with Relationship Sexpert Larry James
Brain Research Into the Healthy & Unhealthy Impacts of Sex on Women & Men
Dr. Lisa Love, Guest Author
Sex can be one of the most wonderful experiences anyone will ever have. As brain research shows at the time of orgasm oxytocin is released for both men and women, which is one of the main feel good chemicals known. For men the added chemical of testosterone increases their aggressive tendencies and sex drives.
Men with higher testosterone levels will be more sexually aggressive and assertive. This tendency to be aggressive will be increased even more if the man has a high level of vasopressin (an aggression chemical found in the amygadala of the brain).
Dopamine is the third major chemical driving men to have sex and when dopamine levels are low, a man essentially loses his sexual desire. It is no wonder then that men have a strong drive for sex. They are both biologically and chemically driven. How then does the male sex drive become destructive, especially for women, if it is not understood and worked with in a conscious and careful manner?
Understanding What Happens to Women Biologically in the Brain During Sex
First, let's understand some of the differences biologically and chemically between men and women's brains during sex. To start with, women's brains are more hard wired for bonding. Consider the major feel good hormone, oxytocin. What makes orgasm feel so good is the release of this powerful chemical at the time orgasm occurs.
Oxytocin is also known as the bonding chemical. It helps dissolve the sense of boundaries and gives that sense of being at-one in large or small ways with yourself, your partner, or for those who achieve more mystical states, the world.
Interestingly enough, women tend to have oxytocin levels that are ten times larger then men have. No surprise then, that women tend to get more bonded to their partners when orgasm occurs. For a man, shortly after orgasm (in an hour or two), the oxytocin level drops off. His testosterone and vasopressin levels have done their work. He has achieved orgasm.
Now that his work is finished, time to move on and shift focus. But, for the woman her higher levels of oxytocin, which can last in her system for two days or more, combined with other female hormones move her towards a greater sense of fusion and vulnerability with the man she has just had a sexual experience with. After all, for a woman to even reach climax she is required to surrender, open up, and become vulnerable in a deep way to the man she is with. No surprise then, the woman tends to feel more attached. It is her biological & chemical makeup that motivates this.
What a Woman Needs to Feel Good AFTER Sex & What Can Make Her Feel Lousy
For a woman to feel safe after an orgasm and sex, it is vitally important then that she feels cherished by the man she is with. And, most women feel cherished if a man bonds with her in return, which is why the rituals of romance, courtship, the security of commitment, and even marriage feel so vital to her. She wants to know that she is valued especially since unlike men (who can go through trillions of sperm in a life time), she has on average only 300 eggs for as long as she lives. That means she has only 300 opportunities, carefully nourished over a span of a month, to bring her creative essence into the world.
What happens then if a woman does not feel cherished, respected, and connected to her partner after sex? Fascinatingly enough within approximately a day or two later as her oxytocin levels diminish a woman will suddenly experience a cortisol dump. Cortisol is the chemical that is released during stress. It is also the chemical that causes us to age and potentially gain weight.
Worse, after she gets the cortisol dump a woman has a high risk for entering into a state of depression. That is why so many women feel hurt, confused, angry, and traumatized after sex. It is also why that orgasm that just felt so good, can suddenly feel so bad causing rapid mood swings (a fact about women that confuses and frustrates men). Biologically it is time to realize once and for all then that women, unlike men who can biologically disconnect easier, are not designed for sexual liasons that only last a time or two.
And, it's time to understand that as a woman becomes biologically bonded to a man through orgasm and the oxytocin release, if she is subjected to a fast dumping or traumatic breakup shortly after, it can cause her premature aging, weight gain, health problems and more! Unless a woman who engages in casual sex is especially adept at knowing how to handle the sexual experience with a high level of spiritual detachment and inner spiritual security, she is running a huge psychological and emotonally risk. And, even if she has a fairly enlightened approach to casual sex, her biology may still be at odds with her.
Why Stable Lasting Sexual Relations Are Good Biologically for Both Men & Women
Considering these differences, it seems a little crazy that nature has designed such a system, where male and female brain chemistry seem so at odds with each other. Are we all just doomed to men being a bunch of insensitives and sex addicts, and women being a bunch of crazy hysterics over feeling used, when it comes to sex?
The good news is, nature does seem to have another purpose related to sex. Researchers are also finding out that when men and women enter into stable sexual relations together, where the oxytocin chemical is shared between them on a consistent basis, bonding between men and women gets increasingly deep, so much so, there is a visible difference in brain scans between couples that are bonded over the long run through sex, and those who are not.
