What is ‘Morning Wood,’ and Why Does it Happen?

Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) is not a result of sexual arousal or having a dream relating to sex. Instead, it is a normal function of the male reproductive system.

In fact, regular episodes of NPT are a sign that the nerves and blood supply to the penis are healthy.

If a male does not have NPT regularly, it can indicate a health issue, such as erectile dysfunction (ED), which involves having trouble getting or keeping an erection. Not having regular NPT can also suggest other problems with the nerves or the blood supply to the male reproductive organs.

A hormonal imbalance, such as a decrease in testosterone, can also affect how often a person experiences NPT. A lack of regular NPT can sometimes result from not getting quality sleep.

As a person gets older, they can expect to experience NPT less often. This change should happen gradually, as hormone levels shift. Anyone who notices a sudden drop in the number of their NPT episodes should speak with a doctor to rule out any potential health issues.

Causes

“Morning wood” is a common occurrence for most men.

NPT is not a typical erection because it is not related to sexual thoughts, dreams, or stimulation. It is simply a result of sleep cycles, combined with healthy nerves and blood flow in the body.

NPT tends to happen when a person is in a rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. REM sleep can occur several times during an 8-hour sleep cycle. The erection may go away on its own as a person enters deeper sleep. Thus, a person may have erections several times during the night but may not be aware of them.

Often, a person wakes up at the end of a REM sleep cycle, which explains why NPT seems to happen in the morning. In addition, testosterone levels tend to be elevated in the morning. Males have high levels of this hormone, which contributes to sexual function.

An erection caused by NPT may be physically different from one caused by arousal. One study found that some men experienced pain when they had NPT, but not when they had typical erections.

How often should morning wood occur?

Males of various ages, from children to older adults, experience NPT. Usually, younger adults, who have the highest levels of testosterone, will experience nocturnal erections more frequently than children or older people. Young adult males may have NPT every morning and a few times during the night.

The peak of sexual maturity generally happens when males are in their late teens to late 30s, and this may correspond with higher testosterone levels. It is normal for people in this age range to experience frequent episodes of NPT.

As a person approaches their 40s and 50s, they may notice fewer episodes of NPT. This often occurs because testosterone levels are naturally declining. However, the episodes should decline gradually, not suddenly. A gradual decline in NPT with age is customary.

A hormonal imbalance, especially one that affects the penis and testes, can result in few or no episodes of NPT. This is one reason why having regular erections in the morning is an important indicator of healthy male sexual organs.

One study found that men with hypogonadism, which prevents the sexual organs from fully functioning, experienced an increase in NPT after they had received testosterone therapy.

Some research says that a person’s quality of sleep can affect the frequency of NPT. If a person is not getting good sleep and entering the REM cycle, they may not experience nocturnal erections.

A study of 61 men with obstructive sleep apnea and ED found that getting better quality sleep resulted in more frequent NPT. The participants who used continuous positive airway pressure devices had more frequent nocturnal erections than those who did not.

Other studies have used NPT as an indicator of hormonal or sexual health, especially when treating ED.

For instance, if a person has NPT but cannot get or maintain an erection during sexual activity, doctors can rule out issues such as insufficient blood flow or nerve responses in the penis. If this is the case, ED may be a psychological issue, and a health professional can treat it accordingly.

However, if a person has no nocturnal erections and has trouble getting or keeping erections related to sex, doctors may determine that there is a physical cause of ED.

When to see a doctor

A person should speak to a doctor if they notice changes in how frequently NPT occurs.

Because NPT is an indicator of quality sleep and the health of sexual organs, it is helpful to pay attention to how often NPT happens.

If NPT suddenly stops or is happening much less frequently, speak with a doctor. They may wish to discuss possible health conditions, such as sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, and ED.

It is important to see a doctor about a lack of NPT, as it can be a symptom of ED. This condition can indicate serious health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, especially in younger males. A health professional can help treat these conditions, including ED.

Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can make it more difficult for a person to get or maintain an erection. They may also cause a decrease or sudden stop in NPT. Some of these medications include:

  • high blood pressure medications
  • muscle relaxers
  • hormonal medications
  • seizure medications
  • antidepressants
  • histamine H2 agonists (which can help treat some types of ulcers)
  • chemotherapy drugs
  • medications to treat heart arrhythmias
  • diuretics

If a person has recently started a new medication and notices changes in the frequency of NPT, they may wish to speak with their doctor. Sometimes, the doctor can prescribe a different medication to help address this side effect.

