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  2. INTRODUCTION  the sensation of orgasm actually originates between your ears, in the form of neurochemical changes.  These neurochemical changes take place in the limbic system, or "primitive brain.  " The primitive brain controls almost all bodily functions.  It’s the seat of emotions, desires, drives and impulses. It’s where you fall in and out of love…or lust.
  3.  The primitive brain is largely the same in all mammals. It has been around for well over 100,000,000 years, lurking right beneath your large, rational neo-cortex  you cannot will your feelings, emotions, falling in love, or staying in love, anymore than you can will your heart to beat, or yourself to digest a meal or sleep.  For every biological event in your body, there is a biological cause. In this case, the cause is neurochemicals.
  4. Neurochemical Commands  Dopamine is the neurochemical that activates your reward center (more accurately, "reward circuitry").  The reward center is a small portion of the limbic system, but it drives nearly all of your behaviors.  This center is activated when you engage in activities that further your survival, or the continuation of your genes.  Whether it’s sex, eating, taking risks, achieving goals, or drinking water, all increase dopamine, and dopamine turns on your reward center. You can think of dopamine as the "I’ve got to have it" neurochemical, whatever "it" is. It’s the "craving" neurochemical.
  5.  The more dopamine you release and the more your reward center is activated, the more "reward" you experience. A good example is food. We get a much bigger blast of dopamine eating high-calorie foods than we do low-calorie foods.  Our reward center is programmed that "calories equal survival." You’re not actually craving ice cream, or a winning lotto ticket, or even a romp in the sack. You’re craving the dopamine that is released with these activities. Dopamine is your reward, not the item or activity.  All addictive drugs and all addictions increase dopamine; that is why they are addictive. Money, power, gambling, shopping, computer games…if something increases your dopamine, then it’s addictive
  6.  Dopamine is absolutely necessary for your survival. Yet when it’s too low or too high it can cause real problems.  Researchers placed electrodes in rats’ reward centers to stimulate them, just as dopamine does. The rats could then press a lever to stimulate the reward center. That’s all those rats did; they ignored food, and even female rats. They just sat there pressing the lever over and over, wasting away…not unlike crack addicts.  In a second experiment, scientists blocked dopamine so the reward center could not be stimulated. What happened? The rats just sat there, again ignoring food, receptive mates, and the opportunity to explore their environment
  7. Changes with Dopamine levels  Dopamine Levels Excess Deficient "Normal"  Addictions Addictions Motivated  Anxiety Depression Feelings of well-being, satisfaction  Compulsions Anhedonia - no pleasure, world looks colorless Pleasure, reward in accomplishing tasks  Sexual fetishes Lack of ambition and drive Healthy libido  Sexual addiction Inability to "love" Good feelings toward others  Unhealthy risk-taking Low libido Healthy bonding  Gambling Erectile dysfunction Healthy risk taking
  8.  Orgasm is the biggest blast of dopamine (legally) available to us. A Dutch scientist recently scanned the brains of people having orgasm. He said they resembled scans of heroin rushes.  He saw visions of an "orgasm pill" and lots of money. We saw visions of one of the most addictive substance ever produced.  Orgasm is the biggest blast of dopamine (legally) available to us. A Dutch scientist recently scanned the brains of people having orgasm. He said they resembled scans of heroin rushes. He saw visions of an "orgasm pill" and lots of money. We saw visions of one of
  9.  The highs and lows of dopamine are only half of the "orgasm hangover" story. At orgasm, dopamine drops like a lead balloon, and we lose interest, at least temporarily. However, if dopamine’s not kept in check, it could rapidly shoot up again and we’d be back in the sack. Biology’s mission is now to stop us from screwing around and place our attention elsewhere - like on hunting and gathering, feeding the babies, going to our job, taking out the trash and so forth. Otherwise we’d end up like those rats, working our levers over and
  10.  Suppressing dopamine is so important that nature uses an additional neurochemical to curtail our sexual desire. It’s called prolactin. If dopamine is the "foot on the gas," then prolactin is the "foot on the brake.“  Research shows that prolactin surges immediately after orgasm in both men and women. Men may experience this prolactin surge as the "roll over and snore" phenomenon. In women, the effects may be delayed for days.  There’s an inverse relationship between the levels of prolactin and dopamine; when one is up the other is down. This rise and fall produces
  11.  What do couples complain of as their honeymoons end? The very symptoms associated with high prolactin: weight gain, drop in libido, mood changes, depression. Notice that in women excess prolactin is also associated with anxiety and hostility. Sound familiar? Women Men • Loss of libido Loss of libido  Mood changes / depression Mood changes / depression  Hostility, anxiety Impotence  HeadacheHeadache  Menopausal symptoms,  even when estrogen is sufficient Infertility  Signs of increased testosterone levels Decreased testosterone levels  Weight gain Weight gain
  12.  Dopamine restrains prolactin production, so the more dopamine there is, the less prolactin is released  It is well-known that dopamine constitutively inhibits prolactin (PRL) secretion via the dopamine receptor 2 (DR2D). If dopamine is increased or if dopamine receptors hyperfunction, PRL may be reduced. During the first SCZ episode, low PRL levels are associated with worse symptoms.
  13.  Although research hasn’t shown how long prolactin surges continue in humans after sex, in rats surges of prolactin continue for up to two weeks. This may help to explain how great sex last week could lead to relationship friction now.  And it’s no wonder we don’t make the link between cause and effect.  There’s also evidence that prolactin acts as a stress hormone. Unlike the "fight or flight" stress hormones, prolactin seems to be associated with "giving up," or "despair-type" stress. When a wild monkey is first caged, "fight or flight" stress hormones rise. As time goes by and despair sets in, "fight or flight" hormones fall and prolactin rises. Could these surges of prolactin explain relationship despair?
