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The Effect of good Sex on Our Brains

Sex! Sex! Sex! Having sex can flavor our nights, and days, with sweet pleasure and excitement, relieving stress and worry. And, of course, sex has been key to ensuring that the human race lives on. In this article, we ask, “How does sex impact what happens in the brain?” To Install Our Application Click HERE

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Sexual intercourse is known to impact the way in which the rest of our body functions.

Recent studies have shown that it can have an effect on how much we eat, and how well the heart functions.

As we have reported on Medical News Today, sex has been cited as an effective method of burning calories, with scientists noting that appetite is reduced in the aftermath.

Also, a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior in 2016 found that women who have satisfying sex later in life might be better protected against the risk of high blood pressure.

Many of the effects of sex on the body are actually tied to the way in which this pastime influences brain activity and the release of hormones in the central nervous system.

Here, we explain what happens in the brain when we are sexually stimulated, and we look at how this activity can lead to changes in mood, metabolism, and the perception of pain.

Brain activity and sexual stimulation

For both men and women, sexual stimulation and satisfaction have been demonstrated to increase the activity of brain networks related to pain and emotional states, as well as to the reward system.

This led some researchers to liken sex to other stimulants from which we expect an instant “high,” such as drugs and alcohol.

The brain and penile stimulation

A 2005 study by researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands used positron emission tomography scans to monitor the cerebral blood flow of male participants while their genitals were being stimulated by their female partners.

The scans demonstrated that stimulating the erect penis increased blood flow in the posterior insula and the secondary somatosensory cortex in the right hemisphere of the brain, while decreasing it in the right amygdala.

The insula is a part of the brain that has been tied to processing emotions, as well as to sensations of pain and warmth. Similarly, the secondary somatosensory cortex is thought to play an important role in encoding sensations of pain.

As for the amygdala, it is known to be involved in the regulation of emotions, and dysregulations of its activity have been tied to the development of anxiety disorders.

An older study from the same university — which focused on brain regions that were activated at the time of ejaculation — found that there was an increase in blood flow to the cerebellum, which also plays a key role in the processing of emotions.

The researchers liken the activation of the cerebellum during ejaculation to the pleasure rush caused by other activities that stimulate the brain’s reward system.

"Our results correspond with reports of cerebellar activation during heroin rush, sexual arousal, listening to pleasurable music, and monetary reward."

The brain and the female orgasm

In a study of the female orgasm that was conducted last year, scientists from Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, monitored the brain activity of 10 female participants as they achieved the peak of their pleasure — either by self-stimulation or by being stimulated by their partners.

The regions that were “significantly activated” during orgasm, the team found, included part of the prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, the insula, the cingulate gyrus, and the cerebellum.

These brain regions are variously involved in the processing of emotions and sensations of pain, as well as in the regulation of some metabolic processes and decision-making.

Another study previously covered on MNT suggested that the rhythmic and pleasurable stimulation associated with orgasm puts the brain in a trance-like state. Study author Adam Safron compares the effect of female orgasms on the brain to that induced by dancing or listening to music.

“Music and dance may be the only things that come close to sexual interaction in their power to entrain neural rhythms and produce sensory absorption and trance,” he writes.

“That is,” he adds, “the reasons we enjoy sexual experiences may overlap heavily with the reasons we enjoy musical experience, both in terms of proximate (i.e. neural entrainment and induction of trance-like states) and ultimate (i.e. mate choice and bonding) levels of causation.”

Sex and hormonal activity

So what does this all mean? In essence, it means that sex can impact our mood — normally for the better, but sometimes for the worse.

couple kissing in bed

Having sex has repeatedly been associated with improved moods and psychological, as well as physiological, relaxation.

The reason behind why we may feel that stressimpacts us less after a session between the sheets is due to a brain region called the hypothalamus.

The hypothalamus dictates the release of a hormone called oxytocin.

Higher levels of oxytocin can make us feel more relaxed, as studies have noted that it can offset the effects of cortisol, the hormone linked with an increased state of stress.

