In the conversation about sex, the focus is often solely on the benefits of having sex. Alternatively, the internet is filled with tips on how to have great sex and maximize pleasure. However, few persons pay attention to the connection between the neurological system and sex. The experience is unique for vulva-havers and penis-havers, which calls for more attention to the subject. Beyond that, though, understanding the relationship between the two could lead to improved sex life.
Is Sex Good for the Brain?
There is still a lot left unexplored about what happens to the brain during sex. A good deal of research has gone into this because there are differences in what happens to the brain for penis-havers and vulva-havers during sex. Additionally, it is possible to notice key differences in how the brain reacts during partnered sex and solo sex. For both groups, the brain gets some stimulus during sex. Furthermore, the emotional states of the mind get affected, too.
There exist verified reports that rubbing the penis, whether during masturbation or by a partner, affects the posterior insula of penis-havers. The secondary somatosensory cortex located in the right hemisphere of the brain is also affected.
Both the insula and the somatosensory cortex are responsible for regulating pain. This invariably means that the sensations felt during sex is tied to either pain or pleasure. This is especially the case for penis-havers.
There are also marked differences between partnered sex and solo sex. Solo sex involves situations where a person self-pleasures and achieves sexual satisfaction on their own. Partnered sex, on the other hand, involves having sex with someone else. The brain acknowledges the third party in the mix during partnered sex, leading to a more pleasurable experience.
What Does Sex Do to the Female Brain?
The state of the brains of vulva-havers has fascinated researchers for years, partly due to the peculiar nature of people assigned female at birth. Their anatomy, being different from that of their counterparts, have often been the subject of curiosity. Accordingly, there have been different misconceptions about how their brains react during sex and after achieving orgasm. However, scientists have carried out some extensive research, reaching some consensus about the nature of sexual interaction of the brain when vulva-havers engage in sex.
During the research, ten vulva-havers had their responses to self-stimulation and partnered stimulation sampled. An MRI machine tracked their brain’s responses during the peak of these activities and at the beginning of the sexual stimulations.
The outcome of the analysis was quite simple. The scientist discovered some buildup of activity in the brain towards orgasm. The brain activity got to the highest during climax and slowly ebbed afterward. The brain sections with the most sensations were emotional and reward centers, including the area responsible for motor skills, too.
One clear fact now is that penis-havers experience more pain than vulva-havers when having sex. There is a simple explanation for this phenomenon. The reason for this is because the dorsal nucleus of vulva-havers is more excited towards orgasm. This excitement is important because this section of the brain has the duty of producing serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Serotonin also tamps down on pain. Hence, vulva-havers do not feel pain as much.
Another minor detail befuddles medical researchers about the process, too, which is the difference witnessed in the nucleus cuneiformis when vulva-havers have sex. Cuneiformis is the brain section that enables humans to control feelings of pain. Researchers disagree about the reason for this burst of activity. However, it is certain that for vulva-havers, it helps block out the pain.
What Chemicals are Released When You Have Sex?
Before, during, and after sexual intercourse, the human body toils to secrete some chemicals. The chemicals the body produces account for the way the human body reacts to intercourse. Hence, the sensitivity of your nipples and the flushes of different body parts are because of these chemicals.
Some of these chemicals include:
This chemical gets released during the preparatory stages of sex. Because of this chemical, you get excited at the thought of having sex with your partner.
This chemical controls the fight or flight response of the body. Common indicators include an increased heartbeat and increased blood pressure. It shows up during sex because the fear and pleasure centers of the brain are close. The brain, sometimes, fails to make the distinction.
It is okay if you haven’t heard about this chemical before – it is generally uncommon. This chemical is released during sex and not before or after. It stimulates you to have sex and is responsible for dilated pupils and sweaty palms during sexual intercourse.
You must have heard of this chemical. Ideally, you can feel a burst of oxytocin, even when not actively having sex. However, this chemical, also released during kissing or cuddling, gets to its peak just before orgasm. It remains in the bloodstream for some time after that.
Hormones constitute the chemical messengers the body has due to their role in transmitting impulses. Their primary job is to control impulses like appetite, growth, and even sexual development – the latter are called sexual hormones. The endocrine glands secrete them.
The common sex hormones for vulva-havers are estrogen, progesterone, and negligible amounts of testosterone. The most known of them all is estrogen and, together with progesterone, occupies a key place throughout all the stages of conception. Having a low amount of both may result in an anomaly.
A great deal of research has gone into ascertaining the true nature and role of hormones during sex. Even though these hormones are not present during sex, they influence it. For people raised female, hormones regulate how they respond to sexual stimulation. When stimulated, these hormones help the vagina get moisturized, increasing the possibility of vaginal orgasm.
Does Sex Release Dopamine?
Dopamine is known as the reward chemical of the body. It is referred to a reward hormone because it causes one to feel pleasure when you carry out an activity you like. Hence, it accounts for the ‘good’ feeling you have when you eat your favorite chocolate bar.
The ventral tegmental area found in the brain has the duty of releasing dopamine. From there, it spreads to different areas, such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex.
During sexual intercourse, it is usual for the brain to release dopamine. It gets to the highest point during climax and is the origin of what is known as “dopamine sex.” The positive experience is why you would go back to a partner after having sex with them once.
Sex and Endorphins
The Central Nervous System, pituitary gland, and hypothalamus all secrete endorphins in different quantities. This hormone is well known for increasing (sexual) satisfaction, boosting self-image, and reducing pain. The locations where this chemical is released gets activated when you carry out specific activities. Thus, it is usual to feel a rush of endorphins while exercising or undergoing a massage. Foods like chocolates can also trigger it.
The key question, however, is, can sex release endorphins? Just like the case with dopamine, sex releases endorphins.
The brain fails to make distinctions between pleasurable activities. This means that the pleasure centers that get turned on during drug use also get activated during intercourse. Is it then possible that you could get addicted to engaging in intercourse? Most likely. But, in truth, it wouldn’t be sex addiction, but rather an addiction to the satisfaction sex gives you.
Can Sex Affect You Mentally?
There are several benefits you will enjoy from having regular sex. However, in the vast majority of cases, the impact sex could have on mental health is often neglected. Below are the bonus mental health rewards from sex:
- Eliminating Stress
On its own, stress may not be of major concern medically. However, it can act as a precursor to several other debilitating medical conditions. Hence, it is important to eliminate stress in all its forms.
Research reveals that physical intimacy with one’s partner could act as a stress reliever.
- Increasing Cognitive Ability
Weirdly, having regular sex could potentially increase your mental energy because a huge portion of the brain gets activated in the heat of the moment. Hence, reliving those memories ramps up analytical and cognitive skills.
- Sex is Invigorating
The plastic surgery and cosmetic industry booms yearly because folks are in constant pursuit of youth. Hence, they spend a lot trying to look and feel younger than their ages. Surprisingly, sex can achieve this as both partners burn calories during sex. Sex is an alternative form of exercise!
- Increases self-esteem
You will be surprised at the impact having sex could have on your self-esteem. Generally, almost everyone is having sex. So when you aren’t, especially when it isn’t a personal choice, it could affect your view of self.
Certainly, a lot goes on in the neurological centers when you have sex. Of course, the idea is not to keep you wondering what those activities are, but to keep you in the know. While you have sex and perhaps attain orgasm, bear in mind the alterations, your body might be undergoing in that instant. This conversation gives you a full account of these changes.