Chemistry of Sex

There exists an elegant relationship between sex, orgasm and a cocktail of complex neurochemicals that are constantly being produced within your body. We tend to take for granted that sexual desire and its fulfillment is a process that takes place between your legs but in fact it is your brain that is the real sexual organ and several important neurochemical processes that take care of the whole sexual experience.

The neurochemical changes that take place during sexual experience take place in the “primitive brain” or Limbic system. This is the ancient part of your brain that controls many automatic bodily processes such as your impulses, sexual drives and emotional changes. In fact it is this part of your brain that decides whether or not you fall in love, and when and with whom you experience the lust and desire.

The implicit act of falling in love is largely driven and controlled by your limbic system.

Falling in love is not necessarily a decision that we make as much as a biological event, initiated and sustained by specific neurochemicals that have powerful effects on your limbic brain center.

One of the most important neurochemicals is dopamine, a chemical messenger that is not un dissimilar to adrenaline. Dopamine is responsible for activating your brains reward circuitry. And it is this reward circuitry that is the driving force of most of your day to day behaviors, including sex. You can think of Dopamine as your” I have to have it” neurochemical fix.

When you desire to eat chocolate, have sex, take risks you are increasing your body’s dopamine production.

The more dopamine that is produced, the more your reward circuitry is activated and the more “reward” you experience.

One of the biggest release of dopamine occurs during orgasm. In fact dopamine is regarded as the key sexual neuro-transmitter that is responsible for sexual function. But dopamine is not the only nuerochemical associated with sex. Researchers have observed surges in other hormones such as adrenaline, nor adrenaline and prolactin that occurs during arousal and orgasm.

Prolactin deserves a special mention at this point. At the point of orgasm in males, dopamine drops off immediately and the hormone prolactin rises sharply. It has been well documented that there is an inverse relationship between prolactin and dopamine. When one is up the other is down.

It is the surge of prolactin that is responsible for the male losing interest in sex, and literally “roll over” and go to sleep. It is believed that the primal function of prolactin is to allow the male to get on with other important survival activities like hunting and gathering instead of being continually preoccupied with sex.

In males the surge of prolactin after sex is immediate, but in women the effect is more gradual and can be delayed for days or weeks. If dopamine is the accelerator pedal the prolactin can be thought of as the brake pedal.

In females, extreme dopamine and prolactin cycles can cause symptoms such as mood swings hostility and depression, just to name a few. Keeping a healthy balance between love making and the extremes of orgasmic highs can go a long way towards promoting harmony and healthy intimacy within relationships.

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