The Chemistry of Love

Link to the Episode

Seema Anand: Sex is extremely good for you physically. It’s about raising certain shaktis, raising certain energies inside you. And those energies power your nerve endings. And that’s what leads to better health.

Anshu Bahanda: Welcome back to the best of Wellness Curated, where we peel off the layers on the most relevant themes for your well-being. Today we’re going to be discussing an incredible topic. We’re going to be talking about the thrilling intersection where science meets, well, actually, the bedroom. We’re going to be discussing sex. I’m your host, Anshu Bahanda, and before I carry on, can I please request you to subscribe to this page and to follow us on all the podcasting channels for wellness curated so that we can carry on and get you amazing speakers for free. We’re going to unravel the mysteries of attraction and decode the chemistry of love. All this while keeping your clothes on. 

So let’s look into the biochemical symphony that plays out in our bodies. Imagine this busy coffee shop and Serena and Dia, two individuals, are there separately getting their coffee. So Serena orders herself a hot cafe latte and she looks across the room and she spots Dia. Now their eyes meet and sparks fly. Now, is this fate or is this something more scientific? Let’s see what science has to say about this.

There’s something called pheromones, which are these sneaky little chemicals which are released in our sweat. And these chemicals, even though they’re not seen by the eye, these pheromones dance in the air. And this is how the science of attraction comes about. So pheromones are actually the matchmakers of the molecular world, much like the Sima aunties who are the matchmakers in today’s day and age. And they signal compatibility and attraction. It’s not all just raw chemistry. Our responses to pheromone are actually influenced by our backgrounds, our preferences and also our personal experiences. It’s a complex dance between nature and nurture. So this concept of love at first sight, it could actually just be smell at first sight. When you look into how our brain reacts, let’s see what happens. The brain releases dopamine, which is the reward chemical. And that’s the chemical that’s released when you eat, say, a favourite food or you do well in an exam or you get an award. And that’s why we want to be in the presence of the person we’re attracted to. And then the body releases oxytocin. Now, oxytocin is the love hormone or the cuddle hormone. And that’s released when we kiss someone or when we hug somebody or it’s released during an orgasm or even in deep connection. So that brings us to the topic of sex and intimacy. Can sex exist without intimacy? Can intimacy exist without sex? And we discussed this with doctor Anvita Madan. Here goes.

How would you define the difference between sex and intimacy?

Anvita Madan-Bahel: It’s a good question because when people come in with sexual problems, we rarely start by asking them to work on the sexual behaviour between two people. What we start is with them working on intimacy. So if we had to think about building blocks, intimacy is the first building block in some ways, it’s the massive foundation in a relationship. Any relationship requires us to be vulnerable with our partner. And so that intimacy allows that. We feel like, okay, we can be emotionally, physically, sexually naked with this person and feel safe about it, right? So there’s that intimacy there. So sex could be anything but more. I see sex more as a physical behaviour, or actions, versus intimacy is more of building a safe relationship and trusting relationship. People think intimacy is just, you know, it’s just warmth or affection or something, but you really need to work on it. You need to make a conscious effort to bring intimacy back. You know, it might be the small touches, it might be the small words, it might be big discussions, it could be things. But it is about reigniting what might have got lost. And I, at some level, feel maybe having sex one off might be easier, but actually bringing intimacy might be really much tougher in some ways.

AB: Doctor Madan’s talked very insightfully about the difference between intimacy and sex. Human relationships can be so complex. Vasopressin and oxytocin are released and these bring out feelings of love and encourage couples to stay together for longer. A healthy sex life reduces stress, it alleviates anxiety, it gives you self confidence, but it also boosts your immune system. Of course, Dr Madan did point out that sex is a very important part of a relationship. 

AM-B: Sex is amazing, sex is… So I’m not coming from it from a moral perspective, and I think we’re all sexual beings. There’s a reason that we were created in a certain way and we had hormones and bodies and, you know, all of it, so that we were meant to have sex. But what we’ve also learned is that people’s relationship with sex is very different. Some want to have, and some want to have loads of it and have very high libidos and some kind of feel like asexual. They don’t want to have sex at all. So there’s just so much diversity there that I think it’s a personal relationship, your personal relationship with what your sexual identity is and what you like about it. What would be important is that— don’t be a mismatch. It’s better from the beginning if you share what your, you know, sexual choices or identity are, so that you can find a partner.

