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Is there a biochemical component of sex?

Groundbreaking research in biochemistry is revealing that romantic love or passion is largely a function of our hormones.  During sex a drug cocktail of the powerful hormones: nor-epinephrine, endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine are released producing intense feelings of fun, pleasure, excitement, euphoria and ecstasy.

Since sex is so intoxicating, scientists wanted to see why many birds (like swans, albatross, and Canadian geese) and only 3% of mammals (foxes, otters, gibbons, marmosets) remain with the same partner for life. Interestingly, the answer was discovered in the study of a small Mid-Western mice-like rodent.  Prairie voles mate for life, but their cousins, the montane voles show no preferences for mating with the same partners.  The only genetic basis for the difference between the two voles is the presence of oxytocin receptors in the brains of the prairie voles and their absence in the Montane voles.

Oxytocin is nicknamed the cuddle, bonding, or love hormone and is released during sex.  It is credited with enabling partners to bond, forget painful experiences and remember good times, and making the sexual experience more fun, more intense, longer lasting, and more satisfying.  Since human brains are equipped with receptors for this hormone, it appears that hormonally, we were designed for monogamy.

If you choose to follow today’s cultural norms and casually hook-up with multiple partners you run the risk of short-circuiting future relationships. When sex is added to this situation love and romance dies.  Promiscuity damages the oxytocin system by reducing the production of oxytocin and destroying its receptors in the brain resulting in dissatisfaction with long term relationships, reducing the ability to commit, and sexual boredom.  It becomes harder to experience the same thrill.

Instead, if you choose to you commit to and remain faithful to one life partner as in the context of marriage; your oxytocin system will be fully functioning. When sex is added to this situation things love and romance is greatly enhanced. With an in-tack oxytocin system the more sex you have with your partner the more you will want and the more satisfying it will be because oxytocin enhances the sexual experience by 8 times in males and 56 times in females because of the presence of estrogen.  Your chance for a lasting, happy marriage significantly rises.  Despite what the media would have you believe and what you see on “Desperate Housewives, the vast majority of married couples remain faithful to one another.

While there are a variety of complicated reasons for our skyrocketing divorce rates, the rapid rise in the number of couples opting to forgo marriage and just live together, and the flood of TV commercials pushing viagra, the devastating effect of promiscuity on our natural hormonal design is definitely a contributing factor. 

The good news is that even in our sex saturated society, the abstinence message is resonating with teens and for the first time in over 30 years the majority of teens are graduation from high school as virgins.  Many of those who were sexually active are choosing secondary virginity and abstaining from sex until they are ready to commit to a life partner in marriage. Practicing secondary virginity can repair a damaged hormonal system so that you can receive all of the benefits sex was meant to have.
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