Sometimes I do get strange requests in email. For instance, I was asked if the claim in this article was true:
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.
Now I’m no expert on EEGs, but what little I know suggests that this is a silly claim, and common sense tells me that somebody is full of BS here. Theta waves are slow (4-8 Hz) rhythmic patterns in brain activity that have been hypothesized to be important in temporal encoding, and they’ve been known to be correlated with alert states—in particular, that they are expressed in the hippocampus, and may somehow be part of the circuitry that processes and integrates sensory input into memory. That pretty much exhausts my knowledge of the subject, and a quick plunge into pubmed shows lots more detail, but nothing to contradict my impressions (although there is some material on increased theta activity in paroxysm/seizure that might be relevant). It also shows no articles on both theta waves and orgasm, so I’m inclined to suspect that someone is making stuff up.
My skeptiferous gland also perks up at the claim that this hypothetical risk makes it impossible to experimentally run a woman’s orgasm through a man’s brain. Uh, what makes it impossible is that we have no way of replaying anyone’s experiences through a different person’s brain. These are subjective experiences which we cannot assess in the way claimed, except indirectly, by observations of physical responses and behavior. I’m afraid there’s nothing in those measurable effects to indicate anything like a ten-fold greater intensity of the effect in women; I dare say that if women were getting an order of magnitude greater stimulus from sex, I’d wonder how they can ever get themselves out of bed.
So I’m sorry, O hopeful questioner, I think the article is complete nonsense. However, if someone does figure out how to induce the feminine orgasmic response in a man’s brain, I would bravely volunteer as a research subject, even at the risk of dying in cataclysmic ecstasy. I’ll pay the price…for Science!