The Role of Our Hormones in Deepening Our Connections
Sex is one of the most common ways we feel deep euphoric bliss in our lives. It creates a feeling of pleasure, liberation, and euphoric release, releasing bio-energy within our body. Of course, sex can also cause a lot of problems in our lives. There can be negative consequences associated with sex when it is not engaged in or perceived in a sustainable, connected and bliss-giving way. It can affect our self-esteem and throw our intimate relationships out of whack, particularly when it is viewed only as a way to achieve orgasm, not as a shared energetic connection.
By understanding the trends of the underlying hormonal activities associated with sex and orgasm, and how the change in our chemistry affect our moods, behavior, desires and wants, we can work with our body’s hormonal system and energy centers to make sexual interaction a more spiritual and rewarding experience.
Understanding the Hormones
The main player among the wellbeing hormones is dopamine, also known as the reward hormone. Then there is prolactin, the hormone of satiation, and oxytocin, the love and bliss hormone. All these hormones interact powerfully affecting our moods and desire for intimacy and bonding. And although we might believe that dynamics within the relationship has a conscious element to it, there is also a deep physical hormonal element that contributes to our experience.
Within our brain, there is a code that tells us what we need to do to be happy, healthy, wealthy, glowing and living within our life’s purpose. When we do those things, and we experience things such as social interaction, pair bonding, and orgasm, our endocrine system responds by releasing oxytocin.
When we first fall in love we become bonded by rising levels of oxytocin, which is the love and cuddle hormone, and we also feel a peak in our dopamine levels. When we start having sex with that person, we experience a big release of dopamine, which comes like a huge wave in the brain during the orgasm. It feels amazing! However, this is then followed by a significant drop in dopamine levels immediately after orgasm, which brings hangover-like effects. Generally speaking, the timing of this hangover varies by gender; the reaction tends to be immediate in males and slightly delayed in females.
Here, I’ll discuss an example of a male/female sexual relationship, since the difference in male and female hormonal reactions illustrates our biological reactions most distinctly.
Does this sound familiar…? You’re falling in love, making a deep intimate connection and becoming vulnerable. You have sex with the one you’re falling for, and you have an orgasm — followed by a steep decline in dopamine levels.
At this point, the male impulse goes more or less like this: “Ok, I’m done. I don’t have any more energy, I’m just gonna go to sleep” or “I’m gonna watch TV for a bit”. The female may feel disappointed or rejected; she still wants to cuddle, stay connected and lay in this loving space.
After the orgasm, the man and the woman enter different biological and hormonal cycles that can cause a disconnection, as they are not on the same page. The male is responding to the decline in dopamine and testosterone, while the female is high in oxytocin levels, the intimacy hormone.
As most of us don’t have much awareness of this hormonal experience, it is not uncommon for females to begin creating stories in our mind to explain our male partner’s sudden withdrawal — that he doesn’t like us or he just used us for sex, that there’s something missing in the relationship or not enough intimacy, that we might be better off with a more spiritually evolved partner who would stay in this loving space with us, and so on. We might even start remembering the connection we shared when we first met (when oxytocin levels were at their highest) which seemingly disappeared after our relationship became sexual, or diminished as time went by. In reality, we are each just experiencing our biological nature.
Oxytocin by itself is considered to make us indiscriminate in its bonding influence. Under its influence, we may feel a bond towards any person that we are sexually or even physically intimate with.
Cravings for Novelty and Dopamine
Our levels of dopamine, the reward hormone, tend to rise in response to the excitement of things that are new and novel. For example, think about how excited you were when you had just bought your car. And now when you look at it, you most likely don’t feel anything towards it.
When we get into a relationship, it comes with a sense of novelty and newness created by this reward-like system. You were looking for a partner, and boom — there’s someone you’re connecting with, and now you’re having an interaction or a sexual encounter. And because your needs are being met, you’re experiencing a sense of a reward, a biological prize of sorts. Over time, there’s less of that sense of novelty as the peaks of dopamine, testosterone, and prolactin levels subside. We may feel symptoms of hormonal withdrawal, almost like with an addiction, which can make us feel helpless and dejected.
