We call “adrenaline” a strong emotion and we know that eating chocolate makes us feel relaxed, but what happens inside our body when we do bondage? Why sometimes do we feel euphoric, other times relaxed and other times do we become sad without a reason?
Let’s try to get a glimpse behind the scenes to discover the fascinating chemistry of a rope meeting: we will understand that behind a successful session there are substances – like dopamine, endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin – that can bring benefits to our body and that make us desire to repeat the experience.
For this reason it’s really important to tie with passion, empathy and respect in order to make bondage a pleasant, positive and enriching experience: a real act of love with ropes.
Let’s imagine to be about to start to play with ropes: we are close to our partner, ready to start down this journey together. We feel a little bit wired, curious, excited but also apprehensive; the heartbeat increases, we feel a hot or cool sensation on our skin, our pupils dilate.
Well, these are some of the effects of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that promotes the arousal and the desire; dopamine is linked to sexuality, to the food and in general to pleasant sensations and it’s the substance that makes us feel wired when we are waiting for an experience that we expect to be pleasant. It’s the same substance that create addiction to the gamblers.
When the awaited sensation of ropes on the skin starts and we feel our hands tied together with the various passages pressing on our body, two substances that have two opposite effects enter the game. The element of surprise and arousal helps the secretion of adrenaline, while the sensation of attachment between the partners lets the oxytocin get into circulation.
Adrenaline is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that is released in the case of intense and sudden sensations or in preparation of an intense physical activity; among its effects there are an increase of the heartbeat, a bigger blood flow to our muscles, an increase of lung capacity. The sudden increase of the adrenaline (called “adrenaline rush”) makes us desire intense sensations and pushes us to look for things that we won’t normally do. Basically is like being on a roller coaster!
Simultaneously the oxytocin leads us to take care of our partner and makes us desire to be cuddled; this hormone is actually called the “hormone of love” and it’s the one that makes us show caring and attachment.
When the game gets tougher, for example if there is a suspension, maybe the most important neurotransmitters of BDSM enter the game: they are endorphins, substances that let the bottom convert the pain into pleasure.
While the adrenaline answers to a sudden stimulus, the endorphins are secreted when the effort is protracted in time; they actually cause a higher capacity of enduring pain and effort and they play a role in reducing anxiety and creating a positive humoral response to labour. We are like marathon runners who don’t feel pain anymore.
Actually the endorphins let us not to feel badly the ropes press on our body and help to bear the discomfort of a position, they turn these sensations into pleasure and give us a sense of gratification and wellness. As opposed to adrenaline, the endorphins are cumulative: the more the game goes on, the more they intensify their effects (it is the so-called “endorphin rush”).
In the long run the endorphins can have peculiar effects on our mood: they can actually regulate it both with a relaxing effect or with an exciting one. This can lead on one hand to a sense of nearly exaltation – like the one that some athletes experience during long-lasting efforts (it’s called the “runner’s high”) – on the other hand to a state of extreme relaxation.
In particular this sensation of relaxation can lead the bottom to the so-called “rope space”: in this space the bottom experiences a sort of estrangement during which he/she loses contact with reality, sensations on the skin seem far away, the breath becomes deeper and muscles are more relaxed. It’s like being in a bubble.
And it isn’t just this: the endorphins have almost the same effect as a drug, so they have an anti-depressant and positive effect on the organism which causes the desire to repeat the experience: the pleasure that comes from their release is sought as can happen to an athlete who will never quit a workout no matter how hard it could be. If everything happens respecting ourselfs and the others, it can be a really pleasant addiction, no doubt about it!
Now our session comes to an end and the ropes start to slip away; the adrenaline and the endorphins give way again to oxytocin and serotonin, the so-called “hormone of happiness”.
Actually the serotonin is the hormone which causes an improvement to our mood and has a relaxing and anti-pain effect. It’s a very important substance since it combats the effects of the reduction of the levels of endorphins and adrenaline which could cause a sudden sense of sadness and even abandonment, a desire of crying and feelings of hunger and cold (the so-called “adrenaline or endorphins drop”).
These negative effects can arise also some time after the session, stimulated by the release of other hormones, like the cortisol or the prolactin which our body produces to contrast an emotionally and physically demanding situation.
To avoid or reduce the occurrence of these unpleasant effects and promote instead the beneficial ones of serotonin and oxytocin it’s very important the aftercare phase, when, once the session is over, we take care of each other, hugging and cuddling; in this way you can slowly come back to reality and spend still some intimate moments with your partner.