By Dr. Jennifer Pearlman
One-cheek or two? Wet or dry? Tongue or peck? Kissing is no simple matter but rather an act that can be executed in many different ways with many different meanings.
Kissing dates back through evolution and probably stems from our primate ancestral mothers passing chewed food to their young through a lip-to-lip transfer. But kissing has evolved into a means of social bonding and is part of romantic exchange. During a kiss, important chemical signaling can occur through the exchange of pheromones. While well established in animals, plants and even bacteria, pheromones are thought to also play a role in signaling between humans.
French kissing can lead to the exchange of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen which can be passed in saliva.
During a kiss, it is possible to sample the signature of chemo-signals released from a potential mate to determine compatibility. The pheromone signature is determined by variations in an important set of genes coding for immune function known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which imprints us with a unique “odourprint”. Selecting a mate with a complimentary “odourprint” can yield offspring with a more robust and diverse immune system- thus providing an evolutionary advantage. And so a good first kiss may signify more than the potential of a second date but indicate good chemistry!
Kissing testosterone also plays a role in hormonal signaling. While women place higher value on kissing in courtship, men are more likely to initiate an open mouth saliva exchanging kiss. French kissing can lead to the exchange of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen which can be passed in saliva. Testosterone passed from male to female can play a role in rousing her libido. Research has shown that kissing and cuddling can reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while boosting levels of the attachment hormone, oxytocin. By impacting hormones, the kiss can play three vital roles in relationships; sexuality, romance and attachment.
So before your next lip-lock, consider these tips to scientific smooching;
- Kiss Sensually.
To enhance the kiss, awaken your senses by enlisting both smell and taste. Sampling the odour-print of a potential mate while kissing sensually may make us better able to select a compatible mate.
- Follow The French.
Salivary hormones exchanged in a French kiss, such as testosterone can boost libido. This effect can be meaningful when even small amounts of testosterone in men’s saliva kissing are transmitted to women. In women, testosterone controls all aspects of sexual function from libido, to arousal to orgasm. So do as the French do- open mouth kissing could be good for your sex drive and your hormones.
- Don’t Forget The Foreplay.
Foreplay and sexual touching play a vital role in eliciting a sexual response -especially in women. Kissing and sexual touching make up foreplay which helps ready our bodies for sex; exciting our brains, quickening our heartbeat, and preparing the genital organs for intercourse. Kissing, cuddling and foreplay also relax us through stimulating the release of oxytocin. Foreplay depends on sexual touching in the “hot spots” or the “erogenous zones” which most often are distinct from the sexual regions of the body. Whether it’s the nape of the neck, the belly or the foot, the targets can change with age. Couples can help each other by sharing the roadmap to these special hot spots.
- Let Foods Fuel The Moment.
Our taste buds can be triggered to send sexual signals too. Aphrodisiac foods are substances that increase sexual desire. Chocolate, long considered an aphrodisiac, contains three psychoactive chemicals; including PEA (phelethylamine) a love chemical which releases dopamine in the pleasure centre of the brain. Other foods and herbs claimed to be aphrodisiacs include; oysters (zinc), chili peppers (capscacin), avocados and ginseng.
- Don’t Over Think It.
Kissing is almost innate. We probably don’t have to think about it to do it. Over 90 per cent of humans kiss and many mammals do too. So don’t over think it…just pucker up and enjoy the moment!
Originally published at The Huffington Post.