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Miani’s ‘Interactions between oxytocin and copulatory posture’

This week’s Project of the Week concerns posture and nearly everyone’s favorite chemical, oxytocin:

Interactions between oxytocin and copulatory posture

Aarhus University

Background: During sexual intimacy, humans have a strong preference for the missionary position. This allows for eye contact, kiss, nipple stimulation, and other patterns of intimacy that increase oxytocin. Previous studies have shown that coitus is more satiating than masturbation and that intranasal oxytocin enhanced intensity of orgasm in men and improved interactions with partners in women. However, knowledge about this mechanism is still limited. It is then believed that sexual intimacy fostered by the missionary position might increase oxytocin and thus play a role in sexual satiation and affiliation. These results would be interpreted in an evolutionary perspective.

Objective: To assess whether a) basal levels of oxytocin predict copulatory posture, and whether b) copulatory posture modulates oxytocin.

Methods: In a naturalistic setting, healthy nulliparous heterosexual couples perform three tasks: masturbation, doggy-style, and missionary sexual intercourse. Saliva samples are collected 10 minutes before the task, after the orgasm, and following 40 minutes of rest. Subjects provide also a blood sample and fill out a questionnaire on their sexual habits and about the experiment.

Improbable Research