Not only does oxytocin make us calmer, but it also dampens our sense of pain. A study from 2013 found that this hormone could relieve headaches in individuals living with them as a chronic condition.

Another study from 2013 suggested that a different set of hormones that are released during sexual intercourse — called endorphins — can also relieve the pain associated with cluster headaches.

Can sex also make us feel down?

The answer to that, unfortunately, is “yes.” While s3x is generally hailed as a great natural remedy for the blues, a small segment of the population actually report an instant down rather than an instant high after engaging in this activity.

This condition is known as “postcoital dysphoria,” and its causes remain largely unknown. One study conducted in 2010 interviewed 222 female university students to better understand its effects.

Of these participants, 32.9 percent said that they had experienced negative moods after sex.

The team noted that a lifelong prevalence of this condition could be down to past traumatic events. In most cases, however, its causes remained unclear and a biological predisposition could not be eliminated.

“This draws attention to the unique nature of [postcoital dysphoria], where the melancholy is limited only to the period following sexual intercourse and the individual cannot explain why the dysphoria occurs,” the authors write.

Sex may lead to better sleep

Studies have shown that sexual intercourse can also improve sleep. After an orgasm, the body also releases higher levels of a hormone called prolactin, which is known to play a key role in sleep.

Researchers from Central Queensland University in Australia also hypothesized that the release of oxytocin during sex may act as a sedative, leading to a better night’s sleep.

In the case of men, ejaculation has been found to reduce activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is a brain region known to benefit particularly from a good night’s sleep.

In sleep, the prefrontal cortex exhibits the slowest brainwave activity compared with other brain regions, which supports the proper execution of cognitive functions during the daytime.

Researchers say that sex may lead to better cognitive functioning in older age, protecting people from memory loss and other cognitive impairments. Studies have shown that “older men who are sexually active […] have increased levels of general cognitive function.”

For women, being sexually active later in life appears to sustain memory recall, specifically. These effects may be due to the action of hormones such as testosterone and oxytocin, which are influenced by intercourse.

So, next time you’re about to slip between the sheets with that special someone, just know that this moment of passion will spark a whole neural firework show, releasing a special hormonal cocktail that will, at its best, charge a whole set of biological batteries.

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Key Points In Family Planning And Maternity Health

  1. Meaning of Family Planning

Now, by definition family planning is the “practice of controlling the number of children one has and the intervals between their births, particularly by means of contraception or voluntary sterilization”.

Using family planning helps women and couples to decide for themselves when and how many children to have on their pace.

We (Health personnel) who provide family planning services caution women against having;

  • Children at a very young age (before the age of 20 years).
  • Children at an advanced age of over thirty-five (35) years.
  • Closely spaced births (sooner than twenty-four (24) months before each birth).
  • A large number of children (more than four (4).

By following this advice, maternal health and child survival are improved.

2. Services Offered to Men and Women in Family Planning #Clinics

At the family planning clinics, men and women receive:

A. Education and information on:

  • What family planning is and how it helps them and their families/partners.
  • The family planning methods which are available.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV and AIDS.
  • The causes of failure to have children and help to the couple who want a baby at times even a specific sex of the baby.

B. Family planning methods

  • Provision of family planning methods to men and women.

C. Medical History taking and examination

  • For sexually transmitted diseases.
  • For cancer of the breast.
  • For cancer of the mouth of the womb (cervix).
  • As of the care of women before starting to or continuing to use family planning methods.
  • For other medical, obstetric and gynecological problems.

D. Treatment and Referral For:

  • Any problems resulting from using family planning methods.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Problems of failure to have babies (infertility).
  • Problems of women’s breasts or womb.
  • Problems resulting from menstrual periods or lack of them.

3. Health, Social And Other Benefits of Family Planning.

A. The good things about family planning to mothers.

When mothers use family planning methods space births, they:

  • Have enough time to recover from the effects of the previous pregnancy, labour, and delivery.
  • Are protected from anaemia.
  • Have tome to care for themselves, the children and the family.
  • Experience a reduction in the problems of pregnancies and labour – such as having the baby too early or heavy bleeding after delivery.
  • Are able to provide improved nutrition to the child and rest of the family.

