3 reasons why sex is important to a healthy relationship

By Maya Khamala

There are countless reasons to have good (nay, great) sex more often. More frequent sexual activity is linked to physical benefits such as lower blood pressure, but there are also many reasons sex and/or sexual touch is important to the health of your romantic relationship(s).

Here are three, in case ya don’t know:

1. Greater intimacy, of course 

Truth: couples are more likely to stay together when they’re gettin’ down, and among married folk, the divorce rate is significantly lower among couples who do. Maybe this is because the release of oxytocin, in addition to being calming, contributes to bonding and feelings of greater emotional intimacy. Your body releases oxytocin after just 20 seconds of skin-to-skin contact, so even basic physical touch is beneficial. A 2017 investigation by Anik Debrot and colleagues indicated the role not of sex itself, but of the affection that accompanies sexuality—it was shown that everyday kissing, hugging, and touch contributes significantly to relationship satisfaction and overall wellbeing. 

2. More chemical bliss 

Strikingly similar to the chemical effects of a major workout, sex releases dopamine in the brain, which boosts feelings of ambitiousness and happiness, and boosts overall confidence; testosterone, which improves work performance; and endorphins, which reduce stress and minimize pain. Fact: when you feel good, you’re more relaxed, and more easily aroused. Plain as day. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that the same feel-good hormones that keep stress and bad moods and depression and body image issues and insomnia at bay have a positive impact on relationships! In case you didn’t notice, that’s many reasons rolled into one.

3. Intimacy, extended 

According to Courtney Cleman, co-founder of The V Club, a wellness and education centre in NYC, “The more intimacy you have in the bedroom, the more intimacy you’ll have outside the bedroom, and vice versa.” And research backs her up. Debrot’s study found that sex predicts affection and affection, in turn, predicts sexual activity. Makes sense, especially considering that feel good hormones stay in your system after the act, affecting your moods more generally.

How much sex? 

A 2015 study found that general well-being is associated with sexual frequency, but only up to a point. Relationship satisfaction improved progressively from having no sex up to having sex once a week but did not improve further—actually decreasing somewhat beyond this point. While this “goal number” of once a week is consistent with the current average, our increasingly busy bee lives mean that adults are now having sex nine times per year less than in the late 1990s. Food for thought. According to a 2015 study, naturally, more sex and better quality sex increases happiness—while unwanted sex lowers happiness. Quality is more important than quantity, as always, and highly subjective, as always.

Beyond penetration 

In our culture, we’re taught from a young age that the intimacy of sex is desirable, that it goes along with romance, and that the two together are an ideal. We are taught that a lack of sex is one of those things that can lead people in a relationship to grow distant and lead them astray, as it were. Regardless of what it is we’ve been taught, a healthy romantic and sexual relationship should also come with a large helping of unlearning. The reality is that an active sex life is difficult or impossible for some due to physical or psychological conditions. You can maintain a strong, healthy relationship despite this. 

It’s very worth remembering that when we talk about sex here, penetrative sex is but one of the many forms of sexual pleasure being referred to. As mentioned, you’ll get your dose of oxytocin either way. It is not necessary or required that you partake in penetrative sex on the regular (or ever), nor is it necessary or required that you bow to pressures when it comes to any other sex act. Only you know what feels good and healthy and true and connected. Whatever your reasons for practicing non-intercourse sex, here’s a bit of inspiration. Goddess knows we need it in our penetration-obsessed culture. Oh, and if you’re looking for a reason to explore non-penetrative sex, how about the fact that making out is hot AF, deeply underrated, and a bonafide way to boost real and raw intimacy with that teenage feeling bolstering your heart?

It can be challenging, yes indeed 

Bottom line: A healthy relationship will look and feel different for different people. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to posit that. While only you and your partner can decide what type, depth, and frequency of sex best suits your couple, being on the same page as said partner on general themes of sensuality, fulfillment, and intimate connection is sure to bring joy and excitement to your world. So rock it up and rock it out, you delicious baby, you.

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