Today I’d like to talk about: The Yin and Yang of Desire — Dopamine, Prolactin and Testosterone.
Let’s talk about love, lust and desire. But instead of looking at these things as social phenomena, let’s look at the chemical reactions going on inside our bodies that make us feel and behave the way we do.
There are clear links between certain chemicals and our most basic drives, which explains, for example, why we feel horny one moment and utterly disinterested the next. Or why our sex drive peaks after exercise. At the core of our sexual and affectional interests and behaviors lie the two chemicals — dopamine and prolactin. In many ways they are complimentary to one another; dopamine turns on desire and prolactin turns it off.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. This is basically your body’s pleasure and reward system. Our brains releases dopamine, to one degree or another, when we see, read or think about something sexy, taste something sweet, puff a cigarette, or come into skin-to-skin contact with another person. When dopamine levels are high, our libido goes into overdrive. Sometimes levels can be so dramatic that a person will neglect other essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Some “street” drugs —meth and coke among them — can mimic the body into thinking it’s dealing with dopamine.
Dopamine is critical to the way the brain controls our movements. If there’s not enough dopamine, we can’t move, or control our movements. If there’s too much dopamine, we are plagued with repetitive moments like jerking, tapping and twitching.
Get this; novel situations can increase dopamine releases. For example, hooking up with someone for the first time triggers especially high levels of dopamine. Curiously enough, these same high levels will not occur again during subsequent hookups with that same person. This is called the one-night-stand phenomenon; it’s why you can be attracted to someone at first encounter but not afterward.
However, falling in love with someone can sustain high dopamine levels for a longer period of time. This explains why physical infatuation is at its peak in the beginning months of a relationship. Also dopamine floods the brain when we get drunk or take certain drugs, which is why drinking alcohol can make a potential partner look more attractive.
Prolactin is dopamine’s foil. It causes dopamine levels to plummet. Prolactin is a hormone, as opposed to a neurotransmitter, like dopamine. It floods the body during orgasm, virtually shutting down the sex drive, which is nature’s way of allowing us to attend to other essential bodily functions like eating and sleeping. Prolactin release in men will temporarily disable our ability to have an erection. This is called the refractory or recovery phase of our sexual response cycle. And prolactin is at least partially responsible for that happy, relaxed state after we cum. This is precisely the release women get while breastfeeding; in fact, the word “pro-lactin” directly indicates its role in milk production.
Prolactin primes the mind for long-term attachment — a role that helps the mother bond with her suckling child as well as lovers to each other. This means that if you stick around cuddling with your partner right after sex, you may actually start to like him/her more and more. This is called the pair-bonding effect. But prolactin’s dopamine-reducing action has a darker side. It cancels the tolerance you may have for your partner’s flaws.
While dopamine and prolactin are good indicators of the immediate workings of sexual pursuit, it is testosterone that best explains long-term changes in courtship. Testosterone is responsible for the masculinization of the adolescent male body during puberty. And it increases the dopamine levels that regulate our sex drive. But testosterone leaves its fingerprint on the body as much as the brain. It’s the catalyst for changes in skin tone, fat distribution, musculature and demeanor, which are signals to others that this individual male is sexually mature and in good health.
However, if you get a fever or become depressed, your testosterone levels can drop significantly. Malnutrition or high levels of anxiety or stress will also interfere with testosterone levels. The most immediate effect of this is a decrease in libido, and a noticeable drop-off in energy levels as well as confidence. There’s no doubt about it; testosterone levels will signal to potential mates that you are in the throws of depression, stress, anxiety or malnutrition. You will appear a little less attractive to people subconsciously. That’s why a confident, dominant male with high-testosterone levels generally enjoy more mating success.
Testosterone levels are highest in the morning, then wanes throughout the day. It’s also much higher in men in autumn and lowest in the spring.
