Endogenous Opioid Release After Orgasm in Man: A Combined PET/Functional MRI Study

Patrik Jern, Jinglu Chen, Jouni Tuisku, Tiina Saanijoki, Jussi Hirvonen, Lasse Lukkarinen, Sandra Manninen, Semi Helin, Vesa Putkinen, Lauri Nummenmaa

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragArtikelVetenskapligPeer review

1 Citeringar (Scopus)
14 Nedladdningar (Pure)


The endogenous m-opioid receptor (MOR) system plays a key role in the mammalian reward circuit. Human and animal experiments suggest the involvement of MORs in human sexual pleasure, yet this hypothesis currently lacks in vivo support. Methods: We used PET with the radioligand [11C]carfentanil, which has high affinity for MORs, to quantify endogenous opioid release after orgasm in man. Participants were scanned once immediately after orgasm and once in a baseline state. Hemodynamic activity was measured with functional MRI during penile stimulation. Results: The PET data revealed significant opioid release in the hippocampus. Hemodynamic activity in the somatosensory and motor cortices and in the hippocampus and thalamus increased during penile stimulation, and thalamic activation was linearly dependent on self-reported sexual arousal. Conclusion: Our data show that endogenous opioidergic activation in the medial temporal lobe is centrally involved in sexual arousal, and this circuit may be implicated in orgasmic disorders.

Sidor (från-till)1310-1313
Antal sidor4
TidskriftJournal of Nuclear Medicine
StatusPublicerad - 2023
MoE-publikationstypA1 Tidskriftsartikel-refererad


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