How to control your hormones for better sex
The Star/Asia News Network
By Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar
One of the things that I like to tell my patients is that the brain is the most powerful sex organ of all.
Women - and their partners who come to the clinic with them - are always taken aback by this statement.
Many of them know, of course, that hormones can affect their sexual desires, as well as many of the emotions and sensations related to sex. But few people realise just how central hormones are to every aspect of sexual desire, arousal, intercourse and recovery - never mind the penis or the vagina, it is the hormones that are doing all the work.
And the brain? Well, that's because the brain is one of the main hormone control centres in the body. Therefore, without the brain, there would be no sex at all!
Let us take a look at how each hormone plays a role in every phase of a woman's sex life.
Hormones that control desire
Everything to do with sex begins with desire. You start off by being physically attracted to your partner, which is a form of chemical reaction triggered by hormones like catecholamines, dopamine and noradrenaline, as well as some neurotransmitters, which sometimes behave like hormones.
Sexual desire gradually increases with the help of hormones like DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) and testosterone (yes, even women have testosterone, as we have previously covered in this column).
Your brain also produces a type of neurotransmitter called serotonin, which activates various areas of the brain to provoke erections of the nipples, clitoris, and penis.
During the foreplay stage of sex, your body also produces specific hormones to arouse sexual desire in your partner. These hormones are called "pheromones", and they are secreted from the sweat glands in your armpits and your pubic area.
Pheromones produce a subtle sexual fragrance that your partner inhales, and they send a signal to his brain that you are sexually aroused.
When you are aroused, your body produces oestrogens, which stimulates certain neurons in the brain and prompts the release of more pheromones.
You may be wondering why some hormones affect the release of others. Our hormones work in a feedback system, so they are continuously sending signals to one another that say "Produce more!" or "Stop producing!"
Again, this happens with two hormones produced in the pituitary gland, LH (luteinising hormone) and FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), which stimulate the production of more sex hormones like oestrogen and testosterone to further increase desire.