"It takes no time to fall in love, but it takes years to know what love is."
- Singer-songwriter Jason Mraz
Romance is a hot topic and the romance novel industry knows something about as it brings in a whopping 1 billion annually. We are interested in keeping romance alive, yet while time passes most relationship will be plagued with the romance blues. Researcher, Helen Fisher, details her findings in the Chemistry of Love. Fisher’s research explores the various neuro-hormonal pathways of love, the longevity of such chemicals, and theorizes the idea of a love map.
Many factors are contributory toward the decline and the rate at which couples may experience the diminishing romantic feelings, such as each partner’s sexual constitution, lifestyle, health, finances, work schedule, children, living situation, religion, etc. Also, one’s expression of romance is important to understand to ensure that their love language is conveyed in a way that is received.
Bottom line is we are wired to connect. Within a very complex neural network, we have a reward motivational system that is activated when we encounter a potential mate. This juices up the system with dopamine and norepinephrine. This system gives us the craving for that person leading to focused attention, obsessive thinking, and euphoria. We may relate to this as “the fall.” Serotonin which helps regulate moods, emotions, sleep and appetite drops during this phase, which causes the lack of appetite, reduced sleep and emotions and moods that feel uncontrollable. Our bonding hormone, Oxytocin ensures the attachment and provides the peace and calm we feel when in their presence. Of course, testosterone needs mentioning as this propels us into the pursuit and desire for sex. Once sexual activity takes place, these hormones and neurotransmitters go into overdrive to essentially ensure procreation and pair bonding. However, there is the caveat. It’s a short-lived experience. It’s essentially not sustainable.
The question becomes how to create sustainability and satisfaction for both partners. First and foremost, hormones levels are important to know as hormone replacement may be all it takes to ignite the desire and pursuit of romance. Of course, communicating wants and needs is fundamental to a healthy bonded relationship. Stella Resnick, PhD., a leading researcher in keeping the spark alive in long-term relationships, says there are three distinct behaviors these couples exhibit with each other. First, they eye gaze and attune to their partner. Secondly, they touch each other and hold hands often. Lastly, they have continued kissing one another throughout their relationship. As a sexuality counselor, these behavior are usually absent from couples I see. Training in these behaviors alone, gives the kick start. From there, scheduling dates, doing activities together that arouse a sense of excitement and fun together, and mostly, it’s the true desire to want to engage with each other with an authentic and connecting approach.
“The true function of sex is to bring more love into the world.”
- Diana Richardson
As I reflect upon the years as a Sex Counselor and consider the root of the problems couples have with their sexuality, it seems to boil down to passionless sex. While that seems like an obvious statement, I’d like to share the depth of what I mean by that statement. While there are many causes and conditions that merge together creating sexual dissatisfaction from couple to couple, what I have witnessed over the years may be distilled down to that simple statement, passion burnout.
We can turn to the current state of affairs in the typical American bedroom. The average time a couple spends on foreplay is 10-19 minutes and intercourse is about 7 minutes. Yet for woman, igniting the female arousal system takes about 40 minutes to fully engage. While some woman may have an orgasm quickly, this does not indicate full arousal. If the goal is to have an orgasm, the genitals are wired to get you there. If the goal is deeper intimacy, meaning more intentional heart-centered approach, then having an orgasm is only an aspect of the encounter, but not the goal.
When we first encounter a love relationship, that passionate spark makes us feel alive and that we’ve met the one and only (rationalizing all the other one’s that seem to have fit the bill). Our neurobiological system in on full throttle giving us the primal body sensations to have sex. These physical sensations are quite intense and have a sense of urgency to them for after all it’s “the one.” At some point, maybe even the first date, we have sex and then we just don’t seem to stop. But eventually, the pleasure center tops off and the descent begins.
The descent begins with seeing the shadow of the other and who they are with their annoyances, idiosyncrasies, personality quirks, immaturity, emotional unavailability, anger, shutting down, etc. As this emerges, sexual encounters begin to wane and lack that initial charge and power. And another power rears up: the power struggles. One wants it more, the other less. It becomes a chore, either to pursue or oppose the pursuit. Lovemaking went from playful fun and excitement with orgasm being the norm, to a bantering about “doing it” or not “doing it.” And commonly, the woman begins to not have interest in her own orgasm and he stops attempting to please. The passion seems to have run dry and lovers soon become roommates, housemates, and business partners of their household.
