Newsflash! Good sex is good for us! Yes, we bet you hadn't guessed, either...
When considering what goes together to make a good life, many psychological theories focus on the importance of friendships, belonging and having purpose. Qualities such as gratitude, belonging, forgiveness, self-compassion, and generosity also often get cited.
Surprisingly, however, there aren't many empirical tests that have been carried out looking into the effects of pleasurable and fulfilling sex on people's mental and physical wellbeing.
Now, a team from George Mason University, led by Todd Kashdan, have asked 152 students to keep a daily diary for three weeks tracing how meaningful their lives felt in correlation to whether they'd had any sexual activity with a partner.
In a new paper published in journalEmotion, the team explained why he decided to look into the relationship between sex and wellbeing:
In theoretical models of well-being, sex is rarely discussed and in many seminal articles, ignored,”
The average age of the cohort was 24, with 116 of the subjects being women, and 63 per cent being in a monogamous relationship.
An analysis of the data showed that the feelings of positivity and wellbeing the next day increased with the amount of pleasure experienced in sexual activity.
The team also sought to confirm that the feelings of wellbeing were directly linked to the sexual satisfaction, rather than simply being in a good mood before the encounter.
They noted they were:
When the reverse direction was tested, well-being did not predict next-day sexual activity, pleasure, or intimacy.
These results suggest a unidirectional relationship in which the presence and quality of sexual activity lead to gains in well-being the following day.
Another area that they've focused on as a means to improve the data is by widening the scope of the people assessed to include more ages, however despite its limitations, the authors are still confident in the study's worth.
These data provide evidence to support the continual consideration of sex in empirical work and theoretical models of elements that comprise healthy relationships and a good life.