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How Does Oxytocin Lessen the Stress and Bring on the Sex?

July 5, 2011 Oxytocin And Anxiety, Oxytocin and Sex No Comments

Job pressures, commuting, money troubles. What do they have to do with sex?

Well, those are the stressors we need to get past to get in the mood for sex, and luckily oxytocin can help.

The stress hormone cortisol floods our systems when everyday difficulties mount. Oxytocin not only acts as an antidote to cortisol – calming us, increasing our sense of safety and security – but it’s also a key neuropeptide in our body’s process of preparing for sex.

“It makes you impervious to stress because . . . you have a respite from it,” says Jim Pfaus, Ph.D., a psychologist at Concordia University in Montreal. “It’s not that it inhibits the stress centers of your brain – it doesn’t – but it forces your attention on reward and makes you not feel the stressor.”

The reward, in this case, is a satisfying roll in the hay. When it’s done helping stress evaporate, oxytocin steps up to the plate to create the amorous feelings between partners that facilitates sexual intercourse. All that needs to be present are the good vibes serving as a prelude to any great sex, Pfaus says.

“Oxytocin does decrease social distance, that’s clear,” said Pfaus, a recognized expert on oxytocin. “But that bonding – sex with a partner – that circumstantiality is important. Just increasing oxytocin alone is not going to do it. You need a pre-established connection.”

While our brains produce oxytocin naturally, we can help it along by simply touching or caressing our partners, Pfaus says – even long before we hope to initiate sex.

“Hugging, kissing – anything that’s part of that sex play is going to increase oxytocin,” Pfaus says. “Doing these things sometimes for their own sakes can increase the sexual desire of the individual.”

“It’s not necessarily a prelude to having sex in the kitchen, though it could be,” he adds.

Neurochemicals and behavior are circular, according to husband-wife writers Gary Wilson and Marnia Robinson, whose work has focused on oxytocin and sex. So the more oxytocin we make, the stronger our minds and bodies respond to it, with nerve cells sprouting more receptors in anticipation.

“It is not the neurochemical behind lust or burning sexual desire,” Wilson and Robinson have said, “but it is associated with sexual responsiveness.”

For women in particular, oxytocin levels measured before and after sexual stimulation suggest that oxytocin serves a critical role in sexual arousal, according to the Institute for Sexual Medicine.

Men may get an extra jolt of libido as well, though studies on males are less conclusive. But a 2001 study in the journal Physiological Review reported that rats experienced spontaneous erections after oxytocin was injected into their cerebrospinal fluid.

Another study confirmed a link between oxytocin levels and an anxiety scale measuring adult romantic attachment. This link is key, according to the Institute for Sexual Medicine, because it suggests that oxytocin may be important in inhibiting brain regions associated with behavioral control, fear and anxiety, thus allowing orgasm to occur.

And there’s a sexual bonus in store for partners whose connection has spanned time. According to data presented at scientific meetings in 2008 and 2009, functional brain scans given to couples still in love after 21 years of marriage showed that regions lit up that are rich in oxytocin and serotonin, a brain chemical associated with well-being and calmness – an effect not present in young lovers.

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Written by Maureen Salamon for www.OxytocinCentral.com

For more information contact Gordon Parks, CEO of ABC Nutriceuticals at   Gordon@abcnutriceuticals.com or call (208) 319-3514

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