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Both women and men have strong physiological responses to sexual intercourse during the morning that they don't have at other times of day. Here's why morning sex is becoming the new wake-up for millions of couples.

I have to confess I don't read a lot of women's magazines. So when my editor asked me to write a piece on morning sex, including, of course, a woman's perspective, I had to do a little research to locate the latest buzz on morning sex from a woman's perspective, at least as it is being promoted to the world through magazines especially popular with women.

It didn't take very long to discover that morning sex is a hot topic in many publications geared for women. So combining what the pundits say with what I may know about the subject and what the science says, I'd sum up the physiological attraction of morning sex in a single word:

Oxytocin is the hormone that turns on romance. And a woman's body experiences the highest levels of oxytocin after a good night's sleep.

Love and Bonding Hormones More Abundant in the Early Morning

A region of the brain known as the pituitary gland makes oxytocin 24 hours a day, but the release of oxytocin requires a series of coordinated nerve impulses that is easier for the brain during sleep than during waking. As the pituitary gland in a woman's brain releases oxytocin, there are feelings of contentedness, love, and attachment. When women just want to sleep in, often it's to enjoy the beneficial effects of oxytocin.

Men's brains make oxytocin, too, but in a man, the hormone has a different effect. In men, oxytocin increases feelings of bonding to a single woman. A man with relatively high oxytocin levels will actually move physically away from women with whom he is not bonded, at least for the 2 or 3 hours the levels fo this hormone are high.

The Physiological Basis of "Morning Wood"

If the man in your life rolls over and doesn't want to have sex with you first thing in the morning, that doesn't mean he's not bonded to you. It could just mean he's tired. But since men also experience higher levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the morning, contributing to the condition known as "morning wood" or "morning glory," an erection that continues when nocturnal penile tumescence is interrupted by waking in the morning, most men are inclined to have sex if they are awake enough to think about it.

Morning sex doesn't just feel good. It's inherently healthy. It helps couples bond. It stimulates the immune system. Having sex in the morning helps your immune system generate the immunoglobulins it needs to fight infection. Women, when they experience orgasm, have a temporary surge in estrogen levels, which gives them a "look" that experienced people can recognize as a sign of having had morning sex when meeting them later in the day. And the surge in testosterone increases activity and vigor in the man.

Continue reading after recommendations

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  • Koskimäki J, Shiri R, Tammela T, Häkkinen J, Hakama M, Auvinen A. More study needed on morning erections and erectile dysfunction. Am J Med. 2009 Jul. 122(7):e7-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.02.001.l
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