Why is sex so enjoyable?

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Huntn, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Huntn macrumors G5


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    My impression is that most mammals function in a like matter. We know or should know that sexual climax releases endorphins, a natural high. The act and climax along with intimacy is highly desired by most of us. But in a pinch climax is enough. ;) Evidence is that most people engage in sex on most occasions for enjoyment, not procreation, but the official reason is that "nature" induces us to engage in sex for the purpose of procreation and continutaion of the species.

    We also know that humans are attracted to the opposite gender based on appearance we call "sexy", but are also known to help the species procreate and be successful. There for a certain proportion in women, including child bearing hips that without thinking about it, men find desirable. Strong virile or men who have personal wealth has traditionally been a desirable trait women look for to have strong healthy children, or to ensure their personal security during child raising years. I've noted that the latter (possession of wealth) may be reversing genders as more women become the bread winners of the family and instead of having a biological basis is probably just cultural common sense. ;)

    How did these characteristics become part of our make up? Do animals engage in sex because they know they are procreating or are they just being lured by the pleasure of sex? It can be argued that without this incentive, most mammals are not thinking about procreating, and would not engage in such activity just for that purpose (procreation), or would they? So the question is wow did these mechanisms get established in organisms?

    I have no idea. I know what is. I just don't know how such things developed. Any biologists on the forum who'd care to comment? Here's an interesting article about Why We Have Sex at Psychology Today.

    Enjoy! :D
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
  3. skunk macrumors G4


    Jun 29, 2002
    Republic of Ukistan
    You haven't been out much, have you? :p
  4. Mac'nCheese macrumors 68030


    Feb 9, 2010
    I read a sci-fi short story a while back about Aliens who felt intense pain if they didn't have sex. So sex to them was a relief to the pain but not enjoyable. It worked for them.
  5. Grey Beard macrumors 65816

    Grey Beard

    Sep 10, 2005
    The Antipodes.
    I'm well and truly out, and I'd say it depended on the lubricant:D

  6. JetBlack7 macrumors 68000


    May 14, 2011
    Sex is the act of intimacy and ecstasy during intercourse that leads to orgasm which releases endorphins in order for a human to reduce stress and improve pleasure.

    I find sex quite enjoyable when you focus on pleasure rather than an act to procreate. Touching and feeling a woman's body while you're penetrating her body is quite erotic, and hearing her moan is quite satisfying as well.

    The whole concept of proximity and intimacy during the act might be enough for a man to become aroused and in the mood.

    Don't you agree?
  7. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    If nature didn't make it that way then there would be no incentive for procreating and we would cease to exist.
  8. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
  9. PracticalMac macrumors 68030


    Jan 22, 2009
    Houston, TX
    How else can one (ehm) penetrate the gossip ring females have and actually talk with someone of opposite sex???

    Just sayin :rolleyes:
  10. iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Jul 8, 2006
  11. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I cannot open the link you have provided. It timed out, twice. Could you perhaps, provide another?

    I'm not even sure that I understand what I think you are trying to say......

    Before I throw out a few thoughts, I have a question, which is (reading the thread so far), are we discussing mainly male sexual pleasure, or sexual enjoyment in general?

    The general consensus seems to be that - from a biologically determinative perspective - sex is made to be pleasurable so that people want to do it; this means that crude calculations of the considerable cost of childbirth and child bearing (time, and resources, and emotional commitment, especially for the female), are often put aside - cast aside indeed - during sexual attraction, sexual arousal, and sexual activity.

    If it wasn't made to be quite so pleasurable, and we engaged our brains instead, many (especially in the western world) might choose to behave otherwise. The provision of safe, reliable and affordable birth control increasingly allows women to do so, as, for the first time in history, for women, the old nexus between sexual activity and pregnancy is now severed. This particular equation was never quite so compelling for men for whom both sides of that equation - sexual activity, and having to bear the responsibility and cost of the possible consequences - were often separated.

    However, if we are taking the biologically determinative route, I think it goes deeper than the old compulsion to have sex, and, as a consequence, procreate.

