Oxytocin. Sex. Your happily ever after. Any idea what the three have in common? A whole damn lot.
If you don’t know this about me, I geek out on the intersection where sex and science meet. And if it has to do with the brain, #swoon! You won me over at the limbic system.
So today in Molly’s nerdy sex talk, I want to chat about oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that’s released in the brain when we experience touch, sexual behavior, and orgasms (it also happens during childbirth and when women nurse babies). In the media, it has been called the “cuddle” or “love hormone,” but that’s an oversimplification. Oxytocin has multiple functions.
Two primary Oxytocin functions include bonding and stress reduction.
Let’s start with the bonding. When oxytocin is released, it reinforces the bond between two individuals. So when a mother nurses a child and looks into that little baby’s eyes, oxytocin is released, creating an emotional bond between them. The hormone serves the same function when you orgasm.
Yep, when you cum, oxytocin floods your brain and works to create a bond between you and your lover. Whether this is a unique phenomenon associated with orgasm, or if its roots relate to a biological function to keep primal humans together because of the immense needs of a human baby, who knows? It doesn’t really matter. Not one damn bit.
But you know what does matter?
Sex and orgasms release oxytocin, which makes us bond with our partners. It makes us stay in love, keeps us laughing at their jokes, and assists us in putting up with their dirty socks on the bedroom floor. This hormone, the same hormone that’s released when we engage in sexual activity, from kissing to intercourse, keeps the feeling of “oneness” so often seen in happily married couples, and it fosters the love between them. It keeps them wanting to have more intimacy and more pleasure and more sex.
And when a marriage is filled with intimacy and pleasure and sex, it tends to be a damn happy marriage. A marriage people don’t stray from. A marriage they don’t bitch about to their friends. And a marriage that those around them wish they could have.
It becomes a downward spiral into bliss, my friend.
And it’s absolutely amazing.
Moving on, oxytocin also brings us other benefits. Especially when it comes to stress. See, cortisol is a hormone that’s released when we’re stressed out. Essentially designed to allow us to act on our fight-or-flight response, cortisol is basically pointless in our modern stress cycle. It, therefore, builds up in our system, creating a range of problems like weight gain, acne, irritability, stress, and anxiety.
Doesn’t sound fun, does it?
Sadly, many of us are running around with cortisol levels through the roof. But you know what? Can you guess a hormone that may naturally lower cortisol levels? If you guessed oxytocin, ding, ding, ding! You’re exactly right! Oxytocin burns up excess cortisol, removing it from our body.
It’s almost as if sex is a natural Xanax or something.
So what’s all this mean to you? It means if you want to feel closer to your partner, if you want to nurture the love between you, sex does that (duh). Like, quite literally. Sex creates hormones that make you bond to your lover. That make you happy when you spend time with them.
And sex reduces your stress (double duh). Because that same hormone that makes you bond to your partner also eats up the streess hormone. That makes sex (and oxytocin) a win-win.
So go do it. Now. Seriously.