See a doctor if NPT or erections in general are painful.

Seek emergency medical help for an erection that does not go away after 4 hours. If this occurs, it can cause tissue damage in the penis and problems with sexual function.

Summary

Morning wood is a healthy function of the male body.

A person should talk with their doctor if they notice a sudden change in the frequency of nighttime erections. This can ensure that a person receives prompt treatment for any underlying health conditions.

 

6 Facts About Vaginismus Doctors Want You To Know

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, three-quarters of people with vaginas will experience painful sex at some point. While the reasons vary — ovarian cysts, endometriosis, or not be sufficiently aroused can all cause painful sex — vaginismus is one little-talked-about condition that affects two out of every 1,000 people with a vagina in their lifetime. So why don’t more people know about it?

“Vaginismus is the involuntary contracture of the muscles surrounding the vagina essentially constricting the vaginal orifice, making it extremely difficult and painful to experience sexual intercourse,” Dr. Felice Gersh, M.D., an OB/GYN, founder and director of the Integrative Medical Group of Irvine, and author of PCOS SOS: A Gynecologist’s Lifeline To Naturally Restore Your Rhythms, Hormones and Happiness, tells Bustle. Vaginismus doesn’t just prevent intercourse — it can prevent the insertion of anything into the vagina, like a tampon or suppository.

Although vaginismus is treatable, embarrassment and stigma often keeps people from talking to their doctor about it. And that can have major repercussions.

“Some patients are unable to get pap smears because doctors cannot get the speculum into their vaginas,” Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, tells Bustle. It’s important to treat the underlying causes behind vaginismus in order to access care — but it’s hard to seek out treatment if you don’t know what you’re treating in the first place.

Here’s what no one tells you about vaginismus.

1. Vaginismus Isn’t Just Physical

Ashley Batz for Bustle

Although it may seem like vaginismus is mostly physical and biological, it’s more complicated than that.

“Most people don’t realize that vaginismus has biological [and] psychological aspects,” Dr. Anna Yam, PhD, a clinical psychologist who specializes in pelvic pain including vaginismus, and owner of Bloom Psychology, tells Bustle.

As Dr. Yam explains, vaginismus is similar to an eye blink in that the contraction of the muscles in the vagina are involuntary and usually triggered by “perception of a threat.” That threat being the fear of pain during intercourse, or when another object is inserted in the vagina.

“Biological muscle contraction is reinforced by the psychological fear, and vice-versa,” Dr. Yam says, creating a vicious cycle.

The factors that lead to vaginismus are a combination of biological, physical, psychological, and others that need more study.

2. It’s Common In People With Little Sexual Experience

For people who have either never had penetrative sex or have only had it a few times, fear of having painful sex can be amplified, leading to vaginismus. While there aren’t solid statistics around this association, Dr. Laurence Gerlis, a UK-based general practitioner, tells Bustle that the anxiety that comes with having little to no experience can set off the vaginismus, and in severe cases can prevent intercourse of any kind. It’s important to treat vaginismus by managing this underlying anxiety, the Mayo Clinic says.

3. It Can Interfere With One’s Social Life

Ashley Batz for Bustle

Whenever someone has a deep fear of anything — whether that’s a fear of spiders or of something more dangerous — it can keep them from living their life.

“Women with vaginismus might avoid dating and those who date often feel (internally or externally) pressured to resolve the issue in order to have penetrative sex,” Dr. Yam says. But while dating with vaginismus might be tricky, it’s not impossible.

As Dr. Yam explains, this fear can be the result of this pressure, especially in a society that puts so much emphasis on sex. In turn, it can lead to even more fear and anxiety.

“Social and emotional pressure is also perceived as a threat and can similarly interfere with treatment,” Dr. Yam says. That’s why it’s important to address it as soon as possible, before the pressure becomes too intense.

4. It Can Be Caused By Sexual Trauma

While for some people vaginismus is brought on by general anxiety that brings on the tightening of the muscles, for others, the contractions can be brought on as a result of sexual trauma.

“Many, but certainly not all, [people] with this condition have experienced sexual trauma at sometime during their lives,” Dr. Gersh says. Dr. Gerlis adds that emotional abuse, in addition to sexual abuse, can also play a role in developing vaginismus. Seeking out a therapist can help manage a person’s response to trauma.

