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The Yin and Yang of Desire


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.

sex-on-the-brainThere 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.hormones and the brain

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.

growing larger and largerProlactin 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.tits

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.

butt shakeThis 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.

“Porn” problems unlike any known addiction in largest neuroscience study

Like I’ve said all along…

When studying addictions, there are known relationships between certain stimuli and reactions in the brain. These reactions have, in some instances, become the benchmark for what constitutes an addiction and addiction-based behaviors.  There has been heated debate over the very existence of porn “addiction” and what that addiction would look like when studied.

porn addiction, no such thing

In the largest neuroscience study of porn addiction to date, research conducted at UCLA found a clear reversal of the brain’s typical addiction response in study participants when they were shown sexual images. With the use of brain wave monitoring, participants who reported major problems controlling their viewing of sex films showed decreased brain reactions when shown the sexual images, rather than heightened activity as having a “porn addiction” would suggest.

The study shows that the brain does not react the way an addict’s brain would react to cues for their drug of choice. In fact, the study shows that the hypothetical “sex addict” brain reacts in the opposite way that a drug addict’s brain reacts, questioning whether sex addiction actually exists.

“This finding is important, because it shows a reversal of a part of the brain response that has been consistently documented in other substance addictions and gambling disorder,” Prause said. She also noted that this was consistent with their previous study, in which participants served as their own control and no relationship existed between the severity of their sex film problems and their brain response.

Many self-identified “hypersexual” people say they have an uncontrollable urge for sexual stimuli, and that it has resulted in negative life consequences such as loss of jobs or loss of relationships. For this reason, many clinicians have suggested that “sex addiction” be diagnosed much like drug addiction.

“While we do not doubt that some people struggle with their sexual behaviors, these data show that the nature of the problem is unlikely to be addictive,” said Prause.

The study involved 122 volunteers, both men and women. Some had problems controlling their viewing of sex films and met suggested criteria for problem use of pornography by three different questionnaire measures. Others denied any problems with their viewing of sex films. The 122 participants viewed images and were monitored using electroencephalography (EEG) that measures brain waves. The images were of sexual and non-sexual scenes. They included photos of people skydiving and of a man and woman engaging in intercourse, among others.

The study measured the late positive potential (LPP). Co-author Greg Hajcak described, “The LPP reflects electrical activity of the brain that is recorded at the scalp and time-locked to the presentation of pictures.” The LPP is a very common measure in studies of emotion. “The size of the LPP reflects the intensity of an emotional response, and reflects brain activity occurring in the visual system and ancient subcortical structures,” explained co-author Dean

“Hundreds of studies have found that the LPP is larger for emotional compared to neutral pictures,” described Hajcak, “and previous work from myself and my colleagues have shown that cocaine addicts have an increased LPP to cocaine-related pictures.” To test for correlation with hypersexuality, one would expect the brain to show high rates of activity when shown sexual images. In this study, a reverse effect was shown.

“The extent that individuals struggle with attempts to control urges or other internal states such as thoughts or emotions may change how problematic pornography viewing becomes,” co-author and psychologist Cameron Staley added. “Labeling a person’s attempt to control urges a ‘sexual addiction’ may interfere with therapy approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) that can reduce distressing sexual behaviors.”

The study appears in the current online edition of the scientific journal Biological Psychology (…).

Authors on the study are Dr. Nicole Prause, Liberos LLC (; Dr. Vaughn R. Steele, The Mind Research Network, UNM-Albuquerque; Dr. Cameron Staley, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID; Dr. Dean Sabatinelli, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Dr. Greg Hajcak, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY.

This research was conducted in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences (, which is the within the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for faculty who are experts in the origins and treatment of disorders of complex human behavior. The lead author is the founder at Liberos LLC, a company in the UCLA startup program devoted to neuroscience research and the treatment of human sexual problems.
Complete Article HERE!

Wonderful World of Butt Plugs!

I’m really curious how you actually overcome the fascination of wanting anal sex? What do you do and what does it take?

Ahhh, your pullin my leg, right? Cassandra, darling, I don’t get it. You have a fascination with wanting some hot backdoor action; is that correct? Am I supposed to gather from this rather round about way of putting things that you have yet to explore ass fucking? That’s what it sounds like to me.

i'm wearing my butt plugIf I’m correct in this assumption, the sure-fire way of overcoming this or any fascination of wanting this or anything else is to indulge yourself the very thing you’ve been wanting. This is not rocket science.

