Filed under ‘obvious’

April 3, 2009

Two studies of S&M. One measured cortisol levels during and after scenes, the other measured cortisol and testosterone levels (for men and women). The shocking conclusions: stress rises for the bottom during play, then drops afterward, but there’s no changes in cortisol levels for tops. And (more interestingly) testosterone levels rise for female bottoms, but not male ones.

One researcher suggests this is either “a boost that may help women cope with the aggressive nature of S&M activities” or merely another sign of stress.

Sigh. First, not all S&M activities are aggressive. It kinda depends. I have had angry hate-fucks that were quite aggressive but also totally vanilla, and I’ve engaged in bondage and impact play that was sensual, playful and tender.

Second, maybe the reason they saw a sharp rise in female testosterone levels compared to male ones has something to do with the relative differences in starting levels? This is pure speculation on my part since I am no expert and honestly, didn’t read the paper very closely. I wouldn’t be surprised if T levels went up for male bottoms as well.

…which leads me to wonder about whether gender and role interact at all (the study authors were unable to look into this since all the bottoms were female and all the tops were male). What would happen if you compared female top hormone levels with male top levels? Or female bottom levels with male bottoms’? Is there a similar dynamic in same-sex couples?

Nearly all of the couples involved in these tiny fucking statistically insignificant studies (13 and 58 participants, respectively) reported feeling closer after play. What the article doesn’t mention is that the feelings of closeness only arose for couples that also engaged in demonstrations of affection and caring during play (not those who said the party went well).

Finally, hello? Why even do this study? It seems pretty obvious (well, maybe not to vanillas) that a happy, healthy couple engaging in a mutually enjoyable activity is likely to feel closer after engaging in that activity.

One of the resarchers makes the brilliant observation that, ” “When sexual intercourse is consensual it is not stressful – even if it is extreme sex.” (Define ‘extreme’, please.) Another suggests that any shared activity, kinky or not, increases feelings of closeness in couples. (What about arguing over housework?)

What’s next? A study on whether gay men enjoy having sex with each other?

Via Jezebel


3 Responses to “Filed under ‘obvious’”

  1. axe Says:

    In a related study, the level of sexiness in female tops goes up as the session continues (or it was assumed since the meter topped out at 999 megasexarons), while the level of sexiness in male tops remained at a pitiful -324255234234.

    Plus, in this same study that I imagined, female bottoms hormone levels only increased when they were daydreaming of being with a female top and not the male top they were with.

    This is a valid study since I was wearing a lab coat as I typed this.

  2. W Says:

    As much as I strained my muscles with incredible effort against my eyes rolling so hard they got permanently stuck, there was a comment of interest in the discussion on

    One commenter, “Zapatos” made mention of studies like this one helping to change viewpoints about capital “K” Kink in the medical/psychological communities. The comment states that S&M is still considered a disorder according to the DSM (the go to textbook for the APA.) I seem to remember reading the even homosexuality took an appallingly long time to be removed from the list of”Disorders” in the DSM.

    Admittedly this study is laughably flawed, but if it inspired further, more serious serious studies of the dynamics between people in BDSM relationships, hopefully it could serve to eventually illuminate that we are not mentally ill because of the activities we enjoy in (and sometimes out of) our bedrooms.

  3. W Says:

    Damn the lack of edit/preview button!

    Second paragraph, “the even homosexuality …” changed to “that even homosexuality …”

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