Many people now know that sex is good for your physical health. For example, sex can strengthen your immune system. Through the physical exertion your blood will flow faster: this will have a positive effect on your heart, blood vessels and can burn fat. Your body will also produce endorphins which reduces pain; for example, headaches can dissapear due to sex. In this blog, we’ve already discussed the physical benefits of sex. But what are the benefits of sex on your mental health?
The act of sex can take place easily; without clear consent, when you don’t feel like it or even if you associate negative feelings with it. Sex is not about frequency or performance. It is about your sexual feelings, wishes and desires: these can be different for everyone. Therefore it is important that you have sex when you want it and with someone who feels the same way. Only then will it benefit you!
What are the benefits of sex for your mental health? Below I will discuss a number of them.
Self-confidence, confidence and communication
Having sex or talking about sex together creates intimacy and connection. Research results show that your self-confidence increases and your sexual health improves if you can discuss sex. Especially when you talk about what you like, what your insecurities are or the use of contraception. Talking about sex reduces shame and discomfort. This increases your self-confidence and creates a bond of trust. In the end you will have sex in which you respect, protect and fulfill each other’s sexual desires.
Getting to know yourself and the other
Everyone differs in the extent to which they want or need sex: everyone has a libido type. Friction can arise between (sex) partners if these libido types differ. For example, one person may see sex as a form of love. In this case, if the other person does not feel like having sex, this can easily feel like rejection to the other person. In this article you can find out what you or the other person’s libido type is. This can help you understand each other’s needs and how to deal with the differences in sex drive.
Vitality and creativity
When you have had sex you feel young, alive and relaxed. This is partly due to the hormone estrogen, which is released in greater amounts during sex. When your estrogen level rises, you feel better about yourself, confident, optimistic and creative. The hormone oxytocin is released through intimacy and touch: it creates a pleasant and relaxed feeling. Sex also releases the hormone dopamine: dopamine generates more energy, makes you more optimistic and stimulates your creativity. If you have sex regularly, your dopamine system gets a boost.
Psychotherapist Esther Perel explains that sexual fantasies show us desires that may make our lives more enjoyable and intense. Psychologist Lehmiller argues that we do not express our fantasies enough to our sexual partner. This is because we think our fantasies are taboo. While research shows that partners who do discuss their fantasies scored higher on “happiness” than those who kept it secret. In this article you can read more about fantasies.
Decreased depression and loneliness
If there is a difference between how often you want sex and the degree to which you are sexually active, it can cause sexual frustration. Lack of touch and sex can make you feel down and lonely. This feeling can arise when you are single, but also in a relationship. People who are sexually frustrated tend to be more depressed. This can be due to several things: lack of sex (a basic human need), lack of intimacy within a relationship, or medical problems. Do you recognize this feeling and does it cause you suffering? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Together with a professional you can look at what you are missing, what you long for and how you can work towards that.
Do you recognize yourself in the above? Or do you find it difficult to talk about sex with your (sex) partner? You can find some practical tips on how to do that here. Or do you not identify with any of the above and don’t feel any excitement at all when it comes to sex? That is also possible! You might find this article on asexuality interesting. The bottom line is: recognize and understand your own needs and act accordingly. That may or may not mean sex.