Once you have a taste of what you’ve desired, you’ll no longer need to overcome a fascination. If by chance, you’re actually wondering if you want to enjoy your butthole or not and you want to discover this on your own without the pressure of having a partner present; then I suggest you do a little experimentation on your own.

Allow me to introduce you to the Wonderful World of Butt Plugs! Not sure what a butt plug is or why you would want one? Or maybe you sure enough know a butt plug from a hole in your head, but you just don’t know how to go about choosing the right one for you. Well, never fear, because Dr Dick is here with another one of his Handy Dandy Sex Toy Advisories: Plug Your Hole In Three Easy Steps. And you can thank all my inquisitive correspondents and the treasure trove that is Dr Dick’s Stockroom for the heads up on these puppies.

A butt plug is an anal stimulation device that allows you to enjoy sustained anal pleasure (and prostate stimulation for the men folk) without the worry of having your toy fall out, or worse, disappear up your chute.

Let’s look at a typical butt plug to get a feel for how it works. Unlike most dildos and other anal toys, a butt plug is shorter and has a unique shape. The insertable part is often a tapered cone shape, designed for easy insertion and that all-filled-up feeling while it’s in place.

The plug tapers more dramatically near the base into a notch. This allows your sphincter muscle to close down on the plug keeping it firmly in place. Finally the wide base keeps it from slipping inside your bum.

Pretty gal-darn clever, huh?

But why would I want a plug in my ass? You might query. That, my friend, is a question only a rank amateur would ask. Unfamiliar with the joys of butt play, are ya? Well, here’s the 411 on anal pleasuring. Your bum is chock full of nerve ending that, when stimulated, induce intense pleasure. And a butt plug can be worn for hours at a time for a sustained dose of devilish delight.

Once you decide to give a plug a try, you’ll have loads of options to choose from. There is a slue of different sizes, shapes colors and textures. They come in several different materials. And some even vibrate. How fun is that?

Let’s look at all these options in turn.

— Start with SIZE.
If you’re new to the whole anal thing, I recommend you try something small. You’ll want an insertable length of less then 4” and a diameter of 2.5”. Feeling a bit more daring? Want to increase the insertable length and/or diameter? Knock yourself out, my friend. There are dozens of sizes available.

— Next choose a Material.
Got the dimensions you want, but not sure about what kind of material you want plugging your hole? I know that may sound funny, but it actually does matter what you insert where the sun don’t shine!

Say, Dr Dick, how do I know what material is best for me? Excellent question! See, you’re becoming a well-informed consumer already. Let me detail some of the finer points for you.

Latex — the granddaddy of sex toy material.
Soft and flexible
Use with both water-based and oil-based lubes.

Porous, thus less hygienic
Difficult to clean
May contain phthalates
Distinct rubbery odor

Jelly —advancements in chemistry transformed ordinary latex into even softer and more pliable jellies.
Super-soft and flexible
Appealing translucent jelly-like appearance
Use with both water-based and oil-based lubes.
Comes in a variety of colors

Porous, thus less hygienic
Difficult to clean
Probably contain phthalates
Distinct rubbery odor

Silicone — a non-latex product that come in two varieties — firm and soft.
Durable and long lasting
Easy to maintain
You can sterilize silicone toys by boiling themc552.jpg
They’re bleachable
Dishwasher safe
More realistic feel
Retains body heat
Comes in a variety of colors
Less of an odor

More expensive
Use only water-based lubes

Stainless Steel —it is smooth, hard and a thing of beauty.c991.jpg
Super-durable and long lasting
Easy to maintain
You can sterilize Stainless Steel toys by boiling them
Dishwasher safe
Much heftier weight
No unpleasant odor
Can be warmed or chilled
Use with both water-based and oil-based lubes.

More expensive
Hard and inflexible

Pyrex Glass — a hard dense glass that will not shatter or splinter. A work of art.
Super-durable, long lasting
Easy to maintain
You can sterilize Pyrex toys by boiling them
Dishwasher safe
Hefty weight
No unpleasant odor
Can be warmed or chilled
Use with both water-based and oil-based lubes.

More expensive
Hard and inflexible

New Supersoft — a new material that’s has the closest feel to real-life skin. It can be both soft and rigid.
Less expensive
Great texture

Very porous
Less hygienic
Always use with a condom
Use only both water-based lubes.
Difficult to cleanb667.jpg
Distinct rubbery odor

Rubber — An old standard!
Durable, very long lasting
Use with both water-based and oil-based lubes.
Comes in a vast array of colors
Very porous, less hygienic
Difficult to clean
Distinct rubbery odor

— Next choose Special Features.
Once you’ve decided on the material you want, you can customize your butt plug with special features like:

  • Bendable
  • Inflatable
  • Multi speed vibrating
  • Suction cup

— Next choose Texture.
Latex, silicone and rubber butt plugs come in an array of textures. Which one of these buggers will tickles your fancy?

