If you feel like you’re starting to become more religious ever since you got married and have had regular sex, science can explain why.
According to a recent study, having sex inspires spirituality and even belief in God.
Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina found that sex releases oxytocin, a "love hormone" that's often stimulated during sex, childbirth, and breastfeeding.
This hormone not only promotes social bonding, but also increases belief in God and religion.
To test how oxytocin influences spirituality, researchers gave the hormone to a group of men and a placebo to another. After the experiment, those who got a dose of the "love hormone" said that spirituality was important in their lives and that life has meaning and purpose—this, after taking into account whether the participant reported belonging to an organized religion or not. They also expressed a feeling of unity with other people and living things.
The hormone also sparked more positive emotions in those who received it—gratitude, hope, inspiration, love, and serenity.
Oxytocin did not affect all participants equally, though. The study showed that its effect on spirituality was stronger among people with a particular variant of the CD38 gene. CD38 gene regulates the release of oxytocin from hypothalamic neurons in the brain.
Patty Van Cappellen, lead author of the study and associate director of the Interdisciplinary and Behavioral Research Center at Duke University’s Social Science Research Institute, warned that the findings should not be generalized. First of all, there are many definitions of spirituality, she clarified.
“Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors,” Van Cappellen said. “However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe.”