What is it about sex that keeps men transfixed every minute of the day? Is it to do with their genes or is it likely to be in their make-up?
Some say it’s fair to assume that when it comes to a night of passion the existence of a higher power isn’t normally on the agenda. But it seems sexual relations actually bring men closer to God – thanks to the production of a hormone that enhances feelings of spirituality. Oxytocin sometimes dubbed the ‘cuddle chemical’ is stimulated during sex, childbirth and breast feeding. It has long been known to promote mother-baby bonding as well as feelings of trust and altruism.
Now researchers believe it could also create feelings of religious devotion in men. A US study found that men given doses of oxytocin were more likely to say spirituality was important to their lives than those who had received a placebo. This was the case regardless of whether the participant had reported belonging to an organised religion or not.
Men given oxytocin were also more likely to say their lives had meaning and purpose and to view themselves interconnected with other people and living things. And when asked to carry out meditation exercises, participants who had been given oxytocin reported experiencing more positive emotions such as awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, love and serenity.
Research assistant Professor Doctor Patty Van Cappellien from Duke University in North Carolina said: ‘Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and wellbeing.
‘We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences. Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs.’
The strongest effect on spirituality was seen in men who have a particular variant of the CD38 gene which regulates the release of oxytocin from neurons in the brain, according to the Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Journal.
As oxytocin affects men and women differently, Doctor Van Cappellien said further studies were needed to see if sex affects women the same way, adding: ‘Oxytocin’s effects on women’s spirituality still needs to be investigated.’
My own deduction is that sex helps men feel a little closer to heaven – or is it perhaps that men have a more fecund imagination? Time will tell when more research unveils more hidden sexual data to do with both genders.