As the Hollywood cliché goes, post-coital, some of us sit back against the headboard, proud of our accomplishment at gratifying our lover, spouse, or one-night stand, and then light up a cigarette. How was it for you? Good enough, you surmise, as you take a well-earned drag. Or are you the kind of person to roll over in an instant, perhaps leaving your bed-fellow exasperated and hardly ready to catch some ZZZs? Or, perhaps you spare just a moment reposing, and then compose yourself and start again? Do you cuddle up, have a chat, talk about deep things, or even request a favor of your lover? According to research, these are all common, but what happens to our bodies during and after sex?
Today we’ll talk about what happens to both men and women having heterosexual sex, and when we say sex we mean intercourse, love-making, copulation, fornication, or as the Brits say, “having it off.”
So, let’s start with the man, what happens to him? At some point during sex, men reach a point of no return. This is sometimes called, “ejaculatory inevitability.” Pulse rate and blood pressure rise. The sperm leaves him, and his penis has contractions. Now he can return to resting and let his body calm down, which apparently happens faster for men than women. The penis becomes flaccid, and most men will have to wait some time before they can go at it again, but it all depends on age, fitness, and of course the urge to return to the hearth of passion.
Some guys at this point will just want to go to sleep; is this plain rude or is it a biological necessity? Well, listen up disgruntled women, science says it’s natural for men to want to sleep, and for various reasons. Notwithstanding the obvious, in that it’s often nighttime and tiredness might be normal, another reason is because upon reaching orgasm men release lots of pent up anxiety. So do women, and they might feel tired, too, but it seems men sleep more after sex, according to research.
Another thing is brain chemistry. All these chemicals spill out in the brain when men ejaculate, including serotonin, oxytocin, norepinephrine, vasopressin, and nitric oxide. Some of these chemicals are related to de-stressing and the readiness to sleep. This can lead to that feeling of “phew,” and then men want to relax, just as they would after any strenuous exercise. It’s kinda like getting a hit of morphine, and apparently that hit is much stronger when having sex than when masturbating. One doctor puts it like this when talking about the release of chemicals: “They give you a very relaxed feeling, slow down your brain waves and cerebral functioning, and make you feel pleasantly tired.”
But it’s thought the hormone that is released called prolactin is the main reason men want to sleep. It gives you satisfaction, and the less of it you have, the more likely you will go for round two quicker. Really satisfied men may just turn over and start to snore.
Another thing is, is that he might want to go for a pee. The reason? It’s chemicals again. Oxytocin and prolactin affect the kidneys, and this makes him run off to the bathroom. Some experts also think it’s to clean the urethra from bacteria, a kind of natural need. It might also just be because he’s been holding it in during all that messing around. He then finds the pee won’t come out! That is normal, because for the sperm to come out, your internal sphincter muscle clamps, and this is to close the bladder. This is to stop the semen from entering the bladder.
In a recent article in Cosmopolitan magazine, it was suggested that men who want to cuddle are keepers, but it also says that men who don’t might just be succumbing to their own body’s demands. You might find that your penis feels a bit sore, but this is just normal after all that contracting. Don’t worry, it shouldn’t last long. And don’t be shocked if your testicles have shrunk, because this is normal, too. A doctor talking to men’s health magazine explained it like this, “When you ejaculate, the cremaster muscle contracts and brings your testicles up closer to your body, giving you the perception that they’re smaller.” Lastly, you may get a cramp in the toe. Apparently, this happens a lot, but it’s just because orgasm causes stimulation in the nerves, especially S1 in the spinal column, and that nerve affects the toes.
If you look at some research, it also says some men’s moods change dramatically after sex, but given the release of all that tension and all those chemicals flooding out, that’s not so surprising. Some men have reported feeling emotionally handicapped after a great orgasm, and that’s thought to be because huge amounts of dopamine were released. It’s like coming down from a drug that makes you feel happy or ecstatic. In women, the feelings can be similar, as we shall see.
So, what about post-coital women?
Well, women may not always orgasm. According to an article in Psychology Today, which cited a number of studies, around half of women will regularly orgasm during intercourse, about 20 percent of women rarely orgasm, 20 percent consistently orgasm, and 5 percent never orgasm. When they do, it’s different from a man’s one great push to the sun, as women have what has been called “rapid, rhythmic contractions.” This can be quite the event, and some women certainly show this in their face, sometimes looking like they’ve had an ecstatic experience. These shock waves go through her genitals, her anus, her uterus, and her pelvis, and she too will have a magnificent rush of chemicals flooding through her brain. She may experience female ejaculation, which is when a milky liquid will come out of her urethra. Don’t worry women, there’s nothing wrong with this. But what about when a lot of liquid comes out? A neurophysiologist from Rutgers University in Newark says its not the same milky stuff if it comes out in large amounts;, in that case, she says, it is “urine diluted with substances from the female prostate.” Scientists are still not clear as to why some women do this and others don’t, but it’s certainly not harmful.
So why are women often up for a chat about tomorrow’s activities or the meaning of life while some men are already halfway to Lalaland?
According to a study in the Netherlands undertaken in 2005, women are more focused than men during sex, their minds completely set to the task of reaching orgasm. This is because their amygdala and hippocampus, which regulate feelings, kind of turns off. They are at one with sex, well, at least if they are fully immersed in it. “Once we’ve come, we return to our bodies, our consciousness re-calibrates, and our emotional intelligence returns,” said an article in Bustle about this phenomenon. But after sex they switch back, and it’s then they get that lovely hit of oxytocin – sometimes called the cuddle chemical. One study found that people with high levels of testosterone release less of this after sex, and men generally have high levels – some women do too, of course. Just not as much. So men, next time you turn over, blame your lack of oxytocin.
And women may not experience a refractory period at all. This is the downtime men need to get ready to do it again. Note: teenagers may not need much downtime, but then again, sex doesn’t always last that long for these hyper-carnal kids. Women are multi-orgasmic, and they really could just start again.
But be careful there women, because sex can be more painful for you than it can be for men. Women might cramp up in the uterus, and this is down to the cuddle drug, oxytocin. Let’s now call that the double-edged sword chemical. There might also be some burning because of the vaginal tissues getting dry, but lubrication can help. The stinging doesn’t mean there is a problem, but obviously if it persists longer than a day or two, it might be something else.
And if men see shrinkage, then women see the opposite, in their breasts at least. Many women’s breasts get bigger after sex, and in some women by as much as 25%. According to Women’s Health magazine just how swollen the breasts become differs from woman to woman. The same article also said a woman’s clitorus will become very small at point of orgasm, almost disappearing. At the same time women’s nipples may become more sensitive, but this is very natural. Other reports say some women become giddy after sex, and others feel great confidence, seeing their bodies as much more attractive than before. Most reports we can find state that while some women may experience a slump after the sex, it’s the men that really suffer from depression, sometimes a week long. But as the saying goes, what goes up, must come down, and most of the time it’s worth the ride.
So, does this video accurately describe what happens to your body during sex, or did we leave something out? Let us know in the comments!