However, sexual desire is still more complicated than is known to science, and there may be multiple archetypes of partners we’re drawn to — there is evidence that aggressive high-testosterone men appear sexier to women and gay men for a one-night stand. But softer, more sensitive balanced men are more likely to tug at our heartstrings in a relationship. Scientists reason that the bulkier mate is more likely to be physically powerful and carry good genes to create strong children. While the slimmer guy is a more loving, reliable partner likely to help raise the kids so they survive to adulthood. The effect of this strange contradiction seems to be a biological predisposition against monogamy and sexual exclusivity.
But none of this is carved in stone. A man’s hormone’s levels increase when he is in a competitive environment or carries out acts of aggression, which can explain how guys seem to bulk up quickly when they go to prison or join sports teams. These levels decrease when he feels intimidated or humiliated, which might explain why those who get picked on at school stay skinny and mild-mannered compared to their peers. This in turn made them easier targets and only increased the likelihood of them being bullied.
This is not uncommon behavior among primate colonies that have huge alpha males looming over a population of smaller, submissive males and females. While this is not a perfect parallel to human social groups, it does go a long way in explaining how a social environment can be a precursor to physical body changes. And just so you know, our testosterone levels also drop during long-term relationships, giving the male brain a sense of stability and mellowness, easing off the drive to forage for new sexual partners.
Science alone lacks a moral element, and fails to explain, in a modern context, why we should desire to be masculine, aggressive, potent or dominant in the first place. In nature, the alpha-male is the most likely to enjoy reproductive success, but that isn’t what gives our lives value today. We might have more success being an average male that falls in love and becomes a good provider. And in the modern world it’s probably the more stable and sensitive man who is most likely to sire children.
Still, science gives important clues to what’s going on in our minds and bodies and that of our potential partners. A lot of our basic inclinations are out of our control, but when we know what causes them or what to expect, we can work with them for the best outcome.
And now for one of our regular, semi-obligatory Meth-related questions. I get at least a half dozen of these questions a month. And each and every one of them breaks my heart. I know nothing about the fellow writing me; I don’t know where he lives or his age. I don’t suppose it really matters, does it?
I need some help and I hope you can point me in the right direction. I am recently divorced and trying to move on in life but I’m depressed all the time and also using meth a lot. I have tried to have different sexual partners since my divorce and every time I’m with someone new I can get a erection when we are messing around with no problem, but soon as its time for penetration I loose my erection I feel like I’m having anxiety issues and also I’m very nervous, and I’m not impotent so can it be the meth preventing me to keep it up, or do I need medication for my anxiety? How can I overcome this problem?
I’m certain I can point you in the right direction. Thanks for asking. Allow me to speak plainly. Quit the meth! Quitting won’t solve all your problems, but it is the first and most important step. And frankly, if you choose not to quit, all your other efforts to pull your life together are doomed.
Meth is not a therapy for depression, nor is it gonna help you connect with a new partner. It most assuredly will not help your erection problems; in fact, it is the cause of your erection problems. But I’ll wager you know that already, huh?
You also have an underlying performance anxiety problem that needs to be addressed ASAP.
In the meantime, take a look at some of the stuff I’ve written and podcasts where I talk about meth. Use the pull-down CATEGORIES menu in the sidebar, to your right, and scroll down till you fine the SEX & SUBSTANCES category. It’s under that category that you will find the subcategory Crystal Meth.
You’ll also want to take a look at some of the stuff I’ve written and podcasts where I talk about performance anxiety. Again, use the pull-down CATEGORIES menu in the sidebar and scroll down till you fine the SEX THERAPY category. Under that category you will find the subcategory Performance Anxiety.
Here are examples of the stuff you’ll find.
Location: Southern Calif
Love doing tina with masturbation and watching really hot porn. Think this is just social fun?
Nope, I don’t Joey. Despite the prevalence of this dastardly drug, there is nothing fun about tina…crystal meth for those unfamiliar with the term “tina”. If you love doing tina for whatever reason, I’d wager you’re hooked on that shit.
Listen, I’m not prude when it comes to using some drugs recreationally. But I think that we’d do well to stick to those drugs that are more natural. The less processing involved (and meth is the worst in that regard) and fewer added chemicals (OMG, the crap they put in crystal) the better, in my humble opinion.