The question becomes how might we come together to shift these dynamics to re-ignite the passion and create sustainable passion. It is suggested in wisdom traditions through transformation (hence, inner work to do!) of passionlessness, we step into the arms of a sustainable passion. Cultivating a passion that can withstand the ups and downs of the myriad aspects of modernity, requires a process that we each commit to by arousing our heart-centered compassionate nature. The genital-centricity with which is often the primary focus in romantic relationships burns us out. A heart-centered awareness brings the sexual energy up, allowing for connection of the minds. The genitals are quiet proficient at their function so put your focus in a higher realm.
To begin, consider not treating your sex life like a McDonald’s drive thru. Begin to slow down the process. If your average time with a sexual encounter is 15 minutes, double the time and don’t rush the process. Engage all the senses, but keep it simple. Turn off all the distractions, phones, computers, TV, chores, etc., and turn toward each other as if that person really matters to you. As Nelson Mandela says, “there is no passion to be found playing small.” When we rush through the most intimate human connection available in our lives, we play small, which suggests that love hasn’t fully emerged. When we take our time and take our sexual encounters slowly, we will begin to notice all the nuances being offered in each moment. As we allow the sensations to be felt slowly and not rushing or forcing it’s intensity, our minds come to the process. When the mind finally settles in this sweet space, love shows itself. So slow down, pay attention as if it your life depends upon it.
“Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.”
- Anais Nin, Delta of Venus
Breath. Sex. Connection. Fear. Arousal. Confusion. Love. Fantasy. Argument. Love. Rejection. Pursuit. Object. Closed. Joy. Repression. Fight. Kissing. Anger. Touch. No desire. Orgasm. The many faces of the sexual experience, possibly an infinite list. While at UCLA, one of the mantra’s that we used and has stuck with me is “It all Belongs.” And really, until we meet this way of life straight on, we will experience suffering.
Sex and all it offers, is opening Pandora’s box. And we can think of Pandora’s box as offering it all and therefore it all belongs. The question about our sexual life to ask is how might I embrace all the aspects with kindness, resiliency, generosity, curiosity, and warm-regard, when the confusion, anger, rejection, lack of desire, no orgasm, affairs, etc., enter on the stage of sexuality. Might we find a way to have all the suffering sit before us and open up to it?
Sex in its most raw form is like fire, wind, motion, water, harshness, multi-dimensional, and transcendent. Yet we want to harness it, capture it, tame it, and somehow fit it into our conditioning so we remain comfortable, untroubled, invulnerable. If the absolute nature of sexual energy with all it’s qualities is beyond such constrains, then our suffering is more about our methods of tramping this very powerful energy.
Passion is defined as a powerful, strong emotion that is filled with love, desire, and even hatred and anger depending on the motive behind it. Emotions are physiological impulses that provide feedback on stimulus, either internal, external or both and have a half-life of about 90 seconds. Narrative feeds the emotion for better or for worse. If raw sexual passion arises then, what are we feeding into this powerful impulse? Is it more frustration, anger, edginess, if so, we begin a cycle of supplying our sex life with kindling of dislike, contempt, resentment, hatred, for ourselves and our partner. Another story we have the potential to cultivate is just staying present to how it arises and stay with the felt sensations and ride these sensations like a surfer rides a wave. We may choose to imbue those sensations with some space and freedom and warmth.
How we unite our mind to our body during sexual impulses/experiences, is how we will ultimately experience our sex life. The mind interrupts sex through the body’s impulses. How do you interrupt yours? If the mind is embracing the quality of love, then sex will be experienced in the body as love. If the mind is objectifying, judging, and conquering, then sex will be an experience of selfishness and dehumanization, disconnecting the mind and body from the raw form of sexual energy. Alas, suffering.
Applying mindfulness into the sexual experience of our lives goes without saying, it is essential, necessary and fundamental to a deeply satisfying sex life. To the degree that we become mindful of our sexual impulses and allow it’s form to arise and welcome it all, is the degree to which our sexual experiences will transform our lives into authentic intimacy. In allowing our mind to remain present, open, loving, accepting, and empathic to what arise, we come home to life and our bodies. "When love expresses through you it first expresses as the body. It becomes sex. If it expresses through the mind, which is higher, deeper, subtler, then it is called love. If it expresses through the spirit, it becomes prayer.” - Osho
"We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein
As we continue our investigation of the Four Balances (see link for previous blog explaining Four Balances), let’ examine how our cognition influences whether we are aligned with cultivating balance in thought or dropping into a dissonance and miserable mental state that arises with thought.
