It happened again. Everything was going just great, until your regular mainstream sex got into the picture, and a perfectly fine guy was ejected out of my life once more. I have, through the years of admittedly being a romance junkie, as well as relating to men both casually, long term and in marriage, become hypersensitive to what is in some circles known as the ‘passion cycle’. Passion Cycle, is an umbrella term for a syndrome of sorts, that happens after heated sex and peak orgasming; it’s likened to an orgasmic hangover. In order for me to make any sense in this post, a brief recap of some human physiology is needed.
As we work towards peak orgasm, there is a surge of dopamine release into our brain that can be compared to the effects of shooting heroin. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a hormone that is produced and released in our brain, and that helps control the reward and pleasure centers of our primitive brain. Dopamine helps regulate movement and emotional responses, and it enables us to see rewards and to take action to move towards these. Dopamine, or rather the surge and fall of it, is basically the culprit behind any pleasure seeking behaviours (aka addictions). We need dopamine for our mental health, but we need it in a healthy balance, and within merciful peaks and valleys of the dopamine feedback loop system.
A peak orgasm is a biological orgasm, which is essentially and biologically designed to impregnate a woman and fertilize her eggs to support human genetic evolution. Peak orgasming basically increases the chances of a man’s semen reaching a woman’s egg, by supporting the physiological processes involved in orgasming and eventual ejaculation. Peak orgasming, as we know, is incredibly heightened, often feels unreal and tense until the female and male climax and or ejaculation is reached…and then the amazing sensations experienced prior to and during the build up disappears, sometimes as fast as being washed over by a bucket of cold water. As our body works its way towards the orgasmic peak, dopamine is increasingly released and then majorly so just before climax. At climax, the release of dopamine is stopped and prolactin, previously blocked by dopamine, surges through our brain. Prolactin is commonly known as the hormone that supports lactation in mothers, however more recent studies are understanding that consistently high levels of prolactin in the brain are also responsible for an ongoing disinterest in sex, sexual dysfunction, headaches, menstrual irregularities, depression, hostility and or anxiety. The release of prolactin in orgasms is a rather individual event, and can occur in various ways, people who have multiple orgasms tend to have a later delivery of prolactin, and the amount released in general varies depending on the physiological make-up and state of the individual. It is not known for how long after orgasming that prolactin still has an affect on us, but it has been suggested that there may well be prolactin surges triggered by the body for about two weeks after a peak orgasm. In the animal kingdom, sexual biochemistry determines mating cycles and when females are on heat, however humans don’t adhere to any mating cycles, we tend to decide to override or rather (hu)manipulate our sexual biochemistry and have sex as we choose, despite a build up of brain chemistry disharmony.
Dopamine is generally thought of as a feel good hormone, but in high surges like the ones we see in orgasms and drug consumption, dopamine can cause a healthy sense of anticipating a reward into a must, a hunt or a craving, and cause anxiety, paranoia and feelings of desperation. To add to this daunting list, high levels of dopamine has the ability to overthrow our integral will to make healthy, loving and balanced choices for ourselves and literally supports us falling victim to fast and convenient relief from any type of emotional discomfort. High surges of dopamine, is the groundwork for addictions of any kind, and any kind of addiction is a behaviour that puts us in a state separate from our heart space, and separate from true intimacy with the people we love.
As large amounts of dopamine are released into the brain pre-orgasm, a negative feedback loop system is set into action to down-regulate dopamine stimulation and production, by shutting smaller dopamine receptors off until such time a hormonal equilibrium has been reached in the brain. The resulting drop in dopamine occurs over days, and can in this period cause anxiety, irritability, paranoia and depression. As dopamine is down-regulated and prolactin is dominating brain chemistry post orgasm for the following (as suggested) fortnight, we tend to self medicate our emotional slump or aggravation by seeking out activities that stimulate further dopamine surges. Activities such as over eating (sugar, salt and fat in particular), ingesting stimulants, drug use, alcohol consumption, over consumerism, promiscuous or uncharacteristic behaviour, masturbation, gambling, internet, and media overuse, can all cause dopamine surges and give us a false sense of short-term reward and well-being. The problem is, if we turn to this form of self medicating to lift our mood whilst our dopamine is already out of whack, our body will continue to dopamine down-regulate by turning more dopamine receptors off. It’s a downward spiral.
