(How orgasm is influenced by hormones: a complex but happy ending)

Every love story should have a happy ending. That’s what we thought as kids watching princesses in expensive dresses setting off to their happily ever after and supposedly never knowing troubles or disappointment again. One of the great things about adulthood is that now we know the catch. The real challenge begins after you met your partner –it’s called a relationship. And if in childhood we thought that the kiss might be enough, now it’s safe to say that a happy ending is a rather complex achievement for a woman.

Let’s cover the facts - orgasm is great. Not only it gives us pleasure and unparalleled sensations, a better understanding of our sexuality and a positive impact on our mood and relationships, but it also helps us to relax, and improve the quality of sleep. In addition, some studies show that orgasms can strengthen the immune system and reduce the risks of developing certain chronic diseases.

This symphony of benefits sounds great, however, just like in every other physiological process in our body, a happy ending is impossible without the main conductor of the orchestra – the hormonal balance.


Orgasm is much more than a psychological explosion, it's a hormonal explosion as well.


When reaching orgasm, our brain releases a cocktail of happy hormones: dopamine - a psychotropic drug that has an anti-anxiety and antidepressant effect; oxytocin – a driver of relaxation that affects the psyche and nervous system; adrenaline - a hormone that affects energy levels; and other hormones and neuromodulators that support sexual pleasure.

What is often ignored in popular culture and social media is the fact that women's orgasm drastically differs from men's, starting with the nearly twice longer duration and ending with a strong dependence on hormone levels.

Both men and women rely heavily on testosterone. It is usually known as the male hormone; however, testosterone is responsible for sex drive in both men and women. Testosterone determines the level of sexual desire (libido) and stimulates emotional and physical arousal.

Unlike men, women have remarkable weekly fluctuations in various hormones, such as progesterone and oestrogen, which can also influence libido, confidence, vagina sensitivity and lubrication, body temperature and many other factors important for achieving orgasm. Thus, sexual drive in women is heavily dependent on their hormonal balance, while hormonal imbalance directly affects a woman's ability to experience orgasm.


Oestrogens are the first in line to conduct the harmony of female sexual drive. They affect vaginal blood flow, bodily sensuality (erogenous zones), cosmetic components (skin and hair) and blood flow to the brain. It is also responsible for the development of sexual characteristics during puberty. It is a stimulant hormone that affects libido and increases excitability. Just like testosterone levels, oestrogen levels also fluctuate depending on the phases of the menstruation cycle. Both hormones peak during ovulation and decrease just after the ovulatory phase ends. This is a natural physiological state: an increase in libido in the ovulatory phase of the cycle is carefully thought out by nature since the chances of conception are greatest during this time. In the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, which falls in its second half, sexual desire decreases, often smoothly flowing into the premenstrual syndrome.


Oxytocin improves metabolism, helps blood circulation, reduces stress and improves sexual performance. Oxytocin also lowers cortisol, the main stress hormone chronically elevated in many women in the workforce (including myself). While prolactin is responsible for the stability of sexual reactions - it conducts the emotional attachment to a partner and other physiological functions in the body.

Hormonal balance is an orchestra where every hormone is intricately connected to each other and a disruption in a single element might result in tuned-out music. Orgasm can even be compared to fingerprints: it depends on your unique body structure and hormonal background, so its patterns cannot be the same for everyone. Everyone is unique in their requirements for a successful orgasm, however, if you are suffering from a permanent drop in libido without being in menopause, or from a complete lack of orgasm, don’t be shy to bring this up with your physician and check your hormones. Orgasm is an important part of our well-being and should not be neglected by anyone, whether it’s your partner or your doctor.



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  3. Jennings KJ, de Lecea L. Neural and Hormonal Control of Sexual Behavior. Endocrinology. 2020;161(10):bqaa150.
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