Despite the admitted high ya get, recent research shows that long-term meth use destroys nerve cells in the brain that regulate dopamine, muscle movement, memory, and decision-making. This damage can be wide-spread and permanent.
Your body reacts to crystal meth the same way it reacts to danger. Crystal floods the body with adrenaline — the same hormone that prepares us for emergencies. Adrenaline gives a super-charge of strength and endurance so the body can deal with danger and injury. But artificially triggering this response over and over again will have serious consequences.
When you use crystal, your nervous system shifts into high gear. The brain floods your body with “danger” messages. Your body responds immediately to what it thinks is a threat. It prepares to fight or to run away. Common body responses to perceived danger include:
- Pupils dilate to let in more light.
- Hair stands on end (“getting goose bumps”).
- Blood vessels just under the skin constrict.
- Body temperature goes up
Regular, long-term crystal use will diminish sores of neurotransmitters. Episodes of paranoia and anxiety become more frequent and longer lasting. Blocked blood vessels within the brain can lead to increased chances of stroke.
Crystal fucks with your dopamine levels. Dopamine delivers a sense of reward and pleasure. It is also associated with body movement. Too little dopamine causes paralysis or a Parkinson’s-like tremors and rigidity. Too much dopamine and a person can become paranoid, hear voices and get twisted thoughts. Sound familiar?
Crystal fucks with your serotonin levels. Serotonin is involved in regulating sleep and sensory perception. It plays a role in moods and regulating body temperature. Serotonin is involved with many emotional disorders like schizophrenia, phobias, super-aggressive states and obsessive-compulsive behavior. Too much serotonin can make it difficult (or impossible) to have an orgasm. And of course there’s the dreaded “crystal dick”…the inability to get it up.
Joey, listen up! You’re way too young with too much of your life ahead of you to self-inflict so much serious irreparable damage on yourself. If this weren’t such a troublesome drug, there wouldn’t be such a virulent anti and reformed tweeker community out there. Want to know the real truth about “tina” check in at: crystalmeth.org. You’ll be glad you did.
On Performance Anxiety:
I get a dozen or so messages a month on this topic. I’ve written about it in numerous postings and spoken about it in several podcasts, but still the email comes.
One of the real bugaboos for anyone, regardless of gender, is living up to our own expectations of sexual performance. So many things can get in the way, literally and figuratively, of fully enjoying ourselves and/or pleasuring our partners.
The arousal stage of our sexual response cycle is particularly vulnerable to a disruption. And when there’s trouble there, there’s no hiding it. A limp dick or a dry pussy can put the kibosh on all festivities that we may have hoped would follow.
However, performance anxiety can strike any of us, regardless of age, and at just about any point in our sexual response cycle. This is a particularly galling when it seems to come out of the blue. And regaining our composure can be more far more difficult than we imagine.
Today we will be focusing on male performance anxiety. I’ll address female performance anxiety at a later date.
Complete Article HERE!
Location: New England
What is sounding the penis and why is it called that?
Sounding is a kind of urethra play. It’s called that because the it involves sounds, a kind of dilator. Why not mozie on over to Dr Dick’s Stockroom and check out the Sounds & Dilators section, you’ll get an eyeful!
Urethra play freaks out lots of folks, myself included. Most of us would equate having something inserted into our urethra…for any reason…with a root canal by a sadistic dentist. Not something purposely done for the sheer enjoyment of it.
I’m always curious about how folks come to odd fetishes like urethra play. One of my correspondents way back in July 2007, Georgia, wrote that her urethra play began when she was a child. When she asked her mother where babies came from. Her mother said it’s where peepee comes out. Georgia looked down there and saw this teeny-tiny hole. She knew having a baby was difficult and painful and thought, no wonder! So she decided she’d better try and make the opening bigger. And so it began.
Once a guy told me that he was playing doctor with his older cousin, when his cousin inserted a twig into his urethra, mimicking how he thought a doctor would take a patient’s temperature. This guy said that the moment was so sexually charged, even as boy of no more than 5, that his piss hole became an object of fascination and pleasure from that day onward. When I knew him, he was able to insert the bristle end of a toothbrush into his urethra. That bit of unsolicited information just about made me swoon into a faint back then. Even now, retelling that story gives me the willies.
