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J Holist Nurs. 2016 Dec;34(4):331-342. Epub 2015 Nov 16.

'Birthgasm': A Literary Review of Orgasm as an Alternative Mode of Pain Relief in Childbirth.

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Curtin University
Curtin University.


Childbirth is a fundamental component of a woman's sexual cycle. The sexuality of childbirth is not well recognized in Western society despite research showing that some women experience orgasm(s) during labor and childbirth. Current thinking supports the view that labor and childbirth are perceived to be physically painful events, and more women are relying on medical interventions for pain relief in labor. This review explores the potential of orgasm as a mode of pain relief in childbirth and outlines the physiological explanations for its occurrence. Potential barriers to sexual expression during childbirth and labor, including the influence of deeply held cultural beliefs about sexuality, the importance of privacy and intimacy in facilitating orgasmic birth experiences, and the value of including prospective fathers in the birthing experience, are discussed. The role of midwives and their perceptions of the use of complementary and alternative therapies for pain relief in labor are examined. While there are indications of widespread use of complementary and alternative therapies such as hydrotherapy, herbal remedies, and breathing techniques for pain relief in childbirth, orgasm was not among those mentioned. Lack of recognition of the sexuality of childbirth, despite findings that orgasm can attenuate the effects of labor pain, suggests the need for greater awareness among expectant parents, educators, and health professionals of the potential of orgasm as a means of pain relief in childbirth.


childbirth; complementary and alternative therapies; midwife; orgasm; pain relief; pleasure; training

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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