So what’s the antidote?
These are all natural hormonal processes in our bodies. If we understand what’s happening on a biological level, we can teach ourselves to get into the sustainable flow of the love-giving, intimacy-enhancing hormone oxytocin, which doesn’t give us the rollercoaster side-effects of dopamine when that sense of bliss and euphoria subsides.
Dopamine vs. Oxytocin
Known as the ‘bonding hormone’, oxytocin plays an important role in the neuroanatomy of wellbeing and intimacy. It is associated with various behaviors, including pair-bonding and parental behaviors. For that reason, it’s not surprising that both men and women release significantly more oxytocin when they have a baby because they both need to be a lot more stable and engaged to raise the baby. Obviously, going out, making new romantic connections, and looking for the biological thrill of new partners wouldn’t create a secure environment for the baby to thrive. Oxytocin helps to create the bond of love at a biological level.
Dopamine is the culprit when it comes to addictive behavior. The release of dopamine is short lived but it feels so good that we often feel compelled to chase the feeling. It also tends to function by the laws of diminishing returns — the more we have it, the less impactful or satiating the results. Any perceived scarcity of the dopamine-giving object or experience can create feelings of fear and stress, and so we set out to engage in behaviors that fulfill our cravings. Of course, we can get addicted to anything that gives us that high, be it pharmaceutical or hormonal.
In my experience, when the dopamine cycle takes control, we can feel addicted to many different stimuli, e.g. sex, food, alcohol or drugs, or it could be a 21st-century addiction like Facebook, internet porn or TV. Before we know it, it can turn us into dopamine junkies. We live in a state of constant anxiety, nervousness, feelings of scarcity, and the sense that something vital is missing from our lives; yet that missing piece is always unattainable. We become distracted, with that recurring (addictive) impulse always at the back of our minds.
But there is a solution to this all-pervasive dopamine addiction, and like most sustainable solutions, it happens to be ‘substitution’ — finding something else that can sustainably fill the void we are trying to fill with our addictive behavior. In the case of dopamine addiction, oxytocin (which is the hormone of love, connection, safety and bliss) counteracts the fear and stress created by the cycle of dopamine spikes and drops. So it’s a matter of disengaging the body from a dopamine addiction by learning to trigger oxytocin instead.
In my experience working with people to resolve this very problem over the years, I have come to realize that the subconscious mind feels a lot more at ease about trading in a lower vibrational drug for a higher vibrational drug. Adopting the mindset of ‘going cold turkey’ activates the potent powers of the dopamine receptors, and this biological scarcity creates a sensation in us that leads to cravings.
There’s always an adjustment period when you give up something, be it alcohol, meat, or the way you were having sex from aggressively chasing dopamine, to forming a sweet, loving connection which triggers oxytocin. When I stopped eating meat, for example, it was uncomfortable for a while. I was addicted to it, I really wanted to eat it, and there was a taste, a flavor, a feeling that I used to get from it, which was extremely addictive. I would eat a vegetarian meal and not feel satiation. On a biological level, my body wasn’t just missing the nutrition, it was missing the reward hormone (dopamine) that came with it.
However, when we learn to substitute dopamine behaviors for oxytocin behaviors, and become ‘addicted’ to oxytocin instead, we start looking for a more sustainable ‘high’ — like intimate bonding and spiritual love. The same when you switch to more loving, softer, oxytocin connections and sex – instead of having a rapid release, the body learns to feel satiated with a slow release. It’s like a slow simmer or a slow burn, rather than a full release all at once, which takes us away from the hormonal rollercoaster of dopamine. It’s a process of retraining ourselves to become ‘addicted’ to a subtler, more sustainable vibration, and to a hormone that we have easier access to. As a result, prolactin, which is the hormone of satiation, will then reprogram its circuitry and instead trigger when you behave in a more oxytocin-generating way.
