Sexual activity is usually described as pleasurable.

What neurochemical systems does sex activate? Does the presence or absence of a partner make a difference -- say, in the activation of the oxytocin system?

Undoubtedly, sexual activity is salient, and so it surely involves dopamine. (Salient activities, whether painful or pleasurable, activate the dopaminergic system.)

What about these systems:

  • adrenergic
  • gabaergic
  • cannabinoid
  • nicotinic
  • opioid
  • serotonergic
  • cholinergic
  • glycinergic
  • histaminergic
  • glutaminergic
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The post contains multiple questions, you will obtain better answers if you split the post. $\endgroup$
    – have fun
    Aug 8, 2017 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


Sexual response is primarily related to nitric oxide and its products. All of the systems you mentioned play a role, however the core pathway is from touch stimuli, to oxytocin release, to nitric oxide and dopamine accumulation, to motor response (orgasm) followed by prolactin to counteract said neurochemicals and temporarily suppress sexual response.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Supporting references please. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Sep 7, 2017 at 18:03

Sex gives you dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline, and endorphins.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please add some references $\endgroup$
    – L.B.
    Aug 8, 2017 at 15:22

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