Sex & The Brain: The positive & negative effects sex has on the mind
This is a significant number because it represents how many times humans have sexual intercourse on a daily basis. It is a number that alludes to something a vast majority of us already know — people love having sex.
When it comes to humans, sex is incredibly fascinating, because save for dolphins and Bonobos (an ape relative) we are pretty much the only species that has sex for pleasure rather than just strictly purpose.
In other words, when we have sex, we aren’t always doing it to make a baby — actually, it would be safe to say we are hardly ever doing it to make a baby. No, we are having sex – roughly 100,000,000 times a day – because it feels good. Really good.
But, what is it about sex that feels so good? In order to answer this question, we have to dig deeper and take a look at the effects sex has on the brain.
The positive effects sex has on the brain. In other words, why sex feels so good.
Have you ever heard the phrase… sex is like a drug?
Well, while this saying is thrown around quite a bit, it actually holds some truth. When we have sex, our brain releases something called Dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that activates the reward center in our brain. This is why Dopamine is often referred to as the “Feel Good Hormone.”
Dopamine is beneficial to the human body in a handful of ways. It enhances memory and strengthens attention — keeping us both alert and awake. It has also been known to improve creativity and motivation. But, just because you want to ace your next exam or knock a project for work out of the park… you shouldn’t necessarily go out and have reckless sex. You can also produce dopamine by exercising, eating chocolate and listening to music.
But, Dopamine has a downside too. After all, it is produced by sex… and sex is like a drug. (124)
Okay, so earlier we explained how the phrase, “Sex is like a drug”, actually has some merit.
The reason sex is like a drug is because of the dopamine it produces. For example, the reason drugs like cocaine are so extremely addicting is because they produce Dopamine, the same chemical that makes sex feel so good.
Timothy Fong, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine was quoted in Health Magazine describing the connection, “Taking cocaine and having sex don’t feel exactly the same, but they do involve the same [brain] regions as well as different regions of the brain.” This is an expert saying that while sex and drugs aren’t exactly the same, they certainly have some similarities.
We think differently when it comes to sex (no pun intended).
In 2006, there was a study done with 25 undergraduate college students. They were instructed to each masturbate to erotic images and once they achieved a strong level of arousal, they were asked a handful of questions regarding sexual practices.
What the researchers found was that these college students were more apt to make poor risky decisions when sexually aroused. When humans are aroused, their focus shifts from logical thinking to immediate pleasure and gratification. This can cause individuals to make really bad decisions (like not using condoms). So, you have to be careful.
Now, we aren’t saying people should never have sex, like we said it feels good and there is a lot of science that backs up the fact that sex is good for us. But, it is important to be careful. Sex is like a drug, and nobody makes good decisions when under the influence.
What are some ways to mitigate poor sexual decision making?
With 100,000,000 acts of sexual intercourse taking place every single day, we would be naive to think the world is just going to stop having sex. But, here are a few ways you can have sex responsibly.
- Always have protection. If you are prone to having a lot of sex, it would be a good idea to carry a condom with you at all times. Better safe than sorry.
- Get checked regularly. While it is a bit of an inconvenience, it is worth getting tested regularly if you have had unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- Control your drinking. There is no reason to drink to get blacked out. You can go to a party, have a great time, drink and stay in control of your decision making.
*** share this post so that others can be made aware to act responsibly when it comes to sex.