The sex and self-esteem street has two sides: people who have sex feel good about themselves, and people have sex to feel good about themselves. A study published in theArchives of Sexual Behaviorlooked at the many reasons humans have sex and found that one of the most common driving factors is the self-esteem boost many get from doing the deed. These same people report that sex makes them feel powerful and more attractive. Also, some people in the study had more altruistic intentions and wanted their partner to feel good about themselves.
Sex can helprelieve stressby raisingendorphinsand other hormones that boost mood. As a form of exercise, it can also help calm you down. In addition, a Scottish study published in the journal Biological Psychology found that sexual activity prevents increases in blood pressure during stressful events. While this effect was more pronounced in people who had sex with penetration, nonpenetrative sex and masturbation can also help you stay serene.
It’s no wonder you’ve got a more positive outlook after sex: There are biochemical rationales for experiencing improved mood as a sex benefit, from the neurotransmittersthat may be released during healthy sex to the mood enhancers contained in semen itself. “And,” adds Dr. Caron, “there’s a lot to be said simply for the mood-boosting effect of having a nice connection with somebody that you trust and care about.”