The imbalance of dopamine and ongoing affect of prolactin within our brain post orgasm, are responsible for a curtain of emotional illusions where sexual partners embark on a separatist journey of doom and gloom. As we experience this hormonal disharmony, our brain chemistry can cause serious havoc to our emotional world. Some people experience a greater sense of lack, and thus become codependent on their lover for making them feel good, almost demanding their attention, affection and intimacy for selfish needs. Others develop an unhealthy need for separation and isolation from their partner, feeling deterred by intimacy and any emotional relating. In general, emotions related to mood swings, poor confidence, anger issues, frustration, and critical thinking about the lover’s personality, actions and even critical judgements on how they look, tend to roam freely within both partners minds for the duration of the passion cycle (approximately two weeks). It is in this period, that couples often become insecure about their relationship and feel that there are issues with trust and loyalty, and it is in the very trough of the passion cycle, towards the end of the second week, that most unloving and separatist decisions thus actions of human-beings are made. It is in the passion cycle where most separations and divorces eventually happen (as supported by various texts), as the perfect groundwork is set up by the consequences of brain chemistry imbalances, inducing relationship disharmony and emotional suffering. In Vedic and ancient Chinese texts, correlations are frequently made between peak orgasms (the loss of vital fluids) and violence and criminality. Now that may be a rather ancient way of looking at regular human behaviour, however it does point towards an ancient understood connection between orgasm and uncharacteristic or imbalanced behaviours.
Because sexual climax feels damn good, albeit for a very short time, the part of our brain, the amygdala, that registers painful emotional experiences and relays this to our subconscious, does not see any harm in peak orgasming. However, it does register the painful consequences of the passion cycle, and as a result hints to us that intimacy with partners is emotionally painful. So the situation we have here, post orgasm, and due to our body’s biological desire to procreate and evolve, is a sexual brain chemistry and a form of monkey brain information processing, that is doing everything by the book to stuff up heart-based relating and relationships. If we were to go by the two week period it possibly takes for our brain chemistry to return to a healthy equilibrium post orgasm, and take into account that many of us in that time period will reach for before mentioned dopamine self-medicating, as well as orgasming with masturbation and or having further orgasmic sex, it becomes incredibly clear how the larger part of the human race is hooked into a skewed brain chemistry fag for the most part of a life time. It also opens up an avenue for thought, as to whether the passion cycle is the culprit for the increased emotional separation between the male and the female that is currently rampant in our Western society. It makes one wonder (I hope), whether our social and cultural matrix is using this exact phenomenon consciously, by promoting hot sex and sexuality, alcohol, stimulants, fast food consumption and needless consumerism, simply to keep the human race comfortably in a state of ignus fatuus (literally) due to self imposed (ah the free will) brain disharmony and consequent spiritual death.
If we come back to the orgasmic climax, knowing that prolactin takes over after dopamine stops being released, one can easily with the above mentioned information put two and two together. The sexual biochemistry of our primitive brain is designed to keep us mating with new partners in order to increase the chances of a genetic jackpot. The crux is, we are not biological beings designed to mindlessly fornicate and procreate as such, we are human beings; spiritual beings with enormous heart centers who also are able to procreate. Clearly, when people truly connect and build the basis of their relationship from their heart centers, this connection will hold partners together despite the practice of mainstream sex…for a while or some years, before one or another thing tend to fizzle out of the relationship and becomes an accepted void, if not the cause for separation. Usually and unfortunately it is often true loving intimacy that gets affected. There is a reason why our society has common terms in its language such as ‘honey moon period’, ‘the three golden years’ and ‘everything was wonderful until sex happened’. There is also a reason why Hollywood’s glamorous idea of romance, sex and happily ever after, clearly is not conveyed onto our mere mortals’ lives, and subconsciously makes us feel like bigger misfits in the relationship arena than what we already are. Let me point out once again, the reason for this is a biological sexual brain fag, and the culprit is the ever so promoted mainstream hot sex and peak orgasming.
In traditional Chinese medicine as well as the Vedas, it is well known that overstimulating the genitals can cause many different kinds of issues to do with the kidney meridians. As a Naturopath I can attest to this and ramble of just a handful of obvious conditions triggered by ‘the overheating of genitals’ such as: herpes, thrush, pelvic inflammatory disease, menstrual irregularities, premature onset of menopause, Peyronie’s, dysbiosis and dyspareunia. Those conditions there are in reality enough to encourage anyone really to look at mainstream sex differently, and strive for a better solution of intimate and sensual connecting.
