After you have sex, you might look over at your partner and notice they’re behaving differently from you. While this is not necessarily indicative of your genders, science suggests they might play a significant part.
Most people have preconceived notions, usually imposed upon them by TV shows and movies, that post-orgasm, women become clingy and talkative, while men just want to fall asleep. In fact, there are many more layers to what goes on in men’s and women’s bodies and minds post-climax that explain this common end result and debunk it.
An orgasm is a full body and mind experience and impacts the body similarly to a good bout of exercise. Your heart is pumping, you’re sweating toxins out of your pores, your mind becomes much clearer and, if it’s a good session, you’re flooded with endorphins. However, that rush of energy comes on like an intense roller coaster ride — it picks you up into the stratosphere, then drops you down over and over until your head is spinning. And while men and women both experience some of the same side effects of this ride, the changes in their respective hormones impact them very differently.
The orgasm itself
Physiologically speaking, male and female orgasms are actually quite similar. Both experience a series of contractions that reverberate throughout all the sexual organs, including the anus. That said, the length of the male orgasm versus the female orgasm is quite different. Even though men tend to climax more regularly during intercourse, men’s orgasms on the whole tend to be much shorter than women’s.
Both sexes enjoy a burst of ecstasy that floods the brain right after climaxing, but how they handle that joy is unique. Women usually want to bask in the after-climax glow and hold onto the fuzzy feelings sex often inspires in us. They want to bond with their partner rather than look for more bursts of joy, which is where that stereotype of cuddling and talking stems from. Essentially they are satiated, at least for now.
On the other hand, after a man climaxes, the addictive opioids that have been released from his limbic system make him search for another hit of joy, either from a cigarette or food or, oftentimes, sleep. While they have been satisfied by the experience, their testosterone levels make them crave more rather than allow them to settle into the moment.
Both sexes get a good dose of oxytocin, aka “the cuddle chemical,” which should encourage a sense of trust, affection and openness, but men (and some women) with higher testosterone levels tend to feel it less.
Sexual exhaustion is real
We all tend to feel a bit tired after a really good orgasm. That’s because our dopamine receptors were working on overdrive and are now tuckered out, which is reflected throughout the body. But this actually does more to men than make them unable to give it another go for at least 20 minutes. According to a 2003 study, it can actually desensitize them for up to a week.
This is unfortunate for women, because we’re often willing and able to go again almost immediately. Women are multi-orgasmic by nature, and sometimes that means if we’ve had only one during intercourse, we’re antsy for another, while our guy’s taking a necessary catnap. This is when it’s good to have your favorite vibrator on hand. Chances are, if you’re pleasuring yourself, he’ll suddenly wake up and feel inspired again.