Good news for those of you dreading childbirth: It doesn't have to be all pain and agony. There have long been stories of so-called "orgasmic births," and now a new study by a psychologist looks at the actual numbers. The study author surveyed French midwives, some of whom in turn questioned mothers they had helped; 109 of them completed his questionnaire. The results: In 668 cases, mothers reported orgasmic sensations during birth to their midwives; in 868 cases, midwives saw signs of pleasure from birthing mothers. Nine mothers also reported having an orgasm during birth. All in all, the midwives reported witnessing orgasms in 0.3% of births, LiveScience reports.
These results have "established the fact that obstetrical pleasure exists," the study author says, though some are still skeptical. But one professor of psychology explains that it makes sense from an anatomical perspective: "It's stimulation of the birth canal, stimulation of the cervix, the vagina and the clitoris and uterine contractions," he says, adding that he's done studies finding that orgasms can reduce pain sensitivity. A childbirth educator who made a 2009 documentary on orgasmic births says they're probably even more common than this survey finds, and wants the stigma to go away: "People see 'birth' and 'orgasmic' together on paper, and it pushes all their buttons on sexuality," she explains.