Sex Column: Orgasm hangover
Too many Os can make you say no?
Guest Sex Columnist
You wake up — your eyes squinting; hair matted; your head is pounding; your stomach churns and you have class in 45 minutes. Why, oh, why, did you have that last drink last night? This seems like a natural question but have you ever asked why, oh, why, you had that last orgasm? Likely not – just a shot in the dark, if you will.
Yes, I have returned from the alumni-afterlife to drop some hard realities on your eager student bodies and minds. The orgasm – as well as sex in general – has long been thought to be very healthy for the individual and the couple, as well as a very effective way to bond with your partner. But recently neuroscientists have discovered what they are calling “the orgasm hangover”.
So here is a VERY simple and brief break down of just how sex affects your brain. As your desire builds for someone, whether you’re staring from across the room or tongue tangled and groping with all your might, dopamine is filling all the nooks and crannies of your brain and its powerful stuff. It is the centerpiece to your limbic system, which we humans developed over 100 million years ago in order to survive. It is what tells us to breathe, screw, eat and sleep. Dopamine drives your pleasure/reward response and it is released when you are having sex, among many, many other things, like cake and hugs.
Yay! Opioids are what actually trigger the shuddering, fireworks of orgasm and are the brain’s morphine, essentially. Oxytocin is “the cuddle hormone” and it creates bonds between mammals, we’ve all got it, but mammals that co-parent have more so that one doesn’t kill the other and feed them to the kids. Oxytocin is released post sexy time and this is where the cuddling comes in. Isn’t science totally hot?
In 2003, Dutch scientists announced that brain scans of orgasm resembled that of a subject shooting heroin, so we can conclude that what goes up must come down. The chemical hooch that is released into your expectant, excited, one-track mind before, during and after climax is powerful and pervasive, so much so that researchers are theorizing that it may possibly take up to two weeks to reach a baseline once more.
During those two weeks your recovering brain may be shifting your perspective of your mate and your reality in general. If you’d like to bond with your mate, engaging in sex but avoiding climax can be very effective because opioids counteract some of the oxytocin that is released into your body. That sounds like fun, huh? No wonder women want to cuddle and men just pass out. It’s all coming together…or not.
So what the hell is the point of this in terms of how it serves our ultimate survival? Well, although the post-coital hangover has been observed in rats, in male rats if a new, “novel”, (that’s the term they used in the paper) female rat is introduced into the situation the male’s system gets a surge of hormones and has no problem preforming again. (Fuckin’ home wrecker, she thinks she’s so novel.) So in this way more seed is spread, propagation of the species is fulfilled and women and men are constantly in the awkward and indelicate dance of interchanging, passive-aggressive, hatred and infatuation. Life’s a bitch, etc. Good luck with that.