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How Does Sex Affect The Brain

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What You Can Do

Sexual Behavior and the Brain

First and foremost, work to protect your child from sexual abuse so that their brain can develop in healthy ways. Second, if sexual abuse has occurred, ensure that your child gets the support that they need. There are specific things you can do to help. Often a child will need to work with a therapist to recover from what has happened. Unfortunately, children wont just recover from sexual abuse on their own. Theyll need help processing what has happened and developing healthy responses to their experiences and surroundings. Even if a child seems fine, you should still seek out professional help.

You play a key role in protecting your child from sexual abuse and helping them recover if anything has happened. We know that this responsibility can feel overwhelming, but focus on the power you possess to set your child up for success.

It Decreases Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Good news for men: Frequent ejaculation appears to be linked to a lower risk for prostate cancer.

A 2004 study published in the British Medical Journal studied the sex life of over 50,000 American males between the ages of 40 and 75. Men reporting 21 or more ejaculations a month were less likely to get prostate cancer than men who ejaculated four to seven times a month. A follow-up study published in 2016 showed the same results.

Exposure To Semen Might Lower Levels Of Depression In Women

Though sex helps boost mental health in all genders, it’s women who benefit most from exposure to her partner’s semen. According to a 2002 study from the University at Albany, semen eases depression in women who are not using barrier methods of protection during penetrative sex.

Nearly 300 women were screened based on their mental health and sexual behavior, and UAlbany psychology professor Gordon Gallup found that “females who engaged in sexual intercourse but never used condoms exhibited significantly lower scores” in a depression screening than “those who usually or always used condoms.”

Of course, having safe sex and using protective measures against sexually transmitted infections is of the utmost importance.

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The Brain And Penile Stimulation

A 2005 study by researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands used positron emission tomography scans to monitor the cerebral blood flow of male participants while their genitals were being stimulated by their female partners.

The scans demonstrated that stimulating the erect penis increased blood flow in the posterior insula and the secondary somatosensory cortex in the right hemisphere of the brain, while decreasing it in the right amygdala.

The is thought to play an important role in encoding sensations of pain.

As for the amygdala, it is known to be involved in the regulation of emotions, and dysregulations of its activity have been tied to the development of anxiety disorders.

An older study from the same university which focused on brain regions that were activated at the time of ejaculation found that there was an increase in blood flow to the cerebellum, which also plays a key role in the processing of emotions.

The researchers liken the activation of the cerebellum during ejaculation to the pleasure rush caused by other activities that stimulate the brains reward system.

Our results correspond with reports of cerebellar activation during heroin rush, sexual arousal, listening to pleasurable music, and monetary reward.

Teen Sex May Affect Brain Development Study Suggests

How does addiction affect the brain?

ByJennifer Abbasipublished 1 December 11

The uproar that followed a November episode of Fox’s “Glee” in which two teen couples had sex for the first time may have some scientific legs. New research shows sex during the adolescent years could affect mood and brain development into adulthood.

The study, which was carried out on hamsters, reveals how social experiences during adolescence when the brain is still developing can have broad consequences, say the researchers from Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Specifically, the animals that mated earlier in life had higher levels of depressive behaviors, changes to the brain and smaller reproductive tissues compared to those that had intercourse later or not at all.

“Having a sexual experience during this time point, early in life, is not without consequence,” study co-author John Morris, a doctoral student in psychology at Ohio State, said in a statement.

Morris and his colleagues cautioned, however, that the study should not be used to promote teenage abstinence, as they noted the research was carried out on hamsters and it isn’t certain the same conclusion will hold for humans. As such, more research is needed understand the effects of sex during puberty.

The study, which was presented on Nov. 15 at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting, has yet to be peer-reviewed for acceptance in a scientific journal.

Testing the effects of sex

Researchers did various tests on the hamsters at 120 days.

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Sexual Dimorphism And Psychiatric Disorders

Its well established that most psychiatric disorders show different prevalence rates between the sexes. Depression and anxiety are more commonly seen in women, while the risk of schizophrenia is higher in men. Research studies suggest that some of those differences may be linked to hormones and how they act upon sexually dimorphic brain circuits. For example, one study suggests that women with major depressive disorder show low activation of the brains stress circuitry along with lower estrogen levels. Other work has shown that a low testosterone level is correlated for increased risk of psychosis in males.

Because, traditionally, research programs in science and medicine have only studied males of the species, we are only beginning to understand all the ways that hormones might influence cognition, behavior, and disease. But a paradigm shift is occurring in neuroscience, with the National Institutes of Health instituting a sweeping policy change in 2014, which is inspiring scientists to take a closer look at sex in their research programs. This will afford the scientific community new opportunities to investigate how sex steroids affect the brain in development and beyond.

