#1: What is OM? A baseline EEG study of the mechanisms of OM

IRB approved
Physiological study with 260 participants
Dr. Nicole Prause, PhD and Greg Siegle, PhD at University of Pittsburgh

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 and to 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. Two peer reviewed papers have 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

 

#2: MEQ: Mystical Experience Questionnaire

IRB approved
Survey study with over 780 participants
Vivian Siegel, PhD and Ben Emmert-Aronson, PhD

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 practitioners of Orgasmic Meditation with an age range from under 30 to over 80. 

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 Orgasmic Meditation 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 Orgasmic Meditation practitioners took the survey immediately after practicing Orgasmic Meditation. In this survey, practitioner partners report a similar intensity of experience in the same session. The intensity of the session 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 Orgasmic Meditation experience in a participant’s memory, this survey of an ordinary session of Orgasmic Meditation 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: 

  • There was a statistically significant result (62%) that people who practice Orgasmic Meditation experience a mystical experience when recalling their most powerful session.
  • Johns Hopkins has shown that psilocybin relieves depression in 60% of people who have a mystical experience from using it in a therapeutic context.
  • The results of this study are similar to the results of participants in the original MEQ study using a moderate to high therapeutic dose of psilocybin.

#3: Neurophysiological Correlates of Orgasmic Meditation using the PET/fMRI scanner

IRB approved
Physiological study with 40 people (20 pairs)
Dr Andrew Newberg, MD at Jefferson University Hospital

The overall goal of this study was 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, the most accurate neurophysiological data was obtained on the effects of Orgasmic Meditation. 

20 pairs of individuals were studied, scanning 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. 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 Orgasmic Meditation 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 Orgasmic Meditation on the brain using fMRI and autonomic activity, and how such changes relate to subjective experiences during the practice.
 

The results of Orgasmic Meditation in this study revealed:

  • 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
The team found significant differences in functional brain connectivity between active OM and the control activity. OM led to changes in a long list of brain areas, including those associated with focus and flow, spatial representation of the self or self-transcendence and both meditation and sexual stimulation. Newberg said the responses more closely resembled reactions to religious and spiritual practices than purely sexual experiences.
 

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.

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

#4: OM vs. Sex Survey

IRB approved
Survey study with over 200 participants
Vivian Siegel, PhD and Benjamin Emmert-Aronson, PhD

Over 200 people responded to this survey who had personal experience with Orgasmic Meditation, sex, sitting meditation, and fondling which asked to describe and compare each of these activities. This study was IRB approved and contained a series of multiple choice, open field, and likert scale responses. The hypothesis was that people would find OM more like meditation than sex or fondling. The results showed that participants found Orgasmic Meditation to not correlate to be like sex.

#5: OM and Sleep study

IRB Approved
Survey study with over 40 participants
Chuck Raison, PhD

This is a small, independent-IRB approved study using advanced practitioners of Orgasmic Meditation as participants.

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

This study’s results have shown signs of decreased sleep time and increased sleep quality in participants who are practicing Orgasmic Meditation. 

#6: OM Benefits from OM Practitioner Journals

Self-Report study with 50 participants

This study looked at self-reported, written journals of Orgasmic Meditation from 50 practitioners. Of the 1,506 journals, 954 which were from ‘strokees’ and 522 from ‘strokers’ and the goal of this study was to investigate the technique of OM, the changes people report and the experiences people were having. This study was aimed at further understanding the potential physical and psychological benefits of Orgasmic Meditation.

The results of common experience are organized into two sections: Stroker and Strokee. Four themes emerged for both groups. There were no common themes between the two groups.

Stroker Group:

Connected with Partner
Took Control of the Process
Consciousness
Post OM to feel: calm, relaxed and lighter

Strokee Group:

Opened Oneself to the Sensation
Lost the sense of self and moved to connection to all
A Sense of Security
Felt Freed

Upcoming Studies

#1: OM and Dopamine as it relates to Parkinson’s Disease

IRB Approved
Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD at Jefferson University

Building off the Orgasmic Meditation study using FDG PET, this study looks at dopaminergic function in participants with Parkinson’s disease (PD) in relation to the practice of Orgasmic Meditation. 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 training in the practice of Orgasmic Meditation and who participate in a daily practice of it 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 potential affects the OM practice (which has been shown to alter brain function in the FDG PET study) may have on dopamine and dopamine related structures and function in the brain over a period of 3 months. Participants 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.

Proposed Start Date: Winter 2021

#2: OM and Trauma Study

Pending IRB Approval
Dr. Dan Kriegman, PhD

The study of the OM Trauma Protocol (OMTP).

The OMTP is designed to systematize the application of Orgasmic Meditation (OM) for individuals seeking relief from a wide variety of problems, or even just to help them in their pursuit of eudaimonia. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of OM as part of a systematic practice that includes other interventions — such as an emotional support (ES) group — for people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The OMTP is a method that aims to create sustainable change in individuals by using the arousal state to create a powerful emotional experience that can open a nervous system and body that has locked down by trauma, all while positively reinforcing human connection that has been lost in trauma. This method would allow the build-up of traumatic tension in the body to be catalyzed and used as fuel for enhanced states of consciousness.   

This is a study of 30 couples over a period of 1 month as they practice OM regularly and participate in talk therapy. The participants trauma levels will be measured through the month as well as their level of tumescence. 

Start Date: Spring 2022

#3: Depression + Relationships Study

IRB Approval not yet submitted
With University of Pittsburgh
Greg Siegle, PhD

This study aims 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 screening 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.

Start Date: TBD

#4: Addiction; OM & Cessation of Smoking

IRB Approval not yet submitted
Dr. Peter Hendricks, MD at the University of Alabama

This study is designed to look at couples and their use of Orgasmic Meditation as a tool to aide in the cessation of smoking tobacco.

Start Date: TBD