There are not many people in this world who would agree with the statement that sex is not fun. It is a natural human activity meant to bring us pleasure. But what actually happens to our brain during sex? It can be so overwhelming as our senses go crazy that we never stop to think about what is physically going on.
Thankfully, behavioral neuroscientist Barry Komisaruk, Ph.D. has been studying the brain using MRI machines and he can give a logical explanation about what areas of the brain light up during coitus. Here are eight activities that happen within your brain during sex.
8. The Limbic System Is Activated
The limbic system is the emotional control center of your brain that controls sexual fantasies and memory. When your genitals are stimulated, the amygdala controls your sexual functions, fear, and aggression. This doesn’t necessarily mean the sex is angry, it is simply a highly emotional area that is activated.
7. The Anterior Cingulate Cortex During Sex
The anterior cingulate cortex and the insular cortex are also steadily increased during sex. This region controls pain. It explains why some people are prone to biting and hair pulling during sex and why the sensations aren’t as painful as they typically are during lovemaking. Find out why some people make weird facial expressions in #6.
6. Muscle Tension And The “O” Face
Due to increased activity in the cerebellum during sex, facial expressions tend to twitch and react. This is because the cerebellum is responsible for muscle tension throughout the body related to sexual stimulation, causing your facial expressions to go nuts. Check out what happens during the peak of your sexual activity in #5.
5. Maximum Potential
Orgasms happen when your brain’s activity is at its peak. The hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens are activated because your brain has basically reached its maximum activity. This activation causes your pupils to dilate as your breathing becomes heavy. Your body will feel flushed and over-stimulated thanks to this part of the brain.
4. Why We Cuddle Close During Sex
During an orgasm, oxytocin is released in your brain. This hormone is also a neurotransmitter that can cause uterine contractions in women. This hormone is also called the “bonding hormone” or “cuddle hormone” causing these feelings to become a common effect of your orgasm. Find out what causes that rewarding feeling during sex in #3.
3. Why Sex Feel So Rewarding
It’s no surprise the reward center of your brain, the nucleus accumbens, is flooded with dopamine and gives you that rewarding feeling after sex. This area of the brain is also activated from things like chocolate, cocaine, nicotine, and caffeine. The result can be truly addictive and make you beg for more.
2. The Cooling Off Period
When you’re done with sex, there is a period of time where the activity in your brain calms down. Your genitals feel so calm that men can lose an erection almost instantly. Basically, you get a feeling of losing complete interest in sex no matter how good it felt.
1. Stoned Love
The final refractory period of sex, which is almost like a chilled out or stoned feeling, is currently being studied by experts. It obviously affects the whole body and you feel as if you can sleep or lay in bed for hours on end. Many people refer to this as the cuddling phase.
After 20 years of studying brain activity caused by sexual stimulation, Dr. Komisaruk, Ph.D. says, “What we see is a gradual increase in all the brain regions leading up to orgasm,” but what we feel and think during sex is something completely different. It’s a little difficult to get scientific during intercourse, but it might give you some interesting pillow talk.
It’s hard to admit that some of these things are officially caused by sex in a controlled laboratory environment. They do make a lot of sense. Have you felt all of these activities in your brain? Do any of them surprise you?