AB: In my podcast we’ve covered various topics like guided communication exercises and mindfulness practises, especially to do with sex. So if you would like more information, please do get in touch with us and we will send you the links to the podcast. Here’s what the author of the Arts of Seduction and Cosmos 2023 Sexual Health and Influence of the year, and mythologist Seema Anand has to say.

Seema Anand: So imagine, if you were a bottle, and you fill it with water, and whichever way you turn the bottle, the water will flow in that direction. So the idea is that when you perform a particular sexual position, the energy is aroused, it flows in a particular way. And it was just the way that position was performed, you know, sort of how much time it took, how many thrusts, et cetera. There was a whole science behind it. In places like Tibet, in China, you have practitioners you can go to. So if you’re a woman, you can actually go to a practitioner who’s a man, and if you’re a man, you can go to a practitioner who’s a woman, and you actually can have this sexual therapy. 

AB: I guess it’s a lot like maybe acupuncture. It is about the energy and moving the blockages from the meridians. 

SA: Yes, absolutely. And the most difficult one to get past is your second chakra from the bottom. It’s known as the Swadhisthana chakra. The sexual therapy, etcetera, is all focused on clearing that particular gateway. Sex is extremely good for you physically. It’s about raising certain shaktis, raising certain energies inside you. And those energies power your nerve endings, and that’s what leads to better health.

AB: So the compatibility of sexual preferences can actually be the cornerstone for longevity and happiness in a relationship. And it’s not just the frequency of sexual activity, but it’s about understanding and respecting your partner’s desires, boundaries, needs. And it’s this mutual understanding that can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling partnership. 

Seema Anand: Sexual energy is an extremely powerful energy. We know this because when at any point a person is intimate with somebody else, if you’re having sex with somebody, it’s the only time, particularly if you actually go as far as going into an orgasm, it’s the only time where every single function in your body changes. You know, everything goes into function. Every bit of your metabolism comes into being. The idea is to bring yourself into complete balance. And the cycle of this connection, the circuit is completed by looking into each other’s eyes. So you do this position. So if one person has their arm raised, the other person will have the mirror arm raised, etcetera. So you bring about total balance, total stillness, and you connect, finally, through the eyes, 

AB: The biological underpinnings of attraction, the complexity of intimacy and the importance of sexual compatibility. All these are interconnected, and our physical, emotional and our relational well being is all taken into play. There is a fun fact about oxytocin from the University of Toronto. It was found that when you have a healthy sexual relationship with someone and oxytocin is released, it encourages you to open up and communicate. And I have to emphasise that what is absolutely crucial, and you have to understand that from today’s episode, is the power of communication and honesty in fostering an intimate and sexual relationship. I’ve often said to people that sex and communication are two very important pillars in the relationship in your life. Discuss your desires, express your needs and simply hold space for each other’s vulnerabilities. 

SA: The best sex is with somebody that you’ve been with for a very long time because the chemistry is gone, which means that you will take it much slower. You have to put a lot more effort into it. And when you do that, the whole arousal takes a different turn. And great sex can be of many different types. Please remember your sex, your orgasm, your sexual experience and your orgasm is not a race to the finish, okay? Imagine it’s like a train. And you can get off at almost any station that you want. You’ve got a day pass. You can get off anywhere you want. Treat it as that. So you need to be able to understand that there’s so much more that goes into pleasure. Just the touching of the skin, that’s part of intimacy. Kissing, just being together— the whole idea of being with somebody who you are comfortable with has a lot of benefits when it comes to a sexual relationship.

AB: As we wrap up today’s journey, let’s learn to explore the bonds that make our lives so rich. Let’s continue to explore, communicate and grow both within ourselves and with those that we hold dear. Thank you for being here with us today. We hope we’ve helped you lead a more happier, healthier, more hopeful life, and I hope to see you soon. Thank you.