From lust to love: sex and emotional attachment

Book-Club-338x350With sayings like “women are from Venus and men are from Mars”, it is no secret that the male and female sexes are different in many ways. This difference is generally attributed to the fact that different hormones found in each sex affect the way both sexes think and feel. In spite of this, when it comes to having sex, are we really not from the same planet?

According to Emma Gray, a journalist for the Huffington Post, when it comes to the dating world, “Wisdom tells us that men and women have totally different feelings about sex. Women automatically get emotionally attached and men quickly flee to the next social partner.”

However, a study done last year disproved this myth. Psychologist Jim Pfaus and his research team from Concordia University in Canada wanted to discover where feelings of lust and love originate in the brain. By scanning men and women’s brains with fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imagining) machines, these two emotions would light up in the part of the brain they originate from – the striatum (the part of the brain that gets messages about emotions and memories from the cerebral cortex). Although these are two separate emotions, they were found to come from the same area in the brain.

However, more specifically, lust originates from the ventral striatum of the brain, which is associated with the emotion and motivation area of the brain, whereas love comes from the dorsal striatum, which is associated with decision-making. Pfaus says that although love and sex are different, his research team discovered that there is an “overlap between sexual desire and emotional love in the brain’s insular cortex”. This explains why even though someone might have the intention to have meaningless sex, that lust may change into love after sex.

Ian Kerner, a sex therapist and relationship counsellor, argues that even though men and women are free to have casual sex, women almost always form some sort of attachment. Kerner says that with women, “deeper pleasures require some level of emotional attachment”. This is mainly because oxytocin, “the cuddle hormone”, is released during the female orgasm. Dr Lauren Berman, a sex and relationship educator and therapist, says that “oxytocin can inspire feelings of closeness, affection, and intimacy”. Berman goes on to say that “This is why women might ‘catch feelings’ after a one-night stand or a so-called casual hook-up.”

When Perdeby spoke to Tuks student Tamara*, she agreed with Kerner that women feel an attachment after sex, saying, “As soon as sex is over and a guy doesn’t want you anymore, then you get emotional. So it’s more of an emotional attachment to the feeling of being wanted and being close to someone than the actual feeling of being attached to men.”

Berman further mentions that even though men also release oxytocin during orgasm, their high levels of testosterone combat the effect of “lovey-dovey” feelings, making casual one-night stands less meaningful to them. Men’s dopamine (the “pleasure reward” hormone released during orgasm) levels decrease after orgasm is achieved, resulting in men having negative withdrawal symptoms after sex. This makes men feel irritated along with the need to flee from their sexual partners.

Moustapha Diop, a second-year BPolSci student, tells Perdeby that he has never had an emotional connection with a girl after casual sex. “I sometimes feel guilty because the girl makes it obvious that she has feelings for me and my emotions aren’t [the same],” he says. He goes on to say that most men are not as hollow-hearted as they seem, but when it comes to sex, it is only considered as “making love” if the man really likes the woman before they have sex.

 

Erick Leech, a blogger for WomenOnTheFence.com, argues that men who have feelings for a woman need confirmation that their relationship means as much to their partner as it does to them. This confirmation is usually made through sex. “It reminds [men] that [women] are still attracted to [them],” says Leech. Only after this confirmation can some men’s sexual desire be replaced by love and a sense of attachment.

Kerner says that it is possible for women to have meaningless sex like men. He believes that the real question is whether they should or not? Although this answer is up to each individual, there are things for both parties to consider. Kerner feels that “We can treat sex lightly, but sex doesn’t always treat us lightly back in return.” He further explains that casual sex can make a person feel depressed after climax has been reached because people, though mostly women, can sometimes feel “post-orgasm regret” along with anger and sadness if there was a feeling of hollowness and a lack of passion during sex.

It seems that the orgasm, which is the main goal of sex, may have a negative side effect after all. Although casual sex may not affect you directly, the other person could have unwillingly broken the core rule of engagement – no emotional attachment. It appears that men and women can view casual sex in the same way, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will come out on the other side seeing eye to eye.

Published: Perdeby on 2 May 2013

Condom as a contraceptive: why you should reconsider

condoms
PHOTO: Oan de Waal

When it comes to condoms, it’s a spiel most of us are all too familiar with. Our parents, teachers and the media have preached to us about how important it is to use them to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and/or falling pregnant. The question is: how would you react if you knew that condoms had an additional health benefit?

There are people who decide against using condoms for personal reasons and that choice is their right. It is understandable why some avoid them when statistics such as those by LiveScience.com report that condoms have a 15% failure rate. However, according to the same website, the condom is still being used by 85% of sexually active couples to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs.

It has been found that condoms keep women healthy. A recent study by the Beijing Friendship Hospital in China set out to determine the connection between non-hormonal contraception methods, such as using a condom or the rhythm method (when couples abstain from sex when pregnancy is most likely to happen based on the woman’s menstrual cycle), and hormonal contraception methods such as the pill and the intrauterine device (IUD) on women’s vaginal reproductive health. This study was conducted in China because of the country’s high percentage of women using contraceptives due to the one-child policy that was adopted by the country in 1979. In the study, there were 164 married and/or sexually active women between the ages of 18 and 45. Of the 164, 72 women used condoms, 57 used IUDs and the remaining 35 used the rhythm method. After dividing the participants into those three categories of contraceptive use, researchers waited until the women were on the 21st or 22nd day of their menstrual cycle and then collected vaginal swabs for testing.

