Back in the day some researchers suggested that guys thought about sex once every 7 seconds. That’s ridiculous – we also need to think about food, sleep and what transfers we’re going to make in our fantasy football team this week. Oh, and what curry we’ll order tonight.
Now the smart people reckon the average guy thinks about sex at least 19 times a day. If that’s the case some of the guys we know (and probably some of the ones you know) are some way above average. In contrast the average girl thinks about it somewhere between 6-10 times a day. Actually most blokes would be amazed by that.
The important thing for both guys and girls is that the thoughts are not about candle-lit dinners or strolling hand in hand down a sunset beach. They’re about sex. The sex act. About what it would be like to have sex with that guy/girl in the bar; how good/bad sex was last night; where can I get sex; I’m feeling horny for no reason – perhaps I need/want sex!
Quite a weird thing is that it not so much about what the sex act is like – it’s not about the pleasure of a potential orgasm or getting close-up and personal with someone you think is drop dead gorgeous. Basically it’s not even a conscious thought, it’s an involuntary urge driven by a combination of our own hormones, and the chemical signals (pheromones) given off by potential partners.
Guys learn it’s involuntary at an early age. Quite simply your ‘man bits’ tend to have a mind of their own, especially when you’re young. You don’t even need to be touching or kissing somebody to get an erection – it can happen quite at random from a thought, a smell or an image. It can happen at embarrassing times too. No matter how cool you might be trying to come across it can be a dead giveaway about what you’re thinking.
Probably one of the reasons why we think about sex so much is that it’s addictive and acts like a drug. Technically when we begin to feel sexual attraction our heart rate increases and blood levels of adrenaline and the "stress hormone" known as cortisol rise. This is then followed by the release of dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that induce an intense rush of pleasure, similar to the stimulatory effects of cocaine and amphetamine.
It may seem a complicated process but all this chemical activity happens in an instant. It can be caused by a touch, a kiss or even just a steamy glance. And we guys think that’s just great – we talk about being sexually excited and sex is just about as exciting as life can get. Ask most guys to choose between sex and watching England play and we think we know what the answer would be.
All things considered it does seem that nature wants us to bond. The more sex we have with a partner, the more our hormones naturally work to bring us closer together. Not too many years ago you were expected to fall in love, get married and then have sex – perhaps no wonder that so many relationships ended up being unhappy.
Having sex first means we can read the chemical signals and be more naturally selective. If it isn’t good we can simply say goodbye and move elsewhere. If it’s good enough to want to keep doing it then forming an attachment and falling in love seems the inevitable result.
So forgive us guys if we get carried away with the nature of things then don’t hang around because the bonding doesn’t work. The thing is of course that girls do exactly the same thing. It has to work for both of us. Which, in the grand scheme of things, sounds like it makes us pretty equal.
You might think great sex it’s all about being joined at the hip. Really it’s about a rush of neurochemicals going on in the brain, what they’re doing and where they’re going. Basically however they shut down the civilised thinking part of the brain, and let hundreds or thousands of years of primeval nature take over.
The civilised part of the brain, the bit that makes us think about the polite and proper aspects of life and living, is called the cerebral cortex. It’s a layer that more or less covers the outside of the brain and helps join-up all the thinking. Brain scans show that during sex, and especially during orgasm, activity in the cerebral cortex slows right down. Basic instincts take over and this is why orgasm tends to cause involuntary movements and vocalisations. Fact is that our brains are not in our balls – when it comes to sex our balls are actually in our brains.
Guys often get a hard time for rolling over, curling up and going to sleep after sex. But the ‘afterglow’ associated with sex is chemically different for guys and girls. Guys tend to feel more attached and often like to cuddle or spoon with their mate. Girls typically release hormones to do with bonding and attachment and want a hug.
For guys physical exertion during sex depletes the muscles of energy-producing glycogen, which leads to drowsiness. Since men typically have more muscle mass than women, men are more sensitive to the effects. Additionally, prolactin, a protein that affects dopamine levels, is released after ejaculation, and that can also cause lethargy. Some people think this is nature’s way of making sure guys don’t just get up and leave but hang around with their mate.