Is sex good for your mental health?
How important is sex in a relationship? This is the conundrum often questioned by both parties in a committed relationship. There is no right or wrong way of having sex. In addition to that, there is no amount of sex that a couple must have or not have. The decision is totally up to you.
From research, reading articles and having gone to sex therapy seminars one thing I found out is that sex is very important for your overall mental wellbeing. It sounds strange but makes complete sense when you examine it further.
Sex and wellbeing
Why is sex good for your overall wellbeing? Well, let's examine what happens when we have sex. We are touching, caressing, stimulating, loving and being present in the act. It does depend on how present you are during sex but being present is extremely important for this to have any positive effect for yourself and your relationship.
That’s if you are doing it right according to your needs. There are many factors that sex offers you, not least a unique intimacy with the one you love. It really is a no brainer that it is a healthy activity that is unique, exclusive and loving for just that one person in your life. Or maybe you have more than one - I don’t know.
So, why does sex seem to fizzle out in long term relationships? This has often baffled me, even though understandably it can do. But if we knew the importance of sex and our overall wellbeing, would we allow this to happen?
We hear about long term couples hardly having any sex, some end up participating in sexual acts once a year, maybe twice. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas. If more people knew how sex could improve their health would they be so allowing for it to dissolve?
Why is it that, life, lack of sleep, demands and commitments take precedence over the sexual drive and processing of lovemaking. I question this; is it ok to allow your sex life to disappear because you have to go to work?
Sex is important not just because of the act but because of the intimacy and the affection that follows sex. It encourages the feelings of now; it is mindful. It also has a lasting effect on your wellbeing in a positive way which lasts and is topped up on each intimate encounter.
Studies have researched those having satisfying sex once a week compared to those having sex once a month. The 'once a week' participating sexual couples had a higher level of overall wellbeing. Why? Because they are touching, loving, caressing and engaging with each other more regularly. Their affection and interaction is frequent and they are most likely to interact more lovingly through the week.
But the key is in the satisfaction of the sex, not just the sex itself. My point is not to say that you must go out there and just have sex. I mean that may be fun, but when you have sex with an intent to connect and explore the stimuli of your significant other, the process is so much more exciting and rewarding.
How to get your sex life more sexy fun and satisfying
Flirt with each other, keep the fire burning. Engage in friendly sexy banter, laugh and enjoy each other's company in simple ways. Let your partner know you still find them attractive.
Don’t always have 'quickies'; yes it’s convenient but you also need time to explore and enjoy each other. There is nothing wrong with a quickie, but allow for the process of time and exploration to be a priority. The more touching, the more affection, the less depression, anxiety and stress.
Fantasise together. Discuss fun-filled ideas about your sexual desires - make it playful.
Make your partner feel sexy. Too many people fall into the trap of ignoring the fact that feeling sexy is important as to how we are interpreted by our partners. Let them know that they still keep your fire burning.
We don’t just have sex to procreate, we have sex for fun and quite frankly we need to keep the fun, love and affection flowing.
It does not have to be wild to be satisfying. Hollywood has a way of making sex look impossible to compete with. The over-sexualised song and how gorgeous everyone looks in the videos. It's not real. Also, the amateur dramatics that take place; jumping around and swinging from lights. Maybe that is your thing, maybe it isn’t.
To engage in satisfying sex takes a commitment to understanding and recognising your needs and the needs of your partner. If sex can prove to unleash your disconnection in daily life, prove to support how you interact and support your partner and relieve the stresses that accumulate on a daily basis - why not do it?
So to conclude, get cosy with your significant other and tell them how much they mean to you. Caress, love and affectionate them. Engage with them mentally, emotionally and physically and see what it does for your relationship, your sleep, your day, your week.
Talking to a relationship therapist may be of benefit to some couples if getting the spark back doesn't come easily. Or you may be experiencing other sex-related problems which may be affecting intimacy with your partner. Use our search tool to find a professional relationship counsellor that can help you work through these issues, and find an intimate connection to your partner again.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Disree Shaw
Disree Shaw, Psychotherapist practicing CBT/REBT at the Priory in London. On a mission to make therapy accessible and change the world one thought at a time. With a primary focus on men's mental health, relationships and practical self-directed change. A Youtube vlogger on men's mental health topics, podcasts on mental health tips.… Read more
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