What Are Butterflies In The Stomach?

Written by: Becca Marsh
Reading time: 4 mins
Last updated: March 17, 2021

Did you know that butterflies in the stomach are often a symptom of social anxiety disorder?

What are stomach butterflies?

There are so many mysterious bodily functions that occur when we experience different emotions.

These can often be out of our control, and sometimes we might wonder why it is happening.

Butterflies in the stomach are among the most common reactions to our emotions, but do you know why it happens?

In this article, we will look at what causes butterflies in the stomach and why it happens.

What are the butterflies in the stomach?

A woman holding her hands to her chest

Sometimes when we are excited or anxious, we find an odd tingling sensation in our stomach.

This is referred to as butterflies in the stomach.

Butterflies in the stomach occur when there is a reduction in blood flow to certain organs.

Much like when we get a “dead” arm, we experience a “fluttery” type sensation due to reduced blood flow to vital organs.

The reduced blood flow to our intestines causes this tingling or butterfly-like sensation in our stomachs.

What causes butterflies in the stomach?

blood rushing through the body

Butterflies in the stomach are caused when we experience a sudden release of adrenaline and reduced blood flow to organs.

This can occur when we enter what is known as our “fight or flight” response.

This is a physiological reaction that happens when we feel threatened, nervous, or in danger.

There are links between the feeling of anxiety and the body responding in this way.

Butterflies in the stomach will occur when we are put in a situation that causes us to feel like we are in danger.

What is the “fight or flight” response?

A female fighter in boxing gloves

The “fight or flight” response is when our body reacts to a situation that causes us to feel nervous or in danger.

The body prepares to react quickly, for example running from danger.

In the process, blow flow is reduced to organs such as the intestines and increased to muscles.

Heart rate increases, and adrenaline is released.

The reduced blood flow to the intestines means the walls start to constrict to help reduce blood flow.

The restriction makes our intestines smaller, which is why we sometimes need to pee when we are nervous.

As well as this, the liver releases a large amount of glucose, so we have more energy to “fight” or “run.”

This natural reaction would have been useful for our ancestors when running from predators or danger.

Does everyone get butterflies in their stomach?

A girl confused as to whether everyone gets butterflies

Not everyone will experience butterflies in their stomachs at the same level.

This doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them; it means that they may have a different experience when their anxiety levels are heightened.

Some people might just experience some lightheadedness or dizziness as a result of entering their “fight or flight” state.

The “fight or flight” state is a reaction to your surroundings; therefore, if you don’t feel in danger or anxious, you will be less likely to experience the sensation.

Butterflies in the stomach can be a symptom of social anxiety disorder.

This is most commonly brought on by experienced or perceived judgment and conflict from others.

People with social anxiety disorder can experience butterflies in the stomachs whilst trying to complete daily tasks due to this fear.

How do you stop butterflies in the stomach?

Why do we get butterflies?

When the body has released adrenaline and you experience butterflies in your stomach, there are some ways of helping reduce the experience.

The best way to reduce the butterfly sensation is to try and relax and remain calm.

Once your body thinks you are out of your “fight or flight” mode, it will begin to relax, and the heart rate and blood flow will return to normal.

As the blood starts to flow back to your intestines, they open back up, and the tingling sensation will go away.

Why do we experience butterflies in our stomachs when we are in love?

Two people in love with butterflies near them

Sometimes we don’t just get nervous in bad situations; we can get nervous from love too.

It is common to feel nervous when you fall in love with someone or develop a crush.

This is because it is the unknown and can be a little scary and daunting for some.

As a result, our brain triggers stress or nervous signals, which can activate our “fight or flight” response.

In Conclusion

You get butterflies in the stomach when your blood flow is reduced to your intestines, and they start to constrict.

This causes the tingling or fluttering sensation resulting from your body entering “fight or flight” mode.

When we feel in danger or are nervous, our body responds in this way to protect us.

Butterflies in the stomach are the body reacting to signals or feelings in the brain.

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