Photo: Getty Images
Many women know how amazing sex can physically feel, but what can it do for your mental health?
Limor Blockman, a sex and marriage counselor, said in an email that having sex can relieve stress.
“When approaching the big O, we are opening ourselves, physically and mentally, to an ongoing cycle of ‘feel good’ state,” Blockman said. “The idea of having sex to release stress immediately removes our frustration, thus allowing the climax to invite a new, more empowering dose of the good old pleasure.”
Sex is exercise, and exercise (such as running or hiking) is known to make you feel great.
“Whether it’s a physical matter or a mental state of feeling good about our bodies, any physical activity, hence exercise, sex, laughter and pleasurable touch, produce positive effects within the body via endorphins in the brain,” Blockman said.
In some cases, even self-esteem can improve after having sex.
“Self-esteem can be easily boosted by the ability to surrender to pleasure and ... brag about it,” Blockman said. “Not necessarily to an outsider, but to ourselves; the fact that we allow ourselves to be exposed and enjoy it is a definite, well-proven self-esteem enhancer.”
Although orgasms are not essential to sex, one study suggests vaginal orgasms can be linked to higher quality mental health and can even give “a gait that comprises fluidity, energy, sensuality, freedom, and absence of both flaccid and locked muscles.” So even how you walk can be affected by sex!
Nicole Prause, a research scientist at Mind Research Network, said in an email that mental health benefits of sex can also be present in the arousal states, not necessarily when having an orgasm.
“The pleasurable, hedonic benefits are present in sexual arousal, not especially orgasm per se,” Prause said. “So even being sexually intimate with a partner without experiencing orgasm appears to increase feelings of pleasantness. The main issue is that orgasm may not add much in the mood domain, so pressure is off to necessarily have to orgasm to experience positive cognitive effects.”