Sex is a part of everyone’s lives. That’s the only reason why we were born. So, it concerns each one of us. Sex has a multifaceted effect on the human brain and understanding its various effects can transform your sex life. Using the latest in science and technology, researchers have found the many ways in which sex affects our brains.
Impact Of Sex On The Brain
From making you feel good to eliminating stress, sex has both positive and negative effects on the brain. Read about the different effects of sex on your brain.
1. Boosts Memory
Although some experiments were performed on lab rats, its brain is very similar to that of humans. A 2010 study shows how the rodents that engaged in everyday sex for 14 consecutive days grew more neurons in the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory. On the other hand, the other set of rats that were only allowed to have sex just once did not have as many neurons. A second study on mice also found similar results proving that sex can improve memory. As the brain structure of rats and humans are similar, sex may have the same effect on our brains.1
2. Induces Sleep
If you’re a man, then you’ll know how well you can sleep after a satisfying sex session. Sex has a sleep-inducing effect on men more than on women. Researchers suggest that the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex tends to shut down after ejaculation. Moreover, ejaculation also releases oxytocin (a hormone), and serotonin (a neurotransmitter). These two play a crucial role in causing the “rolling-over-and-falling-asleep” syndrome.
3. Relieves Pain
“No honey, not tonight. I have a headache.” Sounds familiar? Studies show that sex can relieve headaches. A 2013 study conducted in Germany on participants who had migraines and cluster-headache reported partial or total relief after having sex during a headache episode.2 Similar studies among women found that stimulating an area of the G spot had an elevation in pain threshold. Many researchers attribute this effect to oxytocin, the hormone that also has pain-relieving effects.
4. Lowers Depression
Research shows that sex can also reduce the risk of depression. In 2002, experts studied 300 women and found that those who had sex without a condom had fewer depressive symptoms than women who used a condom. They concluded that various compounds in semen, such as estrogen and prostaglandin, have antidepressant properties that are absorbed into the body after sex. Other factors such as being in a serious relationship or use of oral contraceptives were also considered. So, sex with your steady partner without using a condom can reduce the risk of depression. But, unprotected sex with strangers is still a bad idea as you risk contracting STDs.
5. Reduces Stress
The 2010 study performed on lab rats also found that the rats had a reduced level of stress. This effect is the same in humans also. Research shows that people who’d just had sex had better responses to stressful situations than people who had not had sexual intercourse. Sex helps in reducing stress by lowering the blood pressure, which in turn releases fewer quantities of the stress hormone called cortisol.
6. Erases Memory
Very rarely, fewer than 7 people per 100,000 experience “global transient amnesia” each year. Global transient amnesia is a sudden, but temporary loss of memory that is not attributed to any other neurological condition.3 This condition is usually caused by vigorous sex and emotional stress, pain, minor head injuries, medical procedures, and jumping into very hot or very cold water. The temporary loss of memory generally lasts only a few minutes or a few hours and leaves the person incapable of forming new memories or recollect very recent events. Studies show that this condition is short-lived and has no lasting effects.4
7. Stimulates Sadness
Though the adrenalin rush during sex and climaxing can supercharge your brain for a while, it can also have an opposite effect. Researchers point to the existence of post-sex blues, also called as postcoital dysphoria.5 Almost one in three women participating in a study reported experiencing sadness after having sex. More research is required to ascertain why sex can cause gloominess in some women. It could be a feeling of regret or a feeling of being compelled that causes sadness after sex.
8. Causes Addiction
Sex can be quite addictive as it makes us feel good, which is the primary reason why we desire sex and search for partners. During sex, a neurotransmitter that activates the reward center of the brain called dopamine is released in the brain, which makes us feel the pleasure. Dopamine is also released when people get high on certain drugs. Though cocaine use and sex are not the same, the area of the brain that is stimulated and feels the pleasure are the same. Stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and chocolate also impact the reward center of the brain.
|↑1||Leuner, Benedetta, Erica R. Glasper, and Elizabeth Gould. “Sexual experience promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus despite an initial elevation in stress hormones.” PLoS One 5, no. 7 (2010): e11597.|
|↑2||Wang, Yong-Liang, Yan Yuan, Jun Yang, Chang-Hong Wang, Yan-Juan Pan, Lu Lu, Yu-Quan Wu et al. “The interaction between the oxytocin and pain modulation in headache patients.” Neuropeptides 47, no. 2 (2013): 93-97.|
|↑3||Owen, D., B. Paranandi, R. Sivakumar, and M. Seevaratnam. “Classical diseases revisited: transient global amnesia.” Postgraduate medical journal 83, no. 978 (2007): 236-239.|
|↑4||Maloy, Kevin, and Jonathan E. Davis. ““Forgettable” sex: a case of transient global amnesia presenting to the emergency department.” The Journal of emergency medicine 41, no. 3 (2011): 257-260.|
|↑5||Bird, Brian S., Robert D. Schweitzer, and Donald S. Strassberg. “The prevalence and correlates of postcoital dysphoria in women.” International Journal of Sexual Health 23, no. 1 (2011): 14-25.|