Health

This Type of Pleasure-Based Meditation Could Reduce Stress and Improve PTSD

Orgasmic meditation isn’t just about climaxing.
By Rebekah Harding
January 29, 2024

We know mindfulness can go a long way in managing stress and symptoms of more severe mental illnesses, like PTSD. But combining meditating with sexual pleasure—a practice called orgasmic meditation—could amplify the benefits tenfold, according to psychophysiologist and neuroscientist Nicole Prause, Ph.D. 

What Is Orgasmic Meditation?

To put it simply: “Orgasmic meditation is a practice where the clitoris is stroked by a partner for 15 minutes,” Prause says. But despite the name, “the receiving partner is not typically having a climax.”

Instead, the receiving partner focuses on clearing their mind and feeling the sensations from genital stimulation. And OM isn’t foreplay—the session ends when the 15 minutes are up. 

Mental Health Benefits of Orgasmic Meditation

A 2021 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that OM can induce intense, positive emotions, linked to brain activity in areas that involve connection with your partner (1). OM participants reported feeling “intense feelings of oneness, unity, and connectedness” after their practice.

But Prause also suspects that OM could benefit women suffering from PTSD following sexual trauma. 

“We are exploring whether orgasmic meditation might be useful for helping with things like PTSD because one of the core features is a dampened effect,” says Prause. This dampening effect creates a feeling of numbness, rather than depression, which can make connection difficult. 

“Your [brain] is like, ‘If I just don’t feel anything, my life will be safer,’” Prause says. “It’s difficult to try and reintroduce some of those more intense emotions when you’ve had an experience that was traumatic.”

That’s where orgasmic meditation comes in. A 2022 study, co-authored by Prause, recorded female participants’ skin conductance response (SCR)—which measures brain activity linked to emotion, anxiety, and attention—in response to OM (2). 

“We looked at folks who had had a history of some sexual trauma and those who had not,” Prause explains. “We saw the folks that actually had the trauma experienced more sexual arousal during those sessions than people who had less.” 

Unlike a hook-up, orgasmic meditation involves a trusted partner and has a strict time limit. “You didn’t just meet at the bar and say, ‘Let’s go home.’ It’s highly structured,” Prause explains. For people with PTSD from sexual trauma, this sense of structure could help create a sense of safety. 

Why Orgasmic Meditation Works

The Frontiers in Psychology study measured brain changes in 20 OM participants using blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a test that measures brain patterns (1). Compared to a control group, people who participated in OM had more activity in their left superior temporal lobe, frontal lobe, anterior cingulate, and insula. These areas of your brain play a role in regulating your emotions, senses, and behavior. 

Research shows that people with PTSD tend to have altered activity in many of these brain areas (3, 4, 5). (Remember that dampening effect we mentioned earlier?)

While researchers are still piecing together how OM could benefit people with PTSD, these changes in brain activity could be the link. 

BETTER SEX

How to Try Orgasmic Meditation

You’ll need a trusted sexual partner for this mindfulness exercise since your sole focus should be on letting go and simply “feeling.” So, pass the phone to your partner and ask them to follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Set up a safe, comfortable, and private space for your practice. 

  2. The receiving partner should lie down and close their eyes, focusing on clearing their mind like a traditional meditation session.

  3. The pleasuring partner should set a timer for 15 minutes and stimulate the clitoris with a lubricated finger.

  4. After 13 minutes, the pleasuring partner should transition into a 2-minute cool-down period by pressing their palm on the receiving partner’s vagina. 

  5. After 15 minutes, the practice is over. 

You may be thinking: why the hard stop at the 15-minute mark? OM’s strict timeline is designed to maintain a concentrated and intentional experience. Remember: OM is not sex, and it’s not foreplay. 

Instead, limiting the session to 15 minutes helps participants stay focused and engaged and establishes clear expectations and boundaries for both parties (which can be particularly beneficial for participants with sexual trauma).

If you or a loved one is struggling after experiencing sexual trauma, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or chat discretely with a RAINN support specialist at  online.rainn.org to access mental health resources and support.

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