Thrill cuts out the middle man

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The Independent Online
Two researchers at an American university believe they have isolated a chemical that produces orgasms in women.

Such a finding could lead one day to a pill that would give a person the same sensation as an orgasm and might have use in treating pain, said Professor Barry R Komisaruk, of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His research partner was another Rutgers professor, Beverly Whipple, who in 1982 wrote the book The G-Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexualities.

The researchers focused on a group of women who were paralysed by spinal cord injuries. In the past, experts have argued that people with such injuries were unable to experience an orgasm. Professor Komisaruk found an alternate pathway to sexual arousal through the vagus nerve, which goes directly from the cervix, through the abdomen and chest cavity, into the neck and to the brain stem. A 1995 study measured the women's heart rates, breathing and blood pressure as they were stimulated sexually.

"Contrary to what people may think, we discovered that women in the study who were paralysed and had no feeling below the breast area were, in fact, capable of having orgasm," Professor Komisaruk said.

Those experiments helped lead to the isolation of the vasoactive intestinal peptide, which he believes is the neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, in the body that causes the orgasm sensation in the brain.