Pleasure and pain – Not even a fine line

“There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain, you’ve done it once and you can do it again” Sang the Divinyls lead singer Christana Amphlett in the 1985 classic “Pleasure and Pain”.

Only she is not really correct, well for women at least.

With the success of ‘50 shades of grey’ in bringing BDSM to the mainstream, it makes me wonder if women are secretly looking around thinking “I thought it was only me…”. Well it turns out, due to a nifty bit of research done in the Netherlands there is actually a scientific reason why some women may enjoy pain in the lead up to and the moment of orgasm.

Researchers have used PET scans to show male and female brain activity, leading up to and during orgasm. Although broadly the same, there were some differences in the female brain patterns during orgasm that address the potentially non-existent line between pleasure and pain.

It has been found (Whipple & Komisaruk,1985) that during orgasm, a women’s pain threshold more than doubles. Think about that – not just a little bit more but more than doubled!

According to the report that was published “[the findings] suggest that a significant (active inhibitory) interaction occurs between orgasm and pain in the insular and anterior cingulate cortices, indicating that they are involved in both pain and pleasure.”

Now I’m not sure what that means but it was well hypothesized by Shanna Freeman from “In addition, the area of the cortex associated with pain was activated in women [during orgasm], which shows that there is a distinct connection between pain and pleasure.” (It is important to note this is not conclusive and every woman is different so they and they should be the ones to explore this.)

So next time you are belting out your best rendition of ‘Pleasure and Pain’ or reading ‘50 Shades of Grey’ you can look around knowing for sure it’s not only you. As it turns out, for women at least, there may not even be a line between pleasure and pain. But like with the song or the book, this information is for deserving adults and is to be enjoyed with user discretion!

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