Practitioners of this unique kink often start out young, like Georgia and the other guy. Maybe it’s just a function of some people’s natural curiosity about their body, when one day they discover their urethra. They toy with it, stretch it, and find pleasure. Once that happens, of course, it becomes like most pursuits of pleasure; it becomes a fascination, then a full-blown kink.
If a little accidental stretching is pleasurable, what about intentional stretching with one kind of gadget or another — Q- tips, thermometers or a ballpoint pen? Once these kids are old enough to do some research, they discover there are an array of medical implements available to them like latex or plastic tubing, catheters and urethral sounds and dilators. Well, you can see how this could just grow and grow…pretty much like any fetish. Pleasure is curious that way, spurring us on to higher and higher heights.
But like all pleasure related things, practitioners ought to have his/her wits about them when they play with their pee hole. I think it’s ill advised to be stretching your urethra with just any old thing lying around. One’s bladder and urethra are sterile areas and one ought only use sterile equipment and procedures while inserting anything in there. And one ought to take one’s time with this sort of play. Incremental stretching is advised. Please, don’t forget the surgical lube. The use of mind altering, or body desensitizing drugs is not recommended, for obvious reasons. Like I always say, safe and sane play is happy play.
And here’s something you should know — the male urethra is approx. 10 to 13 inches long and has a “J-shaped” curve to it. The female urethra is much shorter, only approx. 2 1/2 to 3 inches long, and there is no curve. Therefore, a woman can stretch her urethra much easier and to a greater extent than can a man. You will find that gender differences also makes for gender specific toys.
Dear Dr Dick, First I must congratulate you on the two fascinating interviews you held with the delicious Tony Buff. What an incredibly sexy, compassionate and intelligent man he is, I could have listened to him all day. Anyway, I digress. Tony spoke a lot about the importance of safe sex practices in general as well as within the BDSM genre. He often engages in piss play/watersports and I am keen to know the risks involved in such a practice, as there seems to be a number of mixed messages out there on this subject. I have enjoyed this element of sex play myself, intermittently for a number of years, mostly with lovers/partners. And whilst I don’t consider that I have ever put myself or anyone else at risk, it would be good to know some plain hard facts on the matter, regarding the transmission of sexual infections or otherwise. Perhaps you could clarify what is considered safe and that which is risky, within this practice, in other words, the dos and don’ts. Thanks for your time.
Wow! That brings me back, Phil. The interview you mention happened five years ago. (You can find Part 1 and Part 2 HERE and HERE!) Even though I am no longer podcasting, I am so glad to hear that folks are still discovering my shows, even show from so long ago. For anyone not familiar with my podcast archive, you can find it by clicking on the PODCAST tab in the header.
So you want some plain hard facts, darlin’? I got ‘em. In fact, I forwarded your question to THE MAN himself, Tony Buff. And here’s his response:
That is an excellent question, Phil. Many people don’t understand the risks associated with piss play/watersports. According to the BDSM: Safer Kinky Sex booklet published by the AIDS Committee of Toronto, urine with no blood is fine on the outside of intact skin and urine in the mouth is a negligible risk for getting HIV but if your partner has a urinary tract infection there is a risk of catching other sexually transmitted infections. It’s also important to note that drugs can pass through urine chemically unchanged. Drinking large quantities of urine from someone who has been taking recreational drugs can pass those drugs on to your system. And, if you’re HIV positive be aware that drinking the urine of someone on different treatment drugs than your own regime can cause drug treatment resistance.
So those are the risks. Again, every person has the right to determine his or her own risk profile. With open, honest communication you and your play partner or partners should be able to determine which risks are present and how to best mitigate them. I hope that helps.
Oh, and by the way, you can find the BDSM: Safer Kinky Sex booklet HERE!
So there you have it, directly from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. And if you want to know my thoughts on the matter, which just so happens to mirror the amazing Mr Buff’s thoughts, use the search function in the sidebar to your right and simply type in “watersports” or “golden showers” and Voilà!