We all know sex feels amazing — it kind of has to, so that we’ll keep procreating and all — but do you know why? It’s not as simple as stimulation, and it doesn’t just happen in your genitals. I’m sure you know some of the basics: You get lubricated and your vagina expands. But it’s actually so much more than that. Your body goes through a whole range of changes during sex.
Scientists divide the process into four different stages: arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. Each stage comes with its own set of changes, some of them major. So that heady, post-sex glow isn’t in your head — you’ve actually given your body and your hormones a massive workout. And there’s a good reason you just want to lay back for a bit and relax while you come back down to reality: It takes your body a while to return to normal (or the resolution phase). The good news is for ladies is that, for the most part, we don’t have the same lengthy resolution as men, and we’re ready for round two pretty quickly. So what are all these changes we have to recover from? Here are the seven most interesting ones I found:
1. Your Body Basically Drugs You
Like, a lot. Adrenaline, dopamine, and oxytocin are all released during sex. This is explains why it makes you feel amped up, happy, and attached to your partner, as oxytocin is very important in pair bonding. Rita Watson, MPH and Associate Fellow at Yale’s Ezra Stiles College writes in Psychology Today that “naturally occurring hormone oxytocin and love are intimately related.” Dr David Moore explains in New York Daily News that the powerful release of dopamine and other hormones can keep us craving more from that person person, which feels a lot like love. Plus, the adrenaline causes your heart rate to rise, according to The Daily Mail. So sex is basically like jaegerbomb and a hug all in one.
2. Your vulva becomes engorged
3. Your breasts can get a lot bigger
So another thing that gets bigger is your boobs. They end up swelling during sex, sometimes up to 25 percent, says Britain’s National Health Service. That is 25 percent more boob. That’s a lot of boobs.
4. Your blood pressure rises
Perhaps less surprising, now that I know all this blood is flowing around, is that your blood pressure rises, along with your pulse and your rate of breathing. The blood vessels dilating are also responsible for that red or flushed look you can get during sex, according to Men’s Health. So hooking up is basically a spin class — but one that feels really, really good.
4. Your clitoris hides
Not right away, obviously. At first, the blood flow makes it more engorged, but as you approach climax, it actually “pulls back against the pubic bone and seems to disappear,” according to the National Health Service website. Your clitoris apparently likes a bit of hide and seek during sex.
6. Your body tries to trap sperm
Sort of. So you know whose sort of spasm that happen when you orgasm? They happen at about 0.8 seconds apart, and you can have just a few or a lot, depending on the strength of your orgasm. Well, according to LiveStrong.com, one of the side effects of this is that your vagina is preventing semen from escaping (in theory), and moving it up inside you to increase chances of fertilization.