Brain Activity And Sexual Stimulation

For both men and women, sexual stimulation and satisfaction have been demonstrated to increase the activity of brain networks related to pain and emotional states, as well as to the reward system.

This led some researchers to liken sex to other stimulants from which we expect an instant high, such as drugs and alcohol.

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Sex Can Wipe Your Memory Clean

Each year, fewer than 7 people per 100,000 experience “global transient amnesia,” a sudden but temporary loss of memory that can’t be attributed to any other neurological condition. The condition can be brought on by vigorous sex, as well as emotional stress, pain, minor head injuries, medical procedures, and jumping into hot or cold water. The forgetfulness can last a few minutes or a few hours. During an episode, a person cannot form new memories or remember very recent events. Fortunately, there seem to be no lasting effects.

Brain Activity In Sex Addiction Mirrors That Of Drug Addiction

Your Brain Wants You To Have Sex. Here’s How That Works. | Better | NBC News
University of Cambridge
Pornography triggers brain activity in people with compulsive sexual behavior — known commonly as sex addiction — similar to that triggered by drugs in the brains of drug addicts, according to a a new study. However, the researchers caution that this does not necessarily mean that pornography itself is addictive.

Pornography triggers brain activity in people with compulsive sexual behaviour — known commonly as sex addiction — similar to that triggered by drugs in the brains of drug addicts, according to a University of Cambridge study published in the journal PLOS ONE. However, the researchers caution that this does not necessarily mean that pornography itself is addictive.

Although precise estimates are unknown, previous studies have suggested that as many as one in 25 adults is affected by compulsive sexual behaviour, an obsession with sexual thoughts, feelings or behaviour which they are unable to control. This can have an impact on a person’s personal life and work, leading to significant distress and feelings of shame. Excessive use of pornography is one of the main features identified in many people with compulsive sexual behaviour. However, there is currently no formally accepted definition of diagnosing the condition.

Explore the latest scientific research on sleep and dreams in this free online course from New Scientistâ

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Developmental Windows And Delayed Lasting Effects

The contribution of sex hormones to the male and female phenotype occurs primarily during critical windows of early, perinatal development in which there is a considerable delay between testosterone or estradiol exposure and the emergence of sexually dimorphic traits, suggesting an imprinted memory of the hormonal exposure. For example, sex differences in the stress-induced remodeling of dendrites and synapses in the hippocampus and PFC emerge during peripubertal sexual maturation. The search for molecular pathways that sustain sex differences in the brain revealed several sex-biased genes with markedly different expression levels in males and females at diverse stages of development.

The Brain Benefits Of Sex

Sex Grows Your Brain

One study found that regular sexual activity increased neurogenesis, the growth of new neurons in the brain, and improved cognitive function in multiple areas. Other research determined that sexual experience also promotes cell growth in the brains hippocampus, which is essential to memory.

Sex Gives You a High

The pleasure you feel during sex is largely due to dopamine. As discussed above, dopamine is associated with feelings of euphoria, bliss, motivation, and concentration,

Sex Can Have an Antidepressant Effect

During sex, your brain produces several chemicals and hormones that help you feel satisfied, relaxed, and in a better mood. One study noted that women who had sex without a condom had fewer depressive symptoms than women who used a condom. The researchers hypothesized that compounds in semen, including estrogen and prostaglandin, have antidepressant properties. This is good news for anyone who is in a committed relationship, but if youre not monogamous, its not worth giving up condoms.

Sex Can Improve Memory

Sex Calms You Down

Science suggests sex can improve your mood and decrease anxiety by reducing stress signals in the brain and lowering blood pressure. It works conversely too. Sexual interaction and physical affection improve mood and reduce stress, and improved mood and reduced stress increase the likelihood of future sex and physical affection in a relationship. Its a win/win!

Sex Helps You Fall Asleep

Sex Makes You Smarter

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However It Might Also Cause A Rare Form Of Amnesia

Even though sex has numerous benefits on the brain, there are some potential drawbacks as well. Rare cases of transient global amnesia , a temporary loss of memory function that is typically seen after a neurological condition, like epilepsy or a stroke.

A 2005 study showed a 56-year-old woman with transient global amnesia, reported after a sexual encounter. A 1998 study found the same link between two men, both in their seventies, reporting confusion and memory loss within 30 minutes of sex, and a 1997 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry examined a 64-year-old male who exhibited symptoms of amnesia after five different sexual encounters with his wife. Cardiovascular and neurological scans came back normal, showing the link between TGA and sex.

If You Want To Separate Sex And Emotion

Young with Erectile Dysfunction? Hereâs how to get over it ...

Theres any number of reasons why you might want to compartmentalize sex and emotion.

Its a good idea to explore your motivation so, if needed, you can deal with any unresolved issues.

In any case, theres no right or wrong here. Youre not locked into one way of being for the rest of your life.

