The Science of Sex

June 28, 2022

In order to fully cover the topic of “The Science of Sex”, it is always best to start at the beginning, where it all begins.  So, with that we will start with an interesting question that you may think has an obvious answer…

What is your primary sex organ?

You may be thinking that it is one of two particular organs, depending on your gender.  If you are thinking that, you are incorrect.  It is actually an organ that all humans share… YOUR BRAIN!  You heard that right, sexual activity begins when the BRAIN is activated toward sex.  At the height of sexual pleasure, the brain releases certain chemicals resulting in new emotions.  Let’s look at the main chemicals that are released and what they do.

Dopamine and Serotonin.  We like to call dopamine and serotonin the happy chemicals.  When these chemicals are released, it wires our brain to want to repeat the thing we just did.  Because of this, dopamine is not only connected with sex, but also with delicious food, learning something new, music, gambling, and taking drugs.

Vasopressin.  This is the commitment hormone.  It causes us to feel protective & committed to our partner.  When male prairie voles were given a drug that suppresses vasopressin, they began neglecting their partners and not fighting off other male voles who wanted to mate with her.

Oxytocin.  This is known as the bonding hormone. It is released in the brain during sexual pleasure & causes feelings of bonding. It also eases stress and creates a feeling of calmness and peace.  Oxytocin crystalizes memories so that sexual experiences are not easy to forget.

The brain releases all of these chemicals and hormones throughout sexual activity causing habit-forming behaviors. These chemicals are released throughout sexual activity and arousal, not just during sexual intercourse.  For example, if someone is engaging in pornography or other types of sexual activity, their brain is still releasing these chemicals.

When we realize sexual activity begins in our brain, we become aware of the emotional effects of sexual activity, and how it impacts our hearts and minds.  Have you ever felt very depressed, or seen your friend get really depressed after a break-up?  This is because your brain is releasing these chemicals during romance and sexual activity causing you to bond, commit, and feel protective over your partner.  Also, you are feeling incredibly happy with this partner.  When the break-up happens all these feelings are interrupted. This is the way your body works, the bonding is natural, and you can’t control whether it happens or not.  If you don’t realize this about yourself, you might feel surprised when you get involved in a sexual relationship and then feel the real pain of a break-up.

It may sound very cliche, but remember that no matter how safe you are, you cannot put a condom on your heart.

Relationships can be hard and sex is a valuable part of your personhood.  It’s more than a physical experience.  It also affects your heart and emotions. Knowing the science of sex can empower you to protect your heart, mind, and body in your relationships.

Options Health is a safe place where you can confidentially come and discuss sexual health, pregnancy, and relationship issues with one of our patient advocates.  Feel free to contact us today to take advantage of our free services, including pregnancy testing, ultrasound, pregnancy options consultation, STD testing, and abortion aftercareCall us or text us to schedule an appointment. We are here for you and ready to listen!