilance similar to that seen in men, who generally showed far less deactivation in their brain during orgasm than their female counterparts did. “Fear and anxiety need to be avoided at all costs if a woman wishes to have an orgasm; we knew that, but now we can see it happening in the depths of the brain,” Holstege says. He went so far as to declare at the 2005 meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Development: “At the moment of orgasm, women do not have any emotional feelings.”

But that lack of emotion may not apply to all orgasms in women. Komisaruk, Whipple and their colleagues studied the patterns of brain activation that occur during orgasm in five women with spinal cord injuries that left them without sensation in their lower extremities. These women were able to achieve a “deep,” or nonclitoral, orgasm through mechanical stimulation (using a laboratory device) of the vagina and cervix. But contrary to Holstege’s results, Komisaruk’s team found that orgasm was accompanied by a general activation of the limbic system, the brain’s seat of emotion."
posted by afu at 5:53 AM on November 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

I dont know why I'm compelled to clarify this, but VO isn't elusive for me, but allegedly is for the population. That's why I don't complain about unexpected wakefulness.

And ya, I don't care if they're happening in the same 'organ,' they're different for me. To keep up the eponysterical, P and B are sounds made with both lips, and in some languages (I'm looking at you, Farsi) are not distinguished, in mine, (English) they are recognized as different. So different that switching them changes word meanings. (there's a joke about the US President's name being written on all the doors in America. It's offensive to me for more reasons than I have patience to list here. If languagehat wanders in, maybe he'll tell you.)

Let's agree to not judge each others orgasms, please. Because we're all precious snowflakes. And there are women out there who haven't gotten one yet, and no kind is inherently better, though we may each have our preferences.
posted by bilabial at 6:49 AM on November 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Interesting question, and afu's article is particularly interesting. My experience is significantly different. I only get particularly sleepy after VO, and then only after at least 3 or 4 of them. I suspect oxytocin volume is likely to play a part in this, but it'd be great to get some real data.
posted by notashroom at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2009

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