    Actually, in resource terms (time, energy, cost), sexual reproduction is actually quite expensive - across nature - for both genders. Just think of elaborate feathers, antlers, colours, dances, displays, all often designed by males to attract females, and very, very resource costly; for females, the cost in resources comes later, during and after pregnancy.

    Sexual reproduction is not the only form of reproduction. Many more primitive life forms use asexual reproduction, where, in essence, they clone themselves. In a lot of ways, this is cheaper, easier, and, possibly safer, as less, genetically, may be likely to go wrong if replicating ourselves.

    This begs the question of why head down the road of costly and resource consuming sexual reproduction, rather than simply replicate yourself, and save the time and energy of growing antlers, fighting off competition, and getting pregnant, and the answer lies in the potential for variety (and thus future potential for evolutionary adaptation) provided by sexual selection and reproduction. Thus, because each generation has a different gene pool than the previous one, the species has the potential to adapt and change, and thus possibly, a greater chance at survival in the face of a constantly changing environment.
  12. Renzatic Suspended


    Aug 3, 2011
    Gramps, what the hell am I paying you for?
    I could think of few things worse than randomly spawning a near duplicate of yourself as a means of procreation.

    I mean...I'm a bastard. I wouldn't want to hang out with me, let alone raise me. I'd eat all my food and selfishly hog all my stuff. And what happens when my spawn has a near duplicate spawn of his own? It'd be like a plague of cocky locusts who aren't nearly as cool as they think they are.
  13. juanm macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    My wife says it's not enjoyable. End of discussion.
  14. Peterkro macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2004
    Communard de Londres
    That's not what she told me.:)
  15. juanm macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    I was expecting a "you're holding it wrong", on an Apple board :p
  16. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    This is one of my points. If procreation was the only reason to have sex and not be a pleasurable act, we as a species most likely would not survive. This puts the traditional Christian Church view of sex as being dirty as really misguided although that is not my focus of this thread.

    I really don't think that most lower animals think about procreation, they just get an urge to do it. So from a biological standpoint how did this develop? As I am not a biologist, this is just speculation, how about evolution? In early development l'll speculate that those organisms that got the right kind of feelings for sex, where the ones who proliferated.

    Right, what is this nature that designed animals with the urge to procreate? I tend to resist the idea of Intelligent Design, but can't rule it out completely. On a side note, the theory, as we know nothing about it, has no place in the science class room.

    It's the only link I have and is functional for me. :(

    I'm asking from a biological standpoint, do we know how this mechanism (sex=pleasure) developed? I do believe that as a species who has reached our level, we can make an intellectual decision that sex is required to have a family, and many (most?) of us want to have families. (More biological wiring) but you can see that many of us don't and we are not having familes for the good of the species, just to please ourselves. All well and good from our perspective as the most advanced species on the planet. But without intellect (most mammals), the attraction has to be something else, which I would identify as physical pleasure. I'm very interested from a biological standpoint if we can explain it. Yes we know how it is, but do we know why?

    Thanks for your perspective. It seems interesting to me that of all the things we do, sex provides the primary natural high. We know it is, like we know gravity exists, but sorry for repeating myself, do we know why? If I am to grab at something of an explanation, evolution would have to be involved in some manner. BTW, in my prime running days, on occasion I could achieve a runners high, not the same, not as intense, but a similar feeling as one gets from sex.


    Enlightening! :p
  17. skippymac macrumors 6502a


    Jun 9, 2010
    Hampshire, UK
    Natural selection.

    If an animal doesn't enjoy it, it doesn't do it (pardon the pun), and it's genes aren't passed on. The one who does enjoy it's genes are passed on and its offspring therefore enjoy it too.

    If you're looking for a more chemistry based reason, I can't help you, but I imagine it has something to do with endorphines.
  18. VulchR macrumors 68000


    Jun 8, 2009
    I am a neuroscientist who works on the 'reward system', so I do have some relevant things to say.

