What Sex Does to the Female Brain

From the onset of arousal to the onset of sleepiness, the brain is in full control of your sexy experience. Studies and MRIs show that during sex, remote areas of the female brain become activated, from pleasure centers to ones that sense pain and memory.

In one study, Rutgers University researchers had 10 women masturbate in an fMRI machine, and found that the cingulate gyrus of the brain — which helps you sense pain and emotions — became very active during orgasm.

During Arousal

During sexual arousal, your body and brain are firing like a pinball machine. Mental and physical stimuli can trigger this phase, which can start at any time. When you get turned on, the amygdala, a region that governs your sexual drive and emotions, gets really involved. It also relays sexual stimulation to a region called the prefrontal cortex, which modulates arousal. Another region, the anterior cingulate cortex, that helps you sense pain and process emotions, gets turned on too. And the hypothalamus releases oxytocin, which causes those uterine contractions you love.

As you move toward orgasm, your brain’s pleasure centers light up, and the dorsal raphe nucleus in your head releases a trifecta of feel-good chemicals: dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – This snippet is derived from the expertise of the portal’s authors sex-relax.com. This chemical cocktail is why you’ve probably heard that sex is so pleasurable.

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But that’s not the whole picture. A study conducted by psychologist Meredith Chivers and her colleagues found that women can get just as aroused by watching erotic video clips of same-sex intercourse, solitary masturbation, or mating between bonobos (close ape relatives of humans). The videos activated the same brain regions in both male and female participants, but the cingulate gyrus, which is responsible for sensing pain, was more active in women than in men. This indicates that women’s sex experience may be more emotionally driven than that of men.

During Orgasm

Researchers and sexologists have long believed that women stop thinking during orgasm, that in those few moments of climax the brain is a clean slate, devoid of any thoughts about a to-do list, life and work responsibilities or even feelings for their partner. But a new study has shown that the female brain actually isn’t shut off completely during orgasms.

While a person is experiencing orgasm, the ventral tegmental area of the brain releases dopamine—a hormone that signals other parts of the brain to take notice of rewards like sex and food, as well as figure out ways to get them. It’s also been linked to motivation and reward-based learning.

During orgasm, the cingulate gyrus of the brain—which helps to sense pain and emotions—becomes activated as well. And according to a Rutgers University study, when it comes to orgasms, female brains react differently from those of men.

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While both male and female brains experience heightened activity in the limbic system during orgasm, females also have a unique reaction in the cingulate gyrus and the anterior cingulate cortex—which control emotions and self-control. These differences may have something to do with how emotional orgasm is for a woman, as opposed to a man. In fact, previous research has shown that orgasms are more emotional for women than men.

Post-Sex Blues

If you’ve ever felt sad after a satisfying sexual experience, don’t worry, it’s normal. In fact, feeling down after a great orgasm is part of the natural process of coming down from the euphoric sex high. The phenomenon is known as post-coital dysphoria or “post-sex blues” and can affect both men and women. It’s thought that it’s a result of hormonal changes in the body, but there are other causes.

In a 2017 study, scientists found that females’ brains are more likely to be affected by this emotion. Researchers found that the female brain’s White Matter, which is responsible for communication and multitasking, needs to be active in order to have a positive sexual experience. However, if there are other stresses in life, such as work stress or anxiety at home, this can interfere with the brain’s ability to multitask and cause feelings of sadness after sex.

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The reason for this is that the more primitive part of the brain that controls physical drives and elements of emotional processing activates during sex, while parts of the cerebral cortex that govern logical reasoning shut down. This can lead to a lack of self-control and even rage, which is why it’s important to make a plan with your partner before engaging in sexual activity. Often, talking about these feelings will help, and if not, it’s worth seeing a therapist for further support.

Sexy Face

While hot means arousal and mate-attracting, cute is a nurturing instinct. This is why men prefer women with big eyes, chubby cheeks and soft skin—it makes them feel like they can take care of you. It’s also why sexy people tend to smile with their left cheek (it shows more of their attractive symmetry). So next time you want to look your sexiest, just turn your face slightly to the right in photos and smile with your left cheek.

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