We all love sex, don’t we? We know how it’s done and most of us do it quite frequently. However, have you wondered what kind of effect sex can have on your mind and your mental health? You might think it’s all good because sex feels good.
Some of the impacts is, in fact, really good for our minds but there is a part of it that’s not. While you are surely going to continue enjoying and having sex – in all forms – it’s good to have a general idea of what it does to your and your partner’s brain as well as get some explanations for common occurrences.
Here is a list of all the ways sex affects your brain.
1. Sex Boosts Your Memory
Sex can actually boost your memory! While this theory has only been tested on mice so far, scientists believe that it’s true for humans as well. In the study that first confirmed this thesis, one mouse was allowed only one-night intercourse while another was allowed to have chronic sex or sex every day for 114 days. The scientists then analysed their individual intelligence levels – they were tested beforehand and they scored equally – and concluded that the mouse which had consecutive intercourse was more intelligent and could memorise more than the mouse who only had sex once. Another study confirmed this as well.
Research published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour also suggested that sex may improve women’s memory. Results have shown that women who had penetrative sex were able to remember more abstract words from the word-memory task.
It’s yet unclear whether sex really does improve the memory or if better memory correlates with having more sex but it might be the former – sex simulates the creation of new neurons in the hippocampus.
2. Makes You Sleepy
So, you know how you always feel like you are going to just pass out after sex? Well, turns out that there is scientific explanations for that as well. As sex tends to make men more sleepy than women, scientists have concluded that it’s because of the part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex which winds down after ejaculation.
This works together with oxytocin and serotonin which may account for the sleepy syndrome. Sex could be the answer to all sorts of sleep problems as well. It can help you achieve 7 to 9 hours of sound sleep each night. Because of chemicals released during sex, we feel closeness and bond with someone and it is through this effect that we get all sleepy and cuddly which can make you feel sleepy in turn.
A rise of estrogen levels in women during sex enhances their REM cycle. And in men, we have the already mentioned occurrence.
3. Calms You Down
Stress causes a lot of health problems for humans. Namely, it’s headaches, sleeping, tension or upset stomach – conditions could be even more serious than that. There is evidence that physical and emotional intimacy can reduce the stress levels in couples. Another study has proven that people who had penetrative sex have lower stress levels than people who masturbated or had the non-coital sex. Psychologists hypothesize that the calming effect might exist due to the oxytocin released during sex which causes bonding and relationship building. It lowers your blood pressure and makes you spend more energy as if you were exercising.
So, it was proven by science that sex can relieve you of stress. Try it out if you are having a bad day.
4. Relieves Pain
Even though women often use a headache as a way to avoid sex, it can often have a good impact on all of your aches, including an infamous headache or migraines. This might be the last thing you want to do but before you reach for a pill, try it out.
Neurologists have found that sex can relieve head pain like a migraine and cluster headache. People who had a migraine were tested and 60% of them confirmed that they experienced an improvement in pain after sex while 37% of people who experienced a cluster headache confirmed an improvement. The same scientists explained that sex releases endorphins and that this is the mechanism behind pain relief. Since endorphins are a painkiller, they can reduce the pain of a headache.
In another research, women were found to experience less pain and more pleasure after pr through vaginal self-stimulation.
5. It Can Make You Feel Bad
Sex can also make you feel bad in certain occasions. The good feeling we get from sex is great when we are doing it but what comes after may be a downer. Researchers have found that people can have post-sex blues. About one-third of women participating in a study that found this said that they have experienced sadness after sex at some point. It could be because of regret or some similar guilty feeling but no one is yet sure why this happens. It could also be due to the difference of emotion between extreme happiness we feel with an orgasm compared to feeling less than that after.
Whatever the reason may be, it’s good to know that not all sex is good and that it’s possible to feel bad after just as a precaution.
6. It Can Be Like a Drug
Sex makes us feel good like food, sweets or similar things. While it’s not like a drug in a literal sense, it can be quite addictive. The pleasure we get is because of dopamine which activates the reward centre in our brain. It’s a chemical responsible for people getting addicted to certain kinds of drugs as well. Taking cocaine and having sex doesn’t feel the same but it causes a chemical reaction in the brain that is quite similar. Many things tickle this part of the brain like caffeine, nicotine, sweets and so on. This is why food and drugs are addictive as well.
This is another downfall of having sex but it doesn’t happen to everyone. You have probably heard of cases where people have a sexual addiction. While it may seem like a fun addition to have, it’s a huge problem for people who have it and their partners.
7. Can Be An Antidepressant
A study done more than a decade ago studied 300 women and found that those who had sex frequently had fewer depression syndrome than those who don’t. This is great news but a paradoxical one as well. People suffering from depression are prone to having low libido so the last thing they would want to do is to have sex.
Another way sex can help with depression is improving your self-confidence. Research has shown that those who have frequent sex – either casual or in a committed relationship – experienced higher well-being and higher self-esteem levels as well.
However, another study has shown that women who are more self-confident have better, more satisfying sex.
Sex is valuable only when made as an honest affirmation of another person and should never be treated as a remedy for loneliness or a confidence booster as a first place!
8. Sex Can Wipe Your Memory
Every year, there are people who experience amnesia because of sex. This is a sudden but temporary memory loss that is often attributed to other neurological condition. This condition often happens after or during vigorous sex, stress, pain, injuries and so on. This amnesia can last either a few minutes or a few hours. During this event, the person who loses the memory can’t form new memories or remember what recently happened. However, there are no long-term effects.
This is a good thing to know whether you or your partner get affected. The chances are small but it’s very possible.
9. Masturbation Improves Mental Health
Having good self-esteem is as mentioned very important. Masturbation can make you more confident and have higher self-esteem. Multiple studies have shown that not only the masturbation releases the happy hormones but it also has a positive body image impact on both women and men. Female masturbation especially is related to better self-esteem and better mental health.
10. Casual Sex Can Impact your Mental Health
Casual sex, as mentioned, can have an impact on your mental health as well. However, not all of it has to be bad. Naturally, those who do it for all the wrong reasons are inclined to feel a lot worse after but those who do it because they like it and want it – truly, not as a way to mask their feelings – feel refreshed and a lot better after it. This has proven true for both men and women.
Sex is something that most people enjoy. A great number of them never really find out why that is. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find out that it’s all about chemicals and hormones which work together and create various effects both long-term and short-term. For example, rolling over and falling asleep is a short term effect but a memory boost could be a long term one. No matter what, sex will continue to be one of the favourite activities for men and women across the world – and surely you can test some of these theories yourself!