It's not just about the euphoria you feel. "When you kiss, an enormous part of your brain becomes active." And here's what it can do to your body.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 20, 20219. It has since been updated.
That passionate moment when you kiss the right person can enliven your entire body; you feel the rush running through you and it makes you feel connected with your partner. When you kiss someone you are in love with, it can cause actual physiological changes in your body. "When you kiss an enormous part of your brain becomes active," said Helen Fisher of Rutgers University, according to NBC News. This can lead to your body experiencing a number of things, and here are a few.
"Kissing and affection is important in a relationship," said Gen Zaroura, a clinical social worker and therapist, according to The Exponent. "It connects people emotionally. It can also release endorphins that can make you feel more excited and happy ... It can affect the biochemistry immediately." With the release of endorphins, you are also left with feelings of intimacy with your partner, making you feel "happier and more connected with each other", according to Zaroura.
A passionate kiss can send your brain into "overdrive", giving rise to a combination of chemicals that give you a feeling of euphoria. According to British Council, your brain gives rise to three chemicals—dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin—which activate the pleasure centers of your brain. Apart from the feelings of affection, it gives you a natural high and leaves you craving for more.
When you feel anxious or stressed out, leaning in for a kiss could quell those worrisome feelings. Kissing can boost those feel-good, happy hormones in your body and puts you at ease. "If you're feeling stressed or rundown, a little kissing or lovemaking [is] actually the elixir you need to... feel better," said Andréa Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures, according to CNN. "It will relax, restore and revitalize you."
Kissing someone can cause the blood vessels in your lips to dilate. Not only does it get your heart racing in a good way, but it can also affect your blood pressure levels as well. Once the blood vessels become dilated, "the blood is then directed toward the face and away from the rest of the body, so the demand on the heart goes down, resulting in lower blood pressure," said Dr. Ryan Neinstein, a plastic surgeon in New York City.
While it might not be the same as a run in the park or an hour at the gym, a passionate kiss can put your face muscles to work and burn calories. “There are 43 muscles in your face and eight in your tongue,” said Dr. Stephanie Hartselle, assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University. "Kissing increases the blood supply to those areas by dilation of the vessels, and it’s possible that the muscle workout, combined with the facial flushing, in extended kissing sessions allows your facial muscles to be healthier and revitalized."
As the flow of blood to your face increases during a kiss, it allows the production of collagen, which can help in delaying the signs of aging. With your lips moving and almost your entire facing contributing to the act, it increases elasticity. "The higher blood flow increases the number of small blood vessels helping to nourish the machinery of the skin," said Dr. Neinstein. Collagen and elastin are key components of making your skin looking radiant. In addition to this, your face may also become more firm; Demirjian pointed out that when the facial muscles are engaged, "you can tighten and tone them."