Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The secret of a hot kiss

Let's continue dwelling on our Valentines theme. Many years after yours truly discovered the secret of a hot kiss, science has now also come up with an explanation. Wendy Hill, Professor of Psychology at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania found that a hot meeting of lips sparks a complex chemical surge into the brain that makes a lover feel excited, happy or relaxed. Also, it is being speculated that the hormone release may be triggered directly by an exchange of sexually stimulating pheromones in the saliva. “This study shows kissing is much more complex and causes hormonal changes and things we never thought occurred,” The Times quoted her. “We tend to think more about who we are kissing and how it feels, yet there are a lot of other things happening,” she added. Furthermore the study showed that while, for men, the process is triggered at the mere touch of lips, women need a little atmosphere thrown in to achieve the same chemical high. For women to experience the same high as men they need additional features such as a romantic environment, dimmed lights and mood music.

One puzzle is just how kissing might induce hormonal changes of the kind found by Professor Hill. There are clearly psychological factors involved but some researchers suspect saliva contains pheromones, chemical messengers known to be important in other mammals. In humans the role of pheromones is controversial because we lack organs to detect them. However, Sarah Woodley, an Assistant Professor at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, believes that people can still detect them via the nose. Helen Fisher, Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University, New Jersey, and author of Why We Love, believes that kissing produces not just a chemical, sexual thrill but can even improve overall health: “If you’re sharing your germs with somebody, you’re boosting your internal defence system.” Excuse me Professor, sharing germs good for your health? Ever heard about HIV/AIDS?

Anyway, no risk for HIV transmission through saliva, so let's keep on kissing and let the saliva exchange flow! Here is a quick reminder of why we engage in a practice that involves the exchange of, by one estimate, 278 colonies of bacteria per osculation. One theory is that kissing may have evolved as a means of unconsciously testing the fitness of a potential mate. On the grand scale, it could be a way of checking for genetic compatibility: Women subconsciously prefer the smell of men whose genes for a particular class of immune systems proteins are different from their own, presumably because offspring from such a match would have a stronger immune system, and hence a better chance of survival, than offspring from other men.

While there's no doubt that kissing helps us select mates - if a first kiss goes badly, there may be no saving the relationship - we also do it (especially those of us who have already selected our mates) because it feels good. Lips and tongues are packed with nerve endings. And then there's chemistry, which is where the new research by Professor Hill mentioned above comes in. So if you always thought you had a special chemistry with your loved one, you may finally have been proven right.


Simon said...

Rafiki, interesting post. It reminded me of an article I saw recently about how repeated exposure to HIV through oral sex can increase immune response in a HIV negative partner.

Ingwe Fan said...

Therefore is it perfectly legal to ask without sounding cheesy: Was that kiss at first sight, or should I kiss you again?

d'moiselle said...

ok, first - i dont particularly relish the posted photo, so i have so assume the author of this blog is male? :)
my 'scientific' opinion - the more well-timed the pauses between the initial meeting of the lips and the next few (not too long, not too short) - the 'hotter' the kiss... always leave your kissee wanting more!

Des said...

The photo...seriously? I'm off kissing for a couple of days!!!!!Maybe months!!!! Interesting post.

Rafiki said...

@ Simon: So are you saying I should practice even more oral sex?

@ Ingwe Fan: Is this in the constitution or is it just a by-law? Oh, and by the way, welcome to this blot!

@ d'moiselle: Your wish is my command, I have reduced the size of the photo and included a more 'normal' one. I hope you will be satisfied.

@ Des: Get that picture out of your mind now!

pink m said...

Me, I have one question, did you take the photo?

I don't know why it amused me to no end. I haven't read the article even. Too distracted. lol

My 2 cents, the first kiss is everything. If it's bad, then the relationship is doomed. Shallow but I believe.

Rafiki said...

@ Pink M: Didn't you notice I was taking the photo? Maybe I should have asked for your permission before taking and publishing it?
No need to read the article, a picture says more than a thousand words.

Simon said...

I wouldn't interpret the article that way, just that the finding could sound counterintuitive. There are women who have developed an immune response to HIV because they are commercial sex workers. But this doesn't mean everyone should become a commercial sex worker if they want to avoid HIV, does it?

Shiko-Msa said...

Few tips from the internets on how not to kiss:

- Do not lick your lips before kissing. this is not dinner.

- Do not immediately ram your tongue inside.

- Do not make your tongue hard and pointy

and so on and so forth.

Happy kissing.

Rafiki said...

@ Shiko: Thanks for the tips darling! Feel free to add your personal ones, not everything on the Internet is true.

Sibbie said...

Okiee....I agree..first kiss can make or break a relationship.

savvy said...

I thought I left a comment here long ago? All I can say is, I love that moment just before the kiss..drawing that anticipation for long just does it.

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