Thursday, January 15, 2015

Real Deal #3: Why You're Horny When You're Hungover


BEST EXPLANATION: Alexis McKinnis
"Alcohol consumption initially inhibits testosterone production, and the side effect is particularly strong in men. It happens right after you crack that first tall boy. You may feel a little randy once you’ve started drinking, but that’s more than likely attributed to dilated blood vessels delivering some extra blood to a certain extremity, as well as plain old loosened inhibitions. Elsewhere inside the body, testosterone production is coming to a screeching halt.

As soon as you fall asleep (or pass out), though, your body starts to make up for it. By the time you get up the next morning (or afternoon), your testosterone levels will not only be back to normal, but probably through the roof. Testosterone is the hormone responsible for a healthy libido, so your extra-healthy libido the day after drinking is a direct result of the booze."


BEST SCIENCE: Paul Aitken
Testosterone production is part of a negative feedback system (a self-correcting mechanism), centered in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. In short, the hypothalamus produces a hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland to produce a second hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH), which travels in the bloodstream to stimulate production of yet a third hormone, testosterone. When testosterone levels are low, receptors in the brain and pituitary gland signal these organs to secrete more testosterone stimulating hormones. By the time you wake up on Sunday morning, this corrective mechanism is in full flight.

Because LH is thought to play a role in sexual arousal in itself, its excess explains at least in part your overriding horniness when you awake. It also explains why in spite of this intense desire, you sometimes can't get a full erection - serum testosterone is not yet up to normal levels. It's a passing phenomenon and by midday you'll have less LH circulating and less overt desire. You'll likely be able to achieve a full erection but chances are you won't want to because you'll feel like crap.


BEST RESEARCH: Kyung-An Han, Penn State University
A team of researchers at Penn State has used an animal model to reveal, for the first time, a physiological basis for the effect of alcohol on male sexual behavior, including increased sexual arousal and decreased sexual inhibition. The research, which will be published on 2 January 2008 in the scientific journal PLoS ONE, resulted in four novel findings with broad importance for further addiction research.

In contrast to previous studies in other labs, which subjected fruit flies to short-term doses of ethanol -- the intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic drinks -- Han's team administered to fruit flies a daily dose of ethanol to more closely mimic the drinking habits of alcoholics and chronic alcohol abusers. The team investigated several factors that influence the physiological effects of ethanol, including genetic and cellular components, age, and prior experience.

Among the team's discoveries is that male fruit flies, which typically court females, also actively court males when they are given a daily dose of ethanol. "We identified three molecules that are crucial for "ethanol-induced courtship disinhibition," Han said. In one of the team's experiments, Han and her students generated transgenic flies whose brain activities regulated by the neurotransmitter dopamine could be turned off temporarily by changing the temperature to 32-degrees C. "Without a temperature change, the transgenic males showed conspicuous inter-male courtship under the influence of ethanol; however, they exhibited negligible inter-male courtship when we changed the temperature to block the transmission of dopamine neurons in the brain," Han said. "This result suggests that dopamine is a key mediator of ethanol-induced inter-male courtship."

A second discovery is that repeated exposure to ethanol causes male flies to engage in more inter-male courtship, a phenomenon known as "behavioral sensitization." "If a behavior like alcohol consumption becomes more pleasurable the more often you do it, you are more likely to keep doing it," Han explained.

A third achievement of the team's research is its demonstration that daily ethanol exposure induces chronic tolerance to the sedative effect of ethanol in flies, as it does in other animals. Han and her students also made a fourth discovery -- that ethanol-induced intermale courtship increases with age.


BEST SOLUTION: Sex.
"For however long it lasts, you’re temporarily released from your hangover purgatory. And for the science fans out there, sex also releases endorphins and feel-good hormone oxytocin in both men and women, which act as great painkillers."

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