Head of the Japan Family Planning Association
"If I'm ever reincarnated, I want to be a woman next time around," my 56-year-old (male) friend from my high school days blurted out to me one day after we'd met up for the first time in a while.
"Why?" I asked.
"Because when the sex is good, it's so much better than it is for guys," he said, then added: "Tell me why."
I was a bit perplexed. "I've never been a woman, so how would I know. Some women have faked orgasm, so it's a bit intrusive for a guy to stand there and talk about what a woman's orgasms should be like."
He shot back. "I'm not asking you to speak from personal experience. Tell me from the point of view of somebody who's been studying Japanese sexuality for 30 years."
I couldn't drag the fight on any longer and looked at the issue from the point of view of a columnist. I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "sex is all in the mind." It's true, because sex is not just something that happens between the legs, but instead involves all the senses -- sight, sound, smell, touch and taste -- stimulating the brain (and specifically, the frontal lobe). Just as heroes are said to love sex, the more developed a person's frontal lobe is, the more active their sex life is going to be.
When it comes to the difference between male and female sexuality, it's impossible to rule out some sort of connection between the sex nerves in the hypothalamus, where sexual dimorphism (or distinction between the sexes) makes men twice as large as women. It is perhaps this difference in the brains that sees men seek direct stimulation while women need more touching. Even though men can reach climax with incredible speed, they also cool down rapidly, occasionally making it very irritating for them to be touched after ejaculation. This is a major difference from women, who take a long time to get back to normal following orgasm.
So, how do I answer my old classmate's question about why good sex for women feels so much better than good sex does for men? There's a hint hidden in the brainwaves. And I'll turn to another friend, in this case Ryuichi Kaneko, who joined me as one of the co-authors of "Sex no Subete ga Wakaru Hon (Everything You Need to Know About Sex)."
When an orgasm has been achieved through sex, you can measure theta waves. These are also said to cause the "running high" feeling of euphoria experienced sometimes by marathon runners. If theta waves are taken as a criterion, the entire brain emits theta waves when women reach an orgasm that are close on 10 times stronger than when men climax. So, if theta waves are an indication of an orgasm's strength, then women experience an orgasm that is physically impossible for men to go through. Putting it a little crudely, if the intensity of a woman's orgasm was played through a man's brain, there's a danger that the shock to his system would kill him. That risk makes it impossible to experiment on a man at the moment. And men can never become women. But my co-author, Kaneko, used the experience of people who have undergone a sex change (either a woman born with a man's brain or vice versa) to explain the pleasure women feel.
There is a very strong correlation between nerve transmitters called dopamine and pleasure. Arousal causes the pulse to rise, turns the face red and makes the eyes misty because of the effects of dopamine. There also appears to be a link between this and a woman's tendency to become prettier when she falls in love. If it becomes possible to measure dopamine, it may also become possible to measure a woman's pleasure.
Whatever way the body may be working, what we do know for sure is that precisely because it is impossible to measure how a partner is feeling it is all the more important to communicate and work out ways that you can both feel good. (By Dr. Kunio Kitamura, special to the Mainichi)