Although a healthy vagina contains a mix of “good” and “bad” bacteria, this study focused on the good bacteria. The bacterium that researchers were mainly focused on was Lactobacillus, described by Rachel Reilly from InsiderOnline.com as “bacteria that dominates the natural flora of the vagina for many women”.

Lactobacillus in the vagina makes the vaginal environment slightly acidic and prevents harmful bacteria from growing in the vagina. The microbes in the good bacteria produce hydrogen peroxide and lactic acid which create what researchers call an “acidic buffer system” that works as a barrier against harmful bacteria that could cause infections. By blocking out harmful bacteria, the vagina can maintain an average pH acidity level of 4.5. The Lactobacillus bacterium is said to help prevent the outburst of bacterial vaginosis, which occurs when there is an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina, resulting in itchiness, abnormal vaginal discharge and a “fishy” odour. According to Megan Gannon, the news editor of LiveScience.com, good bacteria, such as Lactobacilli, have even shown to decrease a woman’s chances of contracting HIV.

In the study, researchers found that the level of Lactobacillus was predominantly higher in the women who used condoms as a form of contraceptive as opposed to those who used IUDs and the rhythm method.

Unprotected sexual activity can throw off the pH balance of the vaginal environment since semen has a pH level of 7 to 8, a number which decreases the acidity level in the vagina. Although the condom itself has not shown to provide good bacteria, it does ensure that a woman’s vagina maintains its required natural acidity level to be healthy.

Published: Perdeby 

Just crazy talk or something more sinister?

just crazy talk or something more sinister
FROM: Perdeby

Remember Amanda Bynes? That kid who had her own TV show on Nickelodeon and later went on to making popular teen movies such as She’s the Man and Hairspray? Yes, the same actress who recently started a fire in a random elderly woman’s driveway as well as accidentally soaking her dog in gasoline and setting her own pants on fire. 

At first glance, the media depicted the now 27-year-old as just another child star who fell off the wagon. However, after being arrested and placed under involuntary psychiatric care last month, several doctors who have been observing Bynes’s behaviour believe that she could be suffering from schizophrenia.

According to the non-profit resource website Helpguide.org, schizophrenia is “a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks and sees the world”. People who suffer from schizophrenia have an “altered perception of reality”. The most

 common misconception about schizophrenia is that its victims have “split personalities”. However, this is an entirely different disorder known as dissociative identity disorder. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is when a person’s mental functions are “split” from reality. The cause of schizophrenia is complex and as of yet not fully understood. A connection between genetics and environmental factors has been found to be the most likely cause of the disorder.

Helpguide.org explains that when it comes to genetics, an individual has a 10% chance of developing schizophrenia if his or her parents have had the condition. In total, 40% of schizophrenics have had family members with the disorder.

According to Schizophrenia.com, genetics only make a person more prone to developing schizophrenia but environmental factors such as stress can trigger the disorder. Another cause that plays a role in the development of the disorder is the abnormality of an individual’s brain structure. Many diagnosed schizophrenics have enlarged brain ventricles where there is very little activity in the frontal lobe (part of the brain responsible for reasoning and decision-making).

Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. in New Jersey found that schizophrenia is more severe in men than it is in women because men develop schizophrenic behaviour at an earlier age. It is argued that men are more likely to hit their head and cause brain damage during sports at a young age, increasing the risk for schizophrenia. The fact that men have more violent and threatening breakouts than women also adds to the equation. Men are more likely to develop schizophrenia between their teens and their 20s, whereas women are more likely to develop it in their 20s or 30s. The younger a person is when he or she develops the disorder, the worse it is.

Although schizophrenia is a rare condition, it can still be found among students. According to Kobus du Plooy, a clinical psychologist at UP Student Support, there have been cases of schizophrenia at UP, “albeit very few,” he says.

Du Plooy says that it only affects about 1% to 1.5% of the total population. Because it is such a rare condition and because every patient tends to show different kinds of signs and symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose a person as schizophrenic.

Schizophrenia can be a devastating disorder for the victims and also for their friends and family. If the condition is not treated properly or if it is ignored, the effects can include disruptions in relationships, drug and alcohol abuse and a high risk of attempted suicide.

Although schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness, there is still hope of a good balanced life. If schizophrenia is properly diagnosed and effectively treated, those suffering from it may improve and carry on living functional lives, according to Du Plooy, whereas the wrong diagnosis and treatment can worsen the condition.

The responsibility to help a person with schizophrenia lies with his or her family and friends. Anyone who has this mental disorder will not even realise that their problems are fueled by an illness. If they are unwilling to seek help from a psychiatrist or psychologist, it is best to inform the police or any other emergency services who can legally detain your loved one for medical analysis. Registered students at UP who suffer from this condition can receive free medical services along with psychotherapy from Student Support.

With the right support and treatment, schizophrenia is a disease that can be kept under control.

 

 Early warning signs and symptoms of schizophrenia:

Signs:

• Withdrawal from social life
• Depression
• No concern for personal hygiene
• Irrational statements
• Inability to show true emotions

Symptoms:

• Delusions: schizophrenics have a strong belief (despite rational evidence) that reality is fake. They may feel like someone is out to get them and/or to control them or they may believe that they are somebody else.
• Hallucinations: schizophrenics hear voices or sounds that seem real to them (these voices are commonly cruel and vulgar). It tends to be worse when they are alone.
• Disorganised speech: they can start a sentence saying one thing and then trail off to another topic entirely. They often repeat themselves and make up words.
• Disorganised behaviour: their daily activities and functions take a toll for the worse, which makes them unable to take care of themselves. This is because they have no impulse or inhibition.

Published: Perdeby