A slogan suggested from renown author and nun, Pema Chodron, is "don’t believe your thinking, don’t believe your thinking, don’t believe your thinking." If it’s true that we think about 50,000 thoughts daily and most of these thoughts are recapitulations from the past or futuristic thoughts, then we surely may want to adopt this slogan for the time being.
As a sex counselor there are few topics (maybe money being the other hot topic) such as sex that ignites mental states that are riddled with much intensity and density. While understanding our stories about our sexuality is vital to undercover it’s nature, the negative thinking about our sexuality is what needs transformation. If we could download our daily thoughts about our stories around sex, what would they be? Write it out. What is the story line? What would the title be? This inquiry is important to know. Because once we peer into the thoughts produced, we can see how it leads to mental states that plague our sexuality.
A recent exchange between a couple in my office, I’ll call them Jay and Karen, went like this. She shared what she thinks when he makes advances toward her. It goes something like, “I hate when he comes onto me like this. It’s always the same and he never asks me if I’m even interested. He just goes in for the ‘kill’ and I just give in because it’s too much of a headache to talk it out." Karen says this is at least 90% of the time what she is thinking. Jay shares his thoughts, “I know she doesn’t care about sex anymore and she always turns away from me if I try to kiss her. She seems like she’s just putting up with me. I’m usually thinking that she doesn’t really like me or sex, but because I want to have some closeness with Karen, I guess I look at this type of sex as something that may get us to be close.” Jay says this is what goes on for him in his mind almost 100% of the time.
They both said they knew the other person had those thoughts as they had shared them with each other at various times, but could not get themselves out of the habit of recapitulating the same story. This is what I call a cognitive imbalance or cognitive dissonance. We often just let our thoughts run amuck and we don’t intervene on our own behalf to stop the storyline that we repeat over and over. I asked them what their deepest intention is for the relationship. They both agreed that they want connection, closeness, love, and to feel sexually satisfied.
So how do we bring about a cognitive intelligence and resonance with our sexual partner? Check up on your thinking. Is it aligned with your intention or conative intelligence? If not, then we must change our level of thinking to a resonance with the Intention. Jay and Karen want to have connection. They’re ruminating thoughts are not in alignment so the first step is to create a new thought pattern that reflects connection. Instead of Karen assuming Jay is just wanting sex and pursues her to “get some,” she is practicing mindfulness of her thoughts and changing the story knowing that Jay wants connection and that he wants her to enjoy their sexual play together. Jay is doing the same thing. They are telling a new story that reflects connection and love and their sexuality is founded on these principles.
Quoting from Gandhi, "watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions." To watch our thinking requires mindfulness. It requires us to remain on guard, to be a custodian of our thinking is such a way that when we sway from a balanced emotional state we reel in discursive mind of rumination and negativity bringing it back to rest in calm and peace that is held with kindness, love, and connection. To finish quoting Gandhi, “ watch your actions; they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, your character becomes your destiny.” So begin to think kindly of your partner and watch how your destiny becomes that of kindness and connection.
“The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character, and will. No one is compossui (master of himself) if he have it not. An education which should improve this faculty would be the education par excellence. But it is easier to define this ideal than to give practical directions for bringing it about."
- William James
This blog is the continuation on the topic of the Four Balances taken from my five-week retreat on Cultivating Emotional Balance Teacher’s Training (CEBTT). The focus of this blog will discuss attentional balance. Our capacity to pay attention, to be attuned, to take interest in, will determine if our conative or intentional intelligence takes flight. The take off of this flight has the potential to be in service of our well-being and our flourishing, if we hone our capacity to pay attention. And thankfully, we are wired in such a way to train our attention.
In 2013, Microsoft Canada, released a study on attention spans. The study consisted of 112 participants in which their brain wave activity was monitored using an electroencephalogram (EEG). The researchers were able to determine if participants maintained attention or were distracted from the task at hand. The conclusion showed the average attention span of the 112 participants was only 8 seconds. In 2000, it was 12 seconds. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. Maybe fish lips will have a new meaning!
If we are loosing our capacity to maintain attention without distraction (which is correlated with lower levels of happiness, Killingsworth study), we set ourselves up for navigating our lives in a haphazard way. If our emotional balance is to be realized (which originates from our intention), our ability to maintain attention is imperative. If we are wavering in the typical distracted patterns, our lives may begin to careen out of control spinning us in a direction we are wishing to pull ourselves from.
Couples seeking sex counseling often seem to be walking blindly through their sexual lives wondering how they arrived at the doors of alienation and resentfulness while pointing a finger toward the other. I ask them what the intention of their partnership is and how they execute that intention day-to-day. While they often have the typical endearments of I love them, want to be with them, can’t see myself being anywhere else, their actions and words are not congruent or in resonance with such aspirations.
