People tend to feel less inhibited during sex, this happens because the part of our brains in charge of our logical reasoning skills temporarily shuts down.
The lateral orbitofrontal cortex is responsible for reason, decision making and value judgments. The deactivation of this part of the brain is not only related to sex but is also associated to the decrease in fear and anxiety. This makes sense, nobody can handle having sex around fear and anxiety.
The hypothalamus helps integrate information about touch, movement and any sexual memories or fantasies someone might call upon to help them reach orgasm. Meanwhile, the hypothalamus is busy producing oxytocin and may help coordinate arousal. Motor areas are also involved because the body is moving during the act.
Dopamine is the hormone responsible for pleasure, desire and motivation and it is released during an orgasm. Dopamine is usually refereed as a “pleasure” chemical, but research has shown it has more to offer than a good time. Dopamine is also a chemical to learn about our impulse, it helps us notice reward like food or sex and figures out how to find more of it.
Oxytocin is released by the pituitary gland and released in the hypothalamus. This hormone is responsible for making us feel closer to others and promotes affection.
Oxytocin is known as the bonding hormone because it is also released during breastfeeding, this facilitates the sense of love between the mother and her baby.
Prolactin is also released during orgasm and is responsible for the feeling and satisfaction that accompanies orgasm. It is also the main hormone responsible for milk production after pregnancy.
Both hormones can plan different roles in our bodies and are part of the way our brain works to create social connections.
The brain doesn´t differentiate much between sex and other pleasurable experiences. The parts of our brain that makes us feel good during other activities are the same that activate during sex.
Have you noticed your body is less sensitive to pain during sex? As the pituitary gland is activated, the release of endorphins, oxytocin and vasopressin promote pain reduction, intimacy and bonding.
This might explain why smacking or hair pulling can be considered a pleasure activity during sex.
Although the relationship between pain and orgasm isn´t yet fully understood, some research show that vaginal stimulation might actually help reduce pain sensitivity in some people.
In both men and women, the orgasm signals the parasympathetic nervous system system to start calming the body. The prefrontal cortex, which was previously activated leading up to orgasm also becomes down-regulated-and this is linked to increased levels of oxytocin to facilitate attachment.
The brain also liberates serotonin after an orgasm. This hormone is known for promoting good mood and relaxation.
In women, oxytocin tends to continue to be released after orgasm, this explains why women are motivated to cuddle after sex.
Sexual pleasure doesn’t only depend on the stimulation of our genitals. In some cases, the brain can create new pathways to pleasure that doesn´t involve sexual organs at all.
When organs are injured or removed, remapping of the senses may occur allowing this people to experience sexual sensations in other parts of their bodies.
For example, in people who have suffered lower body paralysis, the brain might rewire itself in order to allow a person to achieve orgasm through stimulation of other body parts, such as the skin of the arm or the nipples.
Even though scientists aren’t sure why we have orgasms, they think it might be a reward for us for having sex. It reinforces this behavior and keeps us coming back for more.
Evolutionary speaking, since this activity increases blood flow across the brain, it may have developed in part to keep the brain health too. Research suggested that female orgasm, may have one played a role in stimulating ovulation though now ovulation occurs spontaneously and doesn´t depend on sexual activity.