NEWS FLASH: Our current ‘manuals’ on sexual intimacy need to be scrapped, we have been misinformed if not misled by current society. True sexual communion is not about biological sex and making babies (although it comes in handy if one wants babies), in which case sex should not be about seminal and female ejaculation, thus sexual communion and intimacy is not about the constant achieving of peak orgasms, fast sex and frequent multiple partners.
The term Tantric Sex may seem a little intimidating and as if one needs to become an expert of sorts in order to properly practice it. I am feeling quite comfortable in saying that this is not the case at all. Sexual intimacy, either way is intuitive, and although there are techniques for both men and women to bypass climax (rather not even climb that mountain), provided one approaches sexual intimacy from the heart space and not from motivational genital stimulation, we are pretty much half way there. There are many ancient and modern texts with various degrees of perspectives on mainstream sex and peak orgasming, Kamashastra and the Gita are probably the most ancient sources of information, but the mystic Osho and Author Marnia Robinson have a lot of incredibly ‘hitting the core’ provoking information on the subject, and I highly recommend their material. In short, sexual communion is about sharing sexual healing with a monogamous partner (at the time being or forever), where partners can together create a safe and loving environment for incredibly deep healing, heart opening work, kundalini activation and circulation, as well as chakra clearing and maintenance, and it can even be taken as far as the enlightenment of the human consciousness. I am known for saying that enlightenment cannot be attained from reading books, repeating mantras and practice certain meditations, but that it requires an intentional collaboration of one’s mind, ego, and higher self with a willingness to consciously approach one’s life experience, in order to get there. Having said that, when it comes to practicing non-orgasmic sex safely with a partner, based on the research I have done lately on the subject, because of the polarised communion of a loving couple and the resulting healing activation of the heart-space involved, I am prepared to put my bottom dollar that proper use of tantra can lead to enlightenment of the entire human race. And this exact topic can be further read about in Gnosticism and is also referred to as forbidden knowledge. Connecting fully to our heart center is the instigator of sage-like (but not necessarily celibate) living, and this from a place of authenticity and altruism and not from mental effort. One simply cannot make decisions about one’s life through the heart center, and make bad decisions for the greater good of our World; it’s impossible.
So coming back to my own experience, after yet another romantic failure, I was recognising the downward spiral and the typical escape tactics engaged by both lover and I within the two week period of the passion cycle. I knew that if I continued on this path of seeking connection with men in the ‘wrong’ places and in the ‘wrong’ way, whether short term or long term, my heart would build up walls so high and thick that no other man could ever be given entrance to know me truly intimately. I caught myself, on many occasions, contemplating on whether a same sex relationship may perhaps be better suited for me and less painful. I realised that whatever it was that I was craving and that only another partner could help me provide, I wasn’t going about attaining it holistically. It was probably at this point that I realised that I was a romance junkie. It occurred to me that my entire life (including my past marriage) I have managed to pick lovers that either physically lived very far away from me or had other commitments that caused them to not be able to dedicate quality time with me. It became clear to me that although I craved connection, intimacy and other-worldly sexual communion with the male, I subconsciously but consciously selected lovers with very common traits; they were all emotionally unavailable. I am thinking I did this, because past love relating had taught me that sex is great but emotional connecting is painful, and somehow I must have thought that I could get around the problem by choosing momentarily available but unavailable lovers. Clearly this seemingly clever approach was not working, because I am at heart a loving and caring person, and I automatically deeply connect with people I have chemistry with, and so I was instead continuously left with really painful emotional experiences of being and feeling utterly rejected (and all other weird insecurities that got triggered by rejection) by men.
I had now reached a complete T-junction in my desire to romantically connect with a man. The thought of getting involved with another, almost brought on the taste of metal in my mouth as my amygdala and subconscious reminded me about the associated emotional roller-coaster, feelings of rejection, unrequited love and other pain. My dream of meeting that special person, the one I could do authentic, deep but safe spiritual work with was falling apart, a bit like molecules that no longer sonically stick together by a strong-force. I was doubting that there would in fact ever be someone in my life, but myself, that I could relate deeply with.