5. It Can Interfere With Pregnancy

Pregnant woman in airplane chair. Belly of pregnant.

Shutterstock

Because of the stigma surrounding vaginismus, not enough people seek treatment. This causes not only living with pain, but in severe cases, according to Dr. Gerlis, it can make conception difficult. It can also create an unsafe pregnancy, as a 2019 study found. Of the 20 pregnant people with vaginismus in the study, only 50% reported going to follow-up visits during the duration of their pregnancy. Although regular doctor’s visits are necessary during pregnancy, what kept these people from visiting the doctor regularly was feelings of shame. The same study also found that 40% of these people had never consulted a doctor about their vaginismus.

If sex hurts, for any reason, it’s important to be open with your doctor so that you can treat the underlying issues.

6. It’s Very Treatable

Although having vaginismus may be hard to talk about for some, it’s absolutely treatable. According to Dr. Gersh, working with physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor musculoskeletal issues is a good place to start.

“Often just working with vaginal dilators and practicing relaxation techniques will easily resolve this condition,” Dr. Gersh says. “Sometimes anti-inflammatory vaginal suppositories or muscle relaxants are helpful.”

As is the case with any pain during sex, vaginismus can’t be diagnosed and treated without a doctor’s input. Fear of what might be “wrong” just stands in the way of people living a life without pain. And everyone deserves to live without pain.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.

 

 

Quarantine and chill: How New Yorkers are Mating and Dating during Coronavirus

In fair Corona, where we lay our scene, Juliet is prepping for a hot pandemic lockdown.

“Condoms, a bunch of sex toys . . . also, a mask — but not for coronavirus purposes,” says Mal, 41, reading off her quarantine shopping list.

The Lower East Sider, who declined to share her last name for privacy reasons, tells The Post that she has great sexpectations for the guy she’s been seeing during this viral outbreak. She thinks the next few weeks will be like those after the 9/11 attacks, when she and her then-boyfriend holed up in an apartment for several steamy days.

“We were stuck inside . . . and it was fantastic,” she says. “I felt safer with him.”

Coronavirus panic may be driving locals indoors, but it’s not killing their mojos. It just means they have to get craftier about canoodling — whether they’re single or partnered. That means setting up dates in less-crowded places (to gel with recommendations from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention), swapping face-to-face liaisons for sexy texts and cuffing a crush for a potentially lengthy quarantine.

Jason Lynn, 24, is trying to lock down his corona cling — fast.

“I’m working the DMs,” says the single financial adviser, who lives in North Jersey. “It’s been quiet . . . Everyone’s very cautious.”

But if his company tells him to work from home, he hopes to shack up with someone specific: a Connecticut girl he’s been seeing. Ideally, “in her place,” far away from the germy city.

“It would be heaven to be stuck with her for two weeks,” says Lynn, who’s been stocking up on protection of all kinds: disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and condoms. He’s envisioning Netflix and chill sessions — a “Narcos” binge watch with plenty of nooky interludes.

“I’d get to really know her,” he says.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers with long-distance lovers are trying to figure out how to connect.

Things are extra complicated for Westchester County resident Isabel Baer and her boyfriend Adam Konig, who works for Microsoft in Seattle, since both live in COVID-19 hotspots.

Enlarge ImageIsabel Baer and Adam Konig.
Isabel Baer and Adam Konig.Isabel Baer

“I was supposed to go visit him, but then we both got freaked out,” says Baer, 21, a former political campaign staffer. She and Konig, 23, have been together for a year and a half, and long-distance for eight months. “If domestic flights get cancelled for months, I’d be really upset.”

For now, they’re rerouting. This weekend, the two plan to spend their monthly visit in Konig’s hometown of Dallas.

“He’s nervous that I’m going to bring coronavirus to Dallas and be patient zero in Texas, but I don’t have symptoms and I’m not sick,” says Baer, who says they’ve been keeping the love alive through FaceTime. “I don’t want to get hysterical.”

Enlarge ImageIsabel Baer and Adam Konig.
Isabel Baer and Adam Konig.Isabel Baer

In the local swingers scene, people are mourning the unsexy side effects of crowd control.

“Play parties hosted at private venues or houses that me and my partners frequently visit have been empty the past two weeks,” says Tim, a technology firm executive who declined to share his last name for privacy reasons.

