The following is intended for readers 18+
Have you ever heard someone say, “Wow, that person’s miserable! They need to get laid!”?
Well, that comment may be offensive and unnecessary, but it isn’t completely wrong. Sex may not be a cure-all (though I wish it were) — but it can have a measurably positive impact on your mood, as well as your physical health!
In fact, sex actually has multiple positive effects on overall health, with studies to prove it!
1. Sex reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Jackpot! Sex isn’t a “cure” for anxiety or depression, but the feel-good hormones and chemicals that are released during sex can temporarily reduce symptoms of both mental health challenges. These include dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin which can boost mood, increase compassion, and help you bond with your partner.
While the levels of those chemicals increase with sex, the level of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, also lowers with sex. More sex, less stress.
2. It can take your mind off of other things.
Sex is a kind of temporary escape from the stresses of everyday life. Sure, there’s a lot to focus on when doing the deed, like how to please your partner, what turns you on, and the pleasure itself. If you find your mind wander to your daily anxieties, try to concentrate on every little physical sensation you’re experiencing. What better way to practice mindfulness than sex?!
3. Getting busy (sort of) counts as exercise.
Alright, it’s not a full workout but sex can be considered light exercise, and it’s way less boring than speed walking on the treadmill. One study concluded that during a 25 minute romp, men burn approximately 100 calories, while women burn about 69 (yes, 69). Even though you’re only burning a small number of calories, you are engaging in physical activity, which is good for your mental health! Exercise can reduce depression and anxiety, so keep up with a good fitness regime overall…and throw in as many reps of sex as you’d like.
4. Sex(ercise) helps you sleep.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to both mental health and physical health. Just think about how grouchy you feel when you’re short on sleep, and how much better you feel when you’re well rested! So if you usually have trouble sleeping, trying having xx before bedtime. The hormones released help you feel more relaxed and ready for bed. If you have an orgasm, then the hormone prolactin is released, which will make you even sleepier.
5. Kinky sex is clinically linked to well-being (yes, really).
While non-vanilla sex definitely has a stigma attached to it, kinky sex comes along with some benefits of its own. For example, studies have shown that couples that engage in BDSM are better communicators than couples who don’t. Those who practice BDSM also report a comparatively higher sense of well-being. Unsurprisingly, they’re also more willing to try new things. So go ahead and get your Christian Grey on!
6. Masturbation is just as beneficial.
Partnerless or saving yourself for marriage? No problem. Masturbating comes along with its own set of benefits. Plus, since you’re getting it on solo, you won’t risk unplanned pregnancies or contracting STDs.
On top of releasing those feel-good hormones, masturbation can also help you learn about your own body to figure out what you do and don’t like so that you can better communicate those things to your current or future partners, making for better sex overall. Masturbation is even linked to better body image.
If all of this doesn’t make you want to go have sex, then I don’t know what will! Just remember to practice safe sex, avoid unhealthy sex decisions, and, of course, have fun and revel in pleasure. Now, go out and get some! Oh, and don’t forget condoms.
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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