In reviewing the Four Balances with them, it becomes clear, they become swept away in distraction, whether external (i.e., iphone, TV, alcohol), internal (i.e., rumination), or both. They loose course and become caught up in patterns of thoughts and emotions about what’s wrong and keep their attention on the "wrong." This inevitably causes an ambush of the wished upon intention of an open heart, compassion, tenderness, and connection with their partner.
Training in staying on target with an intention, does require focused attention. This part of mind training is employed through mindfulness. Mindfulness imbued with tenderness, compassion, and openheartedness stimulates positive involvement with your partner, enhancing the relationship and closeness. A ripe environment for sexual intimacy.
In discovering we’ve gone off course of loving our partner, just as they are, flawed and all, reinvigorate this discovery with tenderness and openheartedness. Then, over and over, we return our attention to the good, the beauty of life just where it is with curiosity. This does imply effort, commitment, and tenacity. The alternative is to perpetuate destructive tendencies that will continue to tear at the fabric of intimacy. When we discover we've gone into ruminating patterns, we've awakened from the trance, good news. Start anew. A true love story. One based in kindness and respect. Ultimately, it comes down to making a commitment to keep coming back to the deepest aspiration for flourishing within our relationships, so that when the winds of life begin to blow us off course, we choose to refocus, refresh and return to love. Now pay attention!
"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward."
- Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart set out to circumnavigate the globe in 1937 and disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. In her decision to take this flight said, “decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying.” She left a legacy representing courage, determination, and following her hearts passion. Maybe some of you, like me, have taken to voyages that seemed risky and confronted the place inside our heads that threw stones at such a possibility.
The human spirit has a built in regulatory system that has the capacity to conquer such fears as sky diving, learning to fly, climbing a mountain peak, or taking a trip to another country. Such experiences open life in ways that if not done, we wouldn’t be who we are today. But what about the risk of day–to-day circumstances of our lives that present themselves over and over only to be shut down, shut out, refused. We close to the vulnerable moments, keeping our hearts closed.
At times, I witness this in my office as patients struggle to get in touch with their vulnerabilities. Discussing sex is like opening Pandora’s box. It’s not about the sex per se, but about what gets in the way of actually being present to body sensations, feelings, and thoughts just as they arise in any given moment. The “what’s getting in the way,” or fear, is that difficult place that feels like the plane will probably go down in the pacific. Or the paper tigers that seem real, which as fear spells, False Evidence Appearing Real.
Researcher, Brene Brown, in her pivotal work on the courage to risk being vulnerable, says that vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experience. How desperate we are to be seen and heard, to be noticed as valuable and worthy. Yet more than not, fear hijacks life’s experience of living wholeheartedly. So much of our conditioning as a child until this moment keeps us locked into modes of fear, shame, guilt, unworthiness, etc.; so why even leave the runway, right?
Making the decision to act on the calling of our hearts and risk vulnerability seems the only real and true option. And with gratitude and appreciation, I bare witness to hearts opening to their stories, to their tears, to their need to be loved and held. I know in those moments of space and time that the universe changes in some very magical way. This space is wide open, like the sky Amelia flew in with the vast ocean below her. These moments of wholehearted expression feel like the open sky and vast ocean.
That is what our hearts have to offer. This is where vulnerability leads. Sometimes we may not land where we’d like, yet the experience of being in a field of such expansiveness makes it all just fine anyway. I would say when we risk vulnerability of the heart, it’s the experience of the flight that really matters anyway. As Amelia says, "the process is it's own reward." May your heart take wings so you may experience what I’m certain Amelia experienced as she encountered the great expanse of the sky and ocean.
"A friend is always good to have, but a lover’s kiss is better than angels raining down on me."
- Dave Matthews
In my office, I have two swivel chairs placed next to each other for the purpose of allowing couples to turn toward each other, but it also gives them the opportunity to turn away from each other. Inevitably most sit either directly facing me or swivel away from each other, when the discussions address their sexual issues. When I inquire about the last time they shared a passionate kiss, it’s usually not remembered or it’s been a very long time.
During courting, potential partners will begin the mating ritual of lip biting and lip licking (unconscious process), in hopes of getting to lock lips. I had the delight of trekking chimpanzees in a trip to Tanzania a few years ago and I’ll attest to these behaviors in primates, our common ancestors. The males will wildly be licking their lips and biting when a female in estrous is nearby. These displays are seen in courtship in humans as well in hopes of leading to the first kiss. When kissing finally takes place, a rich cascade of neurochemical events takes place. As we all know, this is a very powerful biological experience that keeps us going back for more.
