Brain Science

Laurie Heap, MD has written interesting information about oxytocin, dopamine, and the brain science of sexuality.This information can help married couples experience a happier and more connected sexual relationship, and here is an excerpt from one of her articles – Is Staying in Love Really Possible….Not Broken Just Bent: 

When it comes to authentic intimacy and our sexual relationship, if we want both a deeply intimate relationship and a great sex life we need to foster something called oxytocin in our brains. Oxytocin is a chemical released in our brains that has a calming effect and bonds us to our spouse.  It is released when we have a deep conversation, gaze at each other left eye to left eye, share a mission, hobby or common interest, hold hands, hug for 30 seconds, give our spouse a loving glance, speak to them in a loving tone of voice, and … when we make love – as long as we are in control of our sexual appetite and it is not controlling us! Oxytocin is what some scientists call the “love chemical” which is really what we all want in marriage.  More importantly it is associated with a deep, intimate and lasting bond – our brains do not develop a tolerance to oxytocin and our spouse’s effect on the release of oxytocin in our own brain never decreases. 

The same cannot be said for another chemical that is released in the brain during sex called dopamine.  Dopamine is released during orgasm and gives a potent and powerful high!  Dopamine has been show in laboratory animals to be more addictive than methamphetamines, because of its potent euphoric effect!  However, it also comes with a rather quick “crash” leaving us with a desire for more.  Science has shown that sexual relationships based on dopamine cannot sustain themselves.  After four years, according to animal studies, the only thing that can renew sexual interest is the introduction of a “new female partner.”  It is logical to conclude that to the extent that a couple’s physical relationship is based on a dopamine response, the more likely the physical chemistry will fizzle around four years of being together.…“Connected sex” releases more oxytocin and buffers the quick crash of dopamine in the brain.

The bottom line – to keep love alive and fresh and foster a relationship that simply grows in satisfaction and deepens in intimacy – you need oxytocin!!!!  It is amazing that brain science is giving us insights into the mystery of keeping love alive and well!  Oxytocin is the answer to couples who like the song says are “Not Broken, Just Bent” – learning to love again (or never needing to learn to love again) is simple with a little bit of knowledge!