In men, testosterone levels peak in the morning and are lower at night. They cycle up and down every fifteen to twenty minutes. It is widely known that at puberty young men are hit with a flood of testosterone. Testosterone also spikes for young women at puberty, but women produce more of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen causes a woman to want to be held, and causes her to feel receptive to sexual advances.
Touch and the chemicals released with touch also play a vital role in our survival, happiness, and our experience of connectedness. Studies have shown that babies do not thrive and can die when there is a lack of touch. As we grow older, without touch we become more subject to senility and can die sooner. Touching and being touched by someone alters our chemical composition, strengthening the biochemical bond with that individual. Even a thought of the person can cause a hormonal surge. A chemical reaction occurs that actually causes a craving for more touch from that individual. In this way, touching and being touched are literally addictive.
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Bringing Awareness To Your Unconscious & Automatic Responses
The physical structures in your brain also influence how you respond to the world. The prefrontal cortex, which sits right behind your forehead, is associated with personality, intelligence, ethics and morality, and with regulating control over emotional and sexual urges. In other words, you have the power to override the primitive call-of-the-wild automatic responses we all have that compel us to get away from pain and danger and to move toward pleasure. Studies have shown that we can engage the thinking function of the prefrontal cortex by something as simple as using our thinking function to label an angry face as “angry.”
By putting just a little bit of awareness around your automatic survival response, you can begin to have a choice about your response. This is one of the vital components of overcoming sexual addiction. By understanding your biological influences, you can start to work with your urges and impulses as they arise. You can begin to see how your biology naturally creates a desire for sexual connectedness or a desire to masturbate or a desire to dominate or a desire to be receptive to sex or a desire to touch and be touched. You can begin to find ways to work with these energies so they do not overwhelm your relationship. You can find ways to work with your biochemistry so your desires for attachment, connection, bonding, and commitment can be met.
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Knowing When It's Time to Get Help
There can be a tendency to resist the “sex addict” label. Unfortunately, shying away from the phrase “sex addiction” can keep you from the very information that can be helpful. If you know what sex addiction means, if you know the signs of sex addiction, then if you are suffering from it (or your partner is), you can recognize that you’re not alone and you can find help and relief for the pain that this type of compulsive behavior causes.