B. The good things about family planning to children

Children also benefit from family planning through:

  • Prolonged breastfeeding which protects them from childhood illnesses, such as diarrhoea and promotes proper growth and development.
  • Improved parental and child-to-child relationships.
  • Opportunities for better education.

C. The goods things about family planning (FP) to fathers.

Fathers also benefit from  family planning. Famliy planning enables them to:

  • Plan together with their partners the size of the families they can afford to care for.
  • Gives them time to know or wait for the persons of their lives, whom they will tolerate loving for life.
  • Have the number of children they wish to have.

D. The goods things about family planning to the community.

The community also gains from FP in the way of improved quality of life of the people.

 

 

Thirst: Our brains tell us when to stop drinking

When the water content of our blood drops, neurons in the brain tell us that we are thirsty. But how do we know when enough is enough?
Water

Water is essential to life. When we get deydrated, it can have serious consequences.

The water content in our body is tightly regulated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, delirium, and unconsciousness. Drinking fluids restores this balance or homeostasis.

But it takes time for water to travel from our mouths through the body. We stop drinking a long time before this happens.

If we kept drinking during this delay, we would be at serious risk of water intoxication, or water poisoning, which is potentially deadly.

Scientists are beginning to unravel the sophisticated mechanisms that stop us from drinking too much water, and the answer lies in the brain.

What controls thirst?

The brain’s thirst control circuit is a small region in the forebrain called the lamina terminalis (LT).

Once the LT network is activated, we become thirsty. A study published last week in the journal Science demonstrated that thirst creates an uncomfortable feeling in mice, which is alleviated by drinking.

There is one other thing that triggers thirst: eating. As soon as we start to eat, our thirst is stimulated. This is known as prandial thirst.

Water is necessary for us to digest the food that we eat. It also stops electrolytes in food from disturbing homeostasis by balancing out the fluid levels.

Why do we stop drinking?

Zachary A. Knight, Ph.D. – from the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco – and his team reported in the journal Nature that neurons in the subfornical organ (SFO), which forms part of the LT, might be at the heart of things.

The authors explain that “much normal drinking behavior is anticipatory in nature, meaning that the brain predicts impending changes in fluid balance and adjusts behavior pre-emptively.”

For their study, the researchers used mice and restricted their access to water overnight. “When water was made available,” the authors write, “mice drank avidly and, surprisingly, [SFO] neurons were inhibited within 1 min.”

This drop in neuronal signaling happened much faster than the water was able to reach the blood.

“Drinking resets thirst-promoting SFO neurons in a way that anticipates the future restoration of homeostasis,” they add. This means that our brain anticipates how much water we need to drink to restore homeostasis.

Signals from the mouth to the brain

What is not yet clear is how the brain knows when we are drinking fluids. A recent study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience pointed the finger at receptors in our mouth.

The team – led by Yuki Oka, Ph.D., who is from the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena – showed that water changes the acid balance in the saliva, which activates acid-taste receptors.

So, what is the best way of quenching thirst? A study by Sanne Boesveldt, Ph.D. – from the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands – and her team, which will be published in the October edition of the journal Physiology & Behavior, set out to answer this question.

The authors explain that cold drinks are already known to be more thirst quenching, as are sour, flavored, and carbonated drinks.

In their study, the team found that cold, flavored popsicles were significantly more thirst quenching than cold liquids. The most effective flavor was lemon.

So, while the days may be getting colder as fall gets underway in the Northern hemisphere, a lemon popsicle might still be a good option the next time thirst calls.

The Emergency Pills and Contraception

Emergency contraception — also called postcoital contraception – is a form of birth control that may be used by women who have had unprotected sex or used a birth control method that failed.

The treatment generally is reserved for specific situations and is not a regular method of birth control.

Emergencies include being raped, having a condom break or slip off during sex action, or missing two or more birth control pills during a monthly cycle. Emergency oral contraception is used to prevent a pregnancy, not end one. They work primarily by delaying ovulation.