In fact, scientists are now discovering that they can see if a couple is "in love" or not. By love, they are not talking about the kind of love that happens during the first six to twelve months that is really about infatuation. But, the kind of love that is deep, lasting, and conducive to activating parts of the brain that enhance in each person a deeper sense of well being and a greater inclination towards compassion.
What this shows then is that essentially for sex to be healthy for men and women, it needs to increasingly become more about love, respect, empathy and compassion. Though it is understandable that men are driven by their biology to want more sex, and possbilly even have more sexual partners, based on the research I have read, it might be inferred that men (as well as women) benefit from a sense of stability and commitment with the sexual partners they have. Why?
Mainly because researchers are finding that having a stable and giving sexual partner allows for more frequent sex. In turn that allows for more of an oxytocin release, which in men also moderates their aggressive tendencies that come about through testoterone and vasopressin. Plus, within a stabilizing, loving, and respective partnership, both men and women enhance the parts of their brains that lead to well being and compassion. Finally, as a couple has sex more frequently together not only their brain waves, but even their heart rates seem to sync up. In essence, the two really are becoming one!
What becomes traumatic for women, and even for men, is when sex numbs out the deeper levels of sensitivity and connection. Then testoterone and vasopressin run rampant making the approach to sex more about conquest, ego, domination, entertainment, and degradation of oneself and others. When sex is approached in this way men especially run the risk of losing the moral, stabilizing, harmonious, bonding influences that sex is attempting to bring them. Instead, men become overly dominated by their aggressive sexual tendencies leading them into a series of superficial meaningless sexual liasons that feed the ego desires of craving and domination, while diminishing the loving nature of their souls.
Interestingly enough brain research is showing that these superficial liasons also tend to shrink the frontal lobes of the brain (in men and women), which is the part of the brain responsible for moral reasoning, the overall sense of well-being, love, and the capacity to develop compassion for oneself and others in the world.
As for what happens to women who are subjected to sex that essential prostitutes them and sinks them into a series of one-night stands? In addition to frontal lobe diminishment, they are also far more prone to depression, premature aging, and diseases of all kinds (far beyond simply sexual ones). More then men they tend to lose their sense of self-worth (perhaps because unlike men with their millions of sperm a day, a women invests a lot more in each of her 300 eggs, even taking an entire month to cultivate just one!).
This greater level of loss and insecurity over having gone through a loss may be one reason women are more prone to enter into a level of despair when they are not nourished, protected, provided for, and respected by men they have sex with. The biological and psychlogical incubation period of a woman's creative process may also explain why women especially need to be courted over time before giving men sex. Biologically women are more invested in the act of sex.
Ideally, that means she is taking time to discern who she is sharing her body (egg, sexual/creative energy) with. And, if she is conscious she is also considering the deeper creative purpose underlying an act of sex beyond simply having an orgasm or getting pregnant. Her creative sexual energy is precious. It makes sense that she discerns if she will risk wasting her one precious creative opportunity as it is expressed through the cultivation of her egg, and sexual/creative energy in a sexual encounter.
Getting the Most Out of Sexual Relations in a Healthy Way
So, biologically we see men are very different from women. They are driven hormonally to want sex and to have it right now. As women are learning to appreciate that fact about men, they have been attempting to be more flexible about giving men more of the sex they want. In the right loving spirit, this is a very good thing, which is why I frequently teach the women I counsel to understand this need their men have.
I also teach them to take responsibility for looking good for their man (once they have selected a man). And, I teach them to find creative ways to keep sex spontaneous and enjoyable. Plus, I share with them ways they can bring a spirit of play, love, and joy into sex to help create a more loving connection with their man not only through sex, but creatively, at many levels.
But, hopefully in return men will start to understand that women are different from them, not only in how women value their few eggs over the billions of sperm men have (with many men happily wasting lots of sperm a day). But, I want to help men understand that women have a different chemical and hormonal brain response to sex then they do.
Remember a woman's horomonal/chemical response makes her more fragile and likely to bond to a man especially in the act of orgasm. Knowing this a man can enter into a sexual relastionship with a greater spirit of love in regards to a woman even saying to himself even, "O.K. I want a sexual conenction with her. But, then most likely she will become bonded and connected to me.
If I don't treat her respectfully, carefully, lovingly, and responsibly if I create such a connection, biologically even she is likely to go through a great deal of stress and risk losing her emotional and physical health. Knowing this, what do I do?"
