May 18, 2024

The main hormone associated with orgasm in all sexes is oxytocin. Oxytocin levels steadily increase during arousal and peak at orgasm. This neuropeptide hormone is made in the hypothalamus and released from the posterior pituitary during sexual stimulation and climax.

In both men and women, oxytocin release during orgasm serves several purposes. First, it activates reward circuits and pleasure centers in the brain, inducing feelings of satisfaction, relaxation, and happiness. It also promotes social bonding and feelings of intimacy and closeness with a partner after sex. Physically, oxytocin facilitates reproductive functions – like sperm and egg transport.

During arousal, oxytocin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in reward pathways. High oxytocin and dopamine levels at orgasm are associated with reinforcing the reward-seeking behavior involved in sexual climax. In this way, oxytocin mediates both the physical and psychological aspects of orgasm.

In men specifically, orgasm also triggers the release of the hormone prolactin from the anterior pituitary. Prolactin levels immediately jump 400% post-orgasm. This rapid prolactin surge is associated with a feeling of sexual satiation and loss of arousal or erection temporarily after climax. It essentially signals the body that the sexual encounter has concluded.

Other hormones like testosterone, estrogen, endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF) and more are impacted during various stages of arousal and orgasm as well. But oxytocin and prolactin in men are the two most directly linked to orgasm itself and its psychological outcomes like bonding. The timing of their pulses correlates with orgasm sensations.

In summary, orgasm involves cascades of hormones and neurotransmitters being activated. But oxytocin is the key player, mediating both the physiologic processes of climax while also facilitating social/emotional behaviors post-sex.

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