Kissing causes various chemicals such as oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, testosterone, and phenylethylamine, to be released. These hormones and neurotransmittors promote pair bonding, strong feelings of love and romance to arise, reductions in cortisol (stress hormone), heightened attention toward our lover as well as obsessive perseveration of them. While all the lip smacking and licking is going on, our sexual organs and genitalia are getting primed and ready for the possibility of sex. Helen Fisher, Rutgers Sex Research, suggests the reason men have a more “wet" kiss is to pass testosterone via saliva to the female to promote her desire to have sex. So gals, now you know, next time that wet kiss is making its way on your mouth, it’s because biology has a purpose.
This bountiful pharmacy may be accessed just through kissing, yet most couples begin to turn away from their partner, no longer wanting to kiss. Of course, the problems that lead to the lack of kissing in a relationship is complex, yet with the promotion of attuning to, attending to, and paying attention to the finer essentials necessary in bonding, we can access this chemistry in the hope of letting nature help facilitate the process of reconnecting. Also, these chemicals promote well-being and greater health.
Here’s the kissing homework assignment I suggest this mindfulness meditation practice. Sit facing your partner, take a few deep breaths and relax into the gaze of each other’s eyes (which by the way stimulates oxytocin). Set a positive intention with one another for the benefit of the relationship. Place your attention on your heart area, bringing a quality of kindness toward yourself and then send that loving feeling through your heart to theirs. Stay with this for a few minutes. Setting an alarm is a good idea. Once the alarm chimes, lean toward one another and kiss. The kiss at this point can be very simple. Then return to your meditation on sending a loving feeling toward them. Repeat this cycle about five times. Doing this daily either at the beginning or ending your day in this way, will promote love, kindness, friendliness and even sexual desire. When you complete the cycles, take a moment to give each other a warm embrace (again, promoting oxytocin). Like all mindfulness exercises, they are a practice and remember it’s a practice. Not for perfection, but for acceptance of how life shows up. So practice showing up and turning the proverbial swivel chair back toward your partner, embracing them with the delight of a kiss (or kisses).
"The 'chaos' is 'ordered' when Divine word is spoken into it."
- Bill McDonald
In all wisdom traditions and religions, the principle of choosing thoughtful speech is highly emphasized. We have all experienced the poisonous effect of being talked about or spoken to in a hurtful way and have also dished out our fair share of harmful words. When patients are processing painful sexual experiences (or any experience) with each other or attempting to connect with their partners in sharing their sexual preferences (or any preference) and desires, the use of language becomes a battleground that misplaces the deepest need to feel heard. So let’s take a look into a method that has a very potent power to transform very encumbered patterns of sound to healing tones of connection and intimacy.
Marshall Rosenberg, author of "Non-Violent Communication," has forged a style of communication in which the power struggle that typical ensues in tough dialogue that is emotional charged, is distilled down to four components. They are observations, feelings, needs and requests. Embedded in all communication is a need to be understood. Yet often our approach and unskilled methods get us just the opposite.
Our capacity to observe a situation that arises with openness and compassion is the first gateway toward connection. If in our observation we close down in fear and anxiety, we will contract an observation into a self-centered analysis that has lost contact with the present moment. If we stay open to the moment with a sky-like observation and speak words that bring a large perspective, we’ve crossed into this gateway of I want to hear you from my heart, not my head.
As we then encounter this observation and "feel into it" expressing our feelings with a thoughtful kindness, the second door opens deeper toward connection. Within the feelings that surface, we brush the delicate human condition of need. As we descend into the human condition, we meet a need that has a desire to be met with understanding. From this space, we make a request for that need to be met. When expressed with honesty and is received by the listener with empathy, couples will make contact with intimacy, which ultimately brings them face to face with their spirit.
Words are like a fuel that can burn in the hearts of our beloved with either potent understanding and passion or to harm their well-being. From moment to moment, the choice is ours. With the application of mindfulness to our speech, we enter a gateway toward connection or toward destruction. If your life reflects a flourishing and nourishing intimate connection, then know you are fueling one another’s heart with love. If your life reflects poor communication, then know that you have been fueling yours and another’s heart with suffering. Non-violent communication is the antidote to such suffering.