NOTE: My dear readers my audience Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. It is not RU-466/mifepristone, the medication used to induce abortions.

There are 2 types of emergency contraception:

• Pill form

• IUD

RELATED ARTICLE: READ THE EARLIEST SIGNS OF PREGNANCY – COULD YOU BE PREGNANT?

There are 3 types of emergency contraception in pill form that are sold both with and without a prescription. You need to be 17 to buy them if a prescription is needed. Depending on the brand and dose, you might get 1 pill or 2.

• Pills containing a hormone called levonorgestrel:

◦ My Way (over-the-counter)

◦ Plan B One-Step (over-the-counter)

◦ Preventeza (over-the-counter)

◦ Take Action (over-the-counter)

• Birth control pills can also be used as emergency contraception, but you have to take more than one pill at a time to keep from getting pregnant. This approach works, but it is less effective and more likely to cause nausea than levonorgestrel. Birth control pills require a prescription. Talk to your doctor or nurse to make sure you are taking the correct pills and dose.

• A third kind of emergency contraception pill is called ulipristal (ella, ellaOne). You need a prescription to get it.

Levonorgestrel is a specifically packaged emergency contraception. It is available to anyone over the counter without a prescription or age restrictions.

Ella is a non-hormonal pill.

It contains ulipristal, a non-hormonal drug that blocks the effects of key hormones necessary for conception. It is available only by prescription.

How Does It Work?

Levonorgestrel  emergency contraception may prevent pregnancy by temporarily blocking eggs from being released, by stopping fertilization, or by keeping a fertilized egg from becoming

implanted in the uterus.

Levonorgestrel is taken in one dose with one pill. Its effectiveness depends on how soon you take the pill. It should be taken as soon as possible — within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. When Levonorgestrel is taken as directed, it can reduce the chance of pregnancy by close to 90%.

Ella can be taken up to 120 hours after sex. It is taken as one tablet in one dose.

An IUD can be inserted to prevent pregnancy.

The device works by stopping implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus and must be placed within 5 days of having unprotected intercourse.

How Effective Is Emergency Contraception?

If levonorgestrel  is taken as directed after unprotected sex, it will decrease the chances of a pregnancy occurring. About 7 out of every 8 women who would have gotten pregnant do not become pregnant. However, research shows that levonorgestrel starts to lose its effectiveness in women who are overweight or obese.

Instead, an IUD is the suggested option in this group.

In two reported studies, Ella significantly reduced the pregnancy rate from an expected rate of 5.5% and 5.6% to 2.2% and 1.9%, respectively. In a pooled analysis of the data, the effectiveness did not fade for 120 hours after unprotected sex.

An IUD can be up to 99% effective when inserted within 5 to 7 days after unprotected intercourse.

Where Can I Get Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are available at Planned Parenthood; college, public, and women’s health centers; private doctors; and some hospital emergency rooms.

Some doctors will prescribe ECPs over the phone and call the prescription in to a pharmacy. As mentioned above, levonorgestrel is available at pharmacies without a prescription.

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Who Should Not Use ECPs?

Levonorgestrel will not affect an implanted pregnancy. Ella should not be used by women who are already pregnant or may be pregnant. The risk to a human fetus is unknown. Animal studies have demonstrated risk of fetal loss.

Women who have a chronic medical condition should check with their doctor or health care provider before using this method of emergency contraception.

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Emergency Contraception Pills?

The most common side effects associated with emergency contraception pills include:

1. Nausea

2. Abdominal pain

3. Fatigue

4. Headache

5. Menstrual changes

Ask your doctor or pharmacist about ways to reduce nausea. They may prescribe some anti-nausea medicine for you to take before you take an ECP.

Does It Protect Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)?

No. Emergency contraception will not protect you from contracting an STD, such as HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The best way to avoid getting STDs, is to limit sexual contact to one uninfected partner. If that is not an option, use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex.

Article by – Your Nurse Solomon

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