  14.  orgasm leads to a drop in dopamine and a rise in prolactin. Both of these lead to multiple behavioral and emotional symptoms, which, in our experience, can arise over the next two weeks. During this time, our behavior may change for the worse.  More importantly, our perception of each other can shift dramatically for the worse. If we feel depleted, our partner will seem overly demanding; if we feel needy, our partner will seem selfish and uncaring. Of course, few people ever avoid orgasm for two weeks. Most of us ride this roller coaster over and over, never really experiencing balanced brain chemistry.
  15.  Orgasm’s high dopamine/low dopamine pattern actually encourages addictions of many kinds because people attempt to use artificial means to manipulate their dopamine levels  Most addictions kick in during teen years, when we become sexually active. A recent Columbia University study found that sexually active teens use more drugs. One might think social factors alone lead to this correlation between drugs and sex, but when scientists studied hamsters, they found that sexually-active hamsters were much more susceptible to amphetamine addiction than their virgin counterparts
  16.  Children, or pre-teens have yet to activate this dopamine roller coaster, and they possess a cheerful, optimistic enthusiasm for the simplest activities. Perhaps this is due to balanced dopamine. Low Testosterone and the Coolidge Effect  Sexually-satiated male rats take up to seven days to recover their full desire for sex, although there is one way to jumpstart them, which we’ll get to in a moment. Research shows they experience a reduction in testosterone receptors for up to a week, which may decrease that "manly feeling." If this happens in females, it would also reduce their sexual desire. Low testosterone is associated with irritability and anger. Serotonin and endorphin levels also rise in sexually- satiated rats, which decrease dopamine and raise prolactin, respectively. Remember, in humans, any
  17.  Your primitive brain is not equipped to "get" that. It just keeps rewarding you to do the same unrewarding things. A "fix" just positions you for a continuous addictive cycle of highs, more lows, and a search for more highs. Many of us spend much of our sex lives caught in this cycle - with no obvious way out. N/B: We have talked about how dopamine can break couples apart, but there’s also something holding couples together…at least at first
  18. The Power of Oxytocin
  19.  The neurochemical that binds couples together is oxytocin, the "cuddle hormone" or "bonding hormone." Without it, we could not fall in love.  Falling in love is associated with a soup of neurochemicals - like adrenaline, which makes your heart race, and dopamine, which makes you crave your beloved. But the heartwarming, loving, "gushy" aspects of love are due to oxytocin.  It is the "unconditional love" hormone associated with nurturing and generous affection.
  20.  Oxytocin has various functions in the body, such as inducing labor contractions and milk ejection, but from evolutionary biology’s perspective, its main evolutionary function is to bond us to our children for life. It also serves to bond us to our mate…at least long enough to produce a child and (if we're lucky) get it on its feet.  Friendships are also built on oxytocin, and can be quite deep bonds. Yet, what happens to friendships that turn into sexual relationships? Often things change for the worse. This change is an excellent example of the
  21.  Making love with lots of affection, without the dopamine-driven highs and lows of conventional sex, seems to keep oxytocin levels high. The more oxytocin you produce, the more receptive you are to it. This is the opposite of dopamine.  Addicts need more and more of a drug, which, of course, which actually means they need more and more dopamine. Luckily you don’t need an ever-increasing "fix" of oxytocin to maintain the same gushy feeling. In fact, your partner just looks better and better…at least to you.  This is why this practice can strengthen your bond with your mate.
  22.  When researchers injected oxytocin into the brain of a promiscuous breed of rodent, it preferred familiar partners to unfamiliar partners. Dopamine and its hangover are the keys to promiscuity, whereas oxytocin is the key to monogamy.  Oxytocin has huge benefits, both emotionally and physically. Oxytocin is the answer to the question, "What is the mechanism by which love and affection positively affect our health?"  Oxytocin reduces cravings. When scientists administered it to rodents who were addicted to cocaine, morphine, or heroin, the rats opted for
  23.  Oxytocin calms. A single rat injected with oxytocin has a calming effect on a cage full of anxious rats. (Agren, 2002)  This quality of oxytocin explains why companionship can increase longevity - even among those who are HIV positive (Young, 2004).  Or speed recovery: wounded hamsters heal twice as fast when they are paired with a sibling, rather than left in isolation (DeVries, 2004).  It may also explain why, among various species of primates, care-giving parents (whether male or female) live significantly longer. (Cal Tech,
  24.  Oxytocin appears be a major reason that SSRI’s [Prozac-type drugs] ease depression, perhaps because high levels of cortisol are the chief culprits in depression and anxiety disorders. (Uvnas-Moberg, 1999)  Oxytocin increases sexual receptivity and counteracts impotence, which is why this other way of making love remains pleasurable. (Pedersen, C.A., 2002), (Arletti, 1997)  Again, notice that oxytocin reduces cravings and increases sexual receptivity. This allows making love without orgasm to be completely satisfying. The affection is always there, flowing between you and your partner. When we tiptoe around dopamine’s highs and lows, we encourage more oxytocin receptors and
  25.  The Karezza Method by J. William Lloyd, MD (1931)  Male Continence by John Humphrey Noyes (1872)  Karezza: Ethics of Marriage by Alice Bunker Stockham, MD (1903)  Sex Perfection and Marital Happiness by Rudolf von Urban, MD (1949)