    First, in rats sex releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter) into the the striatum (a part of the basal ganglia), just like food when the organism is hungry, water when the organism is thirsty, addictive drugs, and addictive direct stimulation of brain reward circuits. There is a lot of debate about the function of the released dopamine, be it seems to be involved in learning, habit formation, 'wanting' and it humans seems to be correlated with subjective feelings of exhilaration, pleasure and contentment. It is easy to think of dopamine as the brain's common currency for reward. In human brain scanning studies during sex, the same systems seem to be activated during sex as in rats (let's keep the jokes about human male sexuality to minimum; and yes controls for females 'faking it' were employed). Indeed, verbal reports from somebody with electrodes placed in the dopamine system reported an orgasmic experience when the electrode was stimulated with electricity. So in the mammals studied so far, they tend to do things that make them feel good (which correlates with dopamine neurotransmission).

    Second, in rats the dopamine released by sex is dependent on mate strategy. In male rats the dopamine system habituates to sex with the same female rat but responds to sex with novel female rats (the 'Coolidge effect'). In female rats, the dopamine system responds more to sex than male rats, but only under conditions in which the female selects the time of mating. It seems as the dopamine system is tuned to the evolutionary strategies of males and females: Males, with low paternal investment in offspring, can best pass their genes on to the next generation by mating with a variety of females. Females, which have high maternal investment, will best pass their genes on to the next generation by carefully selecting a 'fit' mate. Thus the dopamine system aligns with the evolutionary strategy of the two sexes in rats: promiscuity for males, careful mate selection for females.

    Third, humans are much more social than rats and other mammals. I suspect sex in humans has as much to due with mate bonding as it does with pro-creation. Because our kids take so long to grow, their is an evolutionary advantage to pair bonding for both males and females. Of course, the pair bonding is hardly perfect and it is open to exploitation - a shockingly high proportion of kids born to couples in long term relationship have fathers outwith the couple....
  19. Andeavor macrumors 6502

    Aug 19, 2010
    Is your wife turned on?
  20. vpro macrumors 65816


    Jun 8, 2012
    i like....

    I like crème brûlée... Mmmmmmm...
  21. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Great info, but my caveat is that we know it happens and chemical reactions, but the question is why? Is that answer speculative?

    This may sound stupid, but is the answer simple evolution, the organisms that got the special feelings associated with sex, procreated more and dominated the DNA pool making it the norm?

    And this will be the second time I've brought up Intelligent Design, which I am not selling (I'm Agnostic), but I can see how it's all most easier to think something smart had a hand in biological development and said "these animals are just not smart enough to procreate without some incentive..." ;) Seriously, because we have more evidence pointing at evolution than at intelligent design, I think the former if there is an adequate answer is the better answer for now.
  22. dime21 macrumors 6502

    Dec 9, 2010
    Doesn't seem too tricky to answer. Sex is enjoyable for the same reason that eating food is enjoyable. It is instinctive behavior that ensures survival. If a population does not eat, it dies out. If a population does not procreate, it dies out.

    Speaking of which, this has become a problem in recent decades in several developed countries. Japan and Italy are two very notable examples, where the death rate is exceeding the replacement rate. People simply aren't having enough children to maintain the population in those two countries.
  23. Huntn thread starter macrumors G5


    May 5, 2008
    The Misty Mountains
    Too expensive, time consuming, and fun killing to raise kids. ;)

    Maybe eating and sex operate on the same level, but I question that. When you get hungry, your body needs sustenance, you feel good when you get food in your belly. However sex happens not because you need it (you are starving) but because you have been designed with hormone based urges and sexual organs who beg to be used. If you see the difference, you can go your entire life and not have sex and while there is evidence there are some health negatives associated with abstinence, it is not required to stay alive like eating is.
  24. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    Actually, I'd agree with this. In order for sex to be enjoyable, it needs to be about both people. Otherwise it's just a chore (usually for the woman, but not in all circumstances).

    Find out what does it for your wife both in (and out) of the bedroom. It could be that helping out around the house (cooking, cleaning, laundry) does it for her. Then there are, um, other things that you could do in the bedroom to help her get in the mood. I've only been married 8 years (longer than some, well short of others), but this has led to a better than average sex life for me. From what my wife has briefly let onto, some of her friends' husbands aren't nearly as lucky. :)

    At some level, my wife and I would consider that a need. Also, humans have a need for physical contact and intimacy on some level. Often times physical intimacy = sex.
  25. juanm macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161

    You do know I was joking, right?

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