People everywhere are starting to see sexual pleasure as more or less the same for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation and gender. This view is backed by a powerful force: biology itself. The old notion that some kinds of sex are better than others–straight over gay, procreative over all–is being relegated to the dustbin of folklore, where it belongs.
In fact, prioritizing sexual pleasure is nothing to be ashamed of — we all evolved to love how it feels. Denying yourself pleasure and denigrating the search for it in others — that’s the real blasphemy that kills bodies and souls. Queerty and this column, The Science of Sin, believe understanding the biological building blocks of sexual pleasure can strip away unnecessary sexual shame. Straight or LGBT, male, female or trans, we’re all bound by the same biology.
So get out there and share your body with whomever you please (and whomever wants to please you), whether the one or the many. You are literally built for it.
Here are six sexy hormones and neurotransmitters that make sex irresistible and what to do when they fail you:
Testosterone is a hormone produced naturally in all genders, but much more in biological males. It builds muscle mass and changes your brain structure so that you crave sex. If you’ve ever been unable to stop thinking about all the delightful and downright “dirty” things you want to do to someone, testosterone might be to blame.
If you’re worried about low testosterone, exercise, weight loss and good sleep can naturally raise levels. Be patient, it takes a little time for it to work its magic.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with sensory pleasure. Food, drugs and sex feel AMAZING because of it. We’re all slaves to dopamine. Think of the lengths you’ve gone to in the hopes someone would stroke, lick or engulf your genitals. All that effort is worth it because sweet, sweet dopamine makes you feel super good.
Dopamine feels so good that it’s easy to destroy your body, mind and relationships trying to get more. It’s highly correlated to addiction, so seek professional help if you think dopamine rules too many of your actions.
Upon climax, serotonin floods your body, decreasing sexual response. It’s what prevents some men from getting erections after orgasm.
But it’s also correlated with that powerful feeling of ecstasy and euphoria associated with orgasm. It’s also associated with the emotional highs of connecting with another human. However, the loss of serotonin is associated with depression.
If you’re feeling blue after a breakup, even if you didn’t like the person lol, it might be because your serotonin levels are low. Exercise, sunlight and foods high in tryptophan (nuts, soy, cheese, meat) can naturally increase serotonin levels.
No, not Rush Limbaugh’s favorite drug. (That’s OxyContin). Oxytocin is a hormone strongly associated with human bonding, love and morality. It’s released during intimate physical contact, like nursing, cuddling and sex. It makes you feel more empathetic and caring.
It might also be why you end up falling in love with the person you’re sleeping with.
Vasopressin is known as the monogamy molecule. It’s a sexual hormone that’s associated with the pleasure of long-term bonding. In fact, there’s evidence men and women who produce different or not enough vasopressin molecules find little satisfaction in forming pair bonds.
So if you find yourself falling for people you’re having sex with, and they don’t seem interested in a long-term relationship, it might not have anything to do with you and everything to do with their vasopressin genes.
Finally, scientists are realizing estrogen is a key hormone associated with sexual pleasure. Before, bias about female sexuality lead researchers to discount estrogen when it came to desire and arousal. But studies show men who receive only testosterone to treat low sex drives don’t rebound. It takes adding a little estrogen as well to get engines fired back up.
So if anyone ever tries to shame you for enjoying your body’s built in sexuality, they’re probably just ignorant of or uncomfortable with their own biology. Testosterone, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and estrogen make us all remarkable sexual beings.
Loving pleasure doesn’t makes you a bad person, it’s hurting others that does. So as long as you’re enjoying consensual sexual activities with other adults — we say enjoy those sexy molecules as much as you can, for as long as you can. There’s plenty to go around.
Watch Alex and Xander explore their bodies, from testosterone to vasopressin.
See past Science of Sin posts on the evolution of homosexual men, bisexuals, the wonder of the penis, weight loss, marijuana, testicles and prostate pleasure. Visit our YouTube channel for more sinful videos.
Interested in participating in our next new video? We’re looking for both LGBT and straight couples to participate in a 30-minute relationship exercise with licensed family therapist and author of The Ethical Slut, Dossie Easton (http://www.dossieeaston.com/). Designed to improve communication and intimacy, the exercise will promote a healthy and productive conversation between partners about sexuality.
If you’re someone who wants to help promote better sex, love and relationship education, this is the gig for you. It should be really fun, and by the end of the session you should feel even closer to your partner.
Please email email@example.com with pictures and relationship history. Must be located in the San Francisco Bay Area. $50 for the 30-minute session.