There’s no doubt that a great orgasm is euphoric and blissful. It’s during this time that the brain releases chemicals that bring on feelings of pleasure, a sense of elation, and relaxation.
These feelings of arousal, oxytocin, and prolactin contribute to the sexy afterglow effect that studies have shown can last up to 48 hours and positively influence pair bonding over time. But where exactly does this feeling come from?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that affects mood, motor control, motivation, arousal, and reward. It’s made in the brain through a two-step process that changes the amino acid tyrosine into dopa and then into dopamine. Outside the central nervous system, dopamine acts as a paracrine messenger, acting locally in the blood vessels, kidneys, pancreas, and immune system. Too much dopamine in certain parts of the brain can cause symptoms like schizophrenia, and too little can lead to Parkinson’s disease.
Dopamine’s roles in motivation and reinforcement help create the good feeling you get when you engage in pleasurable activities like eating, shopping, gambling, sex, or playing sports. But when you start craving these things compulsively, and ignore everything else to get your fix, it becomes addiction. Drugs like cocaine, nicotine and heroin can all create a surge of dopamine by increasing activity in the SN, but they also have side effects that can lead to addiction.
Oxytocin is well known for its role in labour and breastfeeding, but it also plays a key role in social bonding, trust, maternal nurturing behaviour, and sex. It is sometimes referred to as the “cuddle chemical” or the “love hormone”.
When babies suckle, mechanoreceptors in the nipples and the cervix are activated, which triggers oxytocin production and secretion. This in turn stimulates more oxytocin to be produced and secreted, creating a positive feedback loop. Oxytocin is also released in the brain by the amygdala, decreasing fear response and enhancing social recognition.
Oxytocin can make people feel good about others who share a similar in-group identity, such as nationality or ethnicity. It can also increase feelings of empathy and trust towards strangers. In addition, it is a natural antidepressant and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression. It has also been shown to decrease blood pressure and enhance relaxation. Moreover, it can help control pain and reduce the effects of stress.
Endorphins are natural peptide chemicals that act as your body’s own pain and stress relievers. They are similar to opiate drugs, such as morphine, and can create a feeling of well-being comparable to that of the “runner’s high.”
They are produced throughout the body, including the pituitary gland and spinal cord. They interact with opioid receptors in the limbic system to block pain and control emotion. They also enhance feelings of pleasure, reduce anxiety and depression, and boost self-esteem.
There are many ways to naturally increase your endorphin levels, including sex (which elevates heart rate and causes the brain to release oxytocin), exercise (like running or lifting weights), laughing, dancing, and enjoying spicy foods like hot peppers. In addition, meditation and aromatherapy can also promote the production of feel-good endorphins. Natural endorphins have no side effects and do not create a dependency, making them a safer and healthier alternative to mind-altering drugs. They are also cost-effective, as they do not require any physical or financial investment.
The cerebellum has long been viewed as a dense, fist-size part of the brain that coordinates muscle movements. But new research is showing that it has a much wider repertoire, including cognitive processing and emotional control.
It receives sensory information from the vestibular system and from proprioceptors, which give you your sense of body position and the forces acting on you when you move. It also communicates with the brain stem, spinal cord, and cerebrum to coordinate movement.
It can make the movements of your arms and legs more fluid and accurate. It can even coordinate the small movements that go with speech, like changing the size of your mouth when you say “Hi.” The middle area toward the center of the cerebellum tends to focus more on coordinating movements in the trunk and limbs. And the part closer to the center of the cerebellum helps to coordinate movements that happen around the waist, such as walking.