The 33-year-old from Hoboken, NJ, gets the reasoning — “I wouldn’t want to get anyone sick” — but says it’s “frustrating,” and says his dating life has been “significantly” impacted by the outbreak.

While some sex parties in the city are reportedly staying open — and incorporating “extra soap and sanitizer” into their gatherings — organizers of the regular “orgies” and “fetish parties” Tim attends have told him that “they might be cancelling the upcoming two months in advance,” he says. “They [don’t] want to continue until the whole scare dies down.”

Like Baer and Konig, Tim has a tech-centric backup plan for the worst-case scenario.

“I would look into video sessions with cam girls,” he says.

Going digital has emotional perks, too.

“There’s a sense that you’ve been speaking to someone longer, so you could invite them over because you kind of already know them,” says Mal.

As for married couples? Things are less lusty in that corner. The virus is causing friction between partners — and not the fun kind.

“I wanted to prepare as early as possible just to make sure we were covered, and my husband wasn’t being helpful,” Vanessa, a 30-year-old mom from Harlem, tells The Post. “He still gets annoyed at me when I tell him to wash his hands properly.”

But optimists like Mal hope that lovers will use the opportunity to reignite their relationships. In her case, she’s excited to take things to the next level with her hopeful corona cling. Although they’ve been on a few dates, they aren’t official, she says — but all the craziness has inspired her to have The Talk with him.

“We’re going to have that discussion soon,” she says, “because I’ll want to be quarantined at my place.”

 

 

11 Habits That Make Women Look Worse and Get Sick More Often

Since childhood, we are taught that drinking alcohol and using filthy words are bad habits. However, sometimes even routine everyday actions can have a bad impact on our health and body too. Moreover, those habits often disguise themselves as being healthy. For example, did you know that a relaxing bath with bubbles can be dangerous?

We at Bright Side got surprised at how seemingly harmless habits can affect our health negatively and we feel eager to share our discoveries with you.

11. Wearing nylon tights often

The frequent wearing of nylon tights and tight jeans can promote ingrown hairs on your legs and in the bikini zone. It all happens because the tight material prevents the hair from growing through the skin and instead it starts to grow inside it.

In order to avoid this, you need to regularly scrub and moisturize the skin, and wear cotton or bamboo fiber tights, instead of nylon ones. Cosmetic items sold in special shops can also help fight ingrown hairs.

10. Using a sponge for washing the dishes

Scientists calculated that 1 cubic cm of the dirtiest sponges contains about 50 billion microorganisms. They get on our hands and we then touch our bodies and faces, and as a result, provoke rashes and skin diseases.

Cleanse sponges with the help of boiling water or an alcohol solution. The best alternative is to buy an inexpensive jute sponge — it is 100% natural, decomposes fast, and lasts longer than an ordinary sponge.

9. Consuming a lot of soy products

The protein that soy contains can be a complete replacement for animal protein, while soybeans contain many vitamins that contribute to sustaining a healthy body. When consumed sensibly, soy products help decrease the risk of developing oncological diseases, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.

Still, we should keep in mind that consuming soy excessively can cause constipation, bloating, nausea, allergies, and a malfunction of the thyroid gland. If a mother overdoes it with the introduction of soy in her diet during pregnancy, she can harm the development of the child.

8. Wrapping your head in a towel after taking a shower

Using a towel for a long time creates a sauna-like effect. The scalp begins to secrete more fat, it gets dirty faster, and it becomes oily.

If you have dry or curly hair, we have an upsetting piece of news for you — a bath towel absorbs moisture and can overdry your hair. What to do? Replace the towel with a cotton piece of cloth or a T-shirt. Your hair will thank you for it.

7. Wiping your face with a towel

Many beauty-bloggers recommend replacing a terrycloth towel with a tissue, especially if you like to wipe your face after washing it or after taking a shower. It decreases the chances of traumatizing your freshly-steamed skin, which could cause wrinkles or micro-traumas.

Use tissues or an individual set of waffle towels by gently dabbing the water to dry your face.

6. Taking a bath with foam or bath bombs

It seems that there is nothing better than lying in a bubble bath or using a special bath bomb after a long workday. Unfortunately, they often contain dyes and fragrances that disrupt the acid-base balance of the microflora in your intimate zones.

That’s why it’s better to not take these baths too often and to choose bath cosmetics carefully, giving preference to the ones with a more natural composition. If the tag shows things like diethanolamine, triethanolamine, and ammonium laureth sulfate, it’s better to not buy and use these products.

