Research indicates that prolactin increases following orgasm are involved in a feedback loop that serves to decrease arousal through inhibitory central dopaminergic and probably peripheral processes. The magnitude of post-orgasmic prolactin increase is thus a neurohormonal index of sexual satiety. Using data from three studies of men and women engaging in masturbation or penile-vaginal intercourse to orgasm in the laboratory, we report that for both sexes (adjusted for prolactin changes in a non-sexual control condition), the magnitude of prolactin increase following intercourse is 400% greater than that following masturbation. The results are interpreted as an indication of intercourse being more physiologically satisfying than masturbation, and discussed in light of prior research reporting greater physiological and psychological benefits associated with coitus than with any other sexual activities.
Source: “The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety.” from Biol Psychol. 2006 Mar;71(3):312-5. Epub 2005 Aug 10.