Q&A: Chemical Changes And Emotional Intimacy After Sex
Posted September 28, 2009
QUESTION: After intercourse I feel an abundance of emotion, enough to make me feel overwhelmed. I find that I become shaky and want to be very close to my partner. Are all women like this or is it just me?
Photo: sheepbackcabin (flickr)
Women’s and men’s bodies go through a variety of physical and chemical changes during sexual excitement and at the time of orgasm. Specifically, at orgasm, women’s and men’s bodies release peak levels of a hormone called oxytocin.
Oxytocin – The “Bonding Hormone”
Although more research is needed to understand the relationship of oxytocin to our emotions, some people have described oxytocin as a sort of “bonding hormone” in that it may possibly influence us to feel more emotional or to feel closer or more connected to others.
Women and men also release more prolactin at the time of orgasm, which is associated with feelings of contentment or satisfaction.
Prolactin And Orgasm
Again, we need more research to understand the role of prolactin in orgasm, both physically and in regard to our emotions, but it may be that the release of either of these hormones – or other changes that happen at the time of orgasm – may contribute to your emotional response.
Many people, whether or not they feel sexually excited or experience orgasm as part of sex, feel overwhelmed for other reasons. They may connect sex with feelings of love, closeness or intimacy in ways that feel very emotional for them.
Perhaps you enjoy being physically intimate in ways with your partner that bring up a range of feelings for you. Some women and men tear up, cry, or laugh during or after sex. Others smile uncontrollably or feel very sad, calm, relaxed or even excited.
Not The Same For All Women And Men
Not all women or men, for that matter, share the same feelings about sex, intimacy or orgasm.
Also, sometimes people’s experiences change over time or with different partners. Sometimes sex may feel very emotional or connecting with one partner, or at a certain time in a person’s life, and at other times it may feel invigorating, fun, lonely, exciting, sad, or neutral.
To learn more about physical and emotional experiences related to sex, check out The Science of Orgasm.