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Episode 20: The Secret Science of Orgasm

In this podcast hosted by Shelly Varod with special guest Jim Pfaus a Professor of Neuroscience, we explore the intricate pathways of the brain and the compelling psychological aspects that underpin this extraordinary phenomenon. Delving into the realm of neuroscience, we uncover the intricate mechanisms that define an orgasm, examining its role not only in reproduction but also as a powerful reward system within the human brain.

Discover the secrets hidden within the enigmatic waves of pleasure, as we discuss the profound impact orgasms have on our minds, bodies, and relationships. We unravel the complexities of this universal sensation, shedding light on the science that makes it such a revered and sought-after experience.

Join us as we navigate the uncharted territories of pleasure, exploring the science, psychology, and profound significance of orgasms in the human experience. This initiative is brought to you by our dedicated podcast team. Explore our previous episodes to discover more.

How Might Oral Birth Control Pills Impact Genital Sexual Arousal?

How Might Oral Birth Control Pills Impact Genital Sexual Arousal?

Genital sexual arousal, which includes lubrication and good vaginal blood flow in women, is crucial for healthy sexual functioning. This genital sexual response is regulated by hormones like estrogens and androgens, which can be affected by certain medications. In particular, oral birth control pills, also called oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), are widely used and have a notable effect on the body’s hormone levels. Despite their prevalent use, their influence on sexual function remains unclear.

I’m a 25 year old male with erectile dysfunction, what should I do?

What could cause erectile dysfunction in young, healthy men? In the latest edition of #AskISSM, experts in the field of sexual health attempt to answer this question.

What Is the Luteal Phase?

What Is the Luteal Phase?

The luteal phase is the phase of the menstrual cycle that occurs after ovulation (the phase in which one of the ovaries releases a mature egg) and before the start of menstruation (the shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus each month). The luteal phase typically lasts for about 12-14 days, but the exact duration can vary from person to person.

Predictors of Hinge Effect in People With Peyronie’s Disease and Their Preoperative Significance

Predictors of Hinge Effect in People With Peyronie’s Disease and Their Preoperative Significance

Peyronie’s disease (PD) is a sexual dysfunction in which scar tissue or plaques develop under the skin of the penis, causing it to bend or become misshapen during erections. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of symptoms. Surgery is often recommended for severe cases, but it may not fully restore the penis to its pre-disease state.

How Might Female Stress Urinary Incontinence Affect Male Partners’ Sexual Function?

How Might Female Stress Urinary Incontinence Affect Male Partners’ Sexual Function?


Urinary incontinence is a common problem that affects many people’s lives. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a prevalent type, especially among women. It can cause physical discomfort and impact one’s mental health and overall quality of life. SUI can also affect a person’s sexual function in about 50% of cases.

What Is a Vacuum Erection Device, and How Does It Work?

What Is a Vacuum Erection Device, and How Does It Work?

A vacuum erection device is a tool that men with erectile dysfunction (ED) can use to get an erection. It is an external cylindrical pump with a constriction band on the end that is placed on the penis and activated either by being pumped by hand or powered by batteries.

Episode 19: Exploring the Uncharted Territory of Female Sexual Pain

Join us for a compelling episode that delves into a topic often left unspoken: pain during sexual activity in women.

In this enlightening discussion, we have the privilege of hosting a distinguished guest, Johannes Bitzer, the former Chairman and Professor Emeritus of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University Hospitals of the University of Basel. With a career spanning decades, Johannes brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the forefront of this conversation.

Our conversation is fascinating as we explore the intersection of biology and psychology, where Johannes has spent years crossing and overlapping these two fields. This unique perspective sheds light on the intricate ways in which our bodies and minds intersect when it comes to sexual health.

From addressing the physiological aspects of female sexual pain to delving into the psychological factors that can contribute to it, we leave no stone unturned.

Tune in as we navigate this essential but often overlooked aspect of women's sexual health. Join us in breaking the silence surrounding female sexual pain and taking steps towards a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling intimate life.

The ISSM Podcast is an initiative of the ISSM Education Committee led by Coby Reisman and including team members Shelly Varod, Sameena Rahman, and Karl Pang.

The Need for a Survey to Measure Sexual Function in Transgender Women Post-Vaginoplasty

The Need for a Survey to Measure Sexual Function in Transgender Women Post-Vaginoplasty

Gender dysphoria is when a person’s gender identity does not match their assigned sex at birth. Some people with gender dysphoria choose to transition to align with their gender identity, which may sometimes include surgery like vaginoplasty (the surgical creation of a neovagina). There are different techniques for this surgery, but it is still not clear how they affect sexual satisfaction.

Who are the best candidates for penile implant surgery?

In the past, penile implant surgery was the last treatment option for men with erectile dysfunction. However, this is no longer the case. In our latest #AskISSM, an expert in the field of sexual health explains when a penile implant surgery may be best. 

What Is “Normal” When It Comes to the Vulva?

What Is “Normal” When It Comes to the Vulva?

The vulva is the name for the outer female genitalia, including the labia majora (outermost folds of skin), labia minora (inner folds of skin), clitoris, and vaginal opening.

People with vulvas may wonder what is “normal” down there. The truth is, there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to the vulva. Like many aspects of the human body, the vulva can vary widely from person to person.

Nevertheless, the following are some popular questions that vulva owners may have about their genitalia.

Is it normal to have dangly, puffy, very big, or very small labia?

The size and shape of the labia majora and labia minora can vary significantly among individuals. Some people have larger or more prominent labia, while others have smaller or less noticeable labia. Some may find that their labia minora hang down further than their labia majora, and some may find just the opposite. Furthermore, the labia minora may not be perfectly symmetrical, and this is entirely normal and should not be a cause for concern unless it is causing physical or emotional discomfort.

What is the normal color of the vulva?

The color of the vulva can also vary. It may be pink, brown, reddish, or other shades. It is normal for the color of the vulva to differ among different people.

What is the clitoral hood, and how can I tell if mine is normal?

The clitoral hood is the fold of skin that covers and protects the clitoris and, like the other aspects of the vulva, it can vary in size and appearance. Some individuals may have a more noticeable clitoral hood, while others may have a less evident one.

What should my hair look like down there?

The presence and amount of pubic hair will be different for every person. Some may find that they have sparse or no pubic hair, while others may have a thicker growth. Hair color and texture can also vary.

It's crucial to understand that there is no one “normal” appearance for the vulva. What is most important is that the vulva is healthy, free from discomfort or pain, and functions as it should. If you have concerns about the appearance or health of your vulva, or if you experience any unusual symptoms such as itching, pain, or unusual discharge, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional who specializes in women’s sexual health or gynecology. They can provide guidance, perform examinations if necessary, and address any concerns you may have.


The Possible Effects of COVID-19 on Men’s Reproductive Health

The Possible Effects of COVID-19 on Men’s Reproductive Health

COVID-19, an illness caused by a virus called SARS-CoV-2, has been a major health challenge worldwide. Despite efforts like vaccines, the virus continues to spread, and experts believe it will move from an epidemic to an endemic phase (meaning a long-lasting, regularly occurring disease in society).


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