Ever wonder why he just doesn’t seem to want to cuddle after sex?
You may want to talk, savor in the afterglow of intimacy and share your innermost feelings…and he goes to sleep! Well, there actually is a physiological reason for this seemingly perplexing phenomenon.
Remember in a previous e-mail, I mentioned the importance of oxytocin as the “bonding hormone” and discussed its remarkable protection of heart disease – by giving 8 hugs a day to your partner, friend or family member, you will be reducing your and their risk of stroke and heart attack!
In order to understand the full extent of how oxytocin is involved, we need to have a quick review of the important sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone, and their effects on the brain. In the womb, high levels of testosterone in a male brain, lead to more brain space being devoted to thinking about sex, more linear thinking and more focus on single tasking. On the other hand, estrogen, the dominant hormone in a female’s body during early development in the womb, leads to other changes in the brain : less area of brain devoted to thoughts around sex, more visual/verbal acuity and more ability to multi-task.
So how does this relate to cuddling after sex?
The answer surprisingly is linked to the breakdown, or metabolism, of oxytocin in a woman’s body versus a man’s body. After sexual arousal and orgasm, levels of oxytocin skyrocket in both sexes. This leads to a sense of peace and contentment – which lingers much longer in a woman than in a man. Why? Testosterone!
Men have approximately 10 – 100 times higher testosterone than women. After sex, testosterone rapidly breaks down the high levels of oxytocin. Thus oxytocin’s effect on warmth and intimacy vanishes within minutes. Estrogen, on the other hand, metabolizes oxytocin much more slowly, allowing its effects to linger much longer. That is why women, in general, want to talk, express their feelings and “cuddle”, whereas men may just turn over and fall asleep!
The next time you and your partner become physically intimate and after sex, you’re wondering how shuts his eyes in a blink, remember – the oxytocin levels streaming through your bloodstream are giving you this wonderful sense of peace and contentment. Indulge in this gift of intimacy!