Why Does Sex Feel Good?

Some of the best moments in life are the ones you can’t talk about.
Unknown.

Love to indulge yourself in naughty activities? Welcome! You are now one of us. By us, we mean the ones who agree to the scientifically-accepted fact that sex is pleasurable for most women. During the primal act, human beings strip themselves free from the shackles of a civilized society- functioning purely on carnal desires.[1]

Coming back to the main question- what does science have to do with sex feeling good? If you are looking for the answer to the question – it’s a lot.

A scientific study of the human anatomy reveals a lot of biochemical reactions that happen during sex. These reactions are some of the many reasons you feel how you feel about sex.


The following article will be explaining all the possible benefits of sex from a general standpoint, as well as anatomical.[2]

The 4 stages of a sexual response cycle

From a study point of view, a lot of things happen can happen together when you are in the act, or in an aroused state. Research suggests that the pleasurable experience consists of both emotional and physical stages. Experts have described popular multiple-step models- to explain the benefits of orgasm and sex.[3]

The eminent Master and Johnson’s 4-stage sexual response cycle can be further divided into:

  • Excitement Stage
  • Plateau Stage
  • Orgasm
  • Resolution
  • Stage

The stages are the same for both men and women. All of these stages occur during sexual activities or masturbation. You can identify each phase through its general set of characteristics.[4]

The intensity of each phase may vary from person to person. The cause of this variance is the difference in the person’s body type.

The stages may arrive sooner in the case of some people while being late in the case of others. Not clear? Consider both the woman and her partner reaching orgasm at the same point in time. The event is questionable, though not impossible.[5]

Several females do not undergo the 4 stages in the exact sequence. Some of the stages may not even be there during an encounter. Intimacy is key.

Stage 1: Excitement

The first step to any activity is motivation and desire. Also known as lust, libido, or sexual attraction- the feeling is more or less subjective. Both internal and external cues may act as triggers. The lasting period of this phase may vary from a few minutes to hours- depending upon the person.[6]

General Characteristics:

  • Enhanced levels of tension in muscles.
  • A spike in the heartbeat rate, along with accelerated breathing.
  • Redness/blushing of the skin- particularly in the upper chest, neck, or back.
  • Hardening of the nipples.
  • Elevated blood flow in the genital regions.
  • Among women, the increased blood flow causes swelling of the clitoris and labia minora- the inner lips. In men, it causes an erection of the penis.
  • Increased wetness of the vagina- due to lubrication.
  • Swelling of the vaginal walls, with the fullness of the women’s breasts.
  • Swelling of the testicles in men. In addition, the scrotum tightens.
  • A lubricating fluid starts being secreted from the male penis.

Stage 2: Plateau

The body reacts in various ways as a response to sexual stimuli.

Arousal, for instance, is the collective term for all of them. The phase is an intense escalation of the first stage.[7]

General Characteristics:

  • You may experience accelerated breathing, heart rate, and muscle tension.
  • Further swelling of the female vagina, with color change(dark purple)- due to elevated blood flow and pressure.
  • Heightened sensitivity of the clitoris and further retraction to avoid penile simulation. At times it becomes painful to the touch.
  • Withdrawal of the male testicles into the scrotum.
  • Possibility of muscle spasm at different zones- including feet, face, and hands.[8]

Stage 3: Orgasm

The body is at its sensitive peak during the orgasm. Women may experience multiple orgasms during sex. Most of the men need time to recharge between two orgasms. This waiting gap varies from person to person and grows with age. The significant standout feature of an orgasm is the release of accumulated fluids during the climax- by both males and females.[9]

General Characteristics:

  • Non-voluntary contractions of muscles and tissues.
  • Rapid oxygen consumption with elevated blood pressure levels, heart rate, and aggravated breathing.
  • Muscle spasms, especially at the feet.
  • Sudden discharge of sexual tension.
  • Vaginal muscle contraction, along with the rhythmic shrinking of the uterus in females.
  • Contractions of the penis muscles, culminating in the ejaculation of seminal fluids in men.

Stage 4: Resolution

The final stage of the Human Sexual Response cycle allows the muscles to relax after the orgasm. As explained earlier, men require a relaxing time period to achieve orgasm again. This period is known as the refractory period. The refractory period is also found at times in females.[10]

General Characteristics:

  •  Elevated levels of blood pressure drop, and the body returns to normal from the excited state.
  • Body muscles relax after the orgasm.
  • Genital parts- whether swollen or erect- return to their original size and color.
  • A feeling of well-being and intimacy remain among the couple.


Benefits of Sex

Apart from the absolute euphoric sensation following an orgasm, sex is also beneficial in a lot of ways- both mentally and physically. Sex is actually beneficial both for our bodies and the brain. Let us see how:

Interactions with the Brain

The 2006 Journal of Biological Psychology report states that sexual intercourse can significantly reduce the levels of stress, anxiety, and blood pressure in both men and women. In addition, the secretion of the oxytocin hormone(the “cuddle” hormone) during sex is known to balance the levels of cortisol in our bodies. Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone and its reduction leads to a sense of overall calmness.[11]

Oxytocin is not the only hormone secreted during sex. As stated earlier, the act kick starts a chain of biochemical reactions- starting right from the brain. Dopamine, the happy hormone secreted in the hypothalamus, has a unique mechanism. Its secretion is timed as a reward pathway- programmed for release when we do something good. Another active hormone is norepinephrine.[12]

The chemical properties of both oxytocin and dopamine result in an overall feeling of euphoria, giddiness, and well-being. All of them are secreted in large quantities during activities like sex, childbirth, or breastfeeding. They also help in sleep. Along with them, melatonin is responsible for our body clocks.[13]

The Top Health Benefits

The following are the health benefits of having sex:

  • Improved functioning of the immune system.
  • Enhances your libido.
  • For women, helps in better bladder control.
  • Reduces blood pressure levels
  • Reduces chances of a heart attack.
  • Lowers the pain threshold, especially in case of menstrual cramps, arthritis, headaches.
  • Reduces the chances of prostate cancer among men.
  • A great alternative for exercise.

Conclusion

Biochemical reactions are slightly responsible for the feeling of euphoria associated with sex. Blame it on the hormones- literally. However, there are actual health benefits of sex- with reduced blood pressure, better heart and bladder conditions, with a lower chance of cancer. The only cautionary advice- observe safe sex opractices. They are helpful not only to avoid pregnancy- but also to prevent STDs.[14]


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5052677/

[2] Brody Stuart. The Relative Health Benefits of Different Sexual Activities. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2010;7(4pt1):1336–61. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[3] Cheitlin Melvin D. Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease. American Journal of Cardiology. 2003;92(9):3–8. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[4] Butt Dorcas Susan. The Sexual Response as Exercise. Sports Medicine. 1990;9(6):330–43. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5724765/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075511/

[7] Cohen S. Social Relationships and Health. American Psychologist. 2004;59(8):676–84. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[8] DeLamater John. Sexual Expression in Later Life: A Review and Synthesis. The Journal of Sex Research. 2012;49(2–3):125–41. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5087699/

[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1114537/

[11] John DeLamater, Karraker Amelia. Sexual Functioning in Older Ddults. Current Psychiatry Reports. 2009;11(1):6–11. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525757/

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2707786/

[14] DeLamater John, Sill Morgan. Sexual Desire in Later Life. The Journal of Sex Research. 2005;42(2):138–49. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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