I’m going to be honest: a couple of weeks ago I relapsed into masturbation.
I know, I know, like… how could I do such thing when I am running a chastity-based online platform?
This is the truth about the current stage of recovery I am in: since I gave up my addiction to porn and masturbation I have been experiencing a spiral of difficult and uncomfortable emotions, hence why I relapsed. It got me thinking about why it is so easy to use sex (or porn and masturbation) as a way to cope with the worries and stress I go through (and maybe some of you may be going through!). So I did some research (with the help of good old Google) to understand what happens in the brain when we get high on sex and also why it can get addictive, using my own personal situation in hopes that it may inform you whether you are struggling with sexual sin and impurity or not.
This is going to get quite technical, but I will try my best to translate everything into English. So let’s get right into it!
This is what happens to the brain when we’re high on sex
This is what basically happens:
Before sex, the pleasure centres of the brain are aroused: the amygdala and the hippocampus. The amygdala is an almond-shaped part of the brain responsible for our emotions and survival instincts, while the hippocampus is a brain organ that is associated with long-term memory and regulates these emotions. On the other hand, the pre-frontal cortex completely shuts down, which is the part of the brain that is rational, where all the informed decision-making takes place.
During sex, the body starts producing and releasing chemicals into the brain: adrenaline and dopamine. Adrenaline is the hormone that gives the body the energy needed for the action and dopamine is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and rewarded from the action.
After sex, the whole person is engulfed with happy feelings because of more chemicals flooding into the brain. The first is oxytocin, which is often called the “cuddle hormone”, and it is responsible for making you feel connected and loved by the other person involved. Then, we have the endorphins, which has pain-relieving properties.
Sounds all good and dandy, doesn’t it? Sex is a wonderful gift given by God that is to be cherished and He even designed it so it would make us feel loved and connected with our significant other. However, I personally fell into the trap of misusing sex as a way to deal with stress and anxiety.
So, where does it all go wrong?
It all has to do with the chemicals released into the brain. Dopamine, adrenaline, oxytocin and endorphins are feel-good chemicals that give the act of sex relaxing, rewarding and pain-relieving attributes. No wonder sex makes us feel good! Dopamine in particular is a brain chemical that is associated with the euphoric feeling of being rewarded and it causes us to feel cravings for the things and activities that make us feel good.
The problem lies where sex is being used as a stress-relief. The body craves the dopamine high, the adrenaline, the good feelings that oxytocin and endorphins give us. So when I encountered myself feeling discomfort, stress or worry, I would turn to porn or masturbation in order to release those feel-good chemicals into my brain. The more sex is sought for the purpose of stress-relief, the more of these feel-good chemicals will be released
Continually seeking sex to get the feel-good chemical boost actually becomes imprinted in the brain. The repetition of an action over a long period of time prompts the brain to store the experience of this action to build synaptic connections and strengthen them to make this action second nature to us. Thus, constantly using sex (whether it was by watching porn or masturbating) when stress was triggered, became the default behaviour to make my body feel good and have the dopamine boost it needed.
Ultimately, when we are high on sex we are actually high on the feel-good chemical boost in our brain.
Having this knowledge helped me to be nicer to myself. I had been hooked to sex addiction since the age of 10 and this had been the only way my body knew how to get those feel-good chemicals that it needed. Now that I am older and more aware of what is good for my heart, body, mind and soul I can do all the work needed to make the necessary changes for a better lifestyle aligned with my values of chastity and purity. I hope that if you are struggling with porn, masturbation and sex this account may have given you a better insight as to why sex becomes so addictive.
We are never in shame; we are always in hope.
Bharnes, Zahra (2016). 19 Crazy Things That Happen To Your Body When You Have Sex.
Lifestyles (n.d.). The Chemistry of Sex.
MacGill, Markus (2017). What is the link between love and oxytocin?
Wolff, Carina (2018). 7 Weird Things That Happen To Your Brain After Sex.