It is said that living beings are characterized by being born, reproducing and dying . As human beings, it is clear that practically all our behaviours make sense once we are born and are relatively autonomous and that most of them can be understood as strategies to circumvent death. Sex, however, is something optional in our lives, in the sense that it is not a vital need and it is perfectly possible to spend an entire existence without having relationships of this type.
When our body asks us for sex
However, our organism has been designed so that living by having sex is more comfortable and easier than not having sex . Normally, when faced with a dichotomous decision in which we debate between the possibility of having sex and not having it, there is something that induces us towards the first option. It is a mysterious force that Sigmund Freud called libido and that today can be understood from many perspectives. What are these unconscious mechanisms by which our body is predisposed to have sex?
The chemical circuit of sex
Having sex significantly alters the blood concentration of certain hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as certain activities associated with love, as we saw in this article.
In particular, there is a type of substance whose quantity increases significantly: endorphins . Endorphins are often associated with pleasant and relaxing practices , such as chocolate consumption and moderate sport, and are therefore often considered as a kind of morphine that the body makes itself. However, their quantity also shoots up dramatically during orgasm, and perhaps that is why sexual relations are often a good way to discharge stress, improve the quality of sleep and even relieve physical pain . This biological mechanism from which we benefit so much (even without knowing it) acts as a booster so that in the future the same situation will occur again.
There is another type of substance, the hormone oxytocin , which, being associated with bonding, may also play an important role in sex. High concentrations of oxytocin in the blood appear during hugging, direct eye contact, kissing and all kinds of culturally modulated expressions of affection. All these situations have the particularity of being associated with affectivity , but also with pleasure . And, in fact, oxytocin could have part of the responsibility for these expressions of love to give way to other more intimate activities, since it seems that their concentrations are high during sex.
In addition, some researchers believe that the type of self-esteem of monogamous couples is rooted in the oxytocin released during this type of activity. If the expressions of support and affection are frequent and valued in themselves, it is not surprising that they sometimes know little and lead to something more.
Some cultural factors
Perhaps the motivations that lead to sex can be described on the basis of the hormones and neurotransmitters it releases, but it doesn’t stop there . To talk about these chemical processes is to describe a behaviour from the inside of the individual to the outside, but we need to talk about the dynamics that go from the outside to the inside.
All areas of our way of life are permeated by cultural factors , and gender-related motivations are no exception. Human beings are capable of seeking possible sexual relations not for the immediate pleasure inherent to this activity, but for the ideas associated with it .
The idea of attractiveness and desirability of a person, for example, are indispensable when talking about sexual attraction and motivations that guide our sexual behaviour. However, these concepts cannot be explained only from an analysis of the neurotransmitters and hormones associated with sex: if form is strongly influenced by culture. The curiosity about the body of a possible sexual partner, in spite of sinking its roots in unconscious biological processes, also has in the social one of its basic pillars: hence some parts of the body are sexualized in some cultures and not in others .
Other examples of motivations carved by culture are:
- An idea of success associated with the possibility of frequent sex.
- A demonstration of power.
- A concept of fun that includes some sexual fetishes.
- The need to improve self-esteem.
- The search for strong emotional ties and intimacy.
Of course, these motivations can be more or less appropriate and adaptive depending on the context, regardless of the moral from which we start. However, it cannot be denied that there are an infinite number of culturally rooted variables that shape our understanding of sex and our search for situations in which we experience it. It could not be otherwise, since, fortunately, we neither reproduce nor have fun in the manner of automatons. And let it remain so!