In girls in the puberty, the level of testosterone doubles – not as much as boys (18 times), but also significantly, and its concentration in the blood is also associated with an interest in sex and a desire to masturbate. Further, when a regular menstrual cycle is established, everything becomes less clear – if only because it’s difficult to measure the concentrations of various hormones in the blood at different stages of the cycle, given that many factors can influence them. It is difficult to measure sexuality as such, and sometimes it is necessary to observe for many hours in a row – because of which a large number of people cannot be included in the study. One study found that the peak of sexual arousal in women occurred four hours after the concentration of testosterone in the blood reached its maximum – but only eight women took part in this study.
Of course, a variety of factors also influence actual behavior. For example, when studying the patterns of sexual activity, it is systematically revealed that it is the lowest during menstruation – and this is often tried to explain by the fact that, due to the lack of fertility, excitability decreases at this stage. In fact, this has not been proved – and sometimes the excitability even increases, and the overall lower amount of sex can be explained by completely different reasons. In the material about sex during menstruation, we wrote that many women are simply embarrassed to “spoil the moment” and stain the bed with blood. Increased irritability in the middle of the cycle (approximately during ovulation) is accompanied by an increase not only in testosterone, but also in estradiol , and it is difficult to say which of them affects sexual desire more.
Estrogens, female sex hormones, counteract testosterone; they inhibit the interest in sex in men – so much so that they are used for the so-called chemical castration of rapists. In women, taking estrogens from the outside can also lower libido – and this is a common reason for refusing combined oral contraceptives; Whether this is due to inhibition of testosterone production is not yet clear. Estradiol , one of the estrogens, significantly improves vaginal lubrication – and the dryness of the mucous membrane that many women feel after menopause is associated with a decrease in the production of this hormone.
When interviewed about a thousand women in stable heterosexual relationships, it turned out that a quarter of them experience negative, stressful feelings in connection with sex. Considering that testosterone, which is responsible for sexual arousal, is produced in women by the adrenal glands, which are generally responsible for stress hormones, scientists have yet to figure out what is primarily in this chain – hormones that increase the feeling of stress, or, conversely, experiences that lead to the release of these hormones.
Affection and trust
Of course, in the processes associated with love and sex, not only sex hormones play a role, but also substances such as oxytocin, prolactin and endorphins . Oxytocin, the “ hormone of love ”, is involved not only in the processes of childbirth and the production of breast milk, but also in the formation of attachment to a partner and children – it is a powerful release of oxytocin, occurring in some women during childbirth, explains the wave of instant love (however, it does not occur at all ). Thirty years ago it turned out that the level of oxytocin increases in both men and women during orgasm, and later it was confirmed that in women it reaches a peak one minute after orgasm – after five minutes it drops to the background level. Oxytocin is being actively studied, because if you learn how to use it correctly, it can bring many benefits. For example, the use of this substance in a spray increased confidence in strangers in a study on gambling – a vivid example that gives hope, for example, to people with various social phobias.
Beta- endorphin , which is called the hormone of joy, is a natural opioid , similar in structure to substances such as morphine and heroin. On the one hand, their effects are described as sensations similar to an orgasm, and on the other, they inhibit sexual desire (probably because the orgasm is no longer necessary). Neither during sexual arousal, nor during orgasm, the concentration of beta- endorphin in men or women does not change, but after an orgasm, it seems that it is partly responsible for the feeling of “satiety” with sex. The same role is played by prolactin, whose concentrations increase after orgasm in both men and women.
It turns out that the hormonal processes associated with sex and love are very similar in men and women. True, scientists do not tire of repeating that it is difficult to study sexuality and it is determined in part by hormones only: it is influenced by general well-being and health, and mood, and social circumstances.