Hopefully, he will be motivated to treat his woman in loving ways even if she is only there for a brief time in his life. In turn a man will gain some rewards beyond merely sexual release. He will get a woman with an oxytocin glow who feels loving, connected, and excited when near him. So, please when you have sex with a woman, treat her as if she matters to you. I'm going beyond simply making sure you have safe sex with her. She is not simply a body, but a person. And, that person you are with is risking a great deal beyond simply pregnancy or sexual diseases that you believe a condom protects her from.
Bad enough that she is risking having a child or getting a sexual disease. She is also risking becoming bonded to you. And, if that bond is broken in a bad way she will only be stressed out after being with you, becoming prematurely aged, sick, fat and depressed after having connected with you. What's the point of taking all these risks for her just to satisfy your ego?
(Note: In the sex slave and prostitution world, which is the major crisis of our times, young girls age 12 and up are even being asked, or forced, to take steorids
that are used to fatten cattle quickly for slaughter. Why? Because they want the girls to age rapidly as well. That way the illusion is created that they are 18 instead
of 12, disguising the fact that rape and child abuse is what is really occuring in these horrible sexual liasons. So, on top of all the other trauma being dumped on that
young girl merely for satisfying a male sexual urge, think of the even more horrible illnessness and abuses being inflicting upon her due to use of these steorid drugs).
Where to Go From Here - Loving & Healthy Sex
In conclusion, how can men and women get the most out of their sexual experiences together? To begin with move beyond the STD and pregnancy worries. They are important to discuss and manage, but realize once and all there is a lot more going on in sexual relations than that especially on an emotional level.
For men this means understanding that if you are having sex with a woman you are responsible at the very least for making a commitment to her at some level (like cultivating a loving attitude of respect towards her, being honest and transperant with her, being willing to cherish and not violate her boundaries, and even taking a responsibility to at least befriend her). Know also that you have some connection to the unhappiness and depression that will overwhelm her if she has an orgasm with you and then you abuse her, dump her, or fail to bond with her or respect her.
Now you know, the odds are very high that a woman will become bonded to a you if she has sex with you as her biology and brain chemistry are impelling her to do so! So, be careful. Love and respect her. I understand your biology is running on a green light 24/7. Her's is not! And, it's not for a reason.
She is taking her time to cultivate energetically something very special in her creative sexual potential. Besides, you are also learning that in your own biology you increase your tendency to become more aggressive, insensitive and disconnected from your capacity to be a compassionate and moral human being when your frontal lobes shrink due to abusive and disrespectful sexual encounters. Do you really want to put yourself through that?
As for women, ignore the plethora of advertising trying to overwhelm you into believing that you can be detached from sexual experiences. Maybe some women can (who probably have more male hormones in their system anyway), but odds are you can't! Your biology and chemistry dictates otherwise. Pretending you won't be impacted emotionally is like denying you have a womb, which is also a biological part of you. What this means is every time you have an orgasm with a man you undergo a biological and chemical risk.
Is this man really worth that risk to you? Is he worth the risk of becoming attached to someone not good for you, aging yourself prematurely out of getting together with someone bad for you, sinking into a depression, and even losing your self-esteem and self-respect if he dumps you, fails to respect you, and at the very least doesn't care about you enough to at least befriend and cherish you? Seriously, those few days of an oxytocin high have a dramatic and potentially hugely damaging chemical flip side. Start becoming more conscious of it.
And, if you need to take nature for an inspiration. Most female animals are highly selective of their mates. It's time human women got back to being that way too. We expect men to court us for a reason. And, by the way it is long past time to stop basing a man's worth on his ability to provide financially for you. That is an increasingly archaic notion that can actually be harmful for women. Why? Because lots of abusive, controlling, and immoral men are really good at making a living.
They use their high levels of testosterone and vasopressin to get them into those roles. And, often as they get there, they can become really lousy human beings. Instead, base your courtship on discovering what kind of human being you will be connecting with. Is your man using his male biology to be predatory, insensitive, aggressive, and immoral? Or, is he using it to be assertive, dynamic, vital, compassionate, and a loving "humane" human being?
When women put the focus primarily on character before they engage in sex, they not only help themselves, they help the men they are with to be more loving. Then sex will create healthy connections and remove the unhealthy aspects where sex can turn us into more violent, insensitive, and disconnected human beings. Instead, sex will create what it is meant to create - a more loving, compassionate and connected world.
Copyright © - Lisa Love. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. Want help with the above? Check out her website:
http://DoctorLisaLove.com/ or, call me for a coaching session. Learn more
If you would like to talk
one-on-one with Larry James about relationship issues related to this article, you are invited to arrange for a
private coaching session by telephone. Go to Personal Relationship Coaching
for specific details.