Study: ‘Basal ganglia lateralization in different types of reward’

The most important sexual organ really is the brain. Climax happens right there. And that’s where both desire and its opposite (satiety/aversion) originate.

Dozens of studies have found evidence of a neurochemical cycle beginning at climax. It activates the oxytocin, opioid, prolactin, serotonin, immunological and endocannabinoid systems, as well as changes in dopamine production and receptor levels.

Many of  these shifts temporarily depress the hypothalamic systems that regulate desire and autonomic blood flow. Some also inhibit the limbic structures that regulate sexual motivation. Others serve functions as yet little understood. All can potentially affect mood and perception, and thus influence priorities.

Traditionally, sexual medicine experts have called the post-orgasm part of the cycle a “refractory period.” However, the research collected here suggests that effects can go on for days, and possibly far longer. “Refractory period” seems inadequate as a description for this natural cycle.

Few people realize the source of any temporary, recurring uneasiness during the neurochemical cycle that begins at climax. Often they respond with a strong urge to overcome it. They ramp up desire to pursue the temporary relief and pleasure of climax. This feels like a way to self-medicate any discomfort or anxiety – in the short term. Heightened craving for orgasm not long after climax is informally called the “chaser.”

Today, researchers expend enormous effort investigating pharmaceuticals that can artificially overcome this natural cycle. Drugs can force arousal by manipulating melanocortin, noradrenaline, oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine, etc.

Natural recovery cycle

Typically, however, lovers simply resort to more intense stimulation when they want to override this natural recovery cycle. Erotic stimuli, sexual fantasy, pain, risk, fetishes, sex toys, novelty, etc. can often temporarily reactivate the arousal system. The downside is that chronic use sometimes draws lovers into the escalating pursuit of hotter stimulation. Satisfaction grows more elusive (because they are overstimulating the delicate reward mechanism in their brains).

Taken together, the research collected here suggests that intense sexual arousal (especially in excess) has lingering effects on the brain and body. Indeed, arousal and climax have much in common with drugs, neurochemically speaking. Eventually, the sexual desire mechanisms in the brain return to homeostasis. Meanwhile, these effects may adversely affect perceptions, priorities, feelings of wellbeing, contentment and relationship harmony.

Synergy sidesteps much of the neurochemical fallout during the post-orgasm cycle. Thus, the research gathered here indirectly supports the wisdom of the practice. Synergy lovemaking may naturally increase our capacity to sustain and enjoy our bonds, while also helping to counter addiction, stress and depression.

For convenience, we have broken down this research collection into loose categories. There is often overlap as some studies measure more than one element.

First, some good news

A German-Danish team actually investigated what happened when single men abstained from porn, masturbation and sex (if they wished) for 3 weeks. Participants reported reduced mental and physiological fatigue, as well as other, less pronounced benefits such as,

increased [time awake], activity, inspiration, self-control, and reduced shyness. Participants who additionally abstained from sex showed even stronger effects in reduced mental and physiological fatigue. The effects found suggest energizing and performance-enhancing potentials in a non-clinical group of single male subjects. (emphasis supplied)

However, the researchers didn’t investigate the possible benefits of Synergy (controlled lovemaking with or without intercourse).


A Period of Abstinence from Masturbation and Pornography Leads to Lower Fatigue and Various Other Benefits: A Quantitative Study

Dopamine    Climax Effects – Oxytocin Arousal (non-dopamine)    Post-climax effects    Sex and drug use overlap    Sexual learning and brain plasticity