Love Sickness…

What happens to your body when you fall in love?

Butterflies in your stomach? Waking up with a spring in your step? Shivers when you hear the sound of their voice? Smiling like a school girl? The symptoms of love sickness have been passed down for centuries. But ad mist the euphoria and sleepless nights, daydreaming about your new love life, there are real physiological changes taking place inside. It seems ‘love sickness’ may be a genuine disruption of medical homeostasis – a disruption that can even be identified from within your blood stream. So when you have that first date, you may get more than just dinner and a drink.

A study in 2004 (Marazziti D, Canale D) demonstrated that within the first 6 months of falling in love the hormone testosterone was elevated in women compared to those who were not engaging in a new relationship. For men, this was the opposite. This suggests an increase in sexual appetite for women, increased confidence and feeling of dominance. Whilst for men, a heightened caring, gentle and softer approach. A suitable, yet contrasting, alteration for both sexes to come closer together and be united.
In both groups, the stress hormone cortisol was increased. This is likely secondary to the intense, sometimes testing, emotional experience of falling in love. These can include anxiety, arousal and uncertainty.

For some, they do not quite reach love. Instead they dream and obsess from afar in a fictitious, dewy manner, (‘a crush’ as your mum and her friends would have labelled it when you were in school.) This intrusive, obsessive behaviour and thinking pattern likely derives from a decrease in the hormone serotonin from within the central regions of your brain. Serotonin, usually one of the ‘feel good’ hormones has been shown to drop during times of obsessive behaviour and thinking, most notably in obsessive compulsive disorder, when medication to increase the levels of serotonin are prescribed.

During your first intimate exposure, on reaching sexual ‘enlightenment’ it is again a surge in hormones which mark the occasion. Epinephrine, or adrenaline, is released in to the blood stream during orgasm. Epinephrine is a very powerful hormone. It causes your heart to race, your blood pressure to increase, drives up your energy and mood and even stirs up your immune system to keep disease at bay. Hence why people often report a good mood the morning after they have had sex; adrenaline is pumping through their system and providing a physiological ‘high.’

After 12-24 months, these hormones normalise, despite many of the participants remaining within the same relationship. So it seems, when that person finally begins to mutter the words ‘I love you’ it is likely that they have fallen in to a much more comfortable existence within the relationship and no longer experiencing the hormonal imbalance of actually falling in love. They have overcome their passion and uncertainty for a calmer existence, together.

So there you go. It is true what they say – you don’t pick who you fall in love with. Your hormones do…

Head and Heart

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *