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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

Beyond intimacy and sex, orgasms stimulate communication: study

AFP   July 03, 2014
First Published: 17:15 IST(3/7/2014) | Last Updated: 17:36 IST(3/7/2014)

It goes without saying that orgasms promote personal self-satisfaction and reinforce intimate bonds between partners, but a recent study says they could also lead to improved communication.

That afterglow sensation is actually the release of oxytocin, known as the "bonding hormone," which increases trust and creates an atmosphere of emotional comfort that promotes positive reflections.

In the wake of the flood of oxytocin, levels of the stress hormone cortisol plunge, reducing any pre-existing feelings of malaise.

According to researchers, the combined effect of these two significant hormonal changes provokes a state of mind that eases positive conversation and an environment where partners feel safe disclosing secrets.

"Post-coital communication is likely linked to sexual and relationship satisfaction," says Amanda Denes, Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut and lead author of the study. "For this reason, pillow talk may play a pivotal role in maintaining intimacy."

Read: Don't fake orgasms, your sexual partner knows

Although this discourse may connote alcohol as another instigator of conversation and revelations, researchers say it isn't so. According to researchers, partners who have been drinking are likely to divulge things they wouldn't otherwise say, but what they disclose is less likely to be positive or of significance.

"Oxytocin is an 'upper' and alcohol is a 'downer,' so it's not surprising that they have opposite effects on behavior," says Tamara Afifi, professor at the University of Iowa and co-author of the study. "People who drink more alcohol on average perceive fewer benefits to disclosing information to their partners."

In the study, 253 individuals ranging in age from 18 to 45 years old were recruited to participate upon the prerequisite of being in a sexual relationship, and most were unmarried.

Participants had been in their respective sexual relationships an average of 21 months.

Nearly all participants were heterosexual, according to the study, although gender was imbalanced for 75% were female.

Researchers set the standard for participants, defining sexual activity as anything that occurs "below the belt," then sent participants a link to an online diary in which they asked partners to log their experiences within two hours after sexual activity in which they were questioned about the nature of the said experience concerning alcohol consumption, intimacy, conversation and the activity itself.

The study was published in the journal Communication Monographs.


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