How are the hormones released during sex like human super glue?

November 8, 2017

The human body releases powerful hormones in the brains of men and women during sexual activity, including the neurohormones oxytocin and vasopressin.  Women are more sensitive to the effect of oxytocin, a hormone that is also found to be a bonding hormone released during childbirth and nursing. During sexual activity, as oxytocin is released, it “acts as emotional super glue between partners”. Men, on the other hand, are more affected by vasopressin, which similarly “helps a man bond to his partner and instills a protective instinct toward his partner and children”.

One way of thinking about this bonding effect of sex is to imagine these hormones are like duct-taping a couple’s arms together. After a break-up or after switching partners, that same duct tape is ripped off along with some particles of skin and hair, reducing its stickiness and the ability to bond again to a new partner. Similarly, there is research that suggests that when stress hormones are released, as can happen after a break-up, then the ability of oxytocin to create bonding of the partners is reduced as the oxytocin levels actually drop.  Research also shows that oxytocin levels will increase to normal if sexual activity is stopped and time is given for emotional and physical healing.

Now imagine that the duct tape was never removed. The adhesion and thus the bonding of the partners would remain strong.  In a monogamous, faithful marriage, for instance, oxytocin and vasopressin biologically increase the bond between husband and wife.

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