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February 15, 2006

A Good Sexual Relationship Is Good For Your Health

I agree that good sex is good for you. Valentine's Day brought out some interesting sex articles. There are all kinds of studies about sex, including a Scottish paper that says "women who have sex three times a week have fewer wrinkles. Others say it gives the heart an aerobic workout, how much depending on the act's vigour." I'm not sure I believe the Scottish paper, but it sure would be fun to try a romp in bed anyway, and see if wrinkles don't appear. I don't have many wrinkles now anyway, so that's not an issue for me. I was never a sun worshipper, so I have very few wrinkles even though I'm forty-five.

I thought this passage of the article was interesting, in that a friend of mine has been prescribed Oxycontin for pain following dental surgery. I'm sure he'll get a major kick out of this: I made a big mistake here. My brain saw oxyCONTIN when the article really said oxyTOCIN. As PZ Myers wrote in my comments, "oxytocin is a small peptide hormone. Oxycontin is an opioid agonist." My apologies for confusing my readers. I had to correct that mistake.

In describing how lovemaking helps, increasing attention is being given to three neurotransmitters released by the brain before, during and after sex: Oxytocin, the "cuddle" hormone, which promotes emotional bonding. Endorphins, which dull the perception of pain, relieve stress, strengthen immune systems, provide that "runner's high." Serotonins, which foster the feeling of satiety, the "afterglow" of sex. The three work differently:

Oxytocin: It promotes sexual bonding, keeping marriages alive. It boosts nonsexual bonding— the instant adoration of a mother for the infant who has just put her through the pain of childbirth. It's produced when mother breastfeeds baby. Dads with more of it stick around to help raise the kids.

Oxytocin triggers the physical contractions of childbirth and breast-feeding in women, and orgasm in both women and men. How it promotes social attachment is less clear. Some say it triggers other brain opiates, making that contact warmer and fuzzier.

In humans, oxytocin can be stimulated by touch — massage or simply holding hands. It can attract a woman to a man across a crowded room because his facial features are similar to those of a past lover.

"Your brain focuses on things your earlier experiences predict will produce a good sexual reward," says Dr. Jim Pfaus, research psychologist at Concordia University. 

I had no idea oxycontin could do such wonderful things. Maybe that explains its high street value. I don't know if there is a difference between the pill and the oxycontin that the body naturally produces. That would be an interesting thing to know. If any of my commenters know, please post in comments and fil me in. Yes, I had oxyCONTIN confused with oxyTOCIN because the words are so similar, and a friend of mine has been prescribed oxycontin. My apologies for the mistake.

I'd like to learn more about the hormone oxytocin now. My interest is piqued.

Posted on February 15, 2006 at 11:40 AM | Permalink


Oops. Oxytocin is a small peptide hormone. Oxycontin is an opioid agonist. They're two completely different compounds.

Posted by: PZ Myers at Feb 15, 2006 2:54:14 PM

Thanks for clearing that up, PZ. I read it as "oxycontin". My mistake.

Posted by: The Countess at Feb 15, 2006 3:09:44 PM