What happens when you drop a male rat into a cage with a receptive female rat? First you see a frenzy of copulation. Gradually, the male's enthusiasm wanes and, finally, he goes off to take a well-earned nap. He is sexually satiated.
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I was a once a contented product of the sexual revolution--or so I believed. My family was open and sensible about discussing sex, and barely religious. I concluded that orgasm was pure pleasure and the best possible relationship glue.
Even though sexual utopians can no longer boast (as loudly) about Bonobo nonviolence, they often maintain that Bonobo promiscuity would be suitable for humans-presumably because we share a lot of genes and even some behaviors.
However, the sexual utopians are forgetting one thing. Bonobos don't have "pair-bonder brains." We do.
Men who are willing to experiment with foregoing orgasm are my heroes.
To be sure, most of them only make the experiment because they have exhausted all the usual alternatives. But then, so did I. Perhaps they are tired of feeling restless and anxious because a partner “isn’t giving them enough sex.” Or maybe they have rationally tried to solve the excess-libido problem on their own by producing orgasms with the help of Internet porn, or some other outlet—only to discover that this course of action left them hungrier than ever, that is, increasingly dependent upon the compelling brain chemistry of their chosen stimulation reinforced by orgasm.
As we’ve seen in earlier articles, neurochemical urges motivate mammals to eat, drink and have sex. Specifically, dopamine surges in their primitive reward circuitry send them after the things that further their survival—or at least the survival of their genes.
But what about the handful of mammalian species who have evolved to team up in order to do a better job of raising their young? They may get all the food, water and sex they want, and still feel that something is missing—until they are mated.
Here's an intriguing piece by some Oxford academics, Julian Savulescu and Anders Sandberg. Although we think trying to use pills to keep couples together would be extremely unwise, we understand that there don't seem to be many options once one really sees the human dilemma clearly...especially if one is convinced that 'sexual satiation equals wellbeing.' We can't help wondering if these authors would trumpet the ethics of changing behavior to increase the chances of remaining in love with as much gusto as they recommend popping theoretical mating pills with risky outcomes.
Gary and I were interested to discover that there is a very active forum on a popular science site in the UK called "Naked Scientists" about Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome, known as "POIS." These men (and a few women) suffer debilitating symptoms after orgasm, such as exhaustion, insomnia, flu-like symptoms, brain fog, anxiety, depression, weakness, indigestion and so forth. It tends to last for a few days until around two weeks.
Cupid, or the God Eros, is often represented as a mischievous, chubby child. Could it be because Eros generally serves biology's procreation agenda above any other?
Did you ever wonder how Western sexual health professionals became so certain that orgasm is more vital to our wellbeing than virtually any other aspect of intimacy?
Emotional distance between lovers after orgasmic sex is not unusual. We have suggested that prolactin, a hormone that has many functions in the body, may be a chief culprit. It rises sharply after sexual satiation, and no one knows how long it remains elevated (or continues to surge) as a result.1