Isn’t It Romantic?
The earliest documentation of kissing dates as far back as 1500 B.C. Vedic Sanskrit texts from India refer to the custom of rubbing and pressing noses together as a sign of affection, especially between lovers, reports Vaughn Bryant, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, who has been researching kissing for over three decades. For the next few hundred years, other cultures also documented kissing. And then, in the 5th century A.D. or earlier, a holy man named Vatsyayana wrote the well-known text, the Kama Sutra. Bryant says that within the Kama Sutra there are more than 200 “sutras,” or passages, devoted to an explanation of how one should kiss a lover, including remarks on what response should be made by the one who is being kissed (i.e. quivering of the lower lip).
From there, kissing spread throughout cultures. The Greeks saw the kiss as a symbol of subordination and respect, says Bryant, who adds that it’s the Romans who should get the credit for popularizing the kiss throughout the Western world. The Romans, like the Greeks, greeted friends with kisses. But it was the early Christians who institutionalized kissing as a custom to seal a marriage—a “business kiss,” if you will.
Can a Kiss (Or More) a Day Keep the Doctor Away?
Whether or not it’s a prelude to pregnancy, a kiss can have “a number of health benefits,” claims Demirjian. “It can literally relieve headaches. [Kissing] puts you in a state of contentment. It lowers your blood pressure, makes your skin glow, makes you feel loved.”
In a study in Germany, men who kissed their wives before going to work lived an average of five years longer than those men who received no kiss, says Bryant.
And, of course, a kiss primes the body for the sexual act that may follow. “When you start kissing, the minute your lips are stimulated it starts sending signals to the brain,” says Demirjian. “Once the brain gets the signals that kissing is starting, it starts telling the heart to beat faster, the lungs to pump with more air, sex organs are looking to get stimulated, your arteries and veins dilate. . . The anticipation of making love really does start with the kiss.”
In short, some serious kissing not only can improve your physical health but also your mental state of being, which could translate to possibly having an easier time at conception in the long run.
“Because intimacy and a couple’s desire to conceive are so inextricably entwined, passion is often an unnecessary sacrifice in the quest to start a family,” admits Sharon B. Jaffe, M.D., an infertility specialist at The Center for Reproductive Medicine in Orlando, Florida. “When it gets to this point, couples need to stop, take a deep breath, and remember why they started this journey in the first place.”
Kissing is one of the easiest things a couple can do to strengthen their bond. “Kissing is portable, biodegradable, and has a long shelf life,” Demirjian says. “It’s the universal tie that binds us.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Conceive Magazine.
Related Topics: Stress and Fertility; Your Relationship and Trying to Conceive
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Isn’t It Romantic?
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