5. Drinking bottled water

Some people prefer to drink bottled water, considering it to be more pure than tap water. However, bottled water is actually not subject to the same strict requirements as tap water. More than 50% of the water is still poured into the bottles from the tap, without additional cleaning, which can cause problems with your dental health.

That’s why it’s better to install a filter at home. It will help get rid of the unpleasant tastes and impurities that can get onto tap water due to the bad quality of water pipes.

4. Keeping cosmetics in the bathroom

Oftentimes, cosmetic items are kept in the bathroom. Due to the fluctuations of humidity and temperature, the expiration times of these products decreases and their consistency changes too. Moreover, the light that electrical bulbs emit can heat up and spoil the substances inside.

It is better to keep cosmetic items in a dark place like a drawer, for example, at a temperature between 50°F and 70°F.

3. Wearing flip-flops

When you wear flip-flops, your foot doesn’t have the normal support and this can lead to damage of tendons, pain, and arthritis of the ankle, knee, or thigh. When walking in flip-flops, your feet are constantly tense and this affects your posture and the condition of your joints.

Some flip-flops can be made of plastic that contains bisphenol A, which causes cancer. That’s why it’s better to give preference to more comfortable, better-quality footwear.

2. Dying your hair black

Many hair dyes contain paraphenylenediamine, which gives black and dark brown its tones. It can cause severe allergies, even coma, and the problem doesn’t necessarily appear right after the first dyeing. Dark pigments also have other poisonous elements. For example, coal tar provokes the development of cancer, while lead stays in the body and gets stored in the bones.

Pay special attention to the composition. Choosing hair dyes carefully can protect you from having health issues in the future.

1. Wearing long nails

It’s not for nothing that waitresses and nurses are forbidden to have long nails. Scientists have found that pathogens often accumulate under long nails coated with gel polish. There are more bacteria living under extended nails, than under natural ones.

The longer the nails are, the more complicated it is to clean the space between them and the skin during a regular hand wash. If you have these types of nails, wash your hands thoroughly and don’t forget about the zone under your nails.

What habits are you aware of that are damaging your health?

 

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DADS: Why Alcohol Gives You The Runs

Imagine this: You wake up at 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. Your head hurts. You suddenly have a flashback to the night before. You see yourself sidled up to a bar, downing pickleback after pickleback until you yourself are turning green. You have some regrets.

And then — just as you think the morning after effect can’t get worse — your stomach twists. You know it’s coming. You have the DADS — the Day After Drinking Shits.

Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, author of The Better Period Food Solution: Eat Your Way to a Lifetime of Healthier Cycles, explains that this is a common phenomenon. So common that there are even derogatory nicknames for it. DADS is a typical one, and then there’s rum bum, after grog bog, and, my personal favorite, the Milwaukee squirts.

“The body doesn’t appreciate being distracted from other essential tasks — like keeping your heart beating or your brain working — to have to metabolize seven White Claws in an hour, so these choices may come with some unwarranted and smelly side effects,” Beckerman explains. Here are a few of them.

How does alcohol change your poop? 

As it turns out, in many ways! For some people, drinking makes your bowel movements more runny, but others will get more constipated. Everyone’s digestion system responds differently based on their genetics, diet, stress levels, and gut integrity, she explains. But most people can assume there will be at least some changes.

“Alcohol has the capacity to affect the shape, form, and even the smell of your stool,” Beckerman explains. “Upon first sip, the body is trying to rid itself from alcohol ASAP.” With that said, not all poop problems after drinking are normal. If your irregular stool issues are persistent, you notice blood mixed in, or you have poop as black as the night, Beckerman recommends calling your doctor.

Can drinking give you diarrhea? 

Alcohol is a gastrointestinal irritant and increases gut motility, explains Hillary Cecere, RDN of Eat Clean Bro. “Irritation to the intestinal lining can result in less absorption, leading to diarrhea or softer stools,” she says.

Beckerman adds that alcohol has the ability to inhibit or temporarily “turn off” the antidiuretic hormone, or ADH, that tells our kidneys to conserve water. Without that hormone, you end up needing to urinate a lot, making you feel dehydrated and depleted in the morning.