In the words of Lao Tze, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
"Sexual communion should be a ritual performed in mindfulness with great respect, care, and love. True love contains care and respect. It is deep, beautiful, and whole."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
With the passing of Valentine's Day, some may be glowing from gifts, good food, and maybe even great sex. If you followed my last blog about the neurochemical events after orgasm (assuming when you had “great” sex, you had one), then you might be experiencing some of the chemical changes I described.
In Marnia Robinson’s book "Cupids Poison Arrow," she discusses a concept called Karezza. Robinson says, “In simplest terms, karezza is affectionate, sensual intercourse without the goal of climax.” In fact, orgasm is not advantageous and may be what causes disruption in relationships. This idea may create a stir within about the attachment we have to orgasm. It feels great and for most couples is the goal to even entering into the act of our sexuality. Marnia’s website and book.
Karezza is not the only ancient wisdom practice that recommends not reaching a climax. Tantric practices in eastern wisdom traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, teach sexual tantric practices that keep this vital energy within the subtle energy channels that circulate within our gross physical bodies.
When couples share their frustration about one partner having difficulty having an orgasm or individuals that suffer from post-orgasmic syndrome (yes, this is a real phenomenon), this is a practice I recommend. In fact, I advise new couples to practice the art of bonding through touch, intimate touching, and basic tantric practices so they concentrate on a trusting and wholesome bond, versus a fixation on orgasm.
Because Oxytocin bonds us to each other, it would be advantageous to foster behaviors that promote secretion of this hormone. Ultimately, in coupling. creating a bonding connection that can withstand the typical relational issues, Oxytocin may be the key ingredient to keep that bond. Behaviors that promote Oxytocin are cuddling, kissing, hugging, touching, and deep authenticate communication. With orgasm, there is a very small burst, but not long lasting. Oxytocin has a very short half -life so it’s important to keep bonding behaviors active in relationships.
Choosing to have orgasms and enjoying them may be a by-product of your love making, but making it a means to an end of a sexual act is missing the essence of our sexuality. Let the act of bonding be what moves your sexual flow and connect deeply to the human being that chooses to be in your arms and you in theirs. Practicing the art of mindful meditative sexuality may bring you to greater bliss than the 6 second orgasmic bliss. Give it a try!
“The pleasure of living and the pleasure of the orgasm are identical. Extreme orgasm anxiety forms the basis of the general fear of life.”
- Wilhelm Reich
Most patients seeking my counsel typically want to have more orgasms, making their sexuality, goal-seeking. There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasure that orgasm does bring, yet there is some very curious chemistry happening with orgasm worth analysis.
When orgasm occurs, Dopamine (DP) our reward hormone, is released in certain areas of the brain. Prolactin, a satiation hormone, increases after orgasm. Oxytocin, our bonding/trust hormone, increases, but sharply decreases if behaviors such as cuddling do not occur. Androgen receptors in the Hypothalamus, of which Testosterone interacts with, declines after orgasm as well.
So what does this mean to you? Here’s what you may find for yourself if you really pay attention over several events of having orgasms. With drops in DP and increases in Prolactin after orgasm, you may find yourself feeling depressed, motivation and drive diminished, less inclined to loving behaviors, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, mood changes, headaches, sadness and distracted.
Biological Anthropologist, Helen Fisher PhD, has extensively studied human sexual behaviors and what is happening in our brains with sex. What she has found in her studies is that DP release tops off after 1-3 years in relationships. If you assess your own relationships, you may know this to be true. Things begin to be less exciting and sex seems to take more effort than when you first met and courted your betrothed.
My analysis of how DP, Prolactin, and Oxytocin influence the cycle of orgasms and the confusion over how it seemed so good at the beginning then diminishes into repetitive quarreling, really does seem to be pointing in the direction of neurochemistry that is imbalanced. Neurochemistry in balance does bring well-being and cooperation, yet the excess released in abundance during the first year or two soon to cycle into the rollercoaster ride as described above. It’s not surprising that most relationships begin to struggle with sexually related problems.
With this knowledge, you may ask, well now what? Don’t have orgasms? The answer is yes and no. Maybe it’s about re-thinking your sexual approach and what happens after the sexual act that has resulted in orgasm. Ultimately to gain stability and balance with your neuro-biological system will bring the greatest health and sexual benefits.
Stay tuned for the next blog on different techniques to help you understand where to go from here. For now though, keep track of your moods, motivation, and attitudes. Keep a journal and see if you may possibly have the DP related blues related to post-orgasmic syndrome. Until next time, may you have true pleasure in your life that brings you health and well-being.
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