Why Emotional Benefits of Sex Matter - But Not Always
The three main benefits
Sex is good for you – but only if you’re having sex you want to have. No amount will do you good if you feel pressured to engage in it. If you’re having sex you want and really enjoy, though, it can be powerful – there are lots of emotional benefits of sex.
Why emotional benefits of sex matter – but also don’t
A lot of us are anxious or worried about our sex life. One of the leading causes of this worry is an idea that we’re perhaps somehow “abnormal” for not wanting more sex or for not enjoying it “enough”.
When it comes to a sexless relationship or low libido, it’s common to feel like you’re broken somehow.
The positives of sex do matter – but they’re not the only things that matter in order to have a good relationship.
However, if you miss the emotional benefits of sex or feel like:
- sex used to be an important part of your relationship and life,
- that sex gives you something you simply cannot get by other means,
- like sex makes you whole
then you’ll want to consider the below list of potential positives by getting your sex life back on track.
1. Sex makes you more productive
“I don’t have time for sex!” “I never even think of sex” “Sex, what’s that?” Sound familiar? For many of us, sex is the last thing on our minds – it’s something that happens once we’ve crossed everything else off of our list.
And let’s be honest, with only so many hours in a day and so much to get done, it’s easy to see why we feel we don’t have the time or energy for it.
However, according to sex therapist and neuroscientist Dr. Wise, an active sex life actually gives us time and energy, by increasing productivity.
In a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Management, people who were married and employed and had an active sex life, experienced more happiness at work following sexual activity. The study also showed people were more satisfied at work and more engaged in their work tasks when they’d had sex the day before.
Now, it’s fair to ask if couples who are having sex become happier and more productive because of the actual sex, or because of what society ascribes to sex.
For example, an active sex life is seen as a positive and as something “normal”. Therefore, having sex might make you happy not because of the sex itself, but because you’re fulfilling society’s ideals about a successful relationship.
Disentangling the two isn’t always so easy. And at the end of the day, it might not matter why the study found married couples who have sex become more productive and enjoy their work more. It could serve as inspiration for getting it on more frequently.
In a world where we’re all constantly looking to get things done quicker – more sex might just be one of the solutions.
If sex can make you more productive, your to-do list will get done sooner. This leaves more time for your hobbies, your relationships and the general pleasures of life. And I think we can all agree, more pleasure and fun in life, especially right now during lock-down, doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
2. Sex relieves stress
One of the greatest benefits of sex – besides the potential of increased productivity – is that sex in and of itself can be a great stress reliever.
When we get stressed, our body releases stress hormones, activating our fight, flight or freeze-system. This means our brain and body go into survival mode, which is a good thing – we’ve literally needed stress in order to survive bear attacks and life on the plains.
However, relentless stress that never lets up can have long-term consequences. This is why it’s important to find techniques and strategies for dealing with stress. One way of reducing stress – is through having sex.
Now, sex and stress aren’t usually a match made in heaven. In fact, stress can often wreak havoc on your sex drive and make you feel totally disinterested in it.
However, for some people, sex is their go-to way of relaxing, and it can involve both partnered sex and masturbation.
A study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found couples who were in satisfying relationships felt less stressed when they had sex. This suggests that one of the emotional benefits of sex is indeed stress-relief – so if this is one of your preferred ways of decompressing – go for it.
3. Sex brings you closer
Sex doesn’t only have the potential to increase productivity and relieve stress, it can also be a great way of making you and your partner feel closer to one another.
While sex means many things to different people, regardless of why you want to have sex (for example to relieve stress or escape to fantasy land), the act of sex can lead to increased intimacy.
Touch and pleasure release feel-good-hormones such as oxytocin. With the surge of oxytocin in your bloodstream, you feel more relaxed, intimate and happy. This in turn can solidify your commitment to your partner and make you more invested in the longevity of your relationship.
However, important to note is that while sex can increase intimacy, it can only have this effect if the sex you’re having is consensual and pleasurable.
This means having sex because you feel it’s your duty or because your partner might get annoyed with you otherwise, isn’t a good way of increasing intimacy. Nor is it going to help relieve stress or increase productivity either.
You get to decide
If sex has turned into something you avoid due to low sex drive or difficulties talking about sex in your relationship – know that it doesn’t have to be this way and that there’s help.
There are lots of reasons why sex drive plummets and it can be difficult to understand all the reasons on your own. My free resource The Desire Test, can help you work out why sex is something you don’t want anymore and what you can do about it.
If sex only happens once you’ve fixed the laundry, fed the kids, sent that email, and washed your hair – consider these potential emotional benefits of sex. An active sex life can reduce stress, increase productivity, and nurture your intimate connection with your partner. We live in stressed times and now more than ever, a little pleasure, evidently, goes a long way.
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and coach with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex -- so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to learn more about communicating your feelings regarding sex, download her free resource: Talking Sex.
Originally published at LeighNoren.com.