It is important to know that everyone’s body and sexual pleasure is different. It is OK to talk about it with your partner and ask for what you need.
Great, consensual sex feels good because it stimulates the brain and nervous system. It also triggers the release of hormones like oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone”, and dopamine.
The brain chemical dopamine plays a big role in feelings of pleasure, motivation, and reward. As people become sexually aroused, dopamine levels increase. This, in turn, increases blood flow to the genitals and makes them incredibly sensitive to touch and other sensations. During this arousal phase, the body also releases serotonin, which supports feelings of happiness and well-being, and norepinephrine, which dilates and constricts blood vessels to make genitals more sensitive.
Once a person reaches an orgasm, oxytocin and dopamine flood the system, creating intense sensations of pleasure. However, everyone feels pleasure differently. For some, orgasms are short bursts of intense pleasure while for others they may be long and gradual. It’s also important to remember that not all sex experiences feel good for everyone. In fact, some people experience pain during sex, a condition called dyspareunia.
If you are experiencing a lack of pleasure during sex, it’s worth seeing your doctor to explore the possible reasons. It could be an underlying health condition, like a heart problem or vaginal dryness, or medications you’re taking. It’s also important to consider if you have the right level of stimulation for you — some people prefer more oral sex while others enjoy intense digital or anal sex more.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and plays a role in sexual arousal. It influences the release of other chemicals that impact your ability to feel pleasure during sex, including dopamine and endorphins. Serotonin can also influence the movement of blood and nerve function in the genitals, helping you to achieve an erection or reach orgasm. For this reason, it’s important that you talk to your doctor if you have concerns about how certain medications might affect your sexual pleasure and arousal (especially SSRI antidepressants).
Serotonin impacts both men and women’s ability to feel pleasure during sex. In fact, some women experience a decrease in sex hormone levels during premenstrual periods, during or after childbirth, or around the time of menopause. Fortunately, this is a temporary change and usually returns to normal after the menstrual period ends.
The physical intimacy of sex causes your body to release oxytocin, which is often called the “cuddle hormone.” This chemical helps you feel safe and secure during sex and promotes feelings of happiness and well-being. It also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which can help to relieve anxiety and depression.
During orgasm, nerves send signals to your brain that make sexual sensations feel good. Oxytocin, also known as the cuddle hormone, heightens those feelings of bonding and intimacy between you and your partner(s). It’s the same chemical that causes childbirth, but it can be activated by touching or snuggling up to someone. Regularly snuggling up to your partner could improve your heart health, reduce stress and depression, boost self-esteem and help you sleep better.
For women, oxytocin promotes the release of a “feel-good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. The combination of dopamine and oxytocin creates the euphoric feeling you experience during and after sex. This is why it’s so important to communicate with your partner(s) about what feels good for you. If you’re not getting the pleasure you want, try experimenting with different ways to touch your partner(s) to see what works best for you.
In men, oxytocin helps to stimulate arousal and orgasm by increasing sperm count and movement through ejaculation. It also helps to lubricate the clitoris and increase sexual arousal through oral stimulation. It’s also released during nipple stimulation and breastfeeding. If you are in the midst of menopause, the decline in testosterone may contribute to decreased sexual desire, but bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help. You can also take oxytocin nasal spray to help increase pleasure and sexual arousal during masturbation.
For women, the pleasure of sex is partially tied to prolactin. During orgasms, prolactin surges in the brain and body, helping to make them feel intense and full of pleasure. During sexual activity, this hormone helps to trigger orgasms by stimulating the vaginal tissue to be more sensitive and responsive. The clitoris has lots of nerve endings, which become swollen and highly sensitive during orgasms. Penile-vaginal sex has been shown to produce a larger post-orgasmic prolactin increase than masturbation does.
Interestingly, researchers found that men who had lower levels of prolactin reported less enjoyment of sex, even though their overall physical health was not poorer. The same study also showed that the use of medications such as cabergoline, which reduces prolactin secretion, can improve sex drive and orgasms in men.
In women, high prolactin levels can be a sign of breast cancer or other health issues, and may cause milky discharge from the nipples. It can also cause problems with the menstrual cycle, including irregular periods and amenorrhea. The most common cause of elevated prolactin is a pituitary gland tumor called a prolactinoma.
There are many things that can make sex feel good, and everyone feels pleasure differently. The key is to find what works for you and your partner, and what turns you on the most. Some things to try include doing something different, using more lube, or switching positions. If you’re not finding what feels good, a visit to your doctor can help figure out why.