Why Do I Feel High After Sex?

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Sex usually feels good – it’s a natural high that floods your brain with feel-good chemicals, like dopamine, which impacts your pleasure and reward centers; endorphins, which reduce pain; and oxytocin (the cuddle hormone).

It also boosts your immune system. But, for some people, sex can leave them feeling anxious or low afterward.

Dopamine

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that’s involved with your brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It’s also known as the “feel-good chemical.” If you’re feeling down, your dopamine levels may be low. But if you’re excited or happy, your dopamine levels rise.

It’s the same process that makes you feel good after eating a delicious meal or getting a great deal on something you’ve been lusting after. During orgasm, your brain produces a huge surge of dopamine from the ventral tegmental area. This causes a rush that’s more intense than the pleasure you get from eating a double chocolate chip cookie or watching your favorite movie.

Dopamine’s part of the catecholamine family of neurotransmitters, which also includes epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine. These chemicals help regulate mood and increase blood pressure by causing your blood vessels to relax or constrict.

When you experience high dopamine levels, you’ll likely find yourself more motivated and able to focus. You may also become less sensitive to pain. Too much dopamine can cause schizophrenia and hallucinations. Depression is another condition that may be associated with low dopamine levels. If you’re suffering from a depressive disorder, your doctor will probably prescribe antidepressants or mood stabilisers to help. Getting enough sleep, exercising and meditating can also raise your dopamine levels. Counseling might be beneficial, too. You can seek out in-person counseling or use online therapy services like BetterHelp to find affordable, convenient guidance from licensed professionals.

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Oxytocin

Oxytocin is best known for its role in birth and breastfeeding, but it also plays a key role in pair bonding and social behaviors. It’s often called the “cuddle hormone” because it increases trust and affection between people, but it can also increase sexual arousal and orgasm in men and women.

The oxytocin surge that occurs during sex activates the reward pathways in our brains, which are the same ones that are activated when we engage in activities such as eating, drinking alcohol, listening to music, or playing sports. It’s not unusual to feel a little high after sex because our brain is working overtime to produce all these different chemicals.

While it’s not clear exactly why sex causes oxytocin release, researchers have found that the hormone can increase trust between partners and even lower the level of pain experienced during the act. They’ve also found that nipple stimulation can increase oxytocin levels, which leads to lubrication and arousal in women and increased sperm counts in men. Nasal oxytocin has also been found to raise the intensity of orgasm in both men and women.

While oxytocin is thought to play an important role in human relationships, it’s also been linked with a variety of health conditions. In humans, too much oxytocin can cause urinary tract infections (especially in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia), and it can inhibit the excretion of sodium, leading to low sodium levels.

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Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is a serious mental health problem that involves compulsive sexual behavior and the use of sex to feel good. It can lead to relationship, family and work problems as well as health issues.

A person with sex addiction will engage in risky sexual behaviors that may cause damage to their physical health, emotional wellbeing and reputation. According to the relationship counselling service Relate, sex addiction can include activities such as masturbation, pornography, visiting prostitutes and sex via chat lines. This is despite the fact that the person knows that these behaviors are harmful to them.

As with other addictions, a person with sex addiction develops a relationship with their sex of choice. This becomes their “chemical of choice”, just as drugs are the chemical for people addicted to alcohol or other substances. This takes priority over all other aspects of their life. It can even replace healthy relationships with family, friends and colleagues.

The first step in overcoming sex addiction is admitting there is a problem. This can be a difficult step as it can lead to feelings of shame and guilt. However, addressing this can be beneficial as it can provide an opportunity for the person to learn new ways of dealing with their urges and sexual fantasies. Some of the methods used in treatment for sex addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, which uses coping strategies such as mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy.

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Pain

If you’re feeling pain after sex and are ignoring it out of fear that it must be in your head or a belief that it’s just a normal part of sexual activity, it’s important to work with a doctor to identify the cause of your pain. Depending on the location, nature and duration of your pain it could be due to an infection, menopause, fibroids or, in men, prostatitis.

Interestingly, pain and pleasure are connected in the brain, with both activating reward pathways that regulate neurotransmitters involved in motivation-driven behaviors like eating, drinking and, of course, sex. This is why you feel less sensitive to pain during and leading up to an orgasm, as well as why your brain says it’s okay to indulge in a steak dinner, a glass of wine or a box of chocolates even though these things can have serious health consequences.

It’s also why some people become addicted to sex, despite the risky health effects. If you are using sex to numb emotional pain or to get a rush, it’s important to address your root issues in order to prevent a downturn after the high wears off. As the saying goes, what comes up must come down and this is especially true for sex addiction.

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