Is it true that our ever present sex drive is physical in origin, that we are born with it and have to live with it? Well, it’s only part of the truth, though quite an important part.
How is it physical? How does it work?
In our body there are a large number of glands known as “ductless glands” because they release the substances they produce directly into the bloodstream.
They are also called endocrine glands. The substances they make are called hormones, and hormones are chemical messengers, which, carried by the bloodstream to distant parts of the body, produce a stimulating or modifying effect on growth and function..
There are numerous hormones produced in our bodies, but we are concerned with only one set of them – the sex hormones – which control the development of the sex characteristics.
The male sex hormones are called androgens, the female sex hormones, estrogens.
The male sex hormone we are most concerned with is testosterone which is produced by the man’s testes. Some is produced by the adrenal glands in both sexes.
Men produce much more than women, because besides regulating the sex-drive, testosterone is also responsible for the growth of his pubic hair, the hair under his arms, on his chest, belly and face, and for the breaking of his voice. Also his muscular development – and of course his sex drive.
The differences in strength of the sex drive between individuals is accounted for by the fact that some of us produce more testosterone than others.
We also vary in our own production of testosterone from time to time – which is why we can have periods when our sex drive is not so strong as it usually is.
We might also ask how a man with normal testosterone can experience delayed ejaculation – surely, you might think, the pressure of normal sexual tension would lead to ejaculation. Not so, it would seem. Check out the causes of this problem here.
This can happen in times of illness, or fatigue from overwork, or if we are under psychological stress of one kind or another.
If we have a deficiency of testosterone, our sex drive may disappear altogether. This can happen in both young and middle-aged people, but is found most often among the elderly.
As we grow older, like all the other organs of our body, the testicles and ovaries age, and consequently don’t produce so much of their vital hormones.
This results in our progressively not feeling the urge to make love as often as we did when we were younger. Even the highly-sexed with a young sex drive that ranges from four or five times daily, find in their 60s that this arousal rate drops, perhaps to twice daily.
We experience the sex drive because testosterone builds up a physical tension in our bodies and the area surrounding our external genitals – the penis in the man, the clitoris, labia and breasts in the woman.
If we don’t respond to this tension when we become aware of it, it goes on building up, until we get in a state of physical sexual arousal.
The man has an erection, and the woman’s nipples stand up and grow hard, her clitoris perks up its head from its protective hood, her labia swell, and the sensitivity of her vaginal entrance increases.
A man’s sensations of sexual arousal are concentrated in his penis, while a woman’s tend to be much more diffuse and are felt over a large area of her body.
Of course we must always consider the effect of the emotions on sexual attraction and arousal.
We all knew how sexual desire can be based on physical attraction; this is a response based on some innate impulse within the brain to mate with another individual – you can see it as a biological instinct for the continuation of the species.
But because we are human, it is often a feeling of love which promotes sexual interest in another person. not simply physical desire. The extent to which love in itself is based on physical attraction, rather than, say mutual interest, affection, and common interests and a shared outlook on the world, is open to question.
When we fall in love, however, it is much more than just a physical response in the body which we might choose to call lust. There is a part of the psyche known as the Lover which accounts for some of this complexity.
The functions and operation of our mind and brain are very sophisticated, as this analysis of the Lover archetype demonstrates very clearly. We can regard this part of ourselves, our Lover archetype, as controlling all aspects of our human interactions in the area of emotion we know as “love”. (If you want to know more about archetypes in general, this is a good resource on magician, lover, sovereign and warrior archetypes.)
Sexual Arousal In Men
Under sexual stimulation the sperm leave the two epididymices, which are sited one at the top of each testicle, where they are stored and make their way up the spermatic ducts, eventually reaching the seminal vesicles. Here they join other fluid, and as sexual excitement mounts, sperms plus seminal vesicle fluid leave the vesicles and continue on their way until they come to the prostate.
The prostate is a gland and a muscle, which is situated round the tube which empties the bladder, the urethra, just below the bladder.
The prostate also produces a fluid which gives semen its distinctive scent. The sperm plus vesicle fluid join the prostatic fluid, and as excitement increases until the point-of-no-return is reached, sperm plus vesicle fluid plus prostatic fluid, which all together make up semen, pass up the urethra through the penis to the opening there.
The seminal vesicles produce their fluid continuously, so, if the man doesn’t reach orgasm, sooner or later the vesicles are going to be full. This fullness in the vesicles sets up feelings of physical tension in the pelvic area, and in the genital region, which is transmitted to the brain, which, in turn, puts sexual thoughts in the mind, and the mind sends messages back to the genitals which stimulate them even more.the man finds that sexual activity in one form or another – intercourse if a partner is willing, masturbation if she is not – is absolutely necessary to get rid of the physical tension, pleasant though it is.
If the man does not have any sexual activity, the seminal vesicles may empty themselves while he is asleep. He has an erection and full orgasm with ejaculation, which is usually accompanied by a highly erotic dream. This is the so-called ‘wet dream‘.
When the man consciously responds to this physical tension set up by the full seminal vesicles, he is responding to his sex-drive.
The average man between 18 and 35 takes about 30 days of total abstinence from sexual activity ending in ejaculation and orgasm for his seminal vesicles to become full to overflowing.
But there are considerable variations to this which are the result of the size of the seminal vesicles themselves, or the amount of testosterone produced by the testicles, or both.
This is the biological background of what the man’s involuntary sex-drive. I want to stress involuntary because there is also a ‘voluntary’ sex-drive.
I’ve just said that the average man’s seminal vesicles fill up after 30 days of abstinence, and that this filling up results in his ‘involuntary’ sex-drive.
But if the average man reacted sexually only to his ‘involuntary’ sex-drive, he would only make love twice every seven days.
But statistics show that the average man has intercourse three or four times a week. When he is not making love in response to his ‘involuntary’ sex-drive, I say he is responding to his ‘voluntary’ sex-drive.
The ‘involuntary’ sex-drive is physical in origin, while sexual desire is its psychological counterpart.
Many people are unaware of the tremendous part played by the mind in our actual sexual physical functioning. Nowhere do you see that more clearly than in the reasons why a man cannot reach climax during intercourse (read more here).
This is probably most clearly revealed, I think, by the fact that only between five and ten per cent of all cases of male impotence and premature ejaculation, and of female inability to reach orgasm have physical (organic) causes, the remainder having purely psychological origins.
Let’s apply this to sexual desire. The male reacts sexually rather more readily to visual stimuli than does the female. This is why porn has such vast sales.
Until you’re getting in years and/or have had such an amount of sexual experience that you have become a bit blase about it, just looking at pictures of a nude girl of the type that appeals to you, can set you off imagining what it would be like to be on the bed with her.
Then, before you know it, you have an erection, and your penis is call for attention! Now only a good orgasm will release you from your physical and mental tension!