I am not sure how, but when I reach a T-junction in life, and I have truly understood that a change needs to be had, information simply presents itself to me. It comes up from the depths and lays there before me, waiting for me to notice it. In this case I was listening to harmonics on youtube and in the feed was a gnostic documentary about the Garden of Eden, and of course I clicked on said documentary and was lost in that rabbit hole for over an hour. Without having to go further into that story, this documentary triggered my thinking in a major way and it became very clear to me that the human race has been relating sexually from a biological perspective all this time, when we should only really have sex that way for the sake of procreating, and that (surprise surprise) there are other much more beneficial and pleasurable ways of sexually connecting with our partners. From there on, I have had my nose in Kamasutra, Kamashastra, Osho’s work, texts on Tantra and the best by far Marnia Robinson’s book, ‘Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow’, whose context this post is mainly based on.
It wasn’t without fear and my heart beating loudly in my chest, that I realised I could no longer lie to myself after having informed myself to this extent. I, who absolutely loved sexual intimacy and men, was now looking down the path of celibacy, because lets face it, a forty-one year old, divorced single mum living in a remote town of three thousand (at its best) inhabitants, wasn’t exactly going to find a suited tantric lover in a heartbeat. Yet I decided that in order for me to continue my path of introspection and self-analysis, I needed to make a commitment to a different way of doing love relating and in this process, trust that when the time is right the person who is prepared to do deep work with me, shall appear. This divine time, shall most likely also be the first time I hand over a book to read to my potential lover, as a prerequisite to being intimate with me. So weird.
It would be sacrilegious to wrap this very long article up without having briefly mentioned that there is another form of orgasm that is not a peak orgasm, and that doesn’t cause surges and falls in dopamine and prolactin. This orgasm is called the valley orgasm, not to be mistaken by the current hype body orgasm. Here is a good place to mention that even various texts on Tantra has got misconceptions, and information has often been misunderstood or missed out completely in Western interpretations. Anything that causes a climax of any kind whether it is felt in the genitals or in the whole body, and regardless of whether penetration was used or not, is a peak orgasm, and will result in an orgasmic hangover albeit at different intensities. However, if sexual connection or communion is shared and transgressed into deep relaxation and meditation, whilst still being in union, and without peaking, not even a flutter, and the sexual connection flows into a natural state of completion, one achieves a valley orgasm. The brilliant thing about valley orgasms is that although you may not feel it straight away, it puts you in a state of bliss later on and for days. The energy generated from a valley orgasm can come and go, but when it reminds itself of its presence, trust me, it is better than sex. I don’t know how I managed to achieve a valley orgasm, because I have been celibate (no sex and no self pleasuring) for a little while now. Having said that, I did put it out there that I wanted to know what a valley orgasm felt like, as I couldn’t find much information on it that could give me any mental relief that I would in fact be ok making this crazy commitment. So perhaps it was a combination of kundalini meditation, connecting with Nature, my ashtanga yoga practice, the fact that I was ovulating and that I am sensual by nature, that my wish was bestowed upon me; I knew because one day the energy came over me and there was no mistaking it. For days my whole body was buzzing, and any pressure on the palms of my hands felt thrilling, but quietly so in a very loving and centered way. The soles of my feet were sensually absorbing both sound and pressure from the ground I walked on, and I could feel a sensual tension up my legs and through the lower energy centers of my body and all the way up through my heart and higher energy centers. I could feel a sensation on my neck and at the back of my arms. I was in ongoing and perpetual bliss for days without any lust, and better yet the sensation has returned since. Sounds like I am on drugs right? No, I am just charged with the better type of sexual energy and subsequent altruistic brain chemistry, it is free, and we all have access to it. Although I have had this experience whilst celibate, I don’t believe long term celibacy is the answer for the average human, in fact I think celibacy can be detrimental to one’s health on all dimensions unless one understands perfectly how to maintain and circulate kundalini/sexual energy. However, right now, and for the time being, I have through intentional practice and body work, managed to circulate sexual energy within me, and as a result I am now really keen (and a little nervous but in a good way) to experience the journey of exploring the shift from a mainstream sexual paradigm to one of spiritual alignment, with a partner.
If you are in partnership and reading this, even if you may think I and the information I write is absurd, I urge you to put that aside and try this out. You have nothing to lose, only something very meaningful to gain. If you are single, I still urge you to inform yourself further on the subject, there are ways of maintaining and circulating sexual energy whilst celibate, furthermore one is more likely to attract a serious partner as a result of committing to Self, as well as increasing one’s sexual magnetism whilst abstaining from peak orgasm and the passion cycle. Bonus.
May our ways of connecting to each other return to that of pure love.