SELF-CARE IS very important to our well-being especially during the pandemic. We are now more aware than ever of the ways to keep our mental health in check – from meditation and mindfulness to walks in nature. But there’s one pleasurable activity, which could help boost your mood, and that is sex.

Medical research suggests sex is a great stress-reliever and mood-booster, as well as having many other health (and relationship) benefits. But research has shown a steady decline in sexual activity over recent decades.

Here are five great health reasons why it’s worth investing some time in your sex life:

1. Sex boosts serotonin levels. Sex is a sensory experience, which lights up different parts of our brain to release mood-boosting chemicals like serotonin. During foreplay, as our sexual desire fires up, so does the level of serotonin in our body, which in turn reduces any feelings of depression, stress or anxiety. As well as helping us feel good, it has a post-coital benefit too.

A psychotherapist says if you’re struggling to find time for sex or self-pleasure, try and feel as ‘erotically alive’ as possible to help produce serotonin.You could also explore – either solo or with your partner – the joys of massage, nudity, creative pursuits and projects, travel, titillating films and literature, and anything that can create and develop pleasure, indulgence and sensuality.

2. Sex releases endorphins. During intimacy, “endorphins produced by your pituitary gland and central nervous system act on the opiate receptors in your brain,” says sex therapists. The signal from these feel-good hormones activates joy and happiness.

As we reach midlife, it’s more important than ever to keep our hormones in check to aid life expectancy. Having sex or even having a sexual connection with someone can also reduce the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

3. Great sex is bonding. It’s easy to let sex slip in a long-term relationship when faced with work pressures, family life and… Netflix. But TV-binging isn’t going to strengthen your love life. We have to prioritize our passion for each other. Eroticism makes us feel vibrant, alive and energized. In this way, sex can become a private language that you learn to speak fluently with your partner.

4. Sex helps you sleep. When we orgasm, we release a bubble of chemicals that work as a natural sedation helping you sleep, which in turn gives you more energy throughout the day. It’s also thought that women experience a rise in estrogen levels during sex, which has been shown to improve their REM cycle. Whereas in men, they mentally switch off quicker after orgasm. 5. Sex can boost our self-esteem According to three studies involving 30,000 participants, researchers found that sex and relationship satisfaction peaked at a frequency of once a week. Having sex ten times a week brought no additional benefits. When we are comfortable with our deepest self, we become better at communicating our dreams and desires, and we have a better chance of having our needs met. In turn, this makes us feel deserving, joyful and free. Sex is a direct avenue to fulfillment. By Manny Palomar, PhD (EV Mail September 19-25, 2022 issue)