“During the act of drinking, you can have bouts of diarrhea due to the influx of fluids being dumped into the body,” she adds. “Plus, alcohol has the power to impair muscles movements in the GI tract which can propel contents faster through the gut, which can lead to diarrhea as well.”

Can drinking constipate you? 

Beckerman says that some researchers believe that the higher the alcohol volume, the slower the movements in the bowel. Therefore, liquor (which is about 40 percent ABV) hits “the slow-mo button” on your poops, more so than beer or hard seltzer (which have about 5 percent ABV). “That’s why it’s more typical to have a sleepier and more sluggish colon in the morning — AKA constipation — with liquor,” Beckerman says.

Cecere adds that you should avoid mixing alcohol with energy drinks because caffeine is also a GI tract irritant.

Does DADS affect infrequent drinkers more? 

Not exactly, Cecere says. “Chronic drinkers often suffer from GI distress due to alcohol induced inflammation,” she says. “But, it’s not uncommon for people who don’t often drink alcohol to experience digestive issues after drinking. Some people just consider it part of the hangover.”

How can you stop DADS? 

There’s the obvious — drinking in moderation or not drinking at all.

Beckerman also recommends eating a substantial meal before drinking. You could try rice, crackers, pasta, or some other hearty carb. “This can delay the absorption of alcohol into the blood, which can mitigate DADS,” she says. She also suggests introducing more probiotic foods — such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, or kefir — into your diet three or four days before drinking.

“Drink water while drinking alcohol and take a multivitamin before drinking,” she adds.

 “This will help rebalance your electrolytes and water soluble vitamins that have been compromised during your bender.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

 

The Physiological Changes That Happen in Your Body When You Sleep With Someone New

Love affects your limbic system and reward centers

“You may also experience spikes in levels of dopamine, serotonin and adrenaline with a new partner,” Jess O’Reilly, author of The New Sex Bible and Astroglide’s resident sex expert, told Mic. “The resulting mood changes can include feelings of excitement, euphoria and even a natural high.”

A study from the journal Neuroscience found that animals choosing mates showed increases in oxytocin, the muscle contractor and blood pressure-raiser vasopressin and dopamine in the brain.

Neuropeptides are for lovers

Research published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology studied 58 subjects; some had recently fallen in love, some were single and some were in long-term relationships.

The subjects who’d recently fallen in love showed higher levels of nerve growth factor, which contributes to keeping your body’s systems steady and is full of seminal plasma, or sperm. This makes sense — when you’re in a new relationship, your body is perpetually ready to get laid.

You get sweaty palms like a big galoot

Trying to stay calm can, ironically, make you nervous or anxious. So when you’re flirting and have no idea if it’s working, your amygdala — where your emotions and emotional behavior live — kicks into gear.

What’s funny about this particular brain structure is that your amygdala controls elements of both fear and sex. Like Nicole He recently proved with a Tinder-swiping robot, your palms soften to indicate sweat gland activity when you see someone you find attractive. Nervousness raises the stimulation of a sweat gland thanks to your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system — but the same reaction occurs, at least physiologically, when you orgasm.

“We see activation in the amygdala, which increases heart rate and blood pressure and sweating,” neuroscientist Barry Komisaruk told Mic in October. It doesn’t even have to be the cartoonishly heavy sweat associated with sex.

But! Performance anxiety, and even pain, can kick back in

Not everyone has performance anxiety, or the brain’s rude-as-hell tendency to flounder and kill your flow in the bedroom, but it’s more common than you think.

In a study of 600 college students, women were half as likely to orgasm from oral sex or intercourse during a casual hookup than when in a serious relationship. The researchers said it probably stems from women feeling uncomfortable telling their hook-ups what they want during sex — and guys are often less focused on giving them what they want, anyway.

“You may experience performance pressure that results in inhibitions in the sexual response cycle, [like] vaginal pain, spasms or erectile dysfunction,” O’Reilly told Mic, adding that vaginismus, or spasmodic pain in the vagina, “may be related to anxiety which can increase with new partners and may decrease in a long-term relationship.”

In fact, a study from the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that the women with vaginismus had higher levels of anxiety and neuroticism and lower levels of extraversion than the control group.

Sex with a new partner can be both fun and intimidating — and hopefully not just the latter. But in any case, if you’re trying to make the experience great, here’s something physiology, biology and neurology won’t tell you to do: Ask questions and figure out what the other person likes. Don’t just mash buttons and hope for the best.

 

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