The key to toe-curling, brain-melting orgasms? … Wear socks!
Why would wearing socks make it easier to have an orgasm? That is precisely the question Dr Emily Nagoski, a psychologist specialising in human sexuality, asked herself when her students at Smith College in Massachusetts told her they’d read it on the internet.
“I just thought, ‘Yeah right, you read it on the internet so it must be true,’ ” recalls Emily, author of a new book about the science of sex, Come as You Are: the surprising new science that will transform your sex life.
But, she says, it runs out the story is true…well, sort of true.
A Dutch group of researchers set out to examine the differences between men and women during orgasm. They put men and women into an MRI scanning machine and asked them to masturbate to orgasm while they scanned their brain activity.
But during the scan the women had trouble reaching climax. They complained that the cold environment in the lab made their feet cold. The scientists got their hands on some socks – and bingo! Orgasms all round.
Which brings us back to the question that Emily Nagoski asked herself – why would socks make it easier to have an orgasm. The answer, she discovered, is that by putting on the socks the women in this experiment eliminated a distraction that was preventing them from submitting completely to their own state of arousal.
Moreover, this fact, says Emily, sits at the very heart of the female orgasm. “Put on socks, have warmer feet and have easier orgasms,” she says. “Even in the un-erotic precincts of a lab even a small shift such as this can make a difference but it’s exactly that kind of shift that is the key to moving from good, everyday kind of orgasm to fantastic, turn the stars in rainbows orgasms.”
To explain how that might work, Emily says you have to understand that all of your internal states - hunger, thirst, sleepiness, loneliness, stress, frustration – exist and interact in your brain at the same time.
These states influence each other in a process called integration but when one process – let’s say the cold feet – interferes with another – such as sexual arousal – that’s known as “subtractive” integration. And when one state enhances or reinforces another state, that’s called “additive integration.”
“A woman’s arousal and therefore her orgasms happen in between the ears not between the legs,” says Emily. “Her environment and her feelings are integral to how aroused she becomes in a certain setting.
“Imagine for a moment that all of your feelings are a flock of birds.
When all the birds are flying towards an orgasm then it will be incredibly pleasurable. But when some of the birds are distracted from the goal and fly off somewhere else, it’s not so good. But it can work the other way, too.
“If you can get rid the distractions – put on the socks and have warmer feet – then the birds that were flying to that destination suddenly start flying enthusiastically back in the direction of the orgasm. In effect you are turning on all the on's and turning off all the off's.”
That, says Emily is when you focus every fibre of your being on that one goal. And that may just be the moment you really blow your socks off.