How Does Being Sexually Active Affect Mental Health
Everyone has a set of values and beliefs about sex that may differ from someone else. You can be someone who possesses sexual freedom or may be more conservative and private. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to sexual experiences as well. You may prefer sex with a partner while in a long-term relationship or choose casual sex. Masturbation also helps you stay sexually active. Many people engage in masturbation on top of having regular sex.
Sex influences many realms in our lives and becomes part of our identity and personality. You may have no problem openly discussing your sexual encounters. Being open shows that you embrace your individuality and have self-awareness. Talking about sex may make you feel uncomfortable and shy, which does not pose any problems. No matter your outlook on sex, being sexually active has benefits. Sex primarily has positive impacts on mental health and also improves physical health. We will discuss the benefits of sex.
Physical Benefits of Sex
Having a healthy sex life benefits the body in many ways. Some ways that sex does your body good include the following:
- Boosts Immunity
Your body produces an antibody if you have regular sex and it strengthens your immune system. Sexually active people fight off bacteria and viruses better than those who do not have regular sex. Having sex once or twice a week boosts your body’s immunity!
- Decreases Risk of Heart Disease and Heart Attacks
Sex contributes to having a healthy heart by increasing your heart rate. Regular sex balances estrogen and testosterone levels which lowers your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.
- Relieves Headaches and Pain
After having an orgasm, your body releases the hormone oxytocin, which provides natural pain and headache relief.
- Strengthens Muscles
Since sex provides physical fitness, the activity of having sex helps build and strengthen muscles. Your muscles may feel sore a day or two after sex due to the form of exercise sex provides. You can alleviate muscle tenderness by drinking plenty of fluids. Stretching before and after sex also helps.
- May Help You Live Longer
With all of the health benefits sex provides, it may also help you live longer. Sex can give you a longer life because it builds immunity and lowers blood pressure. Sex also reduces the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and prostate cancer.
Sex and its Effects on the Brain
Sex releases serotonin, a neurotransmitter or hormone. Serotonin improves mood and sleep, reduces stress, and improves memory in the brain. The limbic system, a part of the brain that controls behavior, activates during sex. While the cerebral cortex of the brain, responsible for reasoning, shuts down during sex. Sex focuses on instinct and emotions instead of rational thinking.
The brain has circuits that comprise the “reward system,” which releases dopamine when you expect to receive a reward. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the hypothalamus, enhances euphoria, desire, and satisfaction. Dopamine also improves memory and helps you remember rewarding experiences.
The hypothalamus also produces oxytocin and vasopressin. These two hormones help increase sexual arousal, relieve pain, and improve sleep. The brain also produces norepinephrine. This hormone and neurotransmitter have benefits. Norepinephrine increases heart rate, energy, attention, alertness, memory, and arousal.
Sex has a powerful impact on the mind from the neurotransmitters that the brain releases. The neurotransmitters contribute to emotional responses and have physical benefits.
Can Sex Help with Anxiety and Depression?
Partnered or solo sex help relieve anxiety, depression, and stress. The body releases the hormones serotonin and dopamine during sex. These hormones improve mood, happiness, and peacefulness. Serotonin and dopamine also help lower tension and anxiety levels.
The intimacy you have with a partner during sex also helps reduce anxiety and depression. Touching, kissing, and hugging your partner releases more dopamine and serotonin than masturbation.
If you have a bad or even satisfying sexual encounter, this can cause postcoital dysphoria, also known as “post-sex blues.” Postcoital dysphoria leads to feelings of anxiety, depression, anxiety, or anger after sex. After sex, people can feel sadness and get tearful. These feelings can cause confusion and trouble in relationships due to the inability to explain it or know why it happens. The sentiments of postcoital dysphoria can last from five minutes to two hours after the sexual encounter. The cause of “post-sex blues” remains unknown due to few research studies.
If you feel more anxiety or depression after having sex, communication can help. People who experience this will not understand why and may want to seek a medical professional’s opinion for the next course of action.
Other Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life
Other benefits of having a healthy sex life include forming a connection and better relationships. Masturbation can be a form of self-love, which enhances self-awareness and inner peace.
Having sex with a partner builds better bonds through intimacy and can be a source of fun and creativity. Healthy sex lives will help you have a positive and playful relationship where you both feel comfortable with one another.
If you associate sex with feelings of shame, this can be detrimental to your mental health. When you feel shame or embarrassment, this will increase levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Shedding your inhibitions about sex helps you live your best life mentally and physically!
Is Casual Sex Bad for Your Mental Health?
Casual sex can be good or bad for your mental health, depending on your personality and moral values. If you have high-quality casual sex, you will have positive feelings. Casual sex can help boost your confidence, make you feel more desirable, and feel pleasure for the time being.
On the other hand, casual sex can lead to regret from the encounter and be bad for your mental health. Casual sex can cause mostly women feelings of low self-esteem, self-blame, and shame. Casual sex can lead to depression and feelings of cognitive dissonance. You may feel used and lonely. Casual sex also may cause worry and distress about exposure to sexually transmitted diseases. Men may feel guilty about casual sex due to an unattractive sexual partner.
Having transparent communication with casual sex partners can help ease anxiety. Agreeing to use safe sex practices can turn casual sex into a positive experience.
Regular casual sex with one person can create a bond if both people understand the situation. Many refer to these types of relationships as “friends with benefits.” If you can handle having no-strings-attached sex, then casual sex will benefit your mental health.
Is Solo Sex or Partnered Sex Better?
Solo sex, or masturbation, helps you have easier orgasms because you know your body and feel comfortable with yourself. Solo sex also has no expectations because you do not have to worry about anyone other than yourself. You have less worry about performance, body image, or when you will achieve an orgasm. Solo sex relieves muscle tension and tightness and helps you feel calm after having an orgasm.
Partnered sex lowers blood pressure and stress levels more than masturbation. Also, having a connection or love provides better mental health benefits than masturbation. Partnered sex also gives the body more movement. The mobility of sex enhances blood circulation, strengthens muscles, and burns more calories.
Does Not Having Sex Affect Your Mental Health?
Sometimes, people not in a relationship make a personal choice not to have sex. Factors in not having sex may be values, searching for a compatible partner, or having little desire to engage in sex. Not having sex or not having enough sex can lead to feelings of isolation and having a sense of low self-worth.
If you have a sexless relationship, you may have mental health issues like depression or anxiety. You may think your relationship has problems or feel less secure. You may think your partner no longer cares or lost interest in you. Not having regular sex in a relationship can increase anxiety, insecurity, and discomfort.
If you choose not to have sex and see no negative impact on your mental health, continue your path to self-discovery and self-care. Anyone in a relationship who has not been having sex can try to take steps for improvement. Couples can work on communicating better and improving intimacy together. Going out on dates, having meaningful conversations, and holding hands can help rekindle the romance.
Sex plays an essential role in mental health. Sex mainly provides positive benefits but can also have some adverse effects. Knowing what you want sexually, whether with a partner or alone, can benefit your body and mind. Possessing self-awareness and understanding other’s intentions helps create the best sexual experiences.
If you have a regular sexual partner, communication will benefit the relationship and sex. Before having casual sex, understand the situation and see if you can accept the circumstances. You do not want to feel guilt or remorse after sex, so preparing and educating yourself will help. Sex affects mental health and can give you pleasurable experiences and enhance your mood. By making sure you know what you need and want, sex can offer excellent benefits for your body and mind.