Think the topic of chemistry is only for fans of The Big Bang Theory? Turns out there’s quite a bit of chemistry involved in sex — aside from the chemistry between partners.
Chemistry has changed our sex lives in ways that we may not even know about, according to a new video from the American Chemical Society.
Condoms, and the latex in them, made safe sex more accessible than ever. Latex is a polymer that makes up condoms, which provide a cheap way to enjoy safe sex. Even the lubricants available on the market are made up of important chemicals that can make for a good time. Lubricants that are water, silicone based can help the condom from breaking.
But be careful with oil lubricants if you use condoms, as a chemical reaction between petroleum or oil-based lubricants can eat latex.
There’s another chemical wonder happening when you use warming lubricants, too. The process of thermoception creates a warming effect on skin, which can make sex even more arousing. What does it? The glycerol helps create the sensation, and other warming ingredients can do the same. (Did you know that some warming lubricants contain capsaicin from hot peppers, which makes things pretty spicy in the bedroom — and anywhere else it is used.)
Birth control is another area of sex that has been possible with chemistry. Synthetic options such as Plan B involve the binding of levonorgestrel, which binds the same proteins such as estradiol with progesterone to impair the egg fertilization and development process.
Progestin, the synthetic form of the body’s hormone progesterone, when combined with estrogen helps to control the menstrual cycle and egg release.
Chemistry is also involved before sexual contact begins. The brain stem sends the neurotransmitter dopamine to our reward systems such as the ventral striatum, the amygdala, the hypothalamus, the septum and the olfactory tubercle. These areas play a critical role in our sexual desire. Likewise, when the act is all done, the hormone oxytocin can leave us with lingering good feelings that (hopefully) translate into more great sex.