Sex On The Brain

Sex on the brain — some people may say that’s the way I live 24/7. Not entirely true, although I do think about sex every day. Not necessarily about having sex everyday, but since I am a sex coach — sex does crop up in my daily conversations.

Do you remember the “this is your brain” (an egg), “this is drugs” (frying pan), “here’s your brain on drugs” public service commercials from the 80’s? In case not – here’s a refresher:

So what does that have to do with today’s topic of sex on the brain? That sex can affect your brain – not in the same manner as drugs (as in fry), but sex does affect your brain nonetheless. There are several brain chemicals involved during sex and orgasmic release.

What happens to your brain during sex?

The brain has a pleasure center that lets us know when something is pleasurable – from laughter to sex to good food or drugs. When something causes us joy, we want to do it again – this is what’s called the reward circuit.

Some of the areas of the brain that are impacted by pleasure include:

  • amygdala – regulates emotions
  • nucleus accumbens – controls the release of dopamine
  • ventral tegmental area (VTA) – actually releases the dopamine
  • cerebellum – controls muscle function
  • pituitary gland – releases beta-endorphins, which decrease pain; oxytocin, which increases feelings of trust; and vasopressin, which increases bonding

In men and women, the brain region behind the left eye, called the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, shuts down during orgasm. Janniko R. Georgiadis, one of the researchers, said, “It’s the seat of reason and behavioral control. But when you have an orgasm, you lose control”

[source: LA Times]. Dr. Gert Holstege stated that the brain during an orgasm looks much like the brain of a person taking heroin. He stated that “95 percent is the same” [source: Science News].

Did you notice the mention of “dopamine” a couple of times in regards to pleasure? According to “Psychology Today” dophmine is “a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Dopamine also helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them. People with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation-seeking.”

It’s also good to note what is oxytocin. From the APA (American Psychological Association):

“If hormones could win popularity contests, oxytocin might well be queen of the day. Given oxytocin’s connection to such life-affirming activities as maternal behavior, lactation, selective social bonding and sexual pleasure, researchers have been working overtime to uncover its role in the brain and in regulating behavior.

Oxytocin is produced mainly in the hypothalamus, where it is either released into the blood via the pituitary gland, or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord, where it binds to oxytocin receptors to influence behavior and physiology.”

Sex and orgasmic release not only do your physical body good by improving your immune system, circulatory rate and heart function, it also boosts your energy body, and the “feel-good” emotions in your brain.

So what are you waiting for? If you find yourself without a partner – self-love is said to release the same health boosting benefits!

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