What is desire? It’s such an interesting word to try to define. Desire is by definition a feeling that comes with being in an unsatisfied state. This dissatisfaction can be sexually, financially, emotionally, or a plethora of other things.
We usually think of desire as emotion, but desire is actually believed to be a physical urge. Just like hunger, or needing to breathe, desire is something your body does on it’s own. Desire and sexuality go hand in hand. Desire is also something that affects your libido. Without desire, your libido will not be there.
Whether or not you buy that, it is clear that sexual desire is one of the — if not the — strongest of human needs. Typically, it takes up a huge portion of our time, emotional energy, and lives. Why? What drives the often unstoppable freight train of sexual desire?
How do you form the feeling of desire?
Desire is many things coming together, such as biochemical cues, physical, emotional, and visual cues. Our sexual preferences are simply an act of evolutionary advantage, and our individual pheromones attract us to those who are best for our evolutionary cycle. This all culminates into creating and maintaining a feeling of it. For example, scientifically speaking, men are attracted more to good-looking women because this cues a signal in their body that the woman has good health and will reproduce better. Women are typically more attracted to older men because their subconscious cues tell them that these men will have better resources to provide for a family. Again, these are scientific thoughts, not necessarily applicable to everyone.
Sexual desire is thought to essentially be fueled by the basic need to reproduce. Now this leaves us wondering, where do men who prefer men as sexual partners fit in? Or women who prefer women? Why are people who are unable to have children still motivated to be sexually active? This scientific explanation of it is not necessarily correct one hundred percent of the time, and obviously this topic needs more research.
We would argue that sexual desire is also fueled by the feeling of closeness and complex pleasure that is experienced when being with a partner. Creating an emotional bond, satisfying the desire to orgasm and release, and having intimacy with a partner is one of the best feelings and such a simple pleasure. So while science tries to attempt breaking this phenomenon down, it’s not as basic as it may seem.
Desire and attraction are fueled by scent as well.
Remember those pheromones? Those are given off by your body, and undetectable, but physically, other partners notice them subconsciously. These are chemical signals that are sent out that trigger a response in the other party. Animals also produce pheromones to communicate and reproduce. Pheromones help start the process of sexual desire, or stop it if a partner is incompatible in certain ways. These hormones and neurochemicals are basically like starting a car, along with hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, which are like fuel. This is why we notice as we age that our desire sexually lessens in many, as testosterone and estrogen levels go down. When these two chemicals are mixed, they are essentially the love or sex hormone. Estrogen and testosterone stimulate dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin in the brain. This creates excitement, passion, and sexual arousal.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps arouse you. Dopamine is released in the brain when you see or spend time with someone you are attracted to. Oxytocin is also a bonding hormone, that you feel in both sexual arousal and in bonding with children and family members. This neurochemical creates a feeling of trust and closeness. Serotonin, when increased or abnormally high, can actually decrease arousal levels. Low levels of serotonin tend to increase sexual activity and behavior. There’s also norepinephrine. Norepinephrine increases blood pressure, but also elevates your mood and sexual arousal when increased. All of these neurotransmitters play key roles in healthy sex life, and if one isn’t quite right, your entire body can be thrown off! Again, the body is very delicately balanced and has so many functions going on all at once that come together to cohesively create and sustain this overall feeling of sexual desire, as well as sexual arousal and satisfaction.
Desire is an incredible feeling, and it explains why things such as Viagra are not always effective. Since Viagra and other treatments are focused on arousal, not desire, you are still not being stimulated in the part of the body that you need to be. This also explains why people who have depression or other mental illnesses experience lower sexual desire. Since serotonin and other chemicals are often affected by these mental illnesses, the feeling of desire is lessened. This is why people taking antidepressants will often feel a lower libido, or be less sexually driven. The body’s serotonin is being increased to combat anxiety, depression, and etcetera, leading to the decreased sexual feelings experienced.
Sexual arousal and sexual desire are different from each other. Arousal is the act of being aroused, which will coincide with having sexual desire. On the other hand, sexual desire does not have to equal sexual arousal. Arousal is the physical aspect, where desire is the physiological aspect. Viagra and other medications are designed to affect your arousal levels alone. That leaves us with the fact that if you don’t have sexual desire, these arousal helpers may not really be the best option for you – though there is no harm in trying! As always, talk to your doctor so that they can determine the best option for you, and what may work.
The human body is an intricate thing, and it helps to have some mystery behind why things work the way they do. We can break things down scientifically, but we may never fully understand why everything is so delicately balanced. While science can and will attempt to break down desire and make an effort to try to quantify what and why we experience it, the mystery is a little sexy, don’t you think?