With love in the air, what better time to consider how finding that special someone can impact your body and mind?! Indeed, researchers have found that an in-love brain looks very different to one that is experiencing mere lust, and is also unlike the brain of someone in a long-term, committed relationship. You might also be surprised to find that physical changes (many beyond our control) occur when we fall in love. Here at the London Doctors Clinic, we are celebrating Valentine’s Day by helping you to discover how your body can tell you that you’ve fallen in love – read on below for some surprising facts!
1. Happiness = Dopamine
Being in love lights up the pleasure centre of your brain, and dopamine is released! Dopamine is the brains pleasure chemical, and when it is released, it makes couples feel elated and devoted to each other. So if you find yourself wanting to spend all your free time in the company of your special someone, you may have your brain to blame!
2. Oxytocin: The Hugging Hormone
Oxytocin is a chemical released by the brain that calms and bonds couples together to promote intimacy. Oxytocin levels rise in new mothers to allow them to bond with their babies and produce breast milk, but it also surges when you’re falling in love! To put it simply, it’s what hugging, kissing and touching are made of, so if you find yourself wanting to enjoy cosy nights in to kiss and cuddle with your other half, it could be a sign of oxytocin doing its job in your body.
3. Excitement = Adrenaline
Ever noticed that your palms sweat and your heart races when you’re around your love interest? This is the result of adrenaline and noradrenaline, not a nervous tick! The release of these chemicals can lead to a physical sensation of craving and the desire to focus your attention on the one specific person you are falling in love with.
4. The First Sign of Attraction? Doe-Eyes!
When you’re attracted to someone, there is a stimulation in your nervous systems sympathetic area (the one that causes the well-known “flight or fight” response when you’re threatened), and this causes your pupils to dilate. Try looking directly into the eyes of your partner the next time you are feeling romantic, and see if you can spot their pupils getting bigger?
5. Libido Increase
Your sex drive increases! It is highest at the very beginning, when you are getting to know your partner, and it drops as time goes on, especially for women, whose sexual appetite drops slightly for each month they’re in a relationship.
Feeling sick? It’s normal to see a reduction in your appetite or to even lose weight when you start seeing someone new. That’s ok, because it’s your body’s way of telling you that you really like the person. This is sometimes referred to as being “lovesick”, and may actually be the stress hormone cortisol contracting your blood vessels in your stomach, which brings about that queasiness.
7. The Voice of Love
Your voice might actually get higher! Once you’re past that initial phase, and your relationship with your partner is deepening, you might notice this rather odd change in your body. Research has found that when women are around men they find attractive, their voices tend to get higher and more feminine!
8. The ‘I Miss You’ Hormone
When you’re separated from your loved one, you may find that you miss them terribly, or worry about how they are doing. If this is the case, then a special factor called corticotrophin releasing factor may be to blame. This factor is increased as part of a stress response when we are away from our beloveds, and it contributes to feelings of anxiety and depression.
9. Honeymoon Hormones
During the honeymoon period of your relationship (officially the first two years, if you were wondering), your hormones go haywire. During this time, the stress hormone increases in both men and women and testosterone (the male hormone) decreases in men, and increases in women.
10. Love Increases Your Life Expectancy!
If it all works out and you marry your partner, you may add years to your life! Tying the knot has been shown to lower risk factors for premature death. Men have especially stronger hearts thanks to their wives, with a 5% reduction in vascular disease, according to the research.
11. Love Can Literally Break Your Heart
There is a condition called “stress induced cardiomyopathy”, and it can happen suddenly in a healthy person due to the immense surge of stress hormones that occurs during an emotionally trying event, such as the death of a loved one, or even a bad breakup. The good news is that most cases are treatable and the person can return to their previous state of health, but occasionally the condition can be fatal. It is associated with shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat and chest pain.
So, there you have it – eleven ways your that falling in love can impact your body and mind! As always, if you need more information about what you’ve read, why not book in for a private doctors appointment at any of our eight London clinics (soon to be nine with the arrival of our Paddington clinic)! LDC is here for you whenever you need to find a GP or GP surgery. Happy Valentine’s Day!
By Melissa Dillon