Full Spectrum Sex: Engaging Oxytocin in Sexual Relationships
Firstly, the ‘oxytocin way’ of having sex takes away the need. The goal of sexual interaction shifts from having an orgasm to being in a euphoric love connection, and re-orients us to a place where we’re feeling satiated by intimacy, even when we don’t reach climax. Instead of getting to a place where we are able to simply have that deep release of sensation, the goal of the oxytocin sex is to build and engage in a relationship.
In essence, we are learning to communicate with our body’s energy centers – and those of our sexual partner – in a very intimate way, and to do that we need to relearn the way of the ‘natural’ flow of our body and our hormones.
The endocrine system produces and regulates our body’s hormonal activity. The gland known as the hypothalamus creates oxytocin, and it is stored in the pituitary gland, which then releases it to the rest of the body. Like all systems, this works in a complex feedback loop; one hormonal function in one gland then triggers the function of other glands in the system. That’s why I strongly recommend developing a full spectrum relationship – a relationship that engages all the elements in the octave of the body’s endocrine system:
- When you feel you have a higher purpose with a partner, it engages the crown center.
- Having a mental connection, similar mental patterns, and being intuitively connected with another person is a very important purpose of the pineal gland center.
- If you have good physical energy, and a similar range of physical energy, it engages the medulla oblongata, the nervous system center. If one person is extremely active and the other person is not, it can create a disconnection.
- The thyroid connection involves being able to really talk about your innermost feelings and desires, your emotions and your goals in life, and be able to deeply connect and share on a verbal communication level.
- The simple feeling of bonding and love, having a sense of independence while still having a connection, a relationship where you can really be yourself and be loved for it, relates to the thymus gland connection.
- The solar plexus connection is to be able to work together well in the physical dimension, to be able to create things, to be able to support each other and your joint life, to be able to be more powerful in the world together; in your own individual missions and hopefully in your joint purpose of being together
- The womb and the prostate regions have to do with being able to have a wonderful and intimate social life, to have loving friends, have your needs met, to be in a great community, to be a good fit, and to be good together when it comes to relating to your greater family.
- And then, finally, we come to the rectum, the root chakra, which is the sex center of the body’s energy octave and the center most activated by casual sex.
If you are meeting someone with the intention of having a full spectrum connection, oxytocin is triggered naturally and simply. If you’re meeting someone purely for the purpose of having sex, you’re skipping all the connections associated with the body’s energy centers and going straight to the sexual center. Oxytocin, which helps to create spiritual bonding on a biological level, also holds the code of your crown energy, which is how you are a divine being and how you are walking the planet and completing your spiritual mission on this planet. All that information is held in your crown center, which is where the oxytocin gets released.
When we experience the release of oxytocin, we feel like our emotional and spiritual needs are taken care of. We feel a strong bond with someone that we can trust. Trust is a huge factor in oxytocin release because, when we feel safe, we feel like we’re in the ‘right place’ and we start functioning from a place of trust and safety, and relax into the relationship. The ‘soul’s code’ triggers the master hormone – oxytocin – which in turn triggers all the rest of the glands in the body, creating a hormonal feedback loop (provided they are healthy enough to receive the messages and can then contribute to that feedback loop.) But when we’re randomly meeting someone and having sex, we’re not really able to feel that sort of connection, and we’re not able to feel the safety associated with the oxytocin loop.
In my opinion, yes, it is better to avoid having casual sex and instead aim for an energy-center interaction with someone after we’ve connected through the other major parts of the body spectrum. And then, once we’re connecting in this deeper way, we can look into the person’s eyes and feel how deeply we’re connected with them on a soul level. We can feel how safe we are with them, and rather than creating a fake bubble of oxytocin (which creates a false sense of connection) or just chasing the dopamine rush of disconnected sex, we can feel the natural, sustainable flow of oxytocin.