Adrenaline and Sex

During an open discussion lunch today at a high school I gave the kids a choice between “Arousal” and “Relationship Conflict”. All the students chose arousal except for one guy that complained about his “asshole” girlfriend. I started off by explaining undifferentiated genitalia and which parts of the male and female genitals came from the same tissues (glans clitoris=glans penis, labia majora = scrotum, etc.). Here are some crude but effective charts for easier reference.

Sadly, my students didn’t get to see anything nearly as fancy as above: just my own crude renditions. We discussed what this means for arousal (same basic mechanics of blood flow) and what this also meant for potential stimulation.

Then I explained the role of the autonomic response system and the parasympathetic and sympathetic responses. The parasympathetic and sympathetic response systems are considered to be complimentary and work opposite to one another. Parasympathetic is the “rest and digest” state. Sympathetic is the “fight or flight” state.

Basically, when the sympathetic is on and adrenaline is pumping (like when someone is really nervous or anxious) the parasympathetic response system can’t switch on. Ergo, anxiety is a desire killer. Oh, Mr. Floppy.

One student looked at me and said, “Wait! So in that movie Crank when that guy had sex with that girl to keep his adrenaline up, in real life he would have died!?” (Check the bad, rough, almost-rape, movie sex scene here.)

I held back my laughter and said, “Yes, Hollywood was wrong. He would have either been unable to get an erection from all the adrenaline or else would have died for arousal.” He seemed genuinely pissed that the movie had duped him. I kind of loved watching his reaction.

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