Our bodies go through many physical changes during intimacy. While some effects are obvious, such as changes in the genital area, others such as brain activity aren’t as well known.
Each stage of intercourse –– arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution –- has its own unique occurrences which affect our mind and bodies as a whole. Here are five changes your body experiences.
Your body produces hormones
During arousal dopamine (pleasure) and epinephrine (adrenaline) are released, rewarding the brain’s pleasure center. Levels of the amino acid serotonin arise, increasing your libido and desire of physical touch. Especially during the orgasm stage, the brain releases the hormone oxytocin, or the “love hormone.” This hormone encourages empathy, trust, and pair-bonding.
Vaginal walls are lubricated and expanded
When a woman becomes aroused, the blood vessels in her genitals dilate. She experiences an increase in blood flow and nitrate oxygen –- a molecule that relaxes muscles –- causing her vaginal walls to expand and allow fluid to pass through them. A higher blood flow also causes a woman to “flush,” or obtain a reddening of the skin.
Clitoris is enlarged then pulls back
As blood flow increases during arousal, external genitalia such as the vulva, vaginal opening, and labia become swollen. However during the platea stage, the clitoris pulls back against the pubic bone, almost disappearing. At that point, it needs continual stimulation to climax and orgasm.
Breasts become sensitive and larger
In the arousal stage breasts become highly sensitive. Stimulation to this area can actually signal the production of oxytocin. According to a Rutgers University study, researchers studied the areas of the brain where oxytocin is released and found a correlation to nipple and clitoral stimulation.
In the plateau stage, blood flow travels to a woman’s breasts, making them up to 25 percent larger. Her nipples and areola will also be more firm, and appear to be less erect.
Your muscles contract and expand
During an orgasm, the first third of the vaginal walls contract rhythmically every 8/10 of a second on average. The muscles of the uterus also contract. However, because every woman is different, the number and intensity of the contractions can vary depending on the individual orgasm. In the final stage of resolution, the vaginal walls retract and return to their original, pre-intercourse state.