Trendspotting: Sex on the Brain

Posted on February 23, 2012 by Angie Argabrite

Looking for a way to get closer to your significant other outside of the bedroom? Find another happy couple to hang with. Friendships can enhance your relationship as you and your partner watch how another couple manages ups and downs. It has also been revealed that the strongest couples have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin, leading men in these pairings to get more sex and women more cuddling. Our propensity for love has also been attributed to our evolutionary drives. Researchers have recently identified a distinct system in the brain for romantic love—set apart from our systems for sex and attachment—leading them to conclude that love is not an emotion but rather a very powerful physical experience. Though scientists struggle to explain love’s relation to the brain, there’s no doubt about its connection to the heart. We now know that “broken heart syndrome” is real; a person’s heart attack risk is 21 times higher than normal the day after a loved one dies. And how does sex tie into all this new research? There’s this new theory: Orgasms promote optimal brain health, at the same level as food and exercise, and the dopamine release that accompanies sex is a fast track to an intense bond with a partner. To come to this conclusion, the author of the new book Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships had her brain scanned during an orgasm while researchers looked on. What’s the saying: It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it?

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