Friday, 26 March 2010

The Chemistry of Tantra

Tiresias was drawn into an argument between the Goddess Hera and her husband Zeus, on the theme of who has more pleasure in sex: the man, as Hera claimed; or, as Zeus claimed, the woman, as Tiresias had experienced both. Tiresias replied "Of ten parts a man enjoys one only." Hera instantly struck him blind for his impiety. Zeus could do nothing to stop her, but he did give Tiresias the gift of foresight and a lifespan of seven lives.

Until recently, exactly what happens in the brain during sex was something of a mystery to scientists. American researcher now have uncovered what goes on in a woman’s head during an orgasm. The scientists from Rutgers University, New Jersey, used scans to monitor women’s brains during orgasm and found that different brain parts are activated when various parts of her body are aroused. They found that up to 30 different parts of the brain are activated, including those responsible for emotion, touch, joy, satisfaction and memory. The scientists found that two minutes before orgasm the brain’s reward centres become active. These are the areas usually activated when eating food and drink.

Immediately before they reached the peak, other areas of the brain became affected such as the sensory cortex, which receives ‘touch’ messages from parts of the body. The final part of the brain to be activated is the hypothalamus, the ‘control’ part which regulates temperature, hunger, thirst and tiredness. The scientists also discovered that sexual arousal numbs the female nervous system to such an extent that a woman doesn’t feel as much pain — only pleasure. The team now hopes to map what happens in a man’s brain during orgasm.

A key hormone released during sex is oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’. This lowers our defences and makes us trust people more. It’s also the key to bonding, as it increases levels of empathy. Women produce more of this hormone, although it’s not clear why, and this means they are more likely to let their guard down and fall in love with a man after sex. However, the problem is that the body can’t distinguish whether the person we’re with is a casual fling or relationship material — oxytocin is released either way. So while it might help you bond with the love of your life, it’s also the reason you may feel so miserable when a short-term relationship ends.

Men, on the other hand, instead of getting a surge of bonding hormone receive a surge of simple pleasure. The problem is that when a man has an orgasm, the main hormone released is dopamine — the pleasure hormone. And this surge can be addictive. That’s why so many more men tend to suffer from sex addiction.

Clinical Research - healthy sexuality linked to general health

Although many of the benefits reputed to come from sex are drawn from inconclusive studies, there are in fact, many positive health benefits have been substantiated by scientific research.

Depression in women - One study, conducted by psychiatrist Gordon Gallup of the State University of New York, Albany, found that females having unprotected sex were significantly less depressed than both sexually inactive females and females who had sex with protection — indicating a connection between exposure to semen and elevated mood in women. Gallup said some of the chemicals found in semen can be found in the female bloodstream after sex — having been absorbed through the vaginal epithelial tissue — within about an hour of intercourse.
His study, published in 2001, also found that depression scores went up as time after the sexual encounter increased, suggesting the possibility of a “semen-related withdrawal effect.”

Endometriosis - Another study, conducted at Yale University, fertility doctor Harvey Kliman, explored the effects of orgasm on endometriosis — a condition in which the uterine lining grows in other areas of the female body.

Kliman’s study found that women who had a high frequency of orgasm during menstruation— either through intercourse or masturbation — had the lowest instances of endometriosis. While orgasms ordinarily produce upwards contractions to suck semen inwards, during menstruation, orgasms instead intensify the outward motion of orgasmic contractions, thereby pushing debris out instead of pulling it in, he said.
Logan Levkoff, a sexologist who spoke at Yale on the female orgasm, said sex increases the production of DHEA, a natural steroid, and releases hormones that reduce stress, improve muscle pain and cramping.