If youre looking for a casual relationship or a friends with benefits situation, here are some suggestions:

  • First and foremost, be honest with the other person. Its only fair.
  • Talk about what youre willing and unwilling to give physically and emotionally, along with what you expect in return.
  • Discuss birth control and safe sex practices.
  • Work together in establishing rules to avoid getting overly attached or dependent on each other.
  • Talk about what youll do if one of you starts to want something more.

Keep in mind that whatever your plan or however careful you may be, feelings can crop up anyway. Emotions are funny that way.

So, despite the hormones and biology of it all, maybe you need something to help deepen the bond.

Here are some ways to get started:

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It Protects Us From Chronic Stress

Stress is bad for your brain and your business: It destroys your concentration, makes you indecisive and causes tension. Fortunately, frequent sex, according to a study published in PLOS One, protects our brains from stress hormones that cause these negative emotions. It appears that not only does sex increase neuron growth, it also produces hormones aimed to lower corticosterone levels.

It Keeps Us Sharper Than Sudoku

Weve all heard by now that puzzles are good for keeping our brains sharp. Rutgers scientists say that orgasms may be even more effective at maintaining our cognitive health. Scientists came to this conclusion after studying brain MRIs of subjects taken during orgasm. While brain games light up only parts of our gray matter, gratifying sex activates the whole brain at once.

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The Ultimate Happy Pill

There is a known circuit in the brain thats involved in feeling happy, explains Paul Thompson, professor of neurology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an expert in brain imaging.

This is called the limbic region, which is deep in the brain, and its more active when were rewarded. The same system is activated by sex, drugs, gambling basically anything we enjoy.

Theres more blood flow to the head, more neurons firing, more brain activity.

Much of this deep brain circuit runs on the hormone dopamine. Anything pleasurable tends to cause these brain cells to exude more of it and this makes them fire faster.

Without doubt, sex has not only physical but psychological and social benefits, too, says Dr Ghosh.

The endorphins released during sex can really help treat depression and clear the mind.

One is serotonin, also called the happy hormone, which creates a sense of bliss. People often say that sex is the last thing they feel like doing when theyre depressed, but do try it if you can.

And dont worry if you get emotional afterwards its very common to end up crying after sex. This is caused by a combination of endorphins being released and heightened emotions.

Sex Differences Throughout The Brain

When it comes to heart and brain disorders, sex matters

Sex differences emerge in many brain regions throughout the life course via both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms because of the widespread distribution of nongenomic, as well as genomic, forms of sex hormone receptors. Below, we present some examples, by no means exhaustive, to illustrate both the widespread nature of sex hormone influences but also the unexpectedly widespread nature of subtle sex differences.

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Plasticity Of The Adult Brain

Long regarded as a rather static and unchanging organ, except for electrophysiological responsivity, such as long-term potentiation, the brain has gradually been recognized as capable of undergoing rewiring after brain damage and also able to grow and change, as seen by dendritic branching, angiogenesis, and glial cell proliferation during cumulated experience., More specific physiological changes in synaptic connectivity were also recognized in relation to hormone action in the spinal cord and in environmentally directed plasticity of the adult songbird brain. Seasonally varying neurogenesis in restricted areas of the adult songbird brain is recognized as part of this plasticity. Indeed, neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain was initially described, and later rediscovered in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. Although the existence of adult neurogenesis in the mammalian central nervous system was doubted by some, recent evidence clearly proves that the human hippocampus shows significant neurogenesis in adult life.

Why Does Sex Brain Impair Decision

Much of this sense of passion and attraction occurs in the primitive brainthe limbic systemand, thus, often produces reactive, primal behavior that ‘doesnt make sense’ to the rational mind, says clinical psychologist and sex and relationship expert Carla Marie Manly, PhD. Sexologist Jill McDevitt, PhD, agrees that sex brain exists, and points to cognitive overload as an explanation. The idea is that maybe sexual arousal is the brain equivalent of having too many tabs open, and processes start to get glitchy and shut down.

The idea is that maybe sexual arousal is the brain equivalent of having too many tabs open, and processes start to get glitchy and shut down.sexologist Jill McDevitt

There’s also research that supports these issues with decision-making. One study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior had participants watch pornographic videos and others a Disney movie clip. Both men and women in the porn video group, who were sexually aroused, were statistically more likely to say they would engage in risky sex behaviorlike having unprotected sex with a new partnerand were more likely to make other poor decisionsthan the unaroused control group, says Dr. McDevitt.

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Sexual Orientation And Its Basis In Brain Structure And Function

  • Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, an Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Science, 1105 BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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        The human hypothalamus is a small brain structure between the anterior commissure and the optic chiasma and behind the organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis . Under the corpus callosum , the lateral ventricles are visible.

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