#1: What is OM? A baseline EEG study of the mechanisms of OM
IRB approved
Physiological study with 260 participants
Dr. Nicole Prause and Greg Siegle @ University of Pittsburgh

We were involved in a groundbreaking study using the practice of Orgasmic Meditation. This is the first study in the U.S. since Masters and Johnson to focus on partnered stimulation. The study, using a total of 260 participants, monitored their physical and mental responses before, during and after the practice. It is the first study of its kind to use EEG as well as measure both participants. In November of 2016, the study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at University of Pittsburgh, becoming the first partnered stimulation study granted IRB approval. The study was completed in December of 2017. The results are currently being analyzed. One peer reviewed paper has been published from this study thus far. 

This study suggests the benefits of OM might be:

  • Test happier post OM
  • Test increased cognitive function post OM
  • Test more focused
  • Report reduced stress
  • Report reduced anxiety
  • Report feeling of safety
  • Report more emotionally connected
  • Report improved feelings of connection with partner
    • Measure increased HRV (indicator of health) post OM
      Brains EEG electrical activity showed synchronization between partners. 
  •  People who had histories of early childhood sexual trauma responded to OM with increased arousal compared to people without trauma
  •  Improves positive affect

Multiple papers that have been submitted to journals for publication and still others that are in the process of being written.

#2: MEQ: Mystical Experience Questionnaire
IRB approved
Survey study with over 780 participants
Vivian Siegel PhD and Ben Emmert-Aronson

Roland Griffiths, a Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, developed a 30 question “Mystical Experience Questionnaire”, or MEQ30, which provides a validated and quantitative measure of mystical experience. This survey is fundamental to studying and understanding the healing abilities of psychedelics at Universities around the world. 

This questionnaire was used by Siegel to measure over 780 OMers.

The MEQ measures four different aspects of the mystical experience: mystical (feelings of oneness); transcendence (loss of boundaries of time and space); ineffability (inability to put the experience into words); and positive mood.

Respondents were asked to recall their strongest OM experience and then complete the MEQ survey. 62% of respondents scored high across all components of having a mystical experience, which the researcher described as a “complete mystical experience.” This is a level of mystical experience comparable to the maximum dose of psilocybin used in a 2011 study by Griffiths.

A follow up survey was conducted where both OM practitioners took the survey immediately after an OM. In this survey OM partners report a similar intensity of experience in the same OM session. The intensity of the OM seems to be experienced by both stroker and strokee, it was not dependent on being in one or the other position. Compared to the prior survey that tested the strongest OM experience in a participant’s memory, this survey of an ordinary OM found that 23% of people scored a “complete mystical experience” which would be equivalent to the moderate dose of psilocybin used in the 2011 study by Griffiths.

In short, the results: 

  • IOMF used the Johns Hopkins MEQ30 Questionnaire
  • We surveyed over 788 people who OM
  • Age of respondents was from under 30 to over 80
  • OM shows a statistically significant result (62%) that people who OM experience a mystical experience when recalling their most powerful OM
  • Johns Hopkins has shown that psilocybin relieves depression in 60% of people who have a mystical experience from using it in a therapeutic context
  • OM shows to have similar results in occasioning  mystical experience as a moderate to high therapeutic dose of psilocybin (mushrooms)

#3: OM vs. Sex Survey
IRB approved
Survey study with over 200 participants

We asked over 200 people with experience in OM, sex, sitting meditation, and fondling to describe and compare each of these activities. It was IRB approved and a series of multiple choice, open field, and likert scale responses. Our hypothesis was that people would find OM more like meditation than sex or fondling. Participants overwhelmingly agreed with the proposition that OM is not sex.  

Stats on the 200 participants: 
Youngest participate: 18 
Oldest participante: 82 
Average age: 45.3
Female 51% (189)
Male 49% (182)

#4: Neurophysiological Correlates of Orgasmic Meditation using the PET/fMRI scanner
IRB approved
Physiological study with 40 people (20 pairs)
Dr Andrew Newberg @ Jefferson University Hospital

The overall goal of this study will be to determine the neurophysiological correlates of Orgasmic Meditation (OM) as well as compare these effects to those of other meditation-based practices. By utilizing the PET-MRI scanner at Thomas Jefferson University, we will obtain the most accurate neurophysiological data regarding the effects of OM. The overall approach was to study 20 pairs of individuals and scan both the stroker as well as the strokee. Subjects initially had an intravenous catheter placed in their arm and then after approximately 15-20 minutes, began the OM practice. Half way through the practice, the individuals were injected with the radioactive tracer, 18F Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG), in order to measure changes in cerebral glucose metabolism associated with the OM practice. They continued the practice until completion and then were placed into the scanner. Scans captured changes that occur from the moment of injection, during the OM practice itself. In addition, fMRI data was obtained to assess changes in functional connectivity and overall brain activity after the OM practice. The OM practice was directly compared to a “baseline” state in which similar movements and contact occur between the two individuals, but the actual practice and stimulation was not performed. Quantitative analysis was performed on both the PET and fMRI scans to measure the physiological effects of the OM practice. In addition, several qualitative questionnaires were completed in order to assess the subjective intensity and quality of the experience. The primary aims were:

Aim 1. To evaluate the neurophysiological effects of OM on the stroker (giver) and strokee (receiver) using a combination of PET and fMRI, along with autonomic nervous system effects.

Aim 2. To correlate FDG PET and fMRI with the subjective effects that occur during OM.

IMPACT:

  1. First ever study to fully evaluate the neurophysiological effect of OM on the brain using FDG PET and autonomic activity, and how such changes relate to subjective experiences during the practice.
  2. First ever study to fully evaluate the neurophysiological effect of OM on the brain using fMRI and autonomic activity, and how such changes relate to subjective experiences during the practice.


Completion Date: Summer 2020. First paper has been submitted and is currently under review.

*Dr Andrew is preparing a book based on this study.

The benefits of Orgasmic Meditation are:

  • OM is more akin to a spiritual experience in the brain
  • OM shows similar brain patterns to a psychedelic therapy experience 
  • Both cortex and limbic areas of the brain are changed in OM
  • Both males and females show similar brain changes in OM
  • Both people had increased HRV (indicator of health) post OM 
  • Females showed significant “at one” in the brain
  • Males showed significant “flow state” in the brain

In addition, initial observation suggests that many regions of the brain appear to have structurally changed in size in long term practitioners vs non practitioners – which will be a topic of further research.

Current Studies

#1: OM and Sleep study
IRB Approved
Dr. Charles Raison

This is a small, independent-IRB approved study with advanced practitioners. Dr. Charles Raison is the Principle Investigator on this study.

This study involves tracking mood, sleep and OM through a phone app to chart how OM impacts participants’ sleep cycle and mood. There are 44 participants who tracked the frequency of OMs every day.

Start Date: October 2020

Completion Date: Summer 2021

Upcoming Studies

#1: Depression + Relationships Study
Needs IRB Approval
W/ University of Pittsburgh
Greg Siegle

To evaluate the potential utility of integrative breathwork (IB) and orgasmic meditation (OM) as novel interventions for Major Depressive Disorder, 120 individuals in committed, cohabitating relationships (i.e. 60 couples) will be randomized with 1-to-1-to-1 allocation to IB training, OM training or a wait-list control condition (20 couples randomized to IB; 20 couples randomized to OM; 20 couples randomized to wait list). Enrollment and randomization will occur on a couple-by-couple basis. In addition to being involved in a committed, cohabitating relationship, eligibility criteria will include that 1) both members of the couple are adults between the ages of 21 and 65; 2) at least one member of the couple is a biological female (a requirement for OM); and 3) one member of the couple meets DSM-5 criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) of at least 30 days duration with an Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology—Self Report (IDS-SR) score ≥26 and both members of the couple are willing to complete at least one IB/OM training session per week for the first four weeks of the study. Subjects taking medications for their depression will be asked to be on a stable dose of these medications for 8 weeks prior to scre21ening and will be asked not to make changes to their medication regimen during the study period. Similarly, subjects receiving psychotherapy will be required to have been in therapy with the same therapist for at least 8 weeks prior to screening. The baseline assessment will be required to be conducted within 35 days of prescreening.

+ CTQ (collect sexual trauma and physical abuse data)
+ MEQ

Start Date: Summer 2021

#2: Addiction; OM & Cessation of Smoking
Needs IRB Approval
Dr. Peter Hendricks @ University of Alabama

A study designed to look at couples and their use of OM as a tool to aide in the cessation of smoking tobacco.

Start Date: September 2021

#3: OM and Dopamine as it relates to Parkinson’s Disease
Needs IRB Approval
Dr. Andrew Newberg @ Jefferson University

The overall goal of this study will be to build on our initial success of our study using FDG PET with the OM practice to determine if the OM practice might support dopaminergic function in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). This PET-MRI study will utilize Flurodopa PET (FDOPA) to measure dopamine function, serum markers to measure inflammation and oxidative stress, and neurological measures to assess clinical symptoms, in patients with PD who are given OM training and daily practice for 3 months.

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder of unknown cause that affects more than a million Americans. The most prominent PD pathology is degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the ventrolateral tier of the pars compacta of the substantia nigra in the midbrain, and the formation of α-synuclein cytoplasmic inclusions, termed Lewy bodies, throughout the brain. Unfortunately, by the time of clinical diagnosis, substantial neural damage has been wrought, with an 80% reduction in striatal dopamine and a 60-70% reduction of the neurons in the substantia nigra. It is believed that oxidative stress and inflammation play an important role in the pathophysiology of PD.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the use of the OM practice, which has been shown to alter brain function in our initial study, over a period of 3 months. Patients with PD will be evaluated with FDOPA PET-MRI imaging initially and after 3 months of doing either daily OM practice or being placed in the waitlist control group. The primary aims are the following:

Aim 1. To evaluate the neurophysiological effects of OM in patients with Parkinson’s disease using a combination of FDOPA PET and fMRI. An initial pilot study of up to 10 controls (which may be split into 5 controls and 5 PD patients) will be performed first to confirm feasibility and also determine the effect size on the dopamine system of doing the OM practice.

Aim 2. To correlate clinical improvement in Parkinson’s disease with dopaminergic changes that occur as the result of practicing OM.

Start Date: Fall 2021

#4: OM and Safety
Needs IRB Approval
Dr. George Slavich @ UCLA

A study aimed at understanding the role of safety in the context and container of OM.

Aim 1. Develop a social safety assessment instrument, focusing on social safety-related thoughts/attitudes

Aim 2. Examine associations between feelings of social safety and OM-related outcomes (to be defined based on OM’s input)

Aim 3. Examine associations between feelings of social safety and reproductive/pregnancy outcomes (we would collaborate with OBGYNs and postpartum units to get this done — I already have a few people interested at UCLA and UCSF)

Start Date: Fall 2021

#5: OM Benefits from OM Practitioner Journals
Needs IRB Approval
Dr. Peter Hendricks @ University of Alabama

This study will look at the self-reported, written benefits of OM from 30 practioners. The benefits will be analyzed and studied to further understanding of what the benefits both physical and psychological are from OM.

Start Date: Fall 2021