Orgasms and alcohol influence pillow talk

July 3, 2014

Orgasms aren't just good for your sexual relationship; they may also promote good communication. Results of a new study published in the latest edition of Communication Monographs reveal that in the aftermath of having experienced an orgasm, people are more likely to share important information with their partners. And, that communication is likely to be positive.

"Post-coital communication is likely linked to sexual and relationship satisfaction," said Amanda Denes, Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut, and lead author of the study. "For this reason, pillow talk may play a in maintaining intimacy."

Oxytocin, a "pro-social" hormone, floods a person's brain immediately after . Elevated levels of oxytocin are linked with a greater sense of trust and reduced perceptions of threat, in addition to lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. This combination may create an environment in which people feel safe disclosing information to their partner.

Conversely, and contrary to popular belief, mixing alcohol with sex is unlikely to lead individuals to divulge more of their important secrets. Immediately following sex, people who have been drinking are likely to say things to their partner that they hadn't intended to disclose, but their pillow talk consists of less important information and is less positive than that of people who drink less on average.

"Oxytocin is an 'upper' and alcohol is a 'downer,' so it's not surprising that they have opposite effects on behavior," said Tamara Afifi, Professor at the University of Iowa, and co-author of the study. "People who drink more alcohol on average perceive fewer benefits to disclosing information to their partners."

Alcohol combined with failing to have an orgasm results in even more negativity. The study suggests both that orgasm may counteract the negative effects of on communication after sexual activity and that people who regularly drink greater amounts of before having sex may have developed communication patterns that interfere with positive post-sex communication.

Explore further: The science of pillow talk

More information: "Pillow Talk and Cognitive Decision-making Processes: Exploring the Influence of Orgasm and Alcohol on Communication after Sexual Activity." DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2014.926377. Authors: Amanda Denes & Tamara D. Afifi. Published in Communication Monographs, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03637751.2014.926377

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