Monday, 23 April 2012

a moan about hormones

I remember sitting in Year 6 Science and having ''colour'' explained.  A trick of the light?  Puh-leease.  I don't care what the science behind it is, I want to believe in the wonder and miracle of it all.  I didn't want to know about the chemical reactions that made one thing pink and another blue.  I just want to be amazed that it's even possible.

Accordingly to my trusty blogroll, which includes a plethora of columns by people claiming to know all the secrets to successful dating, there's a whole heap of women out there suffering from major delusions when it comes to attraction.

It would seem that the minute there's some physical contact between a girl and a guy, the hormones kick in - giving us (although possibly not the guys) a rush of feel-good hormones - dopamine for the lovey-doveys, oxytocin for energy and wellbeing, estrogen for a spot of reproductive urge - if that's your bag.

Which is all very interesting and probably explains things - but I find it a bit depressing.   A hopeless romantic? Absolutely - and that extends from marvelling at a rainbow right through to falling in love.

""A team from the University of Pisa in Italy found the bodily chemistry which makes people sexually attractive to new partners lasts, at most, two years.  When couples move into a "stable relationship" phase, other hormones take over, Chemistry World reports.

The Italian researchers tested the levels of the hormones called neutrophins in the blood of volunteers who were rated on a passionate love scale.  Levels of these chemical messengers were much higher in those who were in the early stages of romance.  Testosterone was also found to increase in love-struck women, but to reduce in men when they are in love.

But in people who had been with their partners for between one and two years these so-called "love molecules" had gone, even though the relationship had survived.  The scientists found that the lust molecule was replaced by the so-called "cuddle hormone" - oxytocin - in couples who had been together for several years.

Similar research conducted by Enzo Emanuele at the University of Pavia found that levels of a chemical messenger called nerve growth factor (NGF) increased with romantic intensity.  After one to two years, NGF levels had reduced to normal. Michael Gross, a bio-chemist and science writer who has studied the latest findings, said: "It shows that different hormones are present in the blood when people are acutely in love while there is no evidence of the same hormones in people who have been in a stable relationship for many years.

"In fact the love molecules can disappear as early as 12 months after a relationship has started to be replaced by another chemical glue that keeps couples together."  He added: "To any romantically inclined chemist, it should be deeply satisfying to be able to prove that chemical messengers communicate romantic feeling between humans."  "It may be the only thing that science can offer as a real-world analogy to Cupid's arrows."

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