Just another reason why sex is wonderful…
There are a number of health benefits that have been associated with having sex, both physical and mental. And new research suggests having sex could also give you a greater sense of meaning in life.
A team of researchers at the George Mason University set out to explore the relationship between sex and wellbeing, which included mood and sense of meaning in life, in a small study that was published in the scientific journal Emotion.
They conducted a three-week study involving 152 college students who were told to keep a daily diary of the frequency and quality of their sexual activity, along with their moods and feelings.
The results of the study suggested that sex on a given day predicted an enhanced mood and improved meaning in life for the participants the following day.
David Ludden, professor of psychology at Georgia Gwinnett College, says in a Psychology Today blog post that this finding is “consistent with other research which have found that the ‘afterglow’ of sex extends for a day or two after the act.”
Interestingly, the time-lagged analysis suggested that the reverse was not the case: feeling happy one day did not predict sexual activity or intimacy the next day. The researchers conclude that it’s the sexuality activity – which respondents were allowed to define themselves as anything from passionate kissing to intercourse – that is making people feel happier.
Todd Kashdan, lead author of the study, is quoted in TIME as saying that it’s probably down to our natural desire to belong and that sex can translate as a sign of acceptance and inclusion.
“There is something profound about someone else giving you access to their body and accepting access to yours,” he said.
Those of the participants in relationships (a little over 60 per cent) who said that they felt close to their partners also predicted a greater sense of meaning in life and positive mood afterwards. Kashdan said that this is down to the feeling of reaffirmation that a person in a close relationship feels after having sex with their partner.
Sex, he said, is a remedy for loneliness and isolation, a “therapy without therapists.”
Ludden writes in his blog post that when you think about sex not only as sensual pleasure, but as a social act “we can understand why it boosts our mood and sense of fulfilment beyond the gratification of the moment.
“After all, what could be more affirming to another person than to willingly engage with them in the most intimate acts of human experience?”
The study is limited in its sample size, but also in that it examines the relationship behaviours and sexual activity of students, which is likely to differ to those of older people, psychologist Christian Jarrett points out. It nevertheless provides a snapshot into the relationship between sex and wellness, a topic the authors believe warrants further research.
“To understand the full scope of human flourishing, research on well-being needs to incorporate more rigorous scientific inquiries of sexual behaviour,” the authors are quoted as saying.
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