  • Bulgedtunnel plug1
  • Noduled
  • Nubbed
  • Ribbed
  • Smooth
  • Studded
  • Swirled
  • Veined
  • Velvety

Good luck.

Stretching out of the sexual doldrums

Name: Gwen
Age: 57
Location: Philly
My husband and I have been married for 33 years. Our relationship is hell when it comes to sex. My husband is overweight, and he’s stressed out about his elderly parents. Sex is non-existent. He never was the instigator in our relationship. And he is the kind of guy who thinks having sex on the couch as opposed to the bedroom is adventuresome. He has become so boring. I don’t believe the man feels sex should be that important at our ages. (I’m 57 and he’s 62) I, on the other hand, am more sexually aroused and creative than ever now that I am more mature and the kids are out of the house. Menopause and all the sex on the internet helps too. 😉 Is there anything I can do to make my man return to being a healthy sexual being once again? Thank you, Gwen

No, thank you, Gwen. Your complaint is a familiar one. In fact it’s so familiar I regularly offer therapy groups for couples in long-term relationships. Like you and your old man, these couples have, for one reason or another, hit a wall when it comes to their sex lives.senior intimacy

I take a very unique approach to these groups by inviting both straight and gay couples to the same group. At first I got a lot of resistance. Most couples, both gay and straight, think there is nothing to be learned from a couple unlike them. They can’t imagine why I would want to integrate the group in such a manner. I think most of my couples feel more comfortable being in a segregated group — straight folks with straight folks, gay folks with gay folks.

But that is of course the reason I integrate the groups. I don’t want them to feel all comfy and cozy, I wanted them to work and learn and stretch themselves out of their sexual doldrums. At first, I had to ask all my couples to suspend judgment about an integrated group until they had an opportunity to participate in one. Now I don’t encounter so much resistance. Word’s gotten out that this is a really creative solution to an otherwise tricky problem. And that old married couples, regardless if they are gay, lesbian or straight have very similar problems. And they can and do learn from one another.

To your specific issue, Gwen, I’m sad to say there’s not much you can do to beef up your sex life if there’s no interest on the part of your husband to do so. I mean, you can lead the horse to the cooch, but you can’t make him lick, if ya know what I mean.

Fat man holding a measurement tape against white background

Fat man holding a measurement tape against white background

You confide that you husband is overweight and stressed; this is not a happy combination when it comes to his sexual response cycle. In fact, your husband sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. Perhaps if your challenged him about his general health — encourage weight loss and stress reduction, you might find that this would also reignite his sex drive. It’s worth a try.

And thank you for mentioning menopause. So many women find the changes that take place in midlife confusing and disorientating. It’s so good to hear from a woman who is eager to explore and enjoy her sexuality post-menopause.

Men also go through changes, in midlife. There’s even a name for it — andropause — the male menopause as it were. It’s clear that as we age, both women and men need more time and stimulation in which to get aroused. The slower, more sensuous foreplay that often results is a welcome change for most women and even some men.

Increased focus on sensuality, intimacy, and communication can help a sexual relationship remain rewarding even well into our senior years. I think you already know this, Gwen, but many women in my audience don’t.sensual touch

If your husband is avoiding intercourse, there still many ways of expressing your love and staying connected:

  • Hugging, cuddling, kissing
  • reading erotica aloud together
  • Touching, stroking, massage, sensual baths
  • Masturbation and oral sex

However, if your husband is more wedded to food and stress than he is to you, and if he continues to refuse to join you in finding an appropriate outlet for your sexual frustration, then it’s up to you to make this happen on your own. 57 is way too young to say goodbye to your sex life.

May I suggest joining a women’s group. Not a therapy group, but more of a support group or activities group. Getting out of the house, involving yourself with other self-actualized mature women, may uncover the secret solutions other women have put in place to find sexual satisfaction when they are without a partner or have a partner who’s no longer interested in a sex life with them. I think you will be surprised by how creative your sisters can be. Make it happen, Gwen. Don’t sink to the lowest common denominator of living a sexless life.

Good luck

Monkey on my back

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.

MonkeyBackMeth 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.

Find a competent sex therapist to help you. look to the directory of The American College of Sexology for someone near you. Or you can check out my Therapy Available page.

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.

On meth:

Name: Joey
Age: 22
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 crystalmakesmesexy.jpgdrugs 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: 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!

Good luck

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