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How an orgasm affects your body and mind for the 60 minutes afterwards

Orgasm. (Getty Images)
From the moment of orgasm to 60 minutes afterwards, find out exactly what happens to your body. (Getty Images)

The benefits of an orgasm are widely known. They can relieve stress, aid sleep and even boost the immune system.

But understanding exactly what happens to us mentally and physically after reaching climax is something few of us can explain.

There's more going on internally than we might realise, with our body still feeling the effects 60 minutes later.

From the moment of orgasm, there are many different chemical, physiological and psychological changes that take place.

Female orgasm vibrator. (Getty Images)
An immediate high can be followed by 'post-sex blues'. (Getty Images)

Sex toy experts Bedbible break down how an orgasm affects a person, minute-by-minute.

0 minutes after an orgasm

After achieving an orgasm, the brain is hit with a powerful wave of dopamine, creating a high similar to the euphoria of taking heroin.

10 minutes after an orgasm

For some, ‘post-sex blues’ can take effect fairly quickly after orgasm, with sudden feelings of depression and agitation created as a result of the dopamine levels dropping.

30 minutes after an orgasm

Blood pressure and heart rate should return to normal and muscles in the penis or vagina might even begin to cramp due to the muscles contracting at an intense rate.

40 minutes after an orgasm

Sleepiness is common 40 minutes afterwards, due to both the exercise you underwent to achieve orgasm and the mental exhaustion that comes with the rise and fall of dopamine levels.

60 minutes after an orgasm

Whilst it differs from man to man, some men will take more than an hour to recover post-orgasm – this is known as the refractory period. Women, however, tend to recover at a faster rate.

Couple in bed. (Getty Images)
Other research also found that moaning isn't part of the female orgasm. (Getty Images)

In terms of sexual arousal, specifically in women, the NHS lists the pleasure process in order for women and men as: arousal, plateau, orgasm and resolution.

What happens in a male and female body during the orgasm stage is slightly different. Here's a detailed guide.

Orgasm in women

  • Orgasm is the intense and pleasurable release of sexual tension that has built up in the earlier stages (whether during sex, masturbation etc). It involves contractions (muscles tightening and relaxing, 0.8 seconds apart) of the genital muscles.

  • Most women don’t experience the 'recovery period' that men do after an orgasm. A woman can have another orgasm if she's stimulated again.

  • Not all women have an orgasm every time they have sex. For most women, foreplay is an important role in it occurring at all. This can include touching certain parts of the body and stimulating the clitoris.

And for 'stage three: orgasm and ejaculation' for men, the source states:

Orgasm in men

  • A series of contractions send semen into the urethra, which is the tube that urine and semen come out of from the penis.

  • These contractions occur in the pelvic floor muscles (which support the bowel and bladder), in the tube that carries sperm from the testicles to the penis.

  • They also occur in the seminal vesicles (glands that produce fluids) and the prostate gland (a small gland in the pelvis, between the penis and bladder), which both add fluid to the sperm. This mix of sperm (5%) and fluid (95%) is called semen.

  • These contractions are part of orgasm, and the man can reach a point where he can't stop ejaculation happening.

  • Contractions of the prostate gland and the pelvic floor muscles then lead to ejaculation, when semen comes out of the penis.

Read more on sex and orgasms

The misunderstood female orgasm

Research last summer also concluded that 'moaning' is not part of the female orgasm and that it should be removed from analysis of women climaxing.

Pre, peri, and post-menopausal women were asked in a questionnaire about their orgasm experiences both with and without a partner.

Questions were based on the Orgasm Rating Scale (ORS) and the Bodily Sensations of Orgasm (BSOS), which are commonly used in related scientific research.

The BSOS includes descriptions like 'faster breathing', 'lower limb spasms', 'facial tingling', 'sweating' and 'increased heart rate'.

While the researchers at the University of Ottawa found bodily sensations in both scales to be present, including 'choppy/shallow breathing', 'increased blood pressure' and 'hot flashes', they recommended that 'copulatory vocalisations' (moaning) should be removed from the BSOS.

Essentially, moaning may be at least partly under your control, even if you don't realise it.

